Episode 077

Melinda’s Journal

Saturday, December 9

I have officially been part of the thirds basketball team for two days. In that time, I have learned the basics, such as how may players can be on the floor at a time.

But no one has explained to me what I’m supposed to do as manager. Today is our first scrimmage. Am I supposed to just sit and cheer for my classmates from the bench?

Melinda’s Story

When I arrived at the TRAC Saturday afternoon, I found a folding table between the two players’ benches on our court. Bethany, one of the prefects in my dorm, was sitting behind it. She looked up as I approached.

“Hey! You ready for this?”

I looked in all directions before turning back to Bethany. “Me?”

“Yup. Come sit with me. You’re on that side because of your foot. Plus, that’s where the thirds team is sitting. Rule number one: you always sit on the same side as your team.”

I raised my eyebrows before sitting down. “Um, I’m confused.”

“Clarissa asked me to show you how to keep the books. I had bronchitis last winter and had to sit out for literally a month, so I kept the books for the JV team.”

“But don’t all sixth formers play varsity?”

“Not always, but yeah. I’m varsity this year.”

I glanced behind me at the varsity court in the adjacent gym. “Aren’t you guys playing, too?”

“Yeah. The boys’ JV/thirds game is using the court right now. We’re later. So, what do you know about basketball?”

“The girls bounce an orange ball up and down the court. They try to get it in the basket. There’s a lot of running.”

Bethany laughed. “Okay. Good to know the basics.”

She then went into a detailed explanation of the game, including how long each period usually lasted and the different types of time outs. She explained how to fill out all the information in the score book during the game, although for today we were using a photocopied sheet to practice. She also explained how to mark baskets, points, and fouls, explaining the importance of checking everything at halftime.

When Bethany had finished her instructions, I pointed to a tablet in front of her. “What’s this?”

Bethany smiled, gesturing to the small scoreboard near the edge of the table. “It controls the scoreboard. Usually, students don’t get to touch this. It’s a neutral party. However, since this is just a scrimmage, my dad said I could use it.”

“Your dad?”

Bethany pointed towards the office. “My dad is Mr. Norris. The athletic director.”

The teams had finished warming up and were sitting on their benches, receiving last-minute notes from the coaches. A moment later, the starting players were in the center of the floor. I quickly noted everyone’s jersey numbers and circled them in my book. The ref blew her whistle and threw the ball in the air.

I watched the ball fly across the court, first in one direction, then the other as its possession kept changing and the girls on both teams dribbled and passed it to one another. It didn’t take long for the gold team to score. I marked a two beside player number five, then scratched the 2 on the running score. As soon as I looked up, the black team scored. I was lucky to catch the player’s number. I tried to mark that one a little faster.

The play continued for a few minutes before a girl on the gold team ran to our table. She squatted in front of Bethany, but I was too busy watching the game to ask why she was there. When the whistle blew, Bethany pressed something on the tablet and a buzzer sounded. The girl ran onto the court shouting to one of her teammates, who returned to the bench. I made sure to mark the player change on my page. On the next whistle, girls from both teams entered and exited the game, and for most of the half, there were girls squatting beside the table.

At halftime, the score was fifteen to twelve, with JV winning. Bethany and I compared our books, and Bethany reminded me to cross off the first half column.

She nodded when I was done. “So, I don’t have the real book, but at the end of the game, you would tally how many points each person scored and record it on their player profile in the back of the book. You would also write the scores for this game in the team profiles. You’ll figure it out next week, when Clarissa gets you the book.”

“Sounds easy enough.”

“Good. Now, you need to solve a problem I have. See that guy over there? In the red shirt?”

I followed Bethany’s finger to the suspended track. There were several people sitting up there. Some were even on the edge, hanging onto the rail with their feet dangling. A guy in a red shirt saw us watching him and waved.

I frowned. There was something familiar about him. I turned back to Bethany. “Isn’t he a Stanton prefect? I think I’ve seen him there.”

“Yeah. That’s my boyfriend, Will. I need you to solve a bet for us. We have lunch fourth period and I see you every day with Sarah and her boyfriend. I forget his name.”

“Larry. How’d you know he’s her boyfriend?”

“I’ve kicked him out of your room after break a few times. Anyway, we see you with them and Pat Evans and that kid that eats four dinners.”

I giggled. “It’s only ever been three, but I think he’s back to two. His name’s Walter.”

“That’s right. Will told me; I just forgot. So, Will says Walter and Pat hang out a lot because they’re brothers.”

“He’s right. If you look closely, you see they look alike. The way brothers do. Except, of course, Pat’s leaner and Walter’s all muscle.”

Bethany swore. “I owe Will an ice cream. Okay. The other bet–”

I raised my eyebrows. “You have more than one bet with your boyfriend?”

She shrugged. “We disagree on a lot of things. Anyway, which one is your boyfriend?”

“Why do you think one is my boyfriend and why is that something you bet on?”

“Will insisted he’s seen you in Walter’s room a few times and said you even snuck in one night during study hours.”

“I did not.”

“He said he caught you.”

I tried to remember. I had only been to Walter’s room a few times, but always with permission. However, I remembered getting yelled at by a prefect one of those times.

I shook my head. “He’s wrong. I did not sneak in. I had a show at the VAPAC. When I finished, I went to Mr. Smith and asked if I could wait for Walter in the common room. Mr. Smith said it was only a few minutes until study hours was over and gave me permission to go to Walter’s room.”

