58 comments

Drama

"She remembered who she was, and the game changed-" Lalah Delia.

“I told you to come back home, Adanna. You’ll never be good enough there.”

My mother. The woman I know loves me so much, but times like this, I'm not so sure. I’ll never be good enough for her. It doesn’t matter what part of the world I am.

“I’m not coming home, Mum. I can’t.” I could. I know that, but coming home means accepting defeat. It would mean I had failed and while I have, a couple of times actually, I don’t believe failure means total defeat. I refuse to go down.

“Igá fu ifé ghémérégí, Adanna.”

You’ll regret this, Adanna. I sigh. Maybe I will, but I’m going to hold on to the possibility that I won’t.

I don’t bother arguing with her. It'll be pointless. “Bye, mum. I have to go for rugby prac-" She hangs up before I finish my statement, but it’s not new. She hangs up on me every conversation we have.

…….

“For the last time, Miss Adanna, girls don’t play rugby. It isn’t done.” I wondered how she could have butchered my name so much. It wasn’t that hard to pronounce, but then again, I never told her how to and she never asked.

I left Nigeria the first chance I got. I had to get away from the traditional restrictions of what a girl is supposed to be. I guess I could have moved further and still wouldn’t have been able to escape it. At least there I wasn’t alone. I was just like everyone else.

“Well, I’m a girl and I play, so I’d say it can be done.”

She rolls her eyes. “Well here, you can’t. That’s not how our establishment works. Pick a sport other girls are interested in.”

“With all due respect ma, Miss rather. I’ve read the mission statement for Middleview High more times than necessary since I moved here, and one of the lines says to come and be accepted for who you are. And I know for a fact that there was a girl on the team three years ago.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she says. She does, but she won’t admit it. I’m not getting anywhere with her. I need to change my tactic. Maybe if I’m more desperate, she’ll see how badly I need this.

“I need to do this. You don’t understand, but I do.” My eyes are shining now. She’s the Guidance Counsellor, so she decides what extra-curricular activities students can take. The problem is rugby isn’t just an extra-curricular, it’s my life. I got a sports scholarship here, but for athletics. That was at least until last week when I convinced Coach Michaelson to let me be on the rugby team.

She looks at me sadly and says, “We don’t always know what we need. You don’t want to hurt yourself. No one needs that. You’re not like us.

Her name is Louisa. The girl that was on the team three years ago. She looks like us, but she’s not a guy. She dropped out of the team a week later. When I saw her afterward, she wasn’t the same. Something inside her shattered. I won’t be responsible for that happening again.”

Slow, hot anger burns inside me, but I don’t say a word. I can’t. I’m afraid the tears will fall and I won’t be able to hold them back. I’m afraid I’ll say something I’ll regret, and the last thing I need is a disciplinary issue after being here less than a month. She didn’t say it, but she implied it. I can’t play because I’m a girl. Not just a girl, an African girl. I push the chair back and stand up to leave when she looks at me and says, “You care that much?”

I nod. A tear falls. She has no idea. 

“I hope I won’t regret this,” she says finally.

……

These three weeks have been the worst. I’ve been tackled and bruised and shunned by my teammates. I don’t know what I was expecting though; it is the boys’ rugby team. Making the team wasn’t the problem. The problem is staying on it.

It hasn’t been all bad though. I’ve gotten a quarter of the locker room to myself to change. Coach Michaelson says I deserve privacy. It’s a nice enough gesture, but it won’t let them forget I’m different.

I look in the mirror and remember my mum’s words. “The mirror is the truest reflection of who you are. Remember who you are, Adanna.” I breathe, but my lungs are still gasping for air. I’m still drowning. I brush the imaginary dirt off myself. I can do this.

We huddle up as a team, hands in the center. I know if I put my hand in, they’ll take theirs out. I do it anyway. As expected, everyone does. Everyone but Jacob. We’re all wearing helmets, but I see him look at me and nod. It doesn’t last for more than a few seconds. He doesn’t realize how much I needed that. It’s the nicest thing anyone on the team has done for me.

“Get your head in the game, Andrews! Your game has been suckish all week!” Coach yells. I wince. Peter Andrews. Everyone on the team looks up to him, he’s the captain.

Coach blows his whistle and Jacob recycles the ball and passes it to me. I look to my right and it seems like the safest way to pass, but also the easiest way to intercept the ball. Peter stands behind me to the left. It’s a pass he can catch. The ball sails through the air and when it looks like he’s going to catch it, it slips through his hands.

Coach blows his whistle. "That's that a knock-on, change over."

He turns and his eyes meet mine with a murderous expression on his face. I fear what’ll happen next. “You.” That’s all he says, his voice cold. It’s the first time he’s directed his comment at me. He talks about me, but he never directs his words at me. It will be nothing good, I can feel it. “You think you can make me look bad in front of my team. Rugby is a boys' sport. You don’t belong on the field. You don’t even belong in this country. Go back to the hole you crawled out of.”

