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The unfinished bandage swung from my leg like a pendulum as I stormed out from the school medical room into the playground.
“Stop bickering like an old married couple! I was the captain and I will remain the captain.” Seething with rage, I blurted out as they all exchanged eerie looks at one another.
“Valerie, calm down. Take deep breaths...” James said, nervously adjusting his spectacles.
“This is not a Yoga class.” I replied in the same tone, limping forward to reach the ball but my muscles protested against my every move, causing me to lose my balance and fall.
“Valerie!” I heard a collective, annoyed shriek from my teammates as Rose helped me up. With my weight completely on her shoulders, I could sense agitation in the air.
“Such a pity that you are a weakling. Just accept the fact that you are a melodramatic brat.” Peter, the captain of my rival team laughed hysterically like a lunatic.
“You can’t beat us!”
“Your team will lose!”
“You failed them as a captain!”
Each of his mean remarks whipped my heart and I was almost on the verge of tears.
“Go away, jerk!” My team mates shoved him aside but his words rang in my head like a fire alarm. Guilt flushed inside me as I thought deeper about the problem my clumsiness had caused. Unlike Peter’s team, my team had all new players and without me to lead them, our probability to win was zero.
“Valerie, we need to talk.” The warm voice of my coach dragged me back into reality as I followed him with my gaze still fixed on the ground.
“Listen, Valerie. No one can ever replace you on this team but Peter is just instigating you so that you play with an injured leg and lose. Just sit this one out.”
“But I am fine. Isn’t getting up after falling is what you always tell us?”
“Not until you have regained your strength. Plus, we don’t feed our kids fish, we tell them how to catch one. This is the time your team needs you. This is the time you need to train them, the time to prove you are a good leader.” Raising my chin high, he gave a slight smile and guilt now choked me like a blanket as I thought about my earlier outburst.
“Get up, lazy army! We are going to practice goals first.” Trying to mimic coach’s accent, I roughly ordered my teammates who shot cheeky smiles at the coach before starting the routine. I trained all of them hard for the next week and was flabbergasted at my noobs transforming into mini Ronaldos.
“Philosophers should be called magicians.” I thought to myself on the day of the match, seeing my team cheerfully offering me the trophy and the face of Peter which had turned into the color of molten lava.