The silence between me and Cassie as we sit waiting for English class to start is unbearably awkward. I finally built up the courage to talk. “So… I started dating someone.”
“That was quick…” I wince at her words and she instantly notices and recoils. “I’m sorry, that was… uncalled for. You deserve someone special and I’m happy for you.”
“Thanks. I’d really like to still be friends if you still want to,” I say.
“Of course, I thought we already agreed,” she says.
“Right,” I smile.
“So? Are you going to tell me about this special someone?” she asks.
“Promise not to tell anyone? We’re still on the down-low,” I say.
“I promise, my lips are sealed,” she says.
“You already know them,” I say.
Her face contorts, but I can see a sudden realization come across her face. “Marcela?”
I nod with a really warm smile.
“I thought she was straight,” she says.
“Turns out, she slowly discovered she’s gay,” I say.
“Well, be careful. In my experience, building a relationship with someone who is still in the discovery phase can get really complicated. Is she still in the closet?”
“Yeah… But we’re going to come out to the team after the season starts. Coach says she’s going to cut someone by the end of the preseason and of course Marcela’s super nervous about it,” I say.
“What about her family?” she asks.
“I don’t know, we haven’t talked about that yet,” she says.
“Just be careful. A relationship that is kept secret never ends well. I’ve been there. There’s nothing worse than being someone’s dirty secret,” she says.
“Trust me, I know that more than anything, but Marcela’s different. She just needs some time to figure things out. It’s all new to her,” I say.
“Okay… Whatever you say,” she says. When did Marcela realize she had feelings for me? Suddenly a realization downs on me and everything becomes so clear. During practice the other day, Marcela was on fire up until scrimmage when she asked if we could talk afterward. I told her I was going to spend time with Cassie after practice. The look on her face had confused me, but worse was how poorly she played after that. And then I invited Cassie back to have sex…
Marcela must’ve been crushed! That must’ve been why she skipped biology.
Marcela never skipped class before. God, how could I be so dumb? I have to go talk to her as soon as I can.
“Good morning class. I’m super excited about this next assignment. For the next week, we’ll be working on short stories. I want you to write something that really inspires you. Usually, short stories are under 7,500 words, but the word count doesn’t matter as much as the story. The topic is up to you,” Professor Porter says.
This will be interesting. I kind of know what I want to write. I have so many feelings going on inside me right now, I just really want to express them. I want to write about love. My own story might have a slight influence over it.
After falling asleep in math class, I wake up just as the professor is handing out a quiz. Crap…
And of course, the problems look like they’re written in Sanskrit. I do my best, but half of them I can’t even fill up the blank space. I’m going to fail this class… God and what if I get dropped from the team because of my bad grades? Now I’m starting to sound like Marcela.
As I give up and hand in my surely failed quiz, I walk out in defeat. As I make my way back, douchebag Ethan smacks my ball out from my arm and starts to twirl it on his finger. “Hey, Peaches. You look good today. Well, you look good every day. Want a private lesson on your ball handling skills? We can work on them in my dorm.”
“No thanks, I’ll pass on that. Now can I have my ball back?” I say.
“You’ll have to take it back,” he gives me that douchey smile.
“I’m not in the mood,” I say.
“Oh come on, did someone do badly on the quiz? I can tutor you. First lesson, you plus me equals,” he thrusts his hips forward.
“Yeah, that’ll never happen. There will never be a you and me because I’m gay,” I say.
“I bet a night with me could turn you straight,” he says.
“This conversation is making me glad I’m gay,” I say.
“Whatever,” he says, tossing my ball down the hallway as he sees Danielle come out. God, I hate him.
I text Cat and ask if I can come over and she of course says yes.
As I walk into Cat’s room, I collapse on her bed as she sits at her desk working on her tablet. “What’s up?” she asks.
“Well, first off, there’s this total douche in my math class and he just won’t leave me alone,” I sigh.
“Do you want me to take care of him? I can make him disappear,” she smiles.
“That would be lovely,” I laugh. “Some good news is that Marcela and I are now dating.”
Cat spins around in her chair. “Wait, what!”
“Yeah, she told me she had feelings for me yesterday before practice. Then last night after practice we decided to give Ankara escort it a try.”
“No way! I’m so happy for you. Oh god, we can go on double dates now! This is awesome!” Cat says. Then she narrows her eyes at me. “You know Marcela’s like my little sister, you better not break her heart.”
