I was very conscious of my body at that precise moment. This was it. My eyes were focused, intent, unwavering while my body was intense, tight, ready to spring. Sweat rolled off my neck and arms, creating tiny sensations all across my body, but this didn’t distract me. It was me and my target that lay across from me. I was poised and positioned.
She tossed the ball in the air. My eyes followed. Her racket swung up and over, my eyes slowing the movement down, so that it all looked like a graceful dance move. I knew the ball was going to be in even before it crossed the net. My body straightened slightly, turned and my arm curved back as I got ready to return cross-court. Once the ball ricocheted out of the service box, my mind brought everything back into normal time. My racket swung and brushed the ball back over the next, deep and cross court. That hit alone was too much for the other team. They swing and miss, and immediately my body relaxes. I grin at my doubles partner, who is giving me a thumbs up and is walking toward me. We congratulate each other and head to coach to tell him our score. If I’m not mistaken, me and my doubles partner, Lisa, have just won our spot into Varsity.
We see that the other team is a little distraught, as they are seniors and want to spend their last year of high school tennis on the varsity squad. Naturally, I would feel a little bit of sympathy, but I had just earned my spot on the varsity team, so I wasn’t very inclined to feel sorry for them. Me and Lisa walked to coach with a spring in our step, our tennis bags slung over our worn backs and our water bottles in our hands, and huge grins on our faces. He looks at us and gives us a satisfied look.
“What was the score, ladies?”
“8-2,” I respond. I look at Lisa and she smiles. After a week of being paired with her in doubles, we had already begun to be an unstoppable power force. Coach’s voice lowered as he noticed Tracey and Samantha, our opponents, walk toward us.
“Well, to be honest, I was expecting a score like that. Good job, girls! You’ve really shown all you got. Go ahead and call it a day and sleep well. You’re in varsity now.” He smiled, and patted our backs. Lisa and I only nodded and headed toward the bleachers where the rest of our gear rested. Lauren, a fellow tennis player and member of the Country Club team, was sitting next to my keys and towel. I gathered them, and noticed her looking at her schedule for the new school year. Ugh, school. I didn’t want to think about that. I had gotten my schedule earlier today, just like she did, and it was a reminder that the summer was almost over. It seemed like summer had just begun, and now it was ending. She looked up, and smiled at me.
“Hey, Tori. How’d you do?”
“Won, 8-2. They’re still upset.” I look over at Tracey, who looked like she had just had a good cry about it. Tracey tended to get upset easily in tennis. Samantha looked like she’d eaten something sour. I sighed. I hated being the one to cause contention, but if they were going to be bitter about it, that was their problem. Lauren was looking too, and she merely shrugged.
“Its not your fault you’re better. At least you made it quick.” I nodded and sat next to her, glancing at her schedule.
“So, what classes do you have?” She asked. I furrowed my brow in concentration and managed to see my schedule in my mind. I named the classes off as they appeared on the image ingrained in my memory.
“Orchestra, AP US History and English Block, Integrated Math 4 Honors, French 2 Advanced, Sociology, and Musical Productions 2,” I recited, grinning at my amazing memory. “What about you?” Lauren handed me her schedule, and I looked it over. We had no classes together, though we were both enrolled in the challenging AP block class. Hers was the 4/5 hour block and mine was the 2/3 block. I sighed, and shook my head.
“No classes together?” She asked. I nodded and gave her schedule back. I gathered my things, and turned to leave.
“Hey, don’t get too big headed now that you’re in varsity!” Lauren shouted at my retreating back. I laughed and waved at her.
As I drove home, cranking my window down since my AC was non-existent, I reminisced about the day. I had done all the things necessary to start the school year this morning, such as getting my schedule, signing up for clubs, taking pictures, and all that stuff. A depression had settled in my mind as I did it, knowing that in a matter of weeks school would be back in session and I’d be bogged down by the usual homework load the teachers liked to send us students home with. From the ultimate low, I went to the ultimate high, playing some of the best tennis I’ve played for the whole summer. Me and Lisa were queens of the court and finally succeeded in achieving our goal of making varsity. It had been a very moody day.
And to top it off, tonight I was going to Nauvoo, Illinois with my friend Celeste and her family. I looked at the time, and saw that I only had an hour and a half to get ready. I began speeding down the road, knowing that it would take me at least an hour to look decent.
Once I got home, my mom had left a note on the counter, and it said:
Off running errands. Make sure you pop in the casserole before you leave.
Love ya, Mom.
I smiled at her little message and checked the fridge for the casserole. I took out the pan and looked inside. It was tuna-noodle casserole. My nose wrinkled slightly. I was definitely not in the mood for that. Thank goodness I would be out of town for it. I set it next to her note, and went to my room to get ready to take a shower.
An hour and a half later, I was in front of Celeste’s house, making sure I had everything. My bag, a book to keep me entertained, my wallet, keys, jacket…yep. Everything was there. No, everything was not there. My cell phone. I checked my things again, and thankfully it was only dropped onto the floor of my car. I looked at it and noticed that someone had called. I opened the phone and checked to see who it was. It was Kaylee. Of course. I closed the phone again, and stuffed it into my bag. I would call her back later. She’d understand.
