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It's Not Whether You Win Or Lose MAG
It's Not Whther You Win or Lose
by K. W., Auburn, NY
The water trickled through her shirt slowly. With her head bowed, she ignored the water that dripped from her hair into her face and down her back.
She did not care. In truth, she was glad of the rain. It masked her tears; it hid the shaking of her shoulders. It soaked her kilt and formed puddles around her knees. Water fell as drops onto her stick and slid off silently. Her socks sucked in water, muddy and cold, to turn their original white a dingy grey brown.
Far across the field, hands were being shaken, shoes and clothing were gathered up and bags were rescued from their personal puddles. Cheers split the air, but only one team cheered. The other group vibrated with stoic silence.
And neither group noticed the girl who knelt in the mud, her shoulders slumped and her head in her hands. That was fine, though. She had forgotten them as well.
Her entire world was centered on the echo of the ball striking the frame of the goal. Again and again the metallic sound poured through her mind. It carried so much weight for such a small sound. It was a sound of pain, of loss, and she would never be free of it.
To be so close! She had almost been able to taste it. She had broken away, streaked up the field. With time running out, and knowing there would be no second chance, she had lifted her stick and connected with the ball.
And she had missed.
Savagely, she pounded her fist into the mud, scattering a puddle. The droplets arched through the air to shatter on the ground. A jolt of pain raced up her arm. She turned her hand to stare dispassionately at the blood that trickled with the muddy water down her arm.
Strong fingers wrapped around her wrist. Startled, her head snapped up. Her coach crouched beside her in the mud. Inanely, she wondered how he would get the mud off the cuffs of his pants. Her mouth quirked drunkenly.
The team captain was behind the coach. Both wore anxious expressions. Coach touched the blood that ran from her wrist, exchanging a worried glance with the captain. The young player stared at the two faces and something shattered inside her.
The tears began again, coming this time in thick, painful sobs that shook her shoulders and bent her double. The other two waited till the worst had passed, then they helped her up and across the sodden field to the bus.
And as the bus pulled away, the rain ended, and a single beam of light sliced through the clouds to outline a wet field hockey stick, lying abandoned in a puddle.