Offside. Chapter 1

Clutching the last rays of sun for the day feels like plucking out daisies and wishing for someone to end up loving you at the end of the day. And nothing feels eternal, everything feels like it’s dying and somehow everyone around feels calmer about the incoming doom of colder weather, everyone talking about how great it’s going to be once the fields will be covered in snow, when the lakes are frozen and the fucking ponies will look horrified as ever. I roll over onto my stomach so that the houses are in view and I dread the passing summer, which was all mostly tucked in football practice. In the end it’s something like all you’ve got. The surroundings feel very agoraphobic, as there seems to be no end in sight and there’s kilometres until the nearest big town with a grocery store. It all becomes either a question of the bus or nagging about the car or a usual bike ride, because who doesn’t mind killing around two hours here and back when the sky isn’t pitch black and seems to have forgotten how the night looks.

It’s about always having the same friends, which will gossip and hanging out at those who have the loosest parents which will allow alcohol, just because their parents had done the same and then it’s all about making alcohol loosen tongues and sometimes it’s bitter, sometimes it becomes a sour discussion of ‘did my ex even love me anymore or did they ever?’ Sometimes it’s a very bitter remark and a few odd looks, but by the end it’s just about drowning one’s misery and my tongue isn’t better than theirs and we just remind of small circles of society which lie in the neighbouring houses of perhaps the whole county.

The end of summer is like losing love. It happens so slowly and miserably, that when you look back you ask yourself if you were ever in love and it’s not even something you want to think of. It will make you think of love you’ve even long lost. It’s full of regrets. I roll back onto my back, so I can see the sky and I feel all the distractions of the weather arrange my thoughts in a chaotic order, allowing nothing to properly be thought of, because all is a deja vu and all answers were gotten last time, when I thought of an ex and I asked about it out loud and that had been enough.

Because someone else’s drunk haze can be clarity and belief for me. And everything else will be a nuisance. I lay and watch the sky, how the clouds run fast with the tint becoming grayer and grayer and even some tears strike down from the sky, scratching the surface of the grass, but I pay no mind, until I finally hear some thunder and I decide that even if I were to play football in the rain, that gives no motivation for anything else. I walk back to the house, away from the lake, watching it and wondering how would it even feel to be struck down by lightning while rowing if that would even happen. I think about even taking the boat for a while and while I stand thinking, the rain stops and I just decide to kill time inside.

I wonder if roomming with people is just as bad as with parents, where you don’t even drop by to say hello, just wander in and out, politely stating it at the beginning of the day during breakfast and the rest is just formality, where I’m supposed to behave and bring good grades, which sometimes doesn’t happen and as the years start rolling by, I don’t even know where does the rest go. I don’t like thinking about the future, when the bubble ends of being in the same household. It’s not that I don’t want to move out, it’s that I don’t know what I’ll do at all.

As I get back to my room, being on the unmade bed depresses me, staring at the empty ceiling with a few cracks. It reminds me of the age of the last time we had everything refurbished and all I know is that if I count aloud enough, it’ll be time to get ready for the bus. I allow myself to slip away and soon it’s time to pack, shoving the football shoes into the backpack and changing gingerly into the sports gear, reminding of an impending winter. I don’t even bother to say goodbye, just not to interrupt any word which could be said from the reality TV show my parents are watching to kill time, like the rest of us. Neither do I ask for a ride into town.

I leave, walking slowly to the bus stop, looking around and mourning the death of summer for sure. Even if it’s been a few days which had taken summer away already and locked it, it feels enough of a reason to be wearing all black and mourning. Once I’m out of sight, I take out a pack of cigarettes from my backpack and soon enough I get the lighter, flicking against the cigarette a few times before it catches fire and I can breathe easily. I turn around, just to make sure that I’m really alone among the trees. It’s just the melancholy chasing me.

The bus is late as usual, but I am no longer going through my cigarette, so I just have to kill time kicking whatever had been left on the road from the trees or discarded items, looking around to make sure that no cars are around, as I even kick a lost registry plate. I wonder who had lost it for a brief while until the bus arrives and when it does, I look around briefly, so that I won’t be disturbed in the middle of it, but the rest of my team rides different buses or gets a ride or just bikes their way into town.

In buses usually I sulk thinking of the long lost, how this year it’ll be different with Steven not showing up on the other side of the fence, holding it and watching the game unravel and sometimes supportively say something when my team would score, but it rarely happens that I score, so I would understand his boredom from watching a midfielder, but he still would. My parents would show up back when I was a kid to the bigger ones, but that soon enough changed. I dreamt of taking the train to a bigger team, but some things just don’t happen and I still enjoy it deeply, probably happy of living in a brief bubble which will break by the end of this year.

