I stared in the floor length cracked mirror at my reflection and stopped breathing at what I saw. 'Is this really me,' I thought when I saw the girl that stood before me. I was dressed in a blue and white football uniform, my hair tied back in a french-braid. I was the only girl in a sport dominated by men and it was my chance to prove to my team that I was ready for the position of team captain. A car horn sounded alerting me to the fact that the team was here. I grabbed my helmet and ran out the door. I climbed into the bed of the truck with the rest of the team and captain called, "Hold on tight," and we all grabbed onto the sides of the truck's bed. By the time we got to the field all of the boys had to run a brush through their hair. I hopped over the side and ran to the front of the truck where captain was waiting for us. The guys came up behind me and captain glared at them.

"I am shocked that Johnson is the only one who looks like they want to be here. So for those of you who carry a comb, run it through your hair. NONE of you should be looking like you just got out of bed," Captain snapped before looking at me. "Thank you, Mel, because no matter how fast I drive your hair always stays neat because of that frenchbraid," he said as the rest of the team grumbled out complaints.

Captain leaned towards me and whispered, "After this game it's your team. Start by taking command now."

I turned to face the team, a fire in my eyes that had never been there before, but I said, “Unless you guys want to start next season off on the bench I suggest you all be quiet.”

They stared at me in shock and said, “Yes ma’am,” becoming as silent as a rock. I turned to look at Ray and he winked at me. I smiled and our coach came to find us. He smiled when he saw us by the truck and said, “Its show time boys and girl.” We all burst into a series of loud laughs and giggles at the way he said girl, like he still couldn’t believe that I had brought Baltimore High to the state championship again and only on my second season as a football player.

"We're showing off today. Let's show them what this team is made of. And we're using Mel's play this time," Ray said and I felt like I was about to cry.

I looked down in embarrassment and thought, "He'd never use my play. He's just teasing me now." Out loud I said, "I feel sick; ya'll go on and play without me."

 The team stared at me and Ray said, “You’re not the type to get cold feet, Mel. What’s going on? I thought you wanted us to use your play?”

“I did, but you’re the one who said we were better off without it. You want to use it go ahead but don’t expect me to help you with it,” I said and walked away, towards the field.

I put on my helmet and then sat on the brick wall that was behind the bleachers.

"Guys go on ahead," Ray said as he sat down next to me.

I took my helmet off and looked at him for a few seconds before I looked at the ground.

"What's going on, Mel because you look like you're about to barf," Ray asked forcing my chin up.

"Do you remember that one night stand we had," I asked and Ray nodded.

"I've been hiding it for a while but I'm 8 months pregnant," I whispered tears in my eyes as I prepared for the rejection that I always received from my boyfriends after they found out what I wanted to do with my life.

He stood up and got to his knees in front of me. "I promise nothing will happen to you. I'll be here for you and the baby," he said pulling me into his arms. What we didn't know was that we had just made ourselves easy targets for the entire game. "We're using your play. We've practiced without it but this whole team is now a target as we have gone undefeated two seasons in a row. I want you to help us win this game," he said and helped me to my feet.

I smiled weakly and we raced after the team to a roar of cheers and loud applause from our long time supporters.

Carefully I took my position behind Ray and received the ball lobbing it over the other players to Pierce, who immediately threw it to Anquan, who threw it back to me and I threw it clean to Joe Flacco, our youngest player, who scored shortly after receiving the ball. Almost immediately I was slammed into from behind, causing me to throw out my arms to protect myself as I went down. I heard the break before I felt it and I let out a scream as pain tore through my right wrist. I collapsed in a ball as the whistle was blown, signaling a time out, and Ray ran over to me, to see me clutching my wrist to my chest. He helped me to my feet and walked me over to the sidelines. I noticed as he walked away, that he was limping on his left leg and that the other team captain was sizing him up.

"Ray," I called and he turned towards me. As I walked over to him I said, "Be careful please? The other team's captain is sizing you up. Watch your step because you're already limping and I don't want to see you hurt, okay?"

He nodded and I walked back to the sidelines, where the paramedics put my hand in a brace. Four quarters later the clock ran out and the team surrounded me asking if I was okay.

"I'm fine," I said looking up at the scoreboard. A smile came over my face and I shook my head quietly walking back to the truck. Ray was leaning against the truck, a scowl over his perfect features and anger in his eyes. I tossed my helmet in the bed of the truck and gently laid my hand on Ray's upper arm. He relaxed under my touch and turned to face me, his face controlled and considerably calmer.

"Are you okay," I asked and he shook his head.

"Not if we lost," he whispered.