“Stop,” Jacob says. His voice is firm. Surprisingly, he does, but it doesn’t matter.

“What’s going on here?” Coach Michaelson asks. It’s too late though. The damage has already been done. The words hang in the air. They can’t be taken back. Each sentence pierces into my heart. I can’t breathe. I’m still drowning.

“It's me or her,” Peter says, throwing a disgusted look my way.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Coach Michaelson says out of frustration as he uses his hand to massage his temple. He won’t kick me off the team, but it doesn’t bring me much comfort. I’ll never be a part of their team. The lines have been drawn. It’s him against me.

“Practice is over!” Coach yells.

I stuff my duffel bag in my locker and leave the locker room.

I can’t breathe. I’m still drowning.

“Don’t let them get to you,” Jacob whispers.

I hadn’t noticed he was standing there until I heard his voice.

“Like it’s that easy,” I scoff.

“No one said it would be easy.”

“Why the sudden interest in me?” I ask. I don’t want the answer, not really because I’m not sure I’ll like it, but the question slips out of me before I can help myself.

“We’re all in this team because we love rugby, but I don’t think I’ve met someone who loves it like you do. You don’t give up on something you love like that. Fight, Adanna. Our battles are different. If you don’t fight for yourself, no one will.”

He walks off before I can say a word, but I don’t know what I’d say to him anyway. “Thank you” doesn’t feel appropriate. I’ve wanted someone to get the pronunciation of my name right for so long, yet when it happens, I barely notice. It isn’t what matters.

……

5 am is a strange hour. People wake up. I haven’t fallen asleep, not since yesterday.

I tie my shoelaces to go for a run. This is weird, I do it anyway. Uncle David wouldn’t care. He lets me have as much freedom as he thinks I need. Too much freedom isn’t good for a teenager, but he doesn’t know that, and I have no friends anyway.

I wonder what my mum would say if she were here. “Adanna! This is crazy. Go to bed before people in the estate see you.” She’s not here though, so she doesn’t say that. I close my eyes. I can’t breathe. I’m still drowning.

I run. I run until I can’t. I run until the images from the last three weeks have disappeared. I don’t see the stares anymore. I don’t hear the whispers. I forget the weird African girl on the team no one spoke to. I’m not her.

I forget her words, “You’ll never be good enough there.”

I forget his words, “Go back to the hole you crawled out of.”

None of it matters anymore.

Humanity needs saving, but we’re so selfish, we only save ourselves. Most of our hands are dirty, we’re just afraid to make them dirtier. Sometimes the wrong done is too much to handle, we join in it and while our actions seem insignificant, they aren’t to the people around us. They hurt because of it. I’ve hurt because of it.

Things need to change, and I have to be the one to change them. This is my battle.

I run. I run until I’m out of breath, until I get to the top of the hill. I lay on the grass. It’s 6.30 now. We used to watch the sunrise together, my mum and me.

I shiver and sit up. And the sun does rise, illuminating the blue, filling the sky with shades of orange and pink, peach, amber, and a bit of gold. It radiates hope, a new beginning. Another chance to live and be better.

My lungs are still gasping for air, but I’m afloat. I’m not drowning.  

August 28, 2020 20:02

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58 comments

03:54 Aug 29, 2020

I'm hereeee!!! 💃💃💃Hey DOUB, this is such an insightful story!😁 I love it! Love Adanna and her rugged determination.😎 Reminds me of when I protested to the teachers and principal at school that girls weren't playing football, that they weren't giving us time, or letting us, and boys were hogging the field. Barely anyone wanted to back me up. Just three girls, and all the boys teased me and laughed at me. I went straight to the principal and complained and the next week she let us play. Just us four girls that had the courage to raise our ...

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Doubra Akika
10:28 Aug 29, 2020

I’d love to read your recent!!! And that football thing was amazing!! That’s definitely something you should be proud of you. Yeah! I wanted the Jacob ad Adanna thing to be subtle but I’m happy you picked up on it. Maybe I’ll work with it later on. I’ll read your story later today for sure! Thanks so much for the comment! Really means a lot! And my keyboard has a glitch. That’s the only reason I was able to work with tone marks for the Igbo

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15:15 Aug 29, 2020

ARE YOU SERIOUS??? Wow, so much for horrible phones😂😂 You're welcome!!!

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Doubra Akika
16:20 Aug 29, 2020

Yeah, it was my laptop

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21:08 Aug 29, 2020

I can RELATE!😭😭😂😂

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Vanessa Kilmer
17:31 Sep 13, 2020

Hi Doubra: I received your story from Critique Circle. Your story is an inspiration. I feel Adanna's pain, desire, frustration and determination. Everyone is trying to protect her by keeping her from doing the hard work. Vanessa

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Doubra Akika
19:11 Sep 13, 2020

Hey Vanessa! Thank you so much for commenting. I’m so glad you liked it! Hope you’re staying safe!

