Behind the Eight Ball

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Chapter 1 - My Encounter with Brynn

Boredom. It just may be the death of me. I search for any light at the end of this tunnel but it would seem none is to be found. Spending your life to please everyone else sucks. Big Time. Success, I have found is easy to achieve when driven by everyone else's expectations but personally I'm bored.

Just once I would like to make a decision without thinking, "What would so and so think? What would they say?" Is it my lot in life to always be stuck living out someone else's dream? My Dad always wanted to be a Basketball Star so I play Center for the Lenape Leopards. What do Native Americans and jungle cats have in common anyway? Who comes up with these team names?

Sorry, I digress. My grades are top notch, but when your Mom is principal of your high school and always dreamed of being a Harvard Professor, you don't come home with less than an A in any subject. The results are not pretty.

To get into the "right" college, whatever that maybe, I have taken all the correct electives and joined all the proper clubs that my teachers told me to do. As I approach my last and final year at Lenape Charter High School I can't help but feel I've done everything right and yet somehow it's all wrong.

"Are you ever coming down? You'll miss the bus if don't come down soon and don't even think about skipping out of here without breakfast, Mister."

"Coming, Mom." Grabbing my backpack and ball I tear down the steps nearly doing a header over my Dad who chose at the moment to bend over to pick up his laptop bag in our entry way. Managing only to miss him marginally I spin and open the front door hoping to rush out.

"Nice pivot, Finn." Dad tells me with a Proud Papa grin. "With moves like that, the scouts Coach is bringing in for the game this weekend are sure to get you noticed. Who knows maybe you'll get some scholarship money out of it too! Just a few years away from going pro, eh kiddo?"

"Yeah." My enthusiasm isn't really on point today, but in comes Mom to the rescue.

"Oh sweetie, he isn't going to need basketball to get him into college and as for the scholarship money... he will have his pick of whatever college he wants, although I'm sure they'll be snapping him up at Harvard once they see class valedictorian on his submission."

My steps halted. I intended a speedy retreat but not even I was prepared for that announcement. Class Valedictorian? Well, that seals it. I really am doomed to live out my mom and dad's life.

"The Harvard Crimsons? You have to be kidding me? That team isn't even in the top twenty-five. Now North Carolina..."

Here they go. I try my best to open the door a little bit wider to slide my tall frame through. Just a little bit more and... suddenly I am yanked back by my backpack, my ball is knocked out of my hands and a paper bag with what I assume is my breakfast is shoved violently into my chest.

"The Tar Heels? I think not."

Mom has that "This is not up for negotiation stance" I have seen her do to a bazillion teens throughout my high school career. She can level a freshman with just a glance. It is an art form really, but Dad does not intimidate easily especially when it comes to anything basketball.

"If he's to get on a Pro Team, Tar Heels are number one." He adds emphasis to his point by taking his own defensive stance.

"There is no way he's going to play for a coach whose philosophy is "play all day and forget about your studies." It's not going to happen."

"That scandal is like over a decade old when are you..."

"K! Bye! Love you!" I yell slipping out the door before it really gets ugly. The bus is now pulling away. "Shoot!" Yeah, there's no cursing in my family either, it's just not done. Desperate, I take off running hoping to catch it at the next stop.

Running what felt like miles but was really only a few blocks I get waylaid by an intense stitch in my side and have to stop to catch my breath. Mom was right, I really should have eaten breakfast. 

A girl is standing at the next stop. She eyes me speculatively over her book. Her black choppy bangs with today's streaks being blue were pinned back with a bright colored flower behind her left ear. Even though she wore the same uniform worn by everyone else in our school there was no denying Brynn Shelby was an individual.

I have known of Brynn my entire school career from Kindergarten till now. I say known of her, as I don't think anyone in school actually knows her, who she is as a person. I don't think I ever saw her with a friend. She is an enigma.

As my breath slowed and the pain subsided the bus dressed in its cheerful yellow and black blew by. "Shoot." I start jogging, just a half a block to go and then the most unbelievable thing happened.

Brynn closed her book and placed it in the messenger bag at her side, fiddled with some key chains she had attached to the strap and then....

She looks at me and smiles. This huge smile, it totally transformed her before my eyes and I stopped jogging and stood there dumbstruck. She then arched her eyebrow, made a heart with her hands that she place on her chest and then blew me a kiss, right before skipping onto the bus, which is NOW driving away.

"SHIT!" Okay I said cursing isn't done in my family but come on some situations deserve a little more emphasis. And as far as curses go that one isn't even in the top ten worst. I don't even think it ranks in the top twenty-five.

Disbelief just washed over me, I would have started running again except for at this moment I believe I have forgotten how to use my limbs. Shock I have heard can do that to a person or maybe I read it somewhere. I just never experienced it before. My life, being completely planned out for me, is totally devoid of surprises and I was most definitely surprised.


Edited: 16.07.2020

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