“Because he’s your boyfriend?”

“No. Because he didn’t like being seen near Pat.”

“Oh, was this last term? Pat was complaining during one of our physics labs about how his brother didn’t want to be associated with him.”

“That more or less summarizes the entire first term.”

Bethany nodded. “Pat has spent most of this week mentioning his girlfriend.”

“What does he say about me?”

“Ah! You admit it!”

I could feel my cheeks growing warm. I shrugged. “It’s not a secret.”

Bethany sent me a warm smile. “Nothing bad. Last few days, he’s been concerned about your ankle. Which is pretty much enough to confirm you’re his girlfriend, since I think you’re the only student on crutches at the moment. At the beginning of the week, he was telling us about some snow tubing adventure he had over break.”

I smiled as the ref blew the whistle to signal the beginning of the second half.

The game ended about half an hour later, with a final score of thirty to twenty-one. Although the JV team won, Clarissa seemed proud of her team. She checked in with me, praising my record keeping and explaining that she would keep the sample page with the book as a cheat sheet during our next game.

I wished Bethany luck on her game as I thought about how to spend my afternoon. I was debating between hanging out at the MAC and my dorm when Larry approached the table, plopping himself into the newly vacated seat.

“Where’s your boyfriend?”

“Dunno. Where’s your girlfriend?”

“Finding her sister, I think.”

“Oh, yeah. Sarah said Crystal was spending the night.”

Larry nodded towards me. “What’re your plans this afternoon? I was thinking maybe we could all go grab a pizza. You in?”

I glanced at my foot. “I don’t want to go to town if I don’t have to. It’s a long walk.”

Larry swore. “I forgot! I’m sorry!”

“What’d you forget?” Sarah smiled as she approached, her sister trailing behind.

Crystal looked like a miniature version of her sister, her dark hair pulled into their usual pigtails, making her appear a lot younger than eleven. Crystal, who was born deaf, waved enthusiastically before signing rapidly.

Sarah translated for me. “She wants to know what happened.”

I only knew a few signs, so I pointed to my ankle before spelling broke.

Crystal frowned sympathetically. “I’m sorry. It must be a big pain.”

“It is.”

Sarah turned to Larry. “So, what’re we doing this afternoon?”

He shrugged. “Well, I was thinking we could go get pizza, but Melinda’s crippled.”

Sarah hit him. “You can be so insensitive, you know?”

My ringing phone saved me from the rest of the argument. Looking at the display, I turned back to my friends. “It’s my mom. You guys go into town without me. I’ll catch up with you later.”

I watched Sarah and Larry walk away, hand in hand, as Crystal provided some ideas about where to have dinner.

“Hey, Mom. What’s up?”

“Hey, Sweetie. I know it’s easier to text you, but I’m driving and I thought I’d see how you were doing.”

“I’m doing okay. The doctor said I only have to ice my ankle twice a day. And it almost doesn’t hurt. I stopped taking any painkillers. It’s kind of like when you press a bruise. It hurts, but it’s tolerable.”

“I’m glad it’s feeling better.”

I dug through my backpack, pleased to find my headphones. I was tired of the TRAC, but couldn’t hold my phone and crutches at the same time.

“Hey, Mom? I’m gonna try something. Hang on.” I plugged the headphones into the jack as I placed them in my ears. “Can you hear me?”

“Yes. What’d you do?”

“I switched to my headphones.” After shrugging on my coat, I tucked my phone in the pocket and grabbed my bag.

“I wanted to talk to you about something. I’ve been talking to various members of the Evans family this week.”

“Why? How do you even have their numbers?” I could hear the note of insolence in my voice. Thankfully, my mother either didn’t notice or chose to ignore it.

“Mrs. Evans called me the other day. Then Walter and Pat each called me this afternoon.”

“Why?” Heading out the main entrance, I hobbled down the drive towards the MAC.

“Walter has taken his role as your confirmation mentor very seriously.”

“Oh, yeah. He said he would figure out how to get me to church without me having to hopple through town.”

“Well, he’s a very persuasive and creative young man. He told me about his plan, which I promised to let him explain because he wants to surprise you. I just wanted to let you know you have my permission.”

“Permission? For what? And why did Pat and his mom call you?”

“Mrs. Evans called to tell me about the plan before Walter did, and I wasn’t sure I approved. Then I spoke with Walter and he did some serious convincing. That boy should think about becoming a lawyer. Anyway, I agreed to give it a try. Then, I spoke with Pat and he commented on some of my concerns. He’s a good boy.”

“I’m scared.”

“I think you’ll be pleased. Call me tomorrow and we can discuss it some more. Why do you sound out of breath?”

“I’m walking outside. It’s a little difficult to walk in this wind with the crutches while having a conversation.”

“I’ll let you go. Call me tomorrow.”

“I will.” I ended the call as I entered the mailroom in the lower level of the MAC. Taking the elevator to the main level, I figured I would check the couches. I assumed I would find Walter there, watching football with all the other guys glued to the screen. But he wasn’t there. Since my foot hurt, I decided to stay there for a few minutes to see if he showed up.

I had just made myself comfortable beside Larry’s roommate, Andy, when I received a text from Pat. He wanted to have dinner at the MAC Attack. When I told him I  already at here, he promised to come find me.

Pat’s Story

Pat’s story will return in Episode 78.

Attention Hammerheads

Melinda is always trying to build her vocabulary. What were some words in this episode that were new to you? She will add them to her vocabulary journal.