Once the bell rang, the hallway filled with rushing students. Hand in hand, Sam and Sophia walked down the busy corridor, Sophia resting her head on his shoulder.
" So, how was Italy?" Sam asked.
" Sizzling hot, but it was lovely. I adore Florence, wanna revisit it someday but preferably with you next time. I really did miss you, you know.. I wished you were there."
" At least you had fun. That's what counts." Sam said, but his thoughts were elsewhere.
" Hey, will you go to Harrison's party on Saturday? I heard it will be rad. Good booze and cool music... Wanna go?"
" Uh, I don't know... My dad wants me to train super hard over the weekend. I have a big match coming up in two weeks so.." Sophia stopped abruptly in the middle of the hallway causing a confusing commotion behind her.
" Sam.." she shook her head at him discouragingly. "That's one lame excuse and you know it!" Sam averted his eyes. " Parties are at night, you train during the day. Now unless your dad prohibits you from having fun I don't know why you shouldn't go." she continued.
" It's not that.." Sam said.
" What is it then?" Sophia interrupted. "I think you're letting this whole boxing thing take over your whole life. You don't even have a social life anymore, Sam. I mean, when was the last time you actually went out with friends?" she asked. Sam remained silent. He knew she was right but didn't know what to say. Sophia looked at him with a worried look on her face.
" All you do is train, you don't even have time for me anymore because of this stupid hobby of yours. You need to unwind sometimes, you know."
" What do you mean I don't have time.. We hang out when we can, right?" he got confused.
" Remember all our dates you cancelled last year?" she raised her brows at him.
" Oh..." he nodded.
" Yeah, exactly! This hobby has made you..." she started to say.
" It's not just a hobby." Sam got irritated. " It's a way of life. Every day I wake up I think of it, I go to bed thinking of it and I live through the day breathing it." Sophia watched him with her mouth slightly open.
" Now that's what I call obsession." she finally said. " I kinda wish you went to bed thinking of me too but I guess.."
" Oh, don't be ridiculous!" he said.
" Anyway, can you persuade your dad to let you go? People are saying it might as well be the party of the school year!"
" September barely started and people are already so quick at jumping to conclusions.."
" Well, Harrison does throw all the best parties each year."
The bell suddenly rang, making the kids rush in all directions.
" I have to go now." she let go of his hand.
" What do you have?"
" English. You?"
" P. E." he said.
" See you after school at my place?"
" Yeah, cool." he kissed her one last time before they parted ways.
Entering the dressing room seemed like entering a zoo to Sam. There was always something going on. Boys splashing water from squeeze bottles on one side of the room, targeting any innocent soul that passed through. And on the other side of the room he recognized Harrison who was currently indulging in a wrestle match against Tyron, with loud half-naked boys cheering them on. Sam almost slipped on the wet floor, but managed to make it to his locker safely when he felt something wet between his legs.
" Whoah! Look everyone! Sam peed himself." he heard Damien say. The others laughed at him, pointing at his crotch and mocking him. Sam looked down and gritted his teeth in anger.
" What are you, Damien? Five? Grow the hell up and stop sprinkling everyone with this stupid water of yours!" he said.
" Hey, chill out man." Damien said defensively." We're only playing around. Don't be such a downer." he sneered.
Sam ignored him, opened his locker and started changing while all around him the water fight went on, Damien leading his trope of immature boys toward another batch of newly arrived sophomores. Sam shook his head at them. He had P.E. classes with Damien last year and back then he used to be more mature than he seemed now. Damien was now a third year, only one year older than Sam but it was funny how sometimes age didn't necessarily reflect mental maturity, he thought. Damien got older but regressed in mental age as far as Sam was concerned.
When he finished getting dressed he sat on the bench, observing the other boys who were still half-naked and playing with their squeeze water bottles. As immature as he found this whole water fight to be, at least the boys were having fun, he watched them, lost in his own thoughts. They were being loud but he tuned them out. He gazed vacuously ahead. Then he saw the new kid enter the dressing room.
Bradley seemed shocked at what was going on in front of him. Damien chasing a poor sophomore into hiding behind the closets, Tyron holding Harrison in a weird choke hold, Matt and Steven blowing up balloons, filling them with water and throwing them onto random people. The whole place was a mess and Bradley stood rooted to the spot, taking the unordinary view in before stepping in. Sam watched him make his way toward one of the lockers, trying to avoid any water assault by the boys. He observed him while Bradley got undressed. Sam was surprised to actually see a six pack under his shirt. He knew the new kid must have worked hard to achieve that and that made him respect Bradley even more. Once Bradley got dressed he turned around and as soon as he made eye contact with him, Sam looked away, embarrassed and deeply hoping his face didn't show it.