Time to shine | Teen Ink

Time to shine

December 19, 2013
By Anonymous

It was a perfect saturday in Miami. The skies were brilliant , you could taste the sweet savory smell that the honeydew plants left in the air, and you could hear the laughter of all the neighborhood children playing at the pool in the background. Usually on days like these people were out at the beach or with family. But James believed in order to succeed you must give up the things you love first.

“Here I am on another perfect Saturday wasting my time training when no one ever shows recognition for my work ,” James yelled out loud. “ I could be at the pool or the beach or even with my mom relaxing but here I am working my behind off for no reason. Nobody believes that I’m actually a good quarterback. I stay after every practice, I never complain , I know all the plays, and I have better fundamentals than Michael and I’m starting to get tired of waiting behind someone when I know I’m better ,” James muttered to himself growing impatient.

Michael was James’ best friend who also played quarterback but he was a star athlete of the team and made everyone just forget about James. James was in his mid teens and was tall , had a slim build ,and had brown low cut hair. James was a particularly quiet person but he was impatient at times. His friend Michael is also in his mid teens but slightly taller than James, he was well built for his age, and had short black hair. James knew that his friend Michael only started over him because he was faster and bigger also they have been watching him play since pop warner. Where as James was average speed , and size , he never got to play the position he loved the most because of his friend .

James sometimes wished they would just give him one chance so he could shine. But this anger and confusion only caused James to work harder and that saturday afternoon was when he vowed to himself that he would give up on doing a lot of things he liked to do what he loves the most. James’ knew dad always told him with hard work you could go anywhere in life.

After 2 hours of training and a sore arm James headed inside to his room. When he opened his door the putrid smell of dirty football equipment instantly hit him. James didn’t mind because after 3 years he eventually got used to the smell. His computer desk was covered in sports illustrated magazines and offensive playbooks. His carpet was littered with small rubber rocks from the turf on the football field and crumpled up papers from homework and playbooks . The Miami Dolphins blanket and pillow on his bed which is uppose to be white w

“ No mom not tonight i want to finish studying all the plays.”

“ Honey, why do you take this football thing so seriously?” She asked concerned.

“ I just want to prove to everyone that I actually am better than Michael and that I am somebody not just the second string quarterback of the football team. Plus nobody wants to be friends with a bench warmer.” James replied.

“ Is that what this is all about ? You just want to be popular and have friends ? If they weren’t your friends from the start then what makes you think they will be loyal friends. James you don’t have to be popular for people to like you you have to be yourself. Also you have to learn how to give yourself a break from all that stuff you use up your whole weekend doing nothing but that.” His mom remarked.

“ I know that mom Its just that i work so hard at practice and school then I come home and practice extra and I’m still sitting on the bench.” James angrily replied.

Michael and James were on way different levels at school Michael didn't have to do any of the stuff his friend James did. At school he was treated like royalty, all the staff loved him, the coaches loved him, the girls chased him, and the boys wanted to be like him. He never stayed after practice or put in extra work on saturdays his talent just came to him naturally.

The second game of the season when James’ team (the Bulldogs) were playing the Huskies Michael and the first team got up 40 to 0 at halftime. So James got in the rest of the game with the second team offense.

“ Lets go james nows your chance to show everybody what you have been working on.” Michael screamed from the sidelines.

“This is my chance, James thought to himself this is my chance to show the coaches what I have and take Michaels spot.”

“Over right green 9,over right green 9 !” The coach screamed.

James looked at his wristband and translated to his teammates what the signal meant.

“ Over right 50 golden bear on set, over right 50 golden bear on set.” James yelled over the crowd. “ Down….. set !”

James dropped back pumped faked to his left then slung the ball to his right It was a perfect pass for a wide open receiver .

“Touchdown James McMichael .”

The pa system announced. James didn’t quite get the reaction he expected from the crowd it was more of a gasp of shock than excitement. While James was celebrating everyone was still staring at him in shock. James walked to the sidelines confused.

“ Michael I don't get it why didn’t anybody celebrate when i scored ?” James asked in confusion

“ Who threw that touch down James ?”

“ What do you mean...The quarterback threw it .. I mean I threw the touchdown why?”

“Where did you learn to throw like that why couldn’t you do that in practice?”

“ I was always able to throw like that no one ever gave me a chance not even in practice because you always were the big shot quarterback so I just kept quiet.