“Cat, trust me, that’s the last thing I want to do. I have had a crush on her since my freshman year of high school. This is literally a dream come true,” I say.
“I know, I just had to get that off my chest,” she says. “I’m so happy for you and Marcela.”
“But… I realized I messed up royally. The night before yesterday before I realized Marcela had feelings for me, I slept with Cassie in the same room as Marcela,” I say.
“Yeah, that wasn’t the coolest thing to do,” Cat says,
“What should I do? Do you think Marcela’s over it? She did admit her feelings for me the day after. Should I say something to her? Should I apologize?” I ask.
“You can, but I’m not sure you did anything wrong. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you thought Marcela was straight, right?” I nod. “Then I wouldn’t worry about it. Marcela seems to be over it or she wouldn’t be dating you.”
“Shouldn’t I at least address it?” I ask.
“You can. Just tell her you’re sorry and if you would’ve known she had feelings for you, it would’ve been her in your bed and not Cassie,” Cat says.
“I can’t tell her that,” I say.
“Then give her the vanilla version,” Cat says.
“Okay… I guess,” I say.
“So? Have you two planned out your first date yet?” she asks.
“No. We just kind of talked about what we want out of a relationship. Don’t tell anyone though. Marcela says she wants to wait to tell the team until after coach makes cuts,” I say.
“Don’t worry, my lips are sealed,” she says.
“Okay, well I’ve got to go start working on a project for my English class, and then I’m going to meet up with Marcela after she gets out of her Art class,” I say.
“Okay, good luck,” Cat says.
I spend the next few hours in the library writing down all my ideas for my short story. I want to write something that definitely reflects how I feel right now, but I don’t want it to be an exact replica. But I also want to convey some kind of message that the reader can take away. I know it’s just an assignment, but I think it can be special if I just put my heart on the paper.
I nearly lose track of time as I look at my smartwatch. Crap, Marcela is almost out of class. I rush down to the art building and as I turn the hallway, I see Marcela and Usha in a deep hug. Wait… What?
Suddenly the memory of walking in on Hannah kissing Brett floods back to me. I quickly rush back behind the corner. Just thinking of how Hannah used me as an experiment makes my heart crack open once more. And seeing Marcela hug Usha so intimately opens old wounds I had long buried. What does that mean? It was just a hug, right? But it looked so personal and intimate. Am I jealous?
Earlier that day
“Oh my god, Kennedy. You were right. I’m so glad I followed your advice. I told her how I felt yesterday and it turns out she had a crush on me ever since high school. Go figure,” I say as I sit on Kennedy’s couch.
“See? I’m glad you took the dive. I’m happy for you. You deserve to be happy,” she says. “Besides, I’m sure Cat will want to go on a double date now that you’re a couple.”
“We’re going to wait to tell the team until after the season starts. I just hope I don’t get cut,” I say.
“If you continue to work hard like you’re doing, trust me, you won’t get cut. Just continue to grind and outwork Danielle and you’ll make the team for sure,” Kennedy says.
“You’re right. Well, I’ve got to get to art class. I’ll talk to you later,” I say.
“Alright, have fun with your paintings or whatever,” Kennedy says as we hug. I skip off to art class happier than I’ve ever been. I know I shouldn’t, but I really want to tell Usha. She was right. I was totally head over heels with Sarah. I get there early and set up both of our canvases. Everyone comes in and sets theirs up as well, but Usha’s not among them. The professor comes in without a care in the world and sets up a display for us.
She gives her usual inspiring talk before letting us get to work. I’m kind of worried, Usha’s never late for class. Finally, Usha walks in and she’s a complete mess. “Hey,” I say.
“Hey…” she grumbles as she drops her bag on the floor. She fumbles her brushes and drops them.
“You were right,” I say. Hopefully, this will cheer her up. “I’m gay and I was totally falling for Sarah. I told her how I felt and now we’re dating. It feels so surreal.”
“Cool…” she says flatly. What’s wrong with her?
She starts furiously attacking the canvas, splattering paint everywhere. I try to move past it and focus on my own art. After a while, I hear her start to sniffle. I look over at her and she has tears falling down her cheeks. Somethings not right. “Are you okay?” I ask.
“No…” she cries.
“Come Ankara escort bayan with me.” I grab her arm and pull her out of class. “What’s wrong? You can tell me.”
