just take it easy. (2)


Breathe! Push it up and onto the rack already!

With a clank and a huge grunt, the man everybody across the school board knew as Turbo put the barbell back onto the rack. He never listens. Never. Always so hard-headed. Always has to do things his way. He insists on “going hard” and being ready for his next game.

I was doing fine! Put another plate on!

Seriously? Another plate? You really think that benching 155 pounds PLUS an extra 90 pounds is gonna help you?

He shrugged and began to add the extra two plates. I always feel like he’s gonna hurt himself. He never really seems to, but it’s bound to happen one day. No football player ever has a completely healthy career.

Spot me, yeah? Gonna need you on this one. It’s whatever 155 plus 90 is…

His math is and always will be shitty.He gets pretty annoying when he asks me about simple math. It’s 245 pounds, smart one.

He had a strong grip on the barbell. His knuckles were white and he took a deep breath. With his eyes closed, he labored to get the bar into the air. I couldn’t help him much with the bar…I can’t even bench a bar with two 10 pound plates! He shook his head. Let a smile come across his face and he kinda giggled. I think he was just trying to impress me. Such a loser…

Come on, I think we’re finished here. Guess I’m not strong enough to push above 200 just yet. 

We walked towards the changerooms and he decided to give me a kiss on the cheek. His facial expression was different though. He kinda stormed off into the guys’ changeroom. I took a quick shower, dried myself off and massaged some lotion into my skin. I threw my gym clothes into my duffel bag and took a look at my phone. 1:32AM…crap. 

I made it out to the reception desk of the gym and caught him rubbing his right shoulder. I knew it…

Hey, you okay? I told you not to try lifting too much. You’re such an idiot and you never listen to me. Why can’t you ju-

I know. Let’s just get to the van.

Roland, just take it easy. You’re going to seriously hurt yourself one day.

The drive home seemed so tense. I definitely was not used to it. He’s usually so jovial and always cracking stupid jokes. He pulled up slowly to my house. 1:56AM…I seriously hope dad isn’t awake. He turned the lights and the engine off.

I don’t mean to scare you. You just know that this game means a lot to me. I just wanna know something, is that cool?

Sure. What’s on your mind?

How far did the two of you go? And don’t bullshit me either. I want a straight up answer.

I felt pretty offended that he asked. I knew what he was talking about, but I didn’t wanna tell him. That kind of stuff shouldn’t be shared with anybody…at least, I don’t think it should be.

Can you not ask me that? You make me feel like some dirty slut. It’s none of your business. Besides, I think we have a good thing going here and you’re starting to make it feel weird.

He let out a sigh and pushed his glasses up. He unlocked the doors and picked up my duffel bag. At least he was a gentleman even though he totally did not act like one two seconds ago. He came over to the passenger side and opened my door. He helped me out of his van and walked me to my door. As usual, he held my hand all the way. I unlocked my door, thanked him and wished him a good night.

Go get some sleep. You need to be well rested, okay? Text me when you get home.

He hopped back into his van and started the engine. As he backed out, I shut the front door as quietly as possible. I always hated doing his midnight workouts. He only works out at night when something is bothering him…I was too sleepy to try to figure out what the problem was. The second I saw my bed, I crashed. 2:13AM…

…And the Majors give up some great field position to the Warriors! There’s a flag on the field…the refs call unnecessary roughness on de Vega. Not a smart tackle. Majors call a timeout. Six minutes left in the game. 

Stupid radio. Always wakes me up way too early…wait…ugh, I need to leave now! Stupid late night workouts. Roland is gonna kill me!

I washed my hair so quickly and threw on an outfit. Since my hair was still wet, I had to put a hat on. I started the car and drove like a madwoman to Majors Field. Luckily, dad always has a free reserved parking spot for me at the field. I rushed in and found a seat around the 40-yard line. Five minutes and twenty seconds left with the Majors on offense…they lined up in the Power-I formation. And…Roland was lined up as the halfback? Or was he the fullback? I couldn’t even tell. In the blink of an eye, the snap came out and the ball was handed off to him. The Warriors’ nose tackle celebrated over his body. I looked to the right and saw Johnny on the field. He waved and made a heart with his hands. I flipped him the finger.

The next play had already been set up. Hmm…Tate joined the package. Looks like Joseph was benched for not blocking. Guess that answers my question about who was playing halfback and who was playing fullback. The defense showed a dime package and the Majors were lined up in the shotgun. Well, it is the fourth…they’re probably gonna try to pass their way out of the hole they’ve made.

Looks like a play action pass…well hey, would you look at that? #32 runs a counter to the right and clears the d-line and linebackers! The o-line cleared a very nice hole for him to run through…he’s past the 30!

Holy shit. I got up to cheer my lungs out. The boy was running angry with a total disregard for the health of all others around him. In theory, that’s a good idea if you’re playing running back, but sooner or later, you’ll hurt yourself or somebody else…and that’s exactly what happened.