After that game there was a friday night block party thrown for all the football players that get invited. To James’ surprise he got invited and of course Michael did too. James did not know anybody at the party so he followed behind Michael the for a while. When eventually Michael hooked up with a girl a left James stranded. For the rest of the night James was hoping no one called him out for being lame. So he tried to blend in by bobbing his head to the music and walking around.

That saturday James decided to take his moms advice and give football training a break.

When James’ mom woke up that saturday she was surprised to find James downstairs eating breakfast and watching something else besides ESPN.

“ Good morning mom. “ James said.

“ Good morning James . Surprised to see that you took my advice and gave the whole football thing a break.

“ Yea. Do you want to go out to eat to night and then rent a movie from Redbox ?” James asked.

“ Sounds like a plan sure what restaurant and movie do you have in mind ?”

“ How about Fuddruckers and the new Harry potter movie ?” James asked.

“ Okay we can do that “

It felt good for James to finally do something besides football and spend time with his mom. He looked forward to spending time with her and conversating. That night at the restaurant his mom asked a ton of questions.

“ So how is school going ?” His mother asked.

“ It’s good I guess.” James replied.

“ Oh ok, so you have any friends yet ?”

“ Just the people from the football team that occasionally talk to me also Michael but he has so many friends and is popular now so he hardly ever talks to me but it’s ok i guess.”

“ Have you tried talking to him or anybody else ?”

“ No I don’t want to seem weird and just go up talking to random people so I just try to let it happen naturally.”

“ And is that working ?” His mother questioned.

“ No.” James mumbled.

When the food finally arrived James tried to eat as slow as he can to avoid any more awkward conversation.

“ James stop playing in your food and eat it cant be nasty because thats your favorite burger.” His mom remarked.

“ Fine.” He sighed

“ So you got any cute girls in your class that you like.”

“ Mom really ?” James asked embarrassed.

“ What I’m just trying to make conversation.

“ Well…. there is this one girl named Jessica. James started. But is the captain of the cheer team and I don’t think she will go for somebody like me she likes people like Michael.

“ Oh I see. She didn’t see your touchdown you threw ? Which by the way was a helluva throw good job.

“ Thanks mom. But you saw everybodies reaction nobody was cheering they were all quiet.”

“ Thats only because they didn’t expect you to be able to do that.”

After they finished the movie James said goodnight and went to his room he couldn’t help but look at his playbook before he went to sleep. That next week at school was different from any other week. James took his moms advice to try to talk to them instead of letting it come “naturally”.

“ Hey James hows it going?” Mia asked.

James couldn’t believe it the co- captain of the cheer team came up to him and started talking to him and it wasn’t about homework or classes.

“ Good I guess.” James answered.

“ I never knew you were so good at football that was a nice touchdown you threw….. but anyways do you want to come sit with the us at lunch.” Mia replied.

“ Me ?” James asked confused.

“ Yea who else would I be talking to ?”

“ Yea I would like to.”

When lunch time came James was unsure of if she was trying to embarrass him in front of the whole school or really wanted him to sit with them.

“ What’s up James you sitting with us today right ?” Michael asked.

“ Yea I guess. James mumbled.

“ Well come on then.” Michael said annoyed.

When James and Michael arrived at the table everybody said hey to the both of them and didn’t seem to mind that James was sitting with them. James hardly knew any of the people at the table so he just listened to everybody talk.

“ Why are you so quiet James ?” Michael asked

“ I don’t know anybody at the table except for you.” James admitted .

“ Oh man thats okay they don’t bite here I’ll introduce them to you.” Michael started. Okay that girl right there is Mia and you met her, that girl right there is veronica.” James looked at the average sized dark blonde girl with a lot of makeup on. “His name is David.” Michael pointed to a big burly kid with dark hair and a deep voice. “ And that girl over there is Jessica”. Michael nodded his head towards a dark haired pretty girl. “Everyone this is James Im sure you have seen him around before.”

“ Hey, aren’t you that guy who threw that touchdown on friday ?” David asked.

“ Yea. James nodded.

“ Man that was nice one of the best passes I’ve seen all season. David said nudging Michael playfully.

James wasn’t sure on whether to laugh or not so he nodded his head.

After school was over and James was walking toward the football locker room Michael approached James.

“ Hey James,” Michael said. “ I can hook you up with one of there numbers if you want.”

James thought about then decided he should try to get to know her better first.

“ Naw man probably later I want to try to get to know her better.

