“Andy!” My little sister, Sammy, tries to prise my closed eyes open with her tiny fingers. I play at being asleep still, snoring loudly to add to the pretense.
She giggles, and I feel her seemingly constantly sticky hand pat me repeatedly on the cheek. “Aanndeee…”
I pounce on her with a growl and scoop her into my arms, rolling us both under the covers, and she squeals in joy as I pepper her with kisses.
“How’s my little Sammy-bear this morning?” My four-year-old sister pushes my arms off her and sits up next to me, cheeks red from laughter, and huffs her too-long bangs out of her eyes.
“And why so sad?” I pull myself up to lean against the headboard next to her.
“Because you’re going away again.” She pushes her lower lip out, and her hazel eyes glisten.
“It’s only for a few weeks, and you know I’ll phone all the time.” I put my arm around her shoulders and pull her into my side, squeezing her till she giggles again. “Love you, my little Sammy-bear.”
“Love you too, Andy Pandy!” I watch her curly blonde hair until she disappears back downstairs before padding into my bathroom to start getting ready.
For the last couple of summer holidays, I’ve spent six weeks at an all-state football camp.
It’s been awesome getting to train with some of the best coaches and ex-professional players, not to mention it stands me in excellent stead for getting a full scholarship to college.
No one else from my high school goes there, but I’ve made firm friends with a guy from Minnesota. We stay in touch throughout the year too, but it’s not the same as spending every day together.
It is nice to have a friend who wants to be friends with me just for being me, not my stupid reputation.
Apart from my two best friends, everyone else around here either wants to be friends to help their own social standing or because they want to get in my pants.
Once I finish showering and brushing my teeth, I scan the room once more to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything important. Laptop, chargers, football gear…shit! Nearly forgot the picture of my two girls.
Sammy and Charlotte are my baby sisters. I love them more than anything, even football. Jokes! Sammy turned four at the beginning of summer, and Lottie is coming up to eighteen months.
My folks work at the hospital, so I am often left on babysitting duty. Good thing they are both adorable to make up for all the parties I have to skip.
My folks drop me at camp, and I stroll into my usual room that I shared with Jake. He is already inside, unceremoniously dumping the contents of his bag into a drawer.
“Jakey!” He spins around at the sound of my voice.
“Duude! You got ripped this year!” My friend eyes my newly acquired muscles before pulling me in for a tight bear hug.
He steps back and grins, his green eyes twinkling, and pushes his chin-length brown hair back out of his eyes with a swipe of his hand.
“And your hair got long. You suddenly allergic to barbers?” Jake laughs and shoves me with his shoulder.
“Nah, dude, girls love long hair, gives ‘em something to hold onto.” He mimes thrusting into someone, slapping their ass.
“But seriously, does it look good? George fucking ripped me about it all vacation.” His face drops a little.
“George sounds like such a good friend.” I roll my eyes. Jake and George have been friends since they were in diapers, but the guy always sounded like a bit of a jerk to me.
“It suits you. Just make sure you keep it tied back, or Coach might make you shave it off.”
We catch up while we settle in. He tells me about his vacation with George and the new skate parks they discovered.
With a catch in his voice, he confides that his folks have been going through a pretty rough patch.
I think he’s gonna start crying, so I tell him about Sammy’s birthday party and how she made me dress up like her favorite character, Pepper Pig.
He nearly pisses himself laughing when I show him the photos. Too soon, it’s time for us to go for the first training session of the summer.
I’m not going to lie. I’m pretty pumped to put my new strength to the test against the other guys. I fucking love camp.
I fucking hate school.
Six weeks disappeared in seconds. And this last weekend disappeared in milliseconds. Now it’s Monday morning, and my alarm is screaming at me to wake up.
Five a.m. is a stupid time to get up, but if I don’t go for my run now, then I don’t have enough time to get myself and my little sisters ready for the day.
I roll out of bed, catching myself at the last minute to stand up. Yawning, I slowly pull on the first pair of shorts I find, an old Yale hoodie of my dad’s, and slip my feet into my trainers.
Sticking my headphones in my ears, I step out into the murky morning. Leonard Cohen starts growling in my ear, and my strides get longer as I find my pace.
The melancholy music matches my moody temperament this morning. As the beginnings of dawn’s light start to trickle through between the houses, I approach home.
Everyone is still asleep, so after chugging a bottle of water, I quietly make my way up to shower.
By the time I have Sammy up and eating breakfast and Lottie’s diaper changed, my mom appears in the kitchen back off the night shift.
I plop Lottie down into mom’s outstretched arms and give her a kiss on the forehead.
“Morning, Mom. Good night?”
She stops nuzzling her face into Charlotte’s soft baby curls and scrunches her nose up.
“Lots of drunks in the ER for a Sunday night. Lots of bad bodily fluids.”
“Are there any good bodily fluids?” I scoff. My phone pings with a message, drawing my attention.
My phone shows the texting dots, but he doesn’t send a reply. I shrug and turn my attention back to finishing my morning routine.
My phone pings again as I’m clipping Sammy into her car seat next to Lottie in the back of my Jeep.
After depositing Sammy and Charlotte at preschool and daycare, I drive to school with a smile on my lips at the thought of my best friend actually being in the same city as me.
Pulling into my usual parking space, my two closest friends, Drew and PJ, are already there, leaning against Drew’s old Mazda.
“S’up, dude? Good summer?” PJ shakes my hand and pulls me in for a bro hug.
“It was ok. Can’t believe we’re already back in this dump, though.” I fist bump Drew’s extended hand. “But I got a little bit of good news this morning…”
“What, your IQ finally catch up with your shoe size?”
I freeze at the sound of her voice. Fucking Gina. Queen bitch. I plaster a shit-eating grin on my face and turn to face her.
She smirks, her ginger hair sitting in long plaits over her shoulders, and her stupid miscolored eyes narrowed at me, waiting for a response. With her, as always, are her gaggle of vapid cheerleader friends.
“Now, Gina, you know I’m ahead of you in all our classes,” I reply, my tone dripping with condescension. Her smirk is quickly replaced with a deep scowl.
Yeah, I know that cuts you deep not being top classman. ~
“So I suggest you toddle off and make up some new cheers about your starring QB.” I wave her off dismissively and turn back to my friends, who are both covering their mouths, trying not to laugh. “C’mon, guys, let’s go.”
As we walk away, I can practically feel the heat of Gina’s glare on my back.
I don’t like you any more than you like me, bitch. Let the games begin. ~