"We won by three points," I said and a smile spread across his face.

"Now all I have to worry about is our little baby that's due next month," he said and we looked up as the running footsteps came to a stop.

"She's pregnant? Ray what were you thinking? We need her next year," Anquan said as I pulled myself into the bed of the truck.

"It was one night. I honestly didn't expect her to get pregnant after just one night," Ray said, but added, "I'm glad it happened now the minor issue of telling my parents."

The team burst into laughter, but over their laughs I heard Ray shout, "Mel I want you in the cab with me."

I grabbed my helmet and leapt out of the bed of the truck, quietly climbing in the passenger side of the truck. Ray climbed in and started the truck, pulling out of the parking lot, before he said anything to me.

"Have you told your parents yet Mel," Ray asked quietly.

"My mother knows but I don't talk to my dad," I said and he nodded.

"I'm terrified Mel. I don't even want to tell my parents. Especially my dad. He'd kill me instantly. I wouldn't make it to the hospital to see my child if he found out. I need your help because I don't know what to do here," he whispered and looked at me as we stopped in front of his house.

The living room light was on and so was his bedroom light.

 "Your father already knows, Ray. My mother told him yesterday. He said, and I'm quoting him, 'The only reason I'm not going to do anything to him tonight, is because it's his last high school game tomorrow night'. He stormed out after that," I said and Ray swallowed hard.

I got out of the truck and he followed quietly as his father looked out of Ray's bedroom window.

I turned to Ray who had frozen in place on the side walk.

I followed his gaze and saw why he was frozen in place; his dad had opened the front door and beckoned to him with an angry look in his eyes. I took Ray's hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze as I pulled him forward.

"You two have a seat on the couch okay," John Lewis said, going into the kitchen for some drinks.

He came back out with two sodas and a beer. He handed the sodas to Ray and I, before sitting down in the lounge chair. I laid my head on Ray's shoulder, giving his hand another gentle squeeze as he relaxed.

"I have a question Ray and I want nothing but honesty. Do you understand me," his dad said.

"Okay, what do you want to know," Ray asked looking at me.

"Why did you celebrate your championship win by having sex with your girlfriend," his dad asked and Ray blanched.

"That wasn't how we celebrated. She's eight months pregnant and the last championship game was a year ago," Ray said.

“How did you celebrate last year’s win because her mom said she was with you at that time? That was the night you guys celebrated at a hotel was it not,” John Lewis asked.

“I was dating Randy at that time but that night things changed between Randy and I and I found myself in Ray’s hotel room that he was sharing with Anquan,” I spoke up and his dad looked at me.

“Whose bed did you sleep in at the hotel,” his dad asked.

“I slept in the bed with Anquan because I didn’t get along with Ray at that point and time because I wanted him to use my play and he wouldn’t. Anquan was the one to always back me up when I talked to Ray about using my play,” I said and his dad nodded.

“Okay son, get your girl home and make sure she doesn’t go into labor in your truck because I am not buying you a new one,” John Lewis said as he got up and walked down the hallway to his room.

(Two years later)

“Junior come here,” I laughed as I tried to catch the squealing little boy that was running through the house with no clothes on. He climbed in his bed and hid under the covers and I pulled them back, gently scooping him off of the bed. He squealed and I gently sat him on his feet and got him dressed for bed. When I stood up Ray was standing in the doorway watching our interaction with a frown on his face. That night Ray and I got into the worst fight we ever had.

“I don’t know how you can love that wretched kid Mel. He is rude and disobedient and he never does what I tell him to do,” Ray said and I began to wonder how long he had been waiting to pick this fight with me.

“I love him because he is my son, Ray,” I said and let him know by my voice tone that he was treading in dangerous water.

He kept on going even with my dangerous tone being used.

“I don’t care if he is our son. I won’t put up with the disrespect. Get rid of him,” Ray snapped and that was when my control snapped.

“If he goes I go you goddamn bastard,” I shouted and Ray struck me across the face sending me to the floor.

With that strike I packed my things along with Junior’s and picked up my little boy and put him in my car in his car seat. I grabbed my bags and put them in the trunk of my car and drove to Anquan’s house. Just before I got there I pulled out my phone and dialed his number. He picked up with his “I AM SO ANNOYED” voice that I loved so much. I asked him if it was okay that I come and stay with him and he agreed that since it was safer for me to be with him I could stay with him. And just like that I had left Ray and never looked back.



Texte: melody dupree
Bildmaterialien: nina kari
Lektorat: melody dupree
Übersetzung: melody dupree
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 31.05.2013

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