“ Ok… Wait who are you talking about ?” Michael asked smirking.

“ I think that girl Jessica is pretty cute.

“ Oh yea ? Go for it she’s single.

After practice and James got home he walked in the house and instantly smelled the aroma of his favorite meal shrimp fried rice and eggrolls and orange glazed chicken.

“ Hey James how was school honey? His mom asked.

“ It went great. Let me go freshen up and I’ll tell you at dinner.

After James had got out the shower and put clothes on it thats when he thought about it.

His father got stationed to another country and they will have to move again.

“ It happened before when I was ten and she cooked the same thing.” James thought to himself.

When James got downstairs he saw his plate, silverware and drink sitting on the table waiting for him.

“ Mom… Can I ask you a question ?”

“ Sure honey.” His mom replied trying to hold back the excitement.

“ Why did you cook all of this ?” James questioned. “ Did dad get stationed to another country again ?”

“No.” His mom said

“ So what is it ?” James asked taking a bite of his food.

“ Well…” His mom started. “ I went to the store monday with Michaels mom and she was talking about the lottery saying how the new jackpot was at 450 million and how I should try it cause you never know what could happen and it only cost 5 dollars.”

“ Ok…” James said not getting the point of the conversation.

“ Here look at this.” James’ mom said handing him a ticket and her phone.

James put the ticket on the table and glanced down at his moms phone. He nearly fainted and dropped his fork on the table.

“ We w-w-w-w-won ?” James stammered.

“ Yea !” His mom said ecstatically. “ And we are moving out this weekend to paradise falls next door to Michael isn’t that great !”

“ Man this day can’t get any better .”

“speaking of days how was your day today?” His mom asked.

“ Ok so you know that girl Jessica that I said I kinda liked.. I sat with her and her friends at lunch and Michael introduced me to her.

“ Oh thats great honey, see what happens when you take my advice ? You should take advice from me more often you’ll be friends with the whole school.” His mom said smiling.

That saturday morning as he was packing up James felt sad that he was leaving his old house behind he missed training and throwing footballs in the backyard at random things. But then again he was happy that they were moving out of that neighborhood because he always felt insecure about telling his address because everyone else lived in those big fancy condos and houses.

“Dang.” James said to himself. “ I hope the new backyard is big enough.”

When they pulled up to the brick driveway in the U-Haul truck James and his mom sat in the truck just admiring the house.

“Want to go inside?” James said hopping out of the truck.

When his mom got out of the truck the first thing James did was run to the backyard.

“Whoah.” Was the only thing James could say.

The new backyard was huge it had a pool, a slide for the pool, a garden and at least 50 yards of open field.

“ I thought you would like this backyard.” His mom commented.

“ It’s huge.” James said in awe.

“ C’mon lets go look at the rest of the house you can come back out here later.”

The house was extraordinary. It had was a two story 4 bedroom 3 ½ bathroom house with granite counter tops and a hardwood floors . James had wondered why they didn't bring any of their furniture but quickly realized that the house was already pre-furnished when he stepped in the door.

It took James a while to get use to the new house partly because he has been sleeping in a bed different from what he’s been sleeping in for the past 3 years. When Michael found out that James had moved in next door the first thing he did was come over with basketball shorts on and hopped into the pool.

“ Man I’ve been waiting for 2 ½ years for someone to move in this house just to get in the pool.” Michael said smirking.

“ Don’t you have a pool at your house ?” James asked rhetorically.

“ Yea but our pool isn’t heated like yours.” Michael replied “ But anyways do you want to go to the mall tomorrow with us ?”

“ Us ?” James said. Who do you mean by us.

“ The people we sat at the table with at lunch ? David, Veronica, and Mia.” Michael reminded .

“ Oh I don't know man I kinda already had plans .” James said.

“ What could you possibly be doing tomorrow thats so much better than hanging out with best bro and new friends.” Michael said.

“ Well I was going to train for football tomorrow.” James started.

“ James that’s what PRACTICE is for. Michael said emphasizing practice. Otherwise it would be no need to practice. Oh and I nearly forgot to mention Jessica is coming.”

“ Oh.” James hesitated. She is coming well I guess football can wait after all we do have practice to practice throwing so I’m in.”

“ Good I’ll come over tomorrow before we leave.” Michael said climbing out of the pool.

When James went back inside he couldn’t help but smile.

