Pain in the Rain By April I look up and water pours into my open mouth. It trickles into my nose. My vision blurs for a couple of seconds as a drop pierces my left eye. I close my mouth and look straight once more. The world looks like a swirl of green, blue, and red. I blink and my eyes finally focus. Still, there is not much I can see. The once beautiful day had turned dark. The sky had closed and clouds had sucked up the sun. It was dark and dank and all I can hear is the whistling of the wind and the various shouts of people. On top of all of that it is cold. The air is ice. My sore feet are numb and my ankles feel like icicles. But, the pain isn’t just from the cold. I hadn’t even seen her coming. A gigantic girl—number 3—bumped into me, hard. The second the ball hit my foot she was on me. I could smell her breath in my face as we collided. I was smothered in her sweaty blue jersey. Once her elbow went into my ribs, I knew I was going down. But, not without a fight. I tried to shield the ball with my foot but nothing could have stopped her. Her foot penetrated mine just as I had slipped in the soggy turf. I collapsed. I crumpled like a sack of bricks. But, all those bricks had dropped on my right ankle. It felt like I was sinking as I lied on the ground. I grimaced and squeezed my eyes shut. My ankle was searing with pain when I tried to move my foot. That had only made things worse. My whole leg felt like it was on fire. As I opened my eyes I saw the empty bench that my coach was sitting on. Alone. Reminding me that we had no subs. Reminding me that I had no choice but to keep playing. So, that’s what I’m doing. I can’t let my team down. I can’t really run much but at least I can pass the ball if I get it. It won’t really matter anyway. I am playing defense. I hate playing defense. I love the feeling when the ball is at your feet, your head is up, your sprinting down the field and you have one chance to pass the ball to a teammate before they have one shot that could win you an entire game. You can’t do that from defense. It doesn’t matter though because I can’t do that anyway with my throbbing ankle. Still, I hate playing defense, especially now in the most important game of the soccer season. The team we are playing is from Dover Sherborn. They wear dark blue jerseys while we wear red and they are all at least a foot taller than all of us. But, that wasn’t surprising. Even though I am only 12 and in the 7th grade, I play in a soccer age group that is 12, 13, and 14 year olds. So, we play some older kids who are a lot bigger, taller, and stronger. But, that's not the reason that this game is so important. This group of girls is especially strong. Their team is completely undefeated. I even heard that they won a game 8-‐0. My team however is the opposite. We haven’t won yet. In this season we play 10 games. This is our second to last game and while they have won 8 games we have won none. So, there is a tiny chance that we win. However, the first half of the game is almost done and the score is still (surprisingly) 0-‐0.
The ball is all the way at the other side of the field. It couldn't be farther away from me! I sigh a breath of relief. At least I won't get the ball for a little while. This brings my thoughts back to my ankle. I look down towards it and my dripping ponytail flops over my shoulder. My black socks are all the way down at my ankles, reveling my scraped knees and worn out shin guards. Naturally, I bend down and grasp the soaked sock to pull it up. I can see each droplet collide into the ground. My fingers skim over my swelling ankle. I cringe. Even the slightest touch makes my entire leg explode. The sky bursts. The rumbling sound is so loud that I feel like I need to cover my ears. Even more water starts rocketing towards the earth. I glance over to the Referee hoping to see the slight nod to the coaches signaling that we should stop and reschedule. But, instead he looks up at the sky, looks back down and says…nothing. I guess we have to keep playing. I realize that this entire time I have been crouching down and fiddling with my socks. I quickly yank them up and stand. My coach always tells me to "stay on my toes" to "prepare for the ball.” Honestly, I don't see any reason to prepare for the ball considering that it is still very far away from me. But, I guess I could at least try to stay on my toes. I bounce up and down. This technique not only makes me more ready to receive the ball but it also keeps me warm. I alternate feet when I bounce up and down. I'm not sure if that is exactly what I'm supposed to do but it seems to work for me. I am basically just lightly jogging in place. I try to sync my breathing to my bouncing. Breathe in, left foot. Breathe out, right foot. In, left. Out, right. In, left. Out, right. In, left. My right foot skids across the slippery turf. I try to catch my fall by pushing harder on that foot. I can practically hear my ankle cracking as all of my weight piles on it making my knee buckle. I don't quite topple over. Instead my other ankle snaps in the other direction, balancing out my body.
I glance up to check where the ball is and my teammate is dribbling towards me. I want to fall over. To give up. To not have to go through the pain and agony any more. I can if I want to. One simple shout to my coach could relieve me of my pain. But, then all my pain and suffering would be transferred to the rest of my teammates. They would have to play with one less person on the field. Then they would want to give up too.
I am staring at the ball, which is getting closer and closer to me. "I'm not giving up." I whisper. I don't even realize that I am talking. "I'm not giving up." I say louder this time. My open hands turn into fists.
This time I am practically shouting. "I'm in pain and it's raining but I'M NOT GIVING UP!"
Which is more important, my team or myself?