Cool grass tickles against the back of my calves, and my palms press flat to the ground to hold me up. It feels light here, and I know I have a wide smile. There are people cheering around me on all sides—our shoulders bump now and again as we enjoy the game. We’re watching soccer teams at the summer six-on-six tournament. Lately, orienting my brain to this other life takes a moment for Elle’s consciousness to kick in and push mine back. Sometimes my thoughts and confusions push through, disturbing us both.
During the early days of my visions, I felt scandalized by the wanton fashions and vulgar language of Elle and her friends. But with so many visits over the years, I realize they are just like me, only they’re free. Now I embrace the visits and look forward to them.
Sometimes the memories come slowly—like now. I should know that guy—Elle does. A familiar man on the red team slows his pace and stops in front of our group, cocking his head to the side expectantly. The girls around me break into applause, to which he bows and runs up and down the side of the field again, warming up to sub in a bit.
“Is Ty obvious, or do you think Meg still thinks he’s just a friend?” Cami asks.
Before I can respond, Meg leans over me and throws water on Cami’s legs. “Yes, we’re just friends. He flirts with everyone.”
“Um, no.” Cami’s deadpan expression clearly shows she thinks Meg is clueless—or delusional.
“Not with me either,” Avery answers, confirming Cami’s suggestion.
Cami rubs the water into her legs. “Don’t deny it—you love his attention, and you know it. Attention’s not a bad thing though—I would love attention from David, or Marc, or even Sean.”
“Sure, whatever.” Meg’s retort is halfhearted.
Cami continues, “Or Tim, or James, or the other keeper out there—who’s he? He’s pretty hot.”
Avery starts in too. “So Meg, do you like Ty?”
“I don’t know. I mean he’s hot, but he totally flirts with everyone.”
“Not me. He jokes with all of us, but he’s serious with you. You should give him a chance. He’s nice,” Avery says.
Everyone turns to look at me, “Okay, Elle, you’ve been quiet. What’s your opinion?” Cami says.
“Yeah, he’s cute.” I shrug. Honestly, my eyes have been following someone on his team, but I can’t quite place him. It seems like I should with the way my heart feels drawn to him. When he runs past, I watch with excitement, hoping he’ll look my way.
Cami isn’t satisfied “But…?”
“The taller forward is hot—in fact, I’ve been watching just him this whole time. I can’t wait till the end of the game. I hope he pulls his shirt off,” I say, struggling to hold back the dizzying attraction I feel.
Laughter roars around me.
“It’s the truth.”
Meg spews soda out her nose. Avery, still giggling, hands her a tissue from her bag.
I look at Cami, hoping for an explanation, but my answer comes from Avery.
“Luke? As in Cami’s older brother, Luke? You don’t need to be so cryptic calling him ‘the forward’. No shocker—you’re always watching him.”
Cami turns to look at me straight in the eyes, “When did that start up again? Aren’t you in the off position of your off-on-off-on relationship?”
Why would I ever stop dating him? “I don’t know? Not long, maybe since kick off? He’s amazing—it’s not like I can’t appreciate it.”
“Okay, so you’ve forgotten whatever it was that made you end things all of two mighty weeks ago?” Cami asks.
I ended it? Confusion gives way to an emotion more centered in my chest—a dull ache. “Nope, I’m just enjoying the view.” I shrug as Cami mimes sticking her finger down her throat gagging. “He’s cute right, Meg?” I look at her, waiting.
“I sorta just see him as Cami’s older brother too. So, no. Sorry.”
“Incredibly, smokin’, Greek-god hot. But I’m taken.” Avery turns her eyes toward Cami. “I’m with her on this one,” she says, pointing at me.
“Thank you.” The ache grows, and another sensation pushes forward. Hurt, the kind that comes from betrayal. I try to capture a memory to match the emotion, but it’s just out of reach.
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