“ Man I might finally have a chance to talk to Jessica and maybe I can get to know her better.” James thought to himself. “ I don't know what to wear I can’t just wear what I wear to school everyday.”

Everyday James wore a pair of Nike basketball shorts, Nike Elite socks, a Dri- fit shirt, and his slides. Thats all he asked for when he got clothes for christmas and thats all he picked when he and his mom went school shopping. “ Why do I have to dress to impress for school.” He always told his mom. But now was different he was going somewhere with other people and didn’t want to be dressed like a “bum” while everyone else was dressed nice. He went into his jean drawer for the first time in a while and pulled out a pair of slim-fit Levis. He then went in his closet and took a button up polo and some nice tennis shoes out and laid them out on his bed. He took the clothes downstairs to iron them. James went down the hall to his mothers room. He knew his father who was a big cologne fanatic always kept his cologne under the cabinet in their bathroom. He grabbed the most expensive sounding bottle he could find entitled ; Aqua Di Gio. He had seen a ton of commercials on this cologne too and he thought it smelt nice. James stuffed the cologne in his pocket and headed towards his room.

That next day James woke up feeling great he decided to shower and brush his teeth again before Michael came over so he would feel fresh.

“ Man.” Michael said as James was opening the the door letting him in. “ I don’t think I ever seen you dressed up like this since we first met.”

“ How are we getting there.” James asked .

“ We walk down the strip.” Michael replied.

James had forgotten that he had moved to a different side of town where everything was in walking distance. When everyone else had arrived James had noticed that everyone was walking fast intentionally trying to leave James and Jessica behind forcing them to be together.

“ Is that your house ?” Jessica had asked trying to make conversation.

“ Yea, actually we just moved in a couple weeks ago.” James replied shyly.

“ Oh I thought I saw you pulling up across the street in the U-Haul.” Jessica said. “ You know I live right there actually Jessica said pointing across the street.”

“ Oh cool… Maybe we can hang out sometime ?” James said wishing he didn’t say it.

“ Ok that sounds cool.” Jessica replied “Oh and by the way you look nice today it’s like seeing a whole new James.”

“ Oh thanks and you look very pretty like always.” James acknowledged.

“ Thanks James that was really sweet what you just said…. You know you're actually a really nice person unlike Michael he needs to learn from you.”

“ Thanks.” James mumbled “ Do you know why we are going to the mall ?”

“ Oh we are just watching a movie then I don't know what after that…Is that ok with you ?” Jessica replied.

When they got to the mall James could not believe it he was holding a full on conversations with the girl of his dreams and she was talking back and laughing. When Michael handed James the ticket James got nervous. He saw that it was a horror movie and that everybody had a date for the movie and that left James and Jessica stranded. When they got in the theater he was surprised to see that Jessica had sat by him. As James was reaching in his pocket to turn it off his phone vibrated. It was a message from Michael.

James bro i’m so proud of you. You got one of the prettiest girls in school to sit with you during a horror movie. ;) Nice dude

Thats when it hit James.

“ Did Michael set up this whole thing just so I can get with Jessica ?” James thought to himself. “ Michael is a good friend for doing that .

“ James turn your phone off .” Jessica said playfully.

When the movie lights in the theater dimmed at the start of the movie James thought about the corny move he always saw on tv where you act like you’re stretching your arms out and you put your arm around the girl.

“ Wouldn’t hurt to try.” James thought to himself

To James’ surprise when he did it Jessica leaned in to lay her head on his shoulder. Eventually Jessica fell asleep on James’ but he couldn't blame her because the movie was boring. After the movie was over and James had woken Jessica up they walked outside the theater looking for everyone else but discovered they had left.

“ Lets just go home.” Jessica mumbled.

Michael had a bad reputation of doing stupid things for no reason and for falling into peer pressure. So when David had asked Michael if he heard about the new Rolex watch that came out and if he wanted to get one he couldn’t say no. When Michael walked into the store he thought about what he was getting himself into but before he knew it David had tossed a watch to him and ran. Michael instantly ran out of the store when he saw the security guard running towards him. When Michael felt like he had out ran the guard he stopped to catch his breath. He saw a nearby patrol car heading his way and he panicked and jumped the fence of a nearby alleyway. But when Michael jumped down his leg twisted in an awkward way.

“ F-U-U-U-U- !” MIchael screamed out clenching his knee.

