I stared back at her, my hopes sinking faster with every passing second. Chantal glanced curiously from Holly to me, while most of my teammates had gone onto the field to practice their passing and shooting. "You two know each other?" she asked. I gave a silent nod, not really sure what to say. Holly spoke up roughly.
"Yeah, we've met," she replied shortly. "Let's get practicing, games start next week." Neither of us questioned her and we followed her onto the field. Chantal ran through some simple drills for an hour so she could see what level we were at; it was a good idea because a few of the guys looked like they had barely kicked a ball before in their lives. However, she seemed to be satisfied with my abilities on the ball and pulled me aside after calling an end to the practice.
"How long have you been playing?" she asked interestedly as we headed back to the parking lot. Holly was slightly ahead of us talking to a few of the other players.
"This will be my fifth year," I told her, wondering why it was important. In point of fact it would be my sixth, but my coach in the first year had been obsessed with winning, and since I had little skill then I had played about half an hour over the entire season. To date I refused to count that as a year of playing.
Chantal nodded thoughtfully and smiled. "You've got experience then, it showed in practice too." I shrugged, I didn't think I was at all good while watching my teammates with the ball. "In other practices is it okay if you demonstrate some of the things I want to teach the guys?" she pleaded, causing me to stop in my tracks and stare. "It's just that- well you saw how some of those guys play, they need help if we're gonna give any team competition in this league," she went on.
I resumed walking, thinking it over. Sure, it was gratifying to be asked to do this, but then I remembered the looks I had gotten from Holly and the team before practice started. The mistrust and dislike in their expressions could not be mistaken, and I wasn't sure how they would react to the coach if she got me of all people to provide the demos. In the end though, I agreed.
"Fine, I'll do it," I said and she clapped her hands enthusiastically. I said goodbye and left the field. On the way I thought of her request; it was very unusual for anyone to single me out for some good quality, but I felt like I'd made the right choice in accepting.
"So when's your first game?" Sid asked as soon as I got inside the house. He snatched the schedule out of my hands and scanned it. "Next Thursday," he announced. "Good, then our first games won't be overlapping!" I nodded and tried to get around him so I could go have a shower but he grabbed me and turned me around. "You picked number 14?" he asked, looking at me in awe.
"Um yeah, why? Should I have taken some other one?" I looked at him curiously, he still had that look of wonder on his face. What the hell was wrong with the boy?
"No not at all!" he exclaimed with a grin. "Actually just after you left for practice I was thinking that you should take 14, seeing as Henry has that too and he's a legend!" I chuckled and playfully shoved him out of the way; Thierry Henry was a French soccer player who was known throughout the world, most of all for the years he had spent at my favourite club, Arsenal. To be honest I hadn't even thought of that as I picked my jersey, but it seemed like an even better choice now that Sid had reminded me.
I showered quickly and then decided to call the members of Sid's team to notify them of the planned practice on Friday. Grabbing a quick dinner and going to my room, I continued to work on the prank I had planned on Sid's behalf. I knew I had to wait until at least next week to pull it off because the bully would know Sid was behind it if the prank was played too soon after the locker incident.
I had finished it by Friday morning, while Sid was at school. Putting it away in my closet, I got ready to go to Byerlin. Today was the spring carnival, and the girls had told me it was only going to be in the afternoon. Arriving at school at the end of lunch, I texted Tracy once I had found a place to park. Getting out of the car I chuckled as I saw her jogging up to me. "Hello!" she grinned as we gave each other a quick hug. I smiled and greeted her back, letting her lead me to the side parking lot where the others were. She seemed quite excited about today, and the usual twinkle in her eyes seemed clearer than ever.