The ball is at his feet, he’s passing defenders left and right. He gets to the penalty area and is pushed a little rougher than usual. The ref calls the penalty. Now he’s up against Iker Casillas, the greatest goal keeper there ever was. His heart jumps to his throat and for a minute the stadium goes silent. He takes a few steps back and then quickly takes the penalty. His foot hits the ball and the crowd goes wild. Then everything turns black and John awakes in his bed in a tiny apartment in New York City.
In America most kids dream to be a pro football player or a pro basketball player, but John had a different idea of what he wanted to be. He always had a passion for soccer, since he could remember his father had always encouraged him in playing and observing the great sport. As he lay in bed, consumed in his own thoughts, he heard his mother call him down for breakfast. He ate quickly and was out the door dressed in his shorts and Nike boots he had saved up to buy. John biked to practice and made it a minute before he would be counted late; his coach was a strict one when it came to good attendance.
John was part of a team called the New York blues, it wasn’t the greatest team but he didn’t care about that, John just wanted to be a star. So he practiced hard every day at training, the heat from the august sun beating down, and every day he looked into the bleachers next to the pitch to see a boy siting there. He had dark hair and looked athletic from what john could see from halfway from the pitch. After each practice he would wave at the boy and then head home, never thinking much about the strange boy. But today John wanted to know what was up, why did this kid always watch them practice?
So he approached him after a long practice. The boy, now that john got a better look, had a dark complexion and had these full lips john couldn’t get his eyes off of. Compared to him, John was less tan and had the blondest hair. He must have been staring for a while because the dark hair boy coughed to get his attention. “Oh right” John said as he finally got his eyes off the boy’s lips. “Not to sound rude or anything, but you always watch our practices and I wanted to know why? ” The dark haired boy spoke” I like watching you guys train, is that a crime? His tone sound sarcastic and his shit eating grin didn’t help either.
John let out a small laugh “no it’s not a crime, I was just curious that’s all” there was an awkward pause after that “I’m john by the way” John said and he put his arm forward “Steven” said the dark haired boy as they shook hands After they both were acquainted with each other, they began to talk, about anything really. John found that they had a lot in common with each other. They both liked Real Madrid and hated divers. They talked about school and family too. Steven was in the grade above john, which made sense as to why john had never seen him at school.
Steven had told john about his injury due to soccer, a severe facture to his right ankle, causing him to quit the sport. They must have talked for a good few hours, when john checked his phone it was a quarter to eight. “Shit”, John said looking at his watch; l’m going to be late to dinner “Damn we must have gotten lost in the conversation”, Steven said “It was a nice conversation”, John said smiling at Steven. Steven smiled back and John’s heart skipped a beat. John felt like such a dork, he had just met the kid; he couldn’t fall for someone he just met.
Steven insisted on walking him home even though he lived in the other direction. They walked together, either making small talk or just walking in silence. Every so often their hands would brush against each other’s as they walked. They made it to john’s house with only a few minutes to spare. They said goodbye to each other, but neither of them moved from there spots on the sidewalk. They just stood there, as if time would stand still if they just stood there all night. John didn’t want this day to end, if it ended would he ever see Steven again?
As they stood on the sidewalk, their bodies got closer like their bodies had a gravitational pull towards each other. Steven placed a hand on John’s blonde hair and inched closer to John’s face. The kiss at first was a struggle since their noses were in the way. Then Steven tilted his head to the right and had the perfect angle to kiss john’s perfect mouth. It felt like fireworks were going off inside his mouth, john thought. The kiss was perfect and he didn’t want it to end. He wanted to stand out all night and kiss the crap out of Steven. They broke from the kiss since they both needed the air.
John spoke first, “wow”. “Yeah” Steven replied, a little short of breath “I better go inside before my mom kills me” “See you at the pitch tomorrow” “Yes, for sure” John replied as he slipped into his house, hoping he wasn’t in too much trouble. After that amazing kiss John and Steven had shared, they were inseparable. They spent every day on the pitch together, passing the ball back and forth or practicing penalties. Steven went to all of John’s games like the supportive boyfriend he was. They never made it “official”, they didn’t need to, and something just clicked between them.
They must have been meant to be. ***** The season was coming to an end for john’s soccer team. His last match would be his most important. Scouts from Manchester City’s youth team had come to watch him play. This was his big chance. John mentioned it to Steven during their practices before the big game. “If you go to England, what’s going to happen to us? Steven asked. “Long-distance relationship? ” “Let’s face it those never work in the end” “Are we going to end? ” John asked. He didn’t want to know the answer to his question. He didn’t want to know that his summer romance would end.
If you take their offer and go to England, yes” Steven answered, looking down at his feet. “I can’t ask you to wait for me can I? ” John asked hoping Steven would say yes I’ll wait for you forever and ever. That was a fool’s hope. “This summer romance was bound to end”, Steven said with his head up and looking at John. “I still want you to come to the game” John said “I wouldn’t miss it for the world”, Steven replied. He kicked the ball towards john and their practices session resumed like normal. ***** John was playing amazing; he felt it every time he heard the crowd cheer when he dribbled the ball.
He had to play amazing tonight, the scouts from Manchester city would be watching. This was his moment to shine. As he ran towards the goal, defenders at his heel, his first instinct is to shoot. But before he can manage it, a defender roughly tackles him inside the goal area. The referee calls a penalty and it’s just like his dream. Usually the ones that get tackled don’t take penalties, some soccer superstition, but he assured his teammates that he could make it. He had to make it; his career of being a soccer player depended on this goal.
John steps up to the penalty stop, takes a few steps back from the ball and then lightly sprints toward it. It felt like the ball was in slow motion, taking it’s time to get to the right corner of the night. Then he felt his teammates pile on top of him. They had won the game and john knew his relationship was over, but he didn’t dwell on that, he had won the game and that was all that mattered. He had seen Steven in the stands and after the game he was nowhere to be found. Maybe it was better that way. Goodbyes always hurt. His career was about to lift off and john had made his first sacrifice for the love of the game.