The pitch in the King’s institution was bathing in the morning sun, the team was practicing for the on-going State Trophy, we were kicked out during the first or second round for the past few years, mostly it was because of a shitty goalkeeper. This year I was going to play defender but I was unwillingly nominated to be the goalkeeper, it was not because I had spectacular goal keeping skills or whatsoever, I was just a mediocre goalkeeper who was struggling to dive to save a ground ball, but there was no better candidate than me. Since I had took on this responsibility, I was adamant to do my best.
The training started with usual cardio exercises, I had to endure several dreadful stretches as if my tendons and ligaments were tearing apart.
“Brian! Put in more effort!”
All these words were drummed into my head, instilling my feeble self to improve, overcome my shortcomings, disciplining myself to beat the most formidable enemy, me.
“Okay, Brian. I won’t go easy on you this time.” Tadashi said bluntly.
I positioned myself, “Bring it.” my focus shifted from his face to his legs and the ball. Tadashi took five steps to the back, he sprinted. One, two, three, four, five, right! He shoots the ball, I dived to the right, the ball hit my groin. The pain was excruciating, I curled into a ball and rolled on the ground.
“Brian! Get up!” Tadashi shouted, “Another one is coming straight to your face if you don’t get up!”
My feet were trembling due to the pain, I stood up, prepared myself for the next shot. Tadashi took six steps to the back, One, two, three, top-left, I pumped my fist to the top-left corner, my body hit the ground shortly after.
One, two, three, four, middle.
One, two, curve, top-right corner.
One, two, where did… The ball was shot with a greater velocity, I could not even read his footwork, it was misleading and too agile. I slumped to the ground, holding my groin that was still in pain.
Tadashi stood in front of me, hands outstretched, “Sorry for the first one.” I grabbed his hand.
“You should be.” He pulled me up.
He patted my back, “You did better than last time. The last shot was intentional, I was trying out something new for our third group match, can’t believe it deceived your eyes.”
“Yeah. I couldn’t decipher your footwork, it was rather sporadic.”
“So, it’s almost noon, does something ring a bell?”
Saturday, “Shit.” I grabbed my shoe bag and bottle from the goal post, “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” I changed my boots to my running shoes, finished my water, ran towards the exit of the pitch.
“Just don’t make out with her.” Tadashi teased.
I waved to him and ignored his utterance, “Remember to tell coach.”
He showed me a thumbs up and continued with his training.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
“Just come in. It’s unlocked.”
The room had two double-deckers on each side, four separate study desk at each corner of the room, a dining table with papers scattered asunder on it was in the middle, near the balcony was a refrigerator sitting beside the kitchenette. There she was, sketching on a clipboard which was on her thighs on her bent legs.
“I thought you were not coming.” She turned, few strands of her hair were let loose from her ponytail.
“Oh…” I was filled with embarrassment, “I had football training just now…”
“You seemed quite worn out.” she got out from her chair, walked towards me, “and very sweaty… Perhaps you can have a change at the toilet just beside the kitchen.”
“I was about to ask you about that…” Well, that’s awkward. I put my bottle and brought my bag into the toilet to change. Why are you so nervous? Just calm down, Brian. I finished changing, went out of the toilet, seeing her drinking water.
“Want some water?” She offered.
“Definitely, I’m thirsty.” I took the glass from her hand, unintentionally brushed through her hands, felt a surge of enigmatic feeling as if I had met someone who was long lost in time, the saviour who was found after a devastating fall.
She went back to her place, picked up her clipboard and showed it to me. “Look. This is my current work.” It was a mesh of lines crumbled up in different spots on the paper which was not regular A4 paper, I touched the paper to examine the paper, it was rough as if it was hand-made.
“Is it custom-made?” I asked and she raised her brows, “I mean the paper.”
“You are the first one who notice it at the first glance.” she complimented.
“It’s just different to the eyes, if you used commercialised A4 papers, the stunning effects won’t be there because the field of lines are different.”
“That’s why I chose this particular type of paper, it can bring out my art and will not disrupt the strokes of paints and lines.”
“So detailed…” I was enthralled by her meticulousness.
She led me to her laptop, clicked a website which was very familiar to me, it’s our blog, I realised. “I read an article about the lines you mentioned on your blog.”
“How did you…” I was lost of words, shell-shocked.
“Well… I don’t know.” she pierced my heart with a pristine and immaculate complexion that was analogous to an innocent, defenseless child which made me wanted to be the shield, the armor, the protector for her. I stared blankly into her eyes for moments that I wished to never pass.
“Err… That’s… very impressive data linking…”
She blushed a little, “Why not I show you some of my paintings?”
“Yeah…” I pointed at my face.
“Not that.” She chuckled, “Give me a sec…” She went under one of those beds and retrieved a stack of paintings, set them on the floor by the balcony. The paintings were spectacular, they were beyond concision, I flipped through some of them, one of them especially caught my eyes, it was unfinished. .
Ring… Ring… She went to pick up the phone, I did not comply to my inquisitiveness to pull out the painting as a respect to the artist.
She hung up the phone. “Brian. You gotta go now.” her tone was rather anxious, “My friends are coming to pick me up for lunch in a short while.”
“Okay. Will we meet again?” Please. Say yes.
“See first.” she was standing by the door. “I’ll text you.”
I packed my belongings, left her with a goodbye, hoping to see her again.
“So… Did you make out with her?” Tadashi asked.
“Do you have a picture of her?” Charles added.
“What do you guys want from…” My phone which was in my hand blinked, Charles snatched my phone without giving time for me to react.
“Hey! Give it back!” Tadashi blocked me.
“Left your shirt here…”
“You son of a…” I shook him off and seized my phone.
“Come get it next week…”
“Show some respect you assholes.” Anger boiled in me, my composure made sure I did not use violence against my friends. I stormed back to my room, slammed, locked the door, tossed the phone to my pillow, laid my face on it.
Brian, you left your shirt here, come get it next week, same time, maybe I’ll show you some more of my paintings.
Sorry for the trouble… I’ll come next week, hope to be astonished by your art again. 🙂
I replied, holding my phone to my chest, thoughts sunk me into a deep reverie of us, standing by the London bridge, enjoying the sun as if the world around us faded into nothingness, leaving the entire universe for us, both of us were like the center of the existence, owning the continuum of spacetime, the spectrum of everything.