Friendship and Football

The school story is a fiction genre centering on older pre-adolescent and adolescent school life, at its most popular in the first half of the twentieth century. Plots involving sports events, bullies, secrets, rivalry, and bravery are often used to shape the school story. I think the worst part is that I know nothing about boarding school situations as I had attended public school. Harry Potter is often referred to as the reemergence of the genre…yeah like I can do anything like J.K. Rawling. I will attempt a short story of sorts.

Our schools were always rivals even from when our parents attended. Years and years of competitiveness and bragging rights after a game won, it just came naturally. It wasn’t something that was taught just something that was. So when my parents moved us to our rivals’ town I wasn’t the happiest kid on the planet. We pulled up to the house and all I felt were the new neighbor kids judging me for being their sworn enemy. ‘Dad, why did we move here? You could have found another job in our old town. You’re doing this just to punish me. I have no friends and won’t have any friends. Do you know what school I’ll have to go to?’ I could see my dad roll his eyes but he let me whine for a little bit before barking, ‘Get out and start taking your boxes to your room. We have the weekend to get this done because you have school on Monday. Might as well get it all over with now.’ That’s when I rolled my eyes.

All weekend we were stared at but Monday at school was even worse. I knew no one and thought I would be able to blend in as just a new student until my first-period teacher spoke, ‘Class, I would like you to welcome Megan to our school. She comes all the way from Tigerton.’ Only two people clapped. I’ve now been sentenced to middle school death. All through the day no one really talked to me and even had a delightful spitball thrown at me. Gym class is what I was great at. When I run or play any kind of sport I tend to relax and zone out all my problems. Today, was dodgeball day. My new classmates learned real fast I have excellent aim and since I don’t have friends I didn’t care about who I slammed with the ball.

Over the next few weeks, the bullying was at a minimum. I think it’s because they have seen I am a force to be reckoned with in gym class. I have managed to make a few friends but not the ones that are popular. They are just as much as outcasts as I am but we had so much fun together and a friendship of honesty, loyalty, and compassion. We enjoyed sleepovers, campouts, and showing each other our hobbies. We rode our bikes to the library to do research on local town legends and to see what kind of trouble we could get into. It was in the middle of fall that we decided to join the experimental all girls football team. There were no flags or touch football. No, we got to play football like the boys did. Later, we learned the only reason our school seemed to be moving forward is that our rival school or my old school were doing the experiment first. Does this make me a rival with my old friends? I haven’t heard from them since I moved.

At practices, my new friends and I were extremely good at the sport. We had no fear. Becuase I had grown close to the twins Sandra and Samantha, Melissa, Ashlee, and Kimber, we were unstoppable. The other girls on our team didn’t really want to hang out with us but that really didn’t matter. They only acknowledged that we existed when our scrimmage team would win. As he leaves began to change colors and the wind had a little more briskness it was the signal of our first game. Outside of all the bullying, outcasting, and ostracizing, we were ready. Ready to prove to the school that it was ok to be different. I was teased about our the first game was at my old school, my new school’s rival. Girls on my own team expressed concerns that I wouldn’t play so the other team would win.

The night before the game my friends and decided that we would have a sleepover to help get over the nervousness. We pigged out on pizza, ice cream, and fell asleep to the movie, ‘The Gate.’ We had watched it a million times so it was more background noise than anything. Before we all had fallen asleep we had made a pact that no matter what happened tomorrow that we would have each other’s back at the game. Both on the field and off the field.

We were sitting in the locker room getting the pep talk from our coach but the truth was no one was really paying any attention. Our nerves were louder than any Go Get Em’ speech. ‘Don’t blow it, Megan. If we lose we will all know where your real loyalty is,’ Stacey said pushing past me. She was one of the most popular girls which meant that she was also the meanest. As we ran onto the field I could hear a familiar voice. One that once brought me comfort and warmth. I looked across the field and seen my best friend Jules. We had grown up together and even had the chicken pox together. She hasn’t called me once since I moved. We made eye contact but sadly she never waved back. At that moment, I not only felt pain but more devoted to my new school and friends.

The first quarter we were down by 7 but it felt like a million. The second quarter we came back ahead by three. I had taken some really hard hits and I could feel it in my back. Sandra and Samantha were the first to tell me to sit the third quarter out after halftime but I really wanted to be in the game. I had to prove to myself that I am as much of a Woodchuck as my friends. I may not have grown up in this town but it is my new home and I’m as much a part of it as anyone else. I made it to the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. Jules and I were set to tackle each other in the next play. She whispered to me that I betrayed her. How in the hell did I betray her? It wasn’t my decision to moves and I couldn’t exactly help it. I groaned getting up off my back. Jules hit me so hard I was seeing spots. My friends were right there asking how many fingers did I see and if I could feel their hands on my legs. I sat up more angry than defeated. Jules smirked over her shoulder while her team was huddled.

‘Megan, sit this one out. You’re hurt. We can do this without you and you gave us a great advantage.’ At that moment it wasn’t my friends telling me all of this, it was my team. My family. This gave me the strength I needed and combine that with my new found devotion I was ready to win. The ball was passed to me and I took off to score the winning touchdown. The twins ran interference and there was great blocking but Jules got through and had me in her sights. I tucked the football in tight dug in deep. Just before I reached the line I could see Jules at my side so I did the only thing I could do. I took the leap for the goal line when I felt the punch to my side. She had rammed into me like a great white shark into its prey. Everything went white.

I woke up on the sidelines with my friends all around me. The first words out of my mouth were, ‘Did I get the touchdown?’ ‘Not only did you score the final touchdown, you got the points we needed to win the game.’ My coach said to me as I was loaded into the ambulance. In my hospital room, my friends didn’t leave my side. I had two broken ribs and a bruised hip. I was going to be released the next day. Jules walked in and my friends formed a wall between her and I. ‘I just wanted to see Megan. How are you doing?’ She asked shyly. ‘She’s fine.’ Kimber spoke with protective authority. ‘Why did you not call?’ I asked over my wall of friends. Jules stepped forward. ‘Guys, can you give us a minute?’ Jules left and my friends entered after she and I finished talking. ‘You ok?’ ‘I’m fine, but one question. Who are we playing next? We have to keep this momentum going.’


7 thoughts on “Friendship and Football

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  1. The school genre is old as dirt, but it also has a lot of potential. On TV, Riverale is doing that now. Not a great show, but…
    Check your opening statement (before the story starts). The first line got repeated. Easy edit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t watched Riverdale but I had a difficult time writing this short story. I think because I wasn’t in the genre itself. Trying to find new angles or a new spin is difficult. Then add the kids, I was lucky to get this much out 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You did the right thing: you kept the story “small”, cast, problem, settings that most can relate to. Shows like Riverdale, or books like Potter, lose the KISS rule. It’s easy to not care when there are too many things going on and holes holes holes appear. Keep trying the new things.

        Liked by 1 person

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