All the shock from the fall shot straight to his knee as soon as he jumped out. Michael took the watch out of his pocket and threw it at the ground in frustration shattering it into a bunch of pieces. He couldn’t walk on it so he called a cab to pick him up and tried his best to walk normal when he got to his house. He did his best to stay off of it the.

Next door to at James house he was there with Jessica because Jessica lost her key and no one was home yet. Which was perfect for James because his mom wasn’t home either.

“ You want something to drink ?” He asked Jessica getting up trying to start another conversation.

“ Yea sure. Do you have any lemonade ?” Jessica asked.

“ Yea.”

When James came back with the drinks he placed his down on a coaster and gave her hers and a coaster.

“ Thanks.” Said Jessica . “ What made your mom move in to this neighborhood ?”

“ Actually we won the lottery and she already didn’t like the neighborhood we were living in so we moved out and Michaels mom told her about this neighborhood and how it was a house right next door to hers that is open.” James replied.

“ Oh thats so cool. How much money did you guys win ?” Jessica asked.

“ 450 million dollars but 112.5 million after taxes. James answered.

“ Wow thats great.” Jessica acknowledged

“ Sooo..uh I know it’s none of my business but where is your dad ?” Jessica asked.

“ Well I haven’t talked to him in a while because of where he is at currently but last time I had talked to him he was in Afghanistan hopefully he will be coming home in 2 months.” James sighed.

“ Oh my dad is in istan too if it makes you feel any better.” Jessica replied sympathetically.

“ Oh ok that makes two of us.”

“ So.. do you like anyone in the school ?” Jessica asked trying to make conversation.

“ Well there is this one girl in the school that’s really pretty but I don’t think she would ever go for someone like me she likes people like Michael.” James replied.

“ You shouldn’t talk like that you are killing your ego. But what’s her name ?” Jessica asked.

“ Nah I really don’t want to embarrass myself and look stupid.” James admitted.

“ James just tell me I won’t say anything I promise.” Jessica begged.

“ Ok well I kinda had a crush on you for a while know.” James admitted.

“ You do.” Jessica asked. Oh I would never go out with Michael he’s a dog. But I kinda like you but we should talk more before we go out. Here let me see your phone I’ll give you my number.

Jessica gave James her number gave him a hug and left. James felt like his life was getting better everyday ever since he made his first touchdown.

When Michael woke up the next morning he nearly gasped at his leg. His knee was swollen to the size of a baseball. He rolled off his bed cautiously trying to avoid hitting it on something. When Michael stood himself up he nearly collapsed as all the blood rushed to his knee. He noticed that he could walk on it but could only maintain a certain pace. Michael hobbled over to his game calendar to see that his teams big games against Fort Lauderdale was only a week away.

“ Keep cool Michael keep cool it won’t affect your game I’ll just get a brace and I just won’t run I’ll just stay in the pocket and pass.” Michael thought to himself.

Michael tried to walk down the hall to the staircase without hobbling so his mom won’t notice.

“ Michael are you limping ? Why are you limping ?” His mom asked from across the hall.

“ No mom i’m not limping I just have a cramp in my leg.” Michael lied.

Michael didn’t want to lie to his mom but he knew that she would make him tell her how he got hurt then make him quit football and do track.

“ Ok if you're cramping go drink drink water.”

Michael tried to walk down the stairs without showing signs of pain because his mom was watching him. After Michael finished eating his breakfast he went to his garage and pulled out a knee brace that his dad used when he played football in the nfl before he passed away. Though it was the only thing Michael had to remember him by he still used it. When Michael put the brace on his knee instantly felt better. The next day at practice Michael tried to limit running even though he could run on it he still didn’t want to risk getting hurt.

“ Hey McJames!” The head coach John barked.

“ Yea coach ?” Michael replied.

“ If none of your receivers are open and you have a wide open running lane run the damn ball don’t throw it away. You know this already son come on pick it up.” Coach John yelled back.

On the next play Michael listened to the coach and ran the ball. Usually no one would be be able to catch Michael because of his speed but with the knee injury he was slower, way slower slow enough for the linebacker to come in and take out Michael’s legs before he had the chance to get out of bounds. All you heard was a sound like a pencil was being split in half. When Michael had got hit he let out a shriek of pain.

“ What the hell are you doing ?” The head coach John yelled running towards the collision. “ Why the hell are you hitting the quarterback so low ? Why are you hitting him period I never seen you hit somebody like that in a game. You might’ve just caused us our season.”