“My dad…” She tries to wipe her tears away, but they fall down her face like a flood. “His pancreatic cancer has returned… They…”
She breaks down and cries. I pull her into my arms and hold her tight. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry.”
“They say it’s worse and…” she takes a deep breath. “They don’t think he has long…”
“God, I am so sorry, Usha,” I say, rubbing her back.
“I don’t know what to do,” she sobs, her breathing becomes erratic. “I think I’m going to have to quit the team.”
“You can’t do that!” I say. I pull her back and place my hands on her shoulders. “I know it hurts, but you can’t quit. Is it what your dad would want?”
“No…,” she says as the tears continue to run down her face. “But I can’t lose him.”
“I know,” I whisper as I pull her into my arms again. She breaks down and cries.
She looks up at me with those sad eyes so full of pain. “Please, don’t tell anyone. I haven’t said anything yet and I don’t want the team to worry about me.”
I nod. “I promise your secret is safe with me, but I really think you should tell the team. They can help.”
She shakes her head no. “I just can’t right now.”
“I understand,” I say.
I rush back to Cat’s and burst into her room. She and Kennedy look up from her bed. “Sarah? Aren’t you supposed to be with Marcela?”
“I was going to meet up with her after she finished her art class, but when I walked over there I found her with Usha and… They were… Like holding each other.”
“So…” Cat says.
“Trust me, whatever you saw didn’t mean anything. Marcela would never cheat or lie and neither would Usha. I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation for what happened,” Kennedy says.
“You’re right. I overreacted. I just… Ever since my last relationship, I have trust issues,” I say.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Cat asks.
“I mean… I don’t know. Back in high school, I started hooking up with this girl on my basketball team. Hannah… She and I were both still in the closet at the time. And she wanted to keep it that way. She was also dating a guy on the football team. I thought it was more for show. I didn’t realize she had no intention of breaking things off with him. God, I was such an idiot. I thought she wanted to be with me,” I say.
“Oh Sarah, I’m so sorry,” Cat says as she gets up and pulls me into a hug. “But you have to realize Marcela is nothing like that.”
“Trust me, she truly cares about you,” Kennedy says. “You should tell her about your past. Let her know how you feel.”
“You’re right,” I say.
Back at the Dorm
It just makes me want to throw up watching Danielle make out with some random guy on the couch of our dorm. Seriously? I thought she was dating the guy on the basketball team. This definitely isn’t him.
I head into the bunk room to see Maly with her headphones on. She pulls them off as I walk in. “Hey,” she says.
“Hey,” I smile. “What are you listening to?”
“Oh, just this band I like. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them. They just recently got popular. The Blades?” she asks.
“Oh my god, the Blades are my favorite band!” I say.
“Really?” she says with eyes wide.
“Of course, Only Friends is one of my all-time favorite songs. Although, their new song White Flag is simply amazing!” Oh my god, I just realized how much the music of The Blades relates to my own life. Only Friends tells how Sarah felt about me and White Flag reflects how I fell for her.
“Me too! Did you see the video of White Flag being played for Charlie?” Maly asks.
“Yes! I saw it last weekend and almost cried,” I say.
“It was so beautiful,” she says.
“I know…” I say.
“I wish someone would play a song like that for me,” Maly says.
“Yeah, me too,” I say. I wonder where’s Sarah at? I should really be at the gym right now, practicing. Maybe she’s already there waiting for me.
Just then Sarah walks in. She takes one look at the horrendous scene going on in the living room and quickly joins us as she acts like she’s about to throw up. A smile grows on my face at the sight of her and I can’t help but laugh at her gesture.
“Hey, there you are,” she says. God, she looks amazing in short shorts. I wish I had legs like hers.
“Hey,” I say, smiling like a stupid schoolgirl. I can’t help it.
“You want to head to the gym and get some drills in before practice?” she asks.
“Yes, I was literally just thinking that,” I say.
“Can I join you both?” Maly asks.
“Of course,” I say. Although, the look on Sarah’s face suggests she’d rather have it just be the two of us. And to be honest, so would I, but we’re a team and we should really focus on getting better as a team.
The three of us make our way down to the gym and get our shoes Escort Ankara on. “So what do you girls want to work on?” I ask.
