Chapter 9 Part 3
The election came and went the following week with Senator Stevens winning in a landslide. Aside from Dr. Hasenpfeffer’s lively classroom discussions on the topic, life returned to its usual concerns.
Paivi was more focused on basketball than anything else. It was a few days before Coach Espinosa offered her a spot on the varsity team. Paivi was relieved, but also nervous. She liked the girls on the freshman team and she didn’t know any of the girls on varsity.
Friday was her first day of practice with the varsity girls. She had tried to take everything in but there was so much to learn. The girls were working so hard; there wasn’t much time for socializing.
Paivi found herself paired with Leyla Bianchi, a junior forward, for a particularly challenging drill. Paivi had to turn her back to Leyla, and then pivot around to catch a pass. Leyla was supposed to tell her to turn to the right or left and then throw the ball, which should meet her as she turned.
“Left,” Leyla called out, her voice echoing through the gym.
Paivi swung to the left, but before she could complete her turn, there was an explosion of pain in her face as the basketball crashed into her nose. She flew straight backwards onto the floor.
“Oops!” Leyla giggled, covering her mouth with her hand. Shay Montgomery, the team’s point guard, joined her.
Her face throbbed making it difficult to open her eyes. Blood dripped down from her nose and pooled into her cupped hand.
“Paivi, are you bleeding?” Coach Espinosa ran over. “Off to the trainer’s, let’s go.”
She helped Paivi up and pointed to the door of the gym. Paivi looked back to see Leyla still talking to Shay and laughing. Paivi glared at them and turned her back as she headed to the training room. She felt the energy building up again, her anger forcing it through her. She made no attempt to control it this time. In the gym the girls let out a shriek as a light bulb burst, raining glass onto the hardwood floor.
This is just the beginning, she thought to herself, trying to keep the blood from running onto the floor.
Saturday morning’s practice was still unpleasant, but at least it was not as physically painful. Her nose still ached from the day before, and her eyes were slightly black underneath, but Paivi didn’t want it to look like she was weak, or worse, afraid of Leyla, so she tried not to shy away from any of the drills.
Leyla Bianchi didn’t throw a ball in Paivi’s face, but she made her presence known. When Leyla picked teams for a scrimmage, she chose Paivi for her team, and then never put her into the game. When Coach Espinosa noticed and subbed Paivi in, Leyla made sure she never got the ball. Paivi could see she had no supporters on the team. Leyla had a group of about five girls that stuck to her like glue and the other teammates just ignored her.
Join me next week for the conclusion of Chapter 9!