When Michael clenched his leg he looked down to see that it was just dangling freely with no ligaments connecting it. He unbuckled his helmet took it off and threw his head back in disbelief.

“ I can not believe this is happening.” Michael screamed

When the coach looked at Michael his face turned to horror.

“ Go get the trainer and hurry up now!” Coach John bellowed at a random teammate.

When the trainer arrived he looked at Michaels leg winced at the gruesome looking injury pulled out a knee stabilizer to hold his knee in place until the paramedics came then he asked to speak to the coach in private.

“ So how bad is it ?”John asked concerned.

“ I’ve never seen an injury like this that bad this kid will be lucky if he could speed walk without pain when it heals.” The trainer mumbled trying to keep his voice down so no one else could hear their conversation.

“ Is it really that bad ?” John asked the trainer.

The trainer nodded his head.

“ Well it happens thanks I have to get back to practice.” John sighed

When the ambulance arrived John walked over to the truck and told Michael to stay strong. When the ambulance pulled off John walked over to the team and told them the news.

“ Well Michael is out with a torn knee ligament they are going to take him to go get a MRI so they can see what ligament it is. It all depends on how he heals for when he will return but he’s out indefinitely this season.” John said in a down voice.

“ Our season is over.” Someone mumbled

“ No no no it’s not we still have James don’t forget about him.” John said nodding his head towards James. “ James it’s your time to step up and lead us I believe in you. And your teammates are going to support you all the way. Now that’s over so let’s get back to practice. And don’t hit the quarterback please.”

When James got home he thought about how the whole day went and how crazy things changed in one play. He took out his phone and started texting Jessica

Hey Jessica

Hey James

I heard that Michael got hurt and you have to play quarterback know. Are you nervous ?

No. Why would I be nervous I’ve been in and thrown a touchdown before and it was easy .

Oh I know that I was just wondering because I know that you guys are playing a really hard team.

Jessica how hard can they be I mean really ?

Sorry James I was just asking but I’ll come to the game to support you.

Oh. Thanks I’ll talk to you later I got to go do something

When Michaels mom found out what happened to her son she rushed to the hospital. Nervous to see how bad the injury was she

walked into the room to find Michael laying straight up in his hospital bed watching tv.

“ Hey mom.” Michael said

“ How did this happen ?” His mom asked.

“ In practice I got hit on my leg.”

“ I thought you don’t hit the quarterback in practice.” His mom said.

“ It happens.” Michael sighed

“ Hang on honey Ima go talk to the doctor.” His mom said walking out.

“ So Dr. Eisenhower tell me how bad the injury is.”

“ Well first I’d like to start off by saying your son is really lucky he didn’t suffer any nerve damage usually injuries like these you see nerve damage or damage to the tissues. Dr. Eisenhower started. “ Now we took MRI’s already and it shows that his main ligament the acl was torn and he has a fractured shin bone. But the medical team that came and picked him up said that his knee was already swollen so perhaps he was already doing something to aggravate the injury ?”

“ No he couldn’t have been because he was walking fine the last couple of days . But how long do you expect it to take to heal and would he be able to play football again ?” His mom asked concerned.

“ Well it all depends on how his body takes it and if he stays off of it but I say for at least 8 Months and I would recommend taking him out of football but thats your decision .”

“Ok Dr. Eisenhower thank you and I’ll call you if I have any questions.”

The day of the game at school James felt as if everyone were watching him. When school was over he started to feel uneasy at the fact that the whole school is coming to watch the game since it was homecoming and that Jessica was going to be watching, Michael saw the expression on James’ face then went over to him.

“ Pre-game jitters huh ?” Michael asked sitting down next to James.

“ No I’m just nervous because of all the people coming to watch and I don’t want to mess up our homecoming game and have everybody mad at me. Plus Jessica is coming to watch.” James replied.

“ Oh. I see you and Jessica have a thing going on now but anyways don’t worry about all of that just act like they aren’t there and just play your hardest.” Michael said . “ Go get dressed and I’ll see you on the field “

James walked back to his locker feeling better after Michael's pep talk. The only thing he was worried about was messing up and Jessica being there. James put on his pants and cleats then grabbed his helmet and shoulder pads and headed out to the field to warm up with the receivers and running backs. When James looked up at the stands to his surprise Jessica was there watching him. Way before the game even started.

" Act like she's not there act like she's not there." James mumbled to himself."