Sometimes I feel so idle that I contemplate ending everything, as I either row in the lake or sit by it, lying and feeling lazy enough to stretch my arm and feel the water. But I never have the guts and somehow I manage to get by day by day, even if I have no motivation to go forwards.

I have a desire to get another cigarette as I get off, but instead I just make myself go towards the field, slowly increasing my pace, to make sure that I’m not late and that I don’t have to kick off my shoes as I’m walking. I look back, chewing on my bottom lip, to see that indeed my bus being late as usual made me the last one in most likely, and anxiety rises a bit. When I just started, I was aware of the bus being constantly late so I would pester my parents to drive me here. I was much younger as well, and I hated being behind in anything, even if I wasn’t the brightest student in school. I was terrified, so I would study and now that fear is hanging above me again and since it’s the last year it’s even worse, with the pressure of everyone getting in somewhere and I would just avoid the subject with my parents.

There were some rumours here and there about people scouting our team if we were good enough, but sometimes I was so scared that I didn’t want anything to work out, I just wanted to lay in the grass, hit by someone and allow the pain absorb my body and just keep watching the guys screaming at each other and somehow, nothing would change. That’s what I wanted.

I wanted to be left alone, sometimes I didn’t even want to play.

I keep walking, as I hear someone’s fast footsteps behind me. I turn around to see a rather tall guy with curly hair. If I were him, I would look around to make sure the confused stare is aimed at me, but instead he knows that it’s aimed at him.

“Hey, hold on.” And he motions to his own backpack, as if hinting that he might have something in it that would be my interest. I pause and wait for him to catch up. The tall guy just stretches his hand and points at my football shirt. “I didn’t get to change yet, but I got it done.”

And he reaches for his backpack and right under the shoes, I see the bright orange colour of our team on his shirt. I blink, realizing that the striker and goal keeper indeed moved on, one went to become a doctor and the other went into economics or some other crap, which only made me ponder how come they even liked football in the first place. I kind of pictured everyone else just as lost as I am. At least the guys who I talked with on the team were like that, quiet and frankly only loud about who was better, Messi or Ronaldo. He grins at me, but I seem far less excited than he had expected.

“I’m Johnny.” I glance at his shirt and indeed it does say Johnny, which makes me ponder what would his last name be and how come he decided to push his first name on the shirt.

“I’m Robbie.” I say and think of a stupid comment, just watching him curiously. After all it is another guy on our team and even if putting football asides, it’s better to have another guy to think over, even if it will be a solid evening only, it will be at least something and have some quick play of whether he could be queer. Johnny shakes my hand rather firmly, but all I do is start walking and he does so as well, without a need to catch up. I start feeling tense all of a sudden, just because there is someone new.

We start getting closer to the field and it’s a mixture of guys already in their gear, while others are changing into their shoes and everyone seems to have decided to show up earlier besides us and one more, I believe. Someone could’ve just gotten lost in the same predictable streets of the town or on the way driving from a smaller town. We approach them as even the coach seems excited about the new striker, everyone quieting their bickering and eyes on. But it wouldn’t be a bunch of assholes playing football if one wouldn’t have opened his mouth.

“So you’ve met the queer then.” And word spreads quickly, maybe it had even been my mom who started the whole gossip round, saying that Steven was over and we were making out on the bed, which had her catching us. Then that lead to awkward conversations where I stated that I might possibly not like girls after all. There was just a sigh from them, as if they were disappointed in a gay son. It was better than what I had expected or what had been uttered from the mouths of few or the looks I’d get from the parents as if it were contagious.

“Hey, what did I tell you, we’re all tolerant here. It’s football, not some heterosexual division.” The coach quickly picked it up, but the problem is that the damage is done, I’ll be known as the queer again, just because this Judas over here had decided not to keep his shitty mouth closed. It’s not like he meant much harm, but it’s really a question of how can you not filter what you speak? I just bite my lip and give him a pissed off look, to which Judas Paul shrugs and I look back at Johnny, who seems to be dazing out while staring at me. I don’t even know where he’s from. But instead he snaps out of it, probably due to politeness. It’s not like we talked even. He does slightly open his mouth to say something, but instead the coach catches up and starts telling us to warm up even if the goal keeper isn’t here and I can still feel Johnny staring at me as if I were an animal in a zoo. Well, the local queer.

Here we go, story number 2! I’ve started growing more and more into football recently and I’ve been toying with the idea of writing about football players for a long while now. I lived in the small time at the moment when I started writing this story and overall, I mused about how it would be to take such a claustrophobic setting for a teenager. Also I took experiences of a guy I had a crush on a while back, who told me how it was to grow up like that since I’ve lived my life in many different places and when you have a crush on someone, frankly everything they’ll say is fascinating and it inspired me to continue this, rethinking the conversations I had.

football pitch soccer pitch

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