“I really need to work on shooting and dribbling. Although, my defense always needs improvement. Especially if I ever want to get rid of the nickname Bambi,” she sighs.
“Yeah, I always need to work on my defense too. I can’t keep letting Danielle get the best of me during scrimmage,” I say.
“I think everyone wants Danielle to lose,” Maly says. We all laugh at that.
“Well, we could alternate and each of us get a turn dribbling and crossing over someone on defense while the third person shoots around the key on the other side of the gym. Like, the person on offense, switches to defense once you reach one side of the court, then the person on defense goes over and shoots around the key while the person shooting goes to offense,” I say.
“Sounds perfect,” Sarah says.
We practice like this for almost the full hour before practice starts. By the time everyone else gets here, we’re forced to quit as people join. Soon everyone’s just shooting around, getting warmed up. Sarah grabs me and pulls me aside. “Do you want to talk after, maybe go for a walk or something?”
“Sure,” I smile.
“Cool,” she says.
Both Head Coach Clayton and Assistant Coach Melina walk in and get practice started. After we do our normal drills and sprints, we start our scrimmage. Usha’s not doing too well and it’s visibly noticeable. She’s slow to react and she’s making quite a few mistakes. It’s understandable considering what she’s going through, but how many other people know that?
“Come on Usha, get your head into the game,” Cat snaps at her as her pass gets intercepted by Solette as she takes it to the other side for an easy uncontested layup.
She only nods. I can tell she’s barely keeping it together and I wish there was something I could do. I want to help, but I don’t know-how. Finally, they call for subs and I rush in for her. She looks up at me with those defeated eyes and lumbers off the court.
I take the inbound pass from Maly and push the ball up the court. I cross Danielle over and drive it into the paint, before dishing it off to Vishay as Eva tries to block my path. Vishay scores the easy-open basket.
Danielle takes the ball in and comes right at me. She does a double crossover, trying to shake me, but I’m not going to give in. She fights me tooth and nail all the way into the paint before she pulls up and my hands in her face. She bricks the shot and Vishay gets the rebound. I take the pass and hit Maly who’s wide open. She pulls up and sinks a three.
She smiles at me as she gets back on defense. Danielle comes back at me with a vengeance. Taking the lane and pulling a step-back fade away, sinking the shot. I clench my hand in a fist for getting so complacent.
After practice, I rush over to Usha as she changes her shoes. “Hey, how are you feeling?”
“I’m okay. Thanks for letting me vent earlier.”
“Shinnies!” Fionna yells out. “And everyone else. Meeting at the house in an hour.”
I place my hand on Usha’s shoulder. “If you need to talk at all or if you need anything, please reach out to me. I’m here for you.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it, but I’ll be fine,” she says, shrugging my hand off as she goes to leave.
As Usha walks out, Sarah comes up to me. “What was that all about?”
“Usha’s just going through a rough time right now and I wish I could help, but I don’t know how I can help,” I say, staring into the sky that makes up Sarah’s eyes.
“What’s wrong? Is she in trouble,” she asks.
“No… I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone. It’s just something with her family,” I say.
“Oh. I’m sure she’ll make it through. Usha is a strong girl,” Sarah says.
“Yeah, you’re right,” I say.
“Well, since we have a meeting, do you still want to talk or we can talk later,” Sarah says.
“We can still talk. We have time,” I say.
“Hey, girls,” Maly says as she walks up.
“Hey,” Sarah and I both say.
“Are you two staying after to work on some drills before the meeting?” she asks.
Sarah and I exchange looks. “Well, we weren’t going to, but if you are, we can definitely stay,” I say.
“I mean if you weren’t planning on staying after, you don’t have to on my account,” she says.
“No, we really should,” I say. “I have so much I need to work on to improve before coach makes her final decision.”
“Me too. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way,” she says. We stay after with Maly and continue to work on some extra drills. Practicing ball-handling, shooting, and defense until we have to leave for the meeting.
Cat was right, I was overreacting. Marcela is nothing like Hannah. She would never use someone like that. She just has a big heart and cares too much. I feel guilty for coming to such a quick assumption. I need to relax and I still need to address the Cassie issue, but I can’t seem to get Marcela alone. I get it, Maly wants to hang out with us. Maly seems like she’s really trying to grow as a player and teammate. Who am I to exclude her from our practice sessions. We’re a team, we should be inclusive, but I really want to make this relationship with Marcela work.