James felt like he was going to have a good game during the warm ups he was throwing tight spirals, leading his receivers and running as fast as he could.

When night fell it was game time the weather was frigid making the players fingers and toes numb and making the turf as hard as concrete. As usual on homecoming games the stadium was packed full on both sides. James did his best to ignore them as it would only make him nervous.

When it was time for kickoff James was relieved that the other team received the ball first. James liked seeing the other teams offense first and seeing what player on the team played what. It also gave James a chance to breathe.

When the other team got off the field James did the best he could to block out all of the noise and not think about Jessica sitting up in the crowd watching. James looked over to his coach to get the play.

" Red 5 " Coach John said.

James glanced down at his wristband with plays on it and jogged to the field where his teammates waited for him and read them the actual translation for the play.

" Left 45 quick base on 2. Left 45 quick base on 2." James told his teammates.

" This Is it James this is your time to shine." Michael screamed in the distance.

But James didn't hear him though he was already in his own world blocking people out and zoning in on the game.

" Down said hike ! ...... Hike ! "

James handed the ball off to the running back (Bruce) Who was excited because he was getting to run the ball finally instead of Michael running. He got so excited that he tried to run the ball without James getting a chance to put the ball in his gut his side muffed the ball causing it to fall on the ground. James picked it up as fast as he could and saw an open lane and ran the ball as fast as he could to the first down avoiding contact.

James gave the ball to the referee and ran back to the huddle.

" That was my bad guys." Bruce said

" Ok guys lets put that behind us. We are going to go with right 4 35 golden bear on down so get to the line as fast as you can. " James told his teammates.

James got to the line of scrimmage waited and then saw the linebackers trying to cheat their way up to blitz then James knew he had to instantly get the ball off because he will have time to throw and a receiver will be open. He tapped his center on his right thigh signaling the linebackers were going to blitz.

" Down !" James yelled

Everything was moving in slow motion and going just like James wanted it , the lineman were able to pick up the blitz leaving the middle of the field open and the safeties were both following the deep pass. James looked to one of his fastest receivers sprinting across the field and James hurried up and threw it to him and let him use his speed to beat everybody for a touchdown. The crowd went crazy and James looked up to the crowd where Jessica was with his mom pointing at him smiling and waving.

" How does my mom know about me and Jessica ?" James thought to himself as he was jogging back to the sideline where his teammates and coaches all slapping his helmet congratulating him.

James walked over to the bench took off his helmet and sat down. After a while he stood back up and put his helmet back on because he didn't want to be reminded of sitting on the bench.

" I told you it was your chance to shine." Michael said slapping James on the helmet. James nodded his head in acknowledgement. He didn't want to celebrate because he knew that the football game was far from over and that they were playing a really tough team. James also knew that this could possibly be the last game for a lot the seniors if they don't win this game to make the playoffs. James knew that there will be plenty of time to celebrate later on. When it was time to head back to the locker room for halftime the score was 14 to 7 and James felt as if he did pretty good he was 21/24 had 250 yards passing with 2 touchdowns with no interceptions and 95 rushing yards.

“ Bring it in.” Coach John said signaling for the players to come together “ Now you guys are playing a hell of a game especially McMichael stepping up for us and doing a damn good job. But we also need to establish a run game they’ve seen him throw already so they are ready to stop it so now I need bruce to step up. I know you haven’t ran the ball in a while but we need you to step up too and stop getting excited when I call a play for you. You guys want to go to playoffs but we got to beat these guys first.”

At the start of the third quarter James jogged on the field ready to put the game away and take his team to playoffs. He walked to the huddle looked at his coach who held up a green flash card and the number 7 and translated it to his teammates.

“ Left 47 blast on 2. Left 47 blast on 2 ! .” James yelled.

James walked up behind his center examined the defense saw that they were playing the pass defense and instantly knew it was going to be an easy gain of yards.

“ Down said ready go…. Ready go!”

James acted like he was about to pass then handed the ball off to Bruce who took off for the end zone getting forty yards before he was shoved out of bounds. The home crowd went crazy. James didn’t realize how much noise the home side was making because he was blocking them out. James slapped bruces’ helmet telling him good play and turned around waiting for the call from the coach. His coach held up a blue flash card with the number 5 and reverse arrows. It made James jump because he had to make the decision to run it himself or give it to Bruce. He wanted to let Bruce catch his breath so he decide to keep it himself. When James snapped the ball his first instinct was to get out of bounds.

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