As I walked up to the house, I began to feel at peace again, knowing that although it was the last days of summer, I wouldn’t be wasting them. I rang the doorbell and, a few seconds later, was greeted by an enthusiastic Celeste.
“Hey Tori!” She grinned widely and we hugged.
“Hey Celeste! Sorry I’m a little late. Time was never on my side,” I grinned back and walked on in, petting their small dog, Mia, who was just as enthusiastic as Celeste at my being there.
“Its alright. We’re just about ready to go. Norah is taking a while to get her things together,” She rolled her eyes slightly. Norah was the youngest of her sisters, and definitely the one most excited about this little trip. I shrugged, and we walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table. “So, did you get your schedule?” Celeste asked, smiling slightly. I don’t think I have ever seen Celeste without a smile on her face. Smiling seemed to be the expression she always fell back on, or she was always happy. I assumed it was the former.
I nodded, and took the slip of paper out of my bag. “It looks to be an intense year, but I’m sure I can handle anything after my AP class last year,” I laughed slightly as the memories of my sophomore year began to flood my mind.
I remembered feeling older, taller, and more confident during my sophomore year. I wasn’t in Junior high anymore. I was in the same league as the upper-classmen and was more accepted. The only remotely hard class was my AP World History and English class that were combined into one giant hell-hole, for lack of a better word. Sure, the teachers were nice and genuinely loved teaching, but the work load was intense. I remembered the many all-nighters I pulled and the ever-dreaded AP National Exam that I took at the end of the year. Ah, memories.
I looked at Celeste’s face, and saw an expression I knew too well. It was fear.
“I enrolled in the AP World History class,” She said half-heartedly. Her eyes fell and she looked as if she’d received a death sentence. I stifled a small laugh, knowing that if I managed to get an A in that class, she’d get an A+ immediately.
“Celeste, you’ll do fine! Don’t anticipate failure when you’re more than competent to do it,” I chuckled and shook my head. At that moment, Celeste’s mom walked into the room.
“Hey Tori,” She smiled warmly.
“Hey, Mrs. Hales,” I smiled back.
“You kiddos ready to go? I just rounded up the gang and they’re all headed out to the van.” We stood up and gathered our things. Excitement fluttered in my stomach as we marched out to the van and buckled in. It was a three hour trip to and from Nauvoo, but knowing the Hales family, it was going to be fun no matter what.
I paced my room, and waited for Kaylee to pick up the phone. I looked at the clock: one in the morning. Sure it was late, but not too late for Kaylee. She was bound to be up. Just as the phone rang for the third time and I was getting anxious, Kaylee answered the phone.
“Hello?” She asked, not really asking for identification. She knew it was me.
“Hey. Saw that you called.” I was tired, but my voice betrayed my exhaustion. It was strangely up beat and energetic.
“Yeah. I just needed to talk to someone. Its about me and Joseph…”
Just as I expected. I rolled my eyes and kept the irritation in my voice down to a bare minimum.
“What about you guys? I thought you were doing fine with him!” Joseph was the perfect guy for Kaylee. She needed an intelligent, funny, social, and talented guy, and that was everything that Joseph was. I didn’t understand where the conflict between them would come from, except maybe they were too perfect for each other, if that’s even possible.
“Its not mine and Joseph’s relationship. Its my relationship with-”
“Don’t even finish that sentence, Kay.” My eyes clamped shut at the thought of whose relationship. Surely not Nathaniel’s. I thought she was over that guy the minute her and Joseph hit if off at the end of Sophomore year! I knew that Kaylee was feeling ashamed. This topic was the source of all her self-pity and the source of all my disparagement and aggravation.
She sighed over the phone, and I sighed after her, mine more out of anger than mild grief. I tried talking sense into her.
“Kaylee. Joseph is everything you could ever want in a guy. Nathaniel isn’t. He may be you longest crush, but the fact that he completely ignored you after you told him you liked him tells me that he obviously is clueless and will never get a clue! Just accept him as a friend and move on.”
I refrained from saying the last part. I wasn’t that harsh. I knew too well how hard it was to get over a guy you’ve liked for so long. I experienced that my Freshman year over a guy I prefer to forget.
“I know he won’t, but I just can’t seem to stop liking him…” I bit my tongue, and tried my hardest to keep myself composed. I had heard enough. So I changed the subject.
“So I went to this awesome concert tonight. I got to see nine a capella singers that sang their renditions of modern songs. And get this…they were all single men!” I grinned and relived the past few hours in my mind.
“How old were they?” This was a common question Kaylee asked when I expressed an interest in a guy. I grinned sheepishly, knowing perfectly well that she couldn’t see me, but knew that she was seeing it in her mind.
“Early twenties…” I laughed slightly. For some reason, ever since my sophomore year, I’ve been interested in older guys. Not just one year older. I’m talking at least three years older. Eighteen, nineteen, twenty years and I even had a crush on a twenty-three year old. I could almost hear Kaylee shake her head.
“You’re just asking for trouble, Tor.” We both laughed, and continued talking early into the morning. It was three thirty before we decided to stop and call it a night.
As much as some aspects of Kaylee really bugged me, I realized that her friendship was something I could rely on. Something I could depend upon and know that I can turn to her at any time.I hoped that that aspect of our relationship would never go away.