Kristina eats some celery and plays another game of soccer...
"MOM! I'M HOME!" I yelled.
She came out into the family room. She looked exasperated.
"Hi honey...you can go to the kitchen. There's some celery sticks on the counter. I need to go get some rest, okay?"
I nodded. "Is everything all right, mom?"
She didn't answer and went back upstairs. I sighed. She never tells me about problems. It's nice that she doesn't want me to worry but it would be better if she told me...I went into the kitchen. As mom promised, there was a plate of celery sticks on the counter. Most houses have huge stashes of junk food. Mine on the other hand had stashes of health food. My parents don't let me eat any fried foods, ice-cream, or inorganic products. It made me have wonderful skin but what does a soccer player get by having great skin? I grabbed a celery stick and nibbled on it. Bland...that's the only way to describe the taste. I chucked the half bitten stalk at the trash can. It went straight in. Then I ran into the garage, grabbed my cleats, and jogged outside. Pete and I usually meet outside his house. It's become a routine now. We insult each other, race to the field, play one game unless my team and I wanted a rematch, insult each other some more and go home. I found Pete leaning against his mailbox spinning a soccer ball on his finger. Isn't that what basketball players do? He glanced up and waved with his free hand.
"Ready to lose?" he sounded more like his old self now.
"You bet!" wait, that came out wrong...
"Race you to the field!" he said without laughing at my stupid comeback.
We ran. This time he won.
"Good try, Kris," he said.
Whoa. He's being nice. I should be nice back. "Thanks. Good job Pete."
I threw him the ball. He didn't warm up and instead just set the ball down on the midfield line which was drawn with white paint. It's sort of cool that every time we come back here, the line's also there, as white as ever, even after it rains. Does some guy wake up early in the morning just to paint the field for us? We started playing without the stare off. I could tell he wasn't at his best today; after about a minute, I'd made three goals and he had none. I was dribbling down the field and he was a long way behind me. I stopped the ball with my feet and turned around.
"Is everything okay Pete? You seem kind of...bad..." I said.
"Yeah...I don't feel like playing anymore...you win." He ran his fingers through his hair.
Wait...I just won...against Pete! So how come it didn't feel as good as I expected it to feel?
Pete held out his hand, probably expecting me to shake it.
"Ew, your hands are probably all sweaty, I'm not gonna touch it!" I objected.
"Since when do you mind a little sweat?" he laughed.
Just to prove to him that I still didn't mind sweat, I shook it. Then I grabbed my ball and started walking towards my house so I could practice in the backyard.
"Kristina! Wait!" Pete stopped me.
I turned back around. "Lemme guess, you're just gonna walk with me again?"
He grinned. "Yup."
I rolled my eyes. Guys are so weird. We passed each other the ball all the way to my house. It showed me that I needed to work on passing more. Maybe I should kick it straight towards the fence and it would roll back to me and then I could kick it again...it would be so much easier if I just had someone who would practice with me. I looked at Pete with consideration. Well, he is being pretty nice. And I have to admit that he's really good. It could work...
"Pete, could I ask you a favor?" I asked once we'd got to my door.
"Okay. Well, this might sound weird but could you be my...soccer partner? Or trainer? Whatever you wanna call it?" I crossed my fingers.
"You mean like, help you practice?" he raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah...if you don't mind..."
He nodded. "Sure!"
"Thanks!" I smiled.
He smiled back. "Do you wanna like, start now?"
"I thought you didn't feel like playing soccer."
"That's okay. You obviously do."
Like I said, guys are weird. I was about to open the front door and lead Pete to my backyard when a car pulled up in the driveway. It was my dad, back from work.
"Hi dad!" I waved.
He waved back but looked just as annoyed as mom.
"Kris, are you getting ready to play more soccer?" he asked me.
"Of course I am! I always am!" I smiled.
He didn't smile back. "Well, you can't. Not right now. Your mom and I need to talk to you."
I was confused and scared. What's going on?
"Um...okay...I guess we'll practice tomorrow Kristina...see ya!" Pete looked back and forth from my dad to me, then gave me a kiss on the cheek and ran over to his house.
I stared after him and then went into my house with Dad, thinking about weird guys and celery.
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