Villa comes down from his rotation…

I couldn’t tell who had hit who. It looked like Roland wasn’t aiming for the end zone, but for Johnny. The Warriors’ fans were kind of divided in their cheers: Some screamed for the refs to “eject #32” and others screamed because they thought Villa demolished Roland. We all knew that scrawny Johnny could never take anybody out. He might be tall and fast, but that doesn’t make up for bulk and weight. That creep deserved to get hit.

As I got lost in my thoughts and analysis of the play, I never realized how serious the hit was. Neither Roland nor Johnny had gotten up yet. A couple of the other guys came running out with the medical carts and helped Roland up. Johnny was carted off as well. That idiot…I knew he’d hurt himself someday.

I left the stands and ran down towards the hall leading to the field. Security had no issue with me. Oh, the perks of being a football coach’s daughter can be so great. I saw dad on the sideline staring down into his playbook. I know that he had to be bothered by Roland going down. He just had to act like he wasn’t because the game was still on. Coach Martz was on fire though. I guess that’s why he and dad worked so well together…dad was the calmer of the two and knew how to get coach Martz’s mind back into the game before he lost his cool.

Hey dad, I’ll just see you at the diner after the game. I don’t think I’ll be sticking around, okay?

What, going to see your boyfriend? HEY, JIMMY! YOU’RE RUNNING THE POST! Sorry, he didn’t look like he understood the call.

He’s not my boyfriend, dad. I’ll just meet you at the diner, okay? Good luck!

He nodded quickly and turned his attention back onto the field. I made my way towards the Warriors’ locker room first. Johnny was laying down and their team doctor approached me.

Sorry, don’t think I’m allowed to let anybody in here right now other than coaches. 

Is he gonna be okay though? I’m just an acquaintance of his. 

Not sure. Can’t release any details until the team clears me to say anything. 

Ugh. Doctors and teams with their stupid politics. That’s the one thing I always hated about football. Everything is treated so…inclusively. Whatever. I just wanted to see if Johnny was alive or not. He can go into a coma for all I care. That’s a lie, I think I’d feel bad if he did. I made my way towards the Majors’ locker room. I always loved it, even though I wasn’t allowed in there. The big light blue M with the navy trim in the middle of the room always looked good to me. Such a shame that the school wants to change their logo. The big blue M is iconic…but it’s not up to me. I stepped into the locker room and spotted Roland’s jersey. Looks like he cut it off…or the doctor did. Maybe he was seriously hurt. I mean, the doctor would cut a jersey off if he had to examine somebody’s  body immediately. This got me worried. I stormed over towards the med room. Of course, I was stopped by team officials this time around.

Oh, you must be new. Don’t you know who I am?

I don’t care who you are, you’re not allowed in here.

Listen here, strongman. I am the offensive coordinator’s daughter! You are going to let me into this room so I can see my boyfriend.

…Boyfriend? Did I really just call Roland de Vega my boyfriend?

While the security guard kept flapping his gums, I stood there trying to figure out why I said that. Maybe I was just trying anything to get into the room. But it came out so naturally. Ugh, I don’t wanna be one of those stupid girls that gushes over an athlete.

…Looks like the doctor is allowing you in. My mistake. I’m new here.

Yeah, I knew it. You look new.

I walked past him and met with Dr. McGinest. He promptly informed me that my “boyfriend” had a Grade II concussion. Apparently he was in and out of consciousness between the time of after the hit and being carted into the locker room. The doctor seemed to surprised by me. He asked me to calm down.

Was I yelling? No I wasn’t.

Anne, calm down. It’s understandable to be concerned about somebody you’re dating.

Oh my god, why does everybody think that we’re dating? We’re just friends, I swear. The day I call Half Pint my boyfriend will be the day I stop understanding football.

Dr. McGinest patted me on the shoulder and outstretched the other arm towards Roland. I stepped towards the table. He opened one eye and I tried to restrain myself, I really did..but it all just sorta came out anyway.

You’re always taking things too personally. Johnny and I barely even dated! See, your problem and weakness is tha-

My weakness becomes my weapon. My pain…my –

My pleasure. Shut the hell up. You always get me so worried. I hate it when you go head first into any defender! If you were smart, you would’ve just baited him right and cut to the left! I swear to God, you’re gonna wind up with a spinal injury and what in the flying fuck would I do without you? You know that I’m always so –

Nice of you to have finally shown up. I was looking for you the whole game.

He shut his eye again and I felt some stupid smile come across my face. I also happened to have my fist cocked and ready to punch him. Such an idiot. Not him. Me. I am such an idiot.

Just take it easy, Anne. It’s not the end of the world if you fall for a guy. Breathe. Just breathe. He’s just a guy. Just a guy.

Next time, how about you try to truck or juke a defender instead of trying to destroy him? You could have easily scored if you had ran smart, not angry.

He was probably out of consciousness again, but oh well. That’s just how we worked. The worst part definitely had to be the fact that he had me and I knew it.

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