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Akane Tsunemori
19:17 Sep 07, 2020

The story touches a very sensitive topic, not only because she was a girl but for anyone who wants to follow their dreams and create their own path towards it instead of blindly following what is told to them, not that it is wrong. Loved the character of Adanna. Though I would prefer a more fast-paced story so that we can get more insight into Adanna's life and struggle. But overall loved your take on the prompt. Finally, the last sentence was awesome. Thank you for inviting me here.

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Doubra Akika
19:59 Sep 07, 2020

I’m so glad you liked it! Your comment means a lot. Thanks for reading.

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Amany Sayed
22:47 Sep 04, 2020

Wowza! This was GREAT! I really loved how you kept going back to 'I'm drowning'. It all was very deep. Speechless.

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Doubra Akika
23:33 Sep 04, 2020

Thanks so much! Happy you liked it!

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Amany Sayed
03:21 Sep 05, 2020

No prob!

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P. Jean
11:51 Sep 02, 2020

We all wish we had that kind of commitment, to love something so much. You illuminated the desire, the need, and finally the strength. Nice writing! I enjoyed!

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Doubra Akika
12:33 Sep 02, 2020

Thank you so much! I’m so glad you did🤗.

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08:10 Sep 02, 2020

Awesome! Adanna sounds cool! The last sentence is perfect and poetic! Nice job! PS. Thanks a lot for reading all of my stories! (I think. Well, you've read most of them! :D)

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Doubra Akika
08:29 Sep 02, 2020

Thank you so much! I'm happy you liked it! And it was honestly my pleasure! I'll make sure to check out more of yours when I get the chance!

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08:51 Sep 02, 2020

You're welcome!

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20:03 Sep 01, 2020

Wow, Doubra! This is a beautiful story. The repeating of "I can't breathe. I'm still drowning." is so touching. This story both warms and breaks my heart. I love Adanna's personality. It's inspiring. I can't wait to read more stories of yours! Keep writing and stay healthy, Brooke D.

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Doubra Akika
20:27 Sep 01, 2020

Thanks so much! I'm honestly so happy you liked it. I love your comments! Keep writing! And I hope you're healthy as well!

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20:49 Sep 01, 2020

You're welcome! I love your comments as well.

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Omani Saleem
18:37 Sep 01, 2020

Love this story . Are you going to continue the story?. I would definitely love to read more☺️

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Doubra Akika
20:24 Sep 01, 2020

Thanks so much! I never thought about continuing, but maybe I'll do some more work on it later. Your comment means a lot, thanks again! (p.s. from your bio, I'm the kind of person who loves a good quotes as well, but you already know that 😂) Hope you're staying safe!

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Omani Saleem
17:51 Sep 04, 2020

Your welcome😊. It would be really interesting if you continue the story I’m sure we’d all love to see how Adanna evolves as a character. There’s just something special about good quotes😌

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Doubra Akika
19:01 Sep 04, 2020

Maybe I'll think about it. Especially if there's a prompt that matches how I want her story to continue. And yes, the power of a good quote should never be undermined.

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Zilla Babbitt
00:47 Sep 01, 2020

You asked me to read, so here I am. Determination is a virtue! You show the physical exertion of running and rugby very well. And the descriptions at the end, of the sunrise and not-drowning... 👌 Two things. One, Peter's reaction is honestly unrealistic. I don't mean the chauvinism, I mean the blatant way he displays it. I think he would be more subtle, like never passing the ball or shoving into her on "accident". Then when she starts to push him from his "best in the team" status, he'd react then. Make sense I hope? Two, the ending. You...

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Doubra Akika
07:22 Sep 01, 2020

Thank you so much, Zilla! Your comment means a lot. Thanks for your honesty as well! I never noticed that, but I understand what you mean. I'll make sure to work on that in my next story.

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Zilla Babbitt
12:29 Sep 01, 2020

You're so welcome!

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Charles Stucker
00:25 Sep 01, 2020

"He turns and his eyes meet mine with a murderous expression on his face. " The coach was the last person mentioned, so I would use Peter instead of He to start the sentence. The personal struggle, to be accepted in a boys sport is exceptionally well done. It could easily be a great YA novel with the characters you have established. You have the central internal conflict- she wants to play rugby but has to fight everyone and her own expectations. The voice is perfect, and the character compelling. I strongly recommend you consider writing...

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Doubra Akika
07:17 Sep 01, 2020

I never thought of that, but because of your comment, I think that could be a great idea. Thank you so much for checking it out and for your comments. I always appreciate them!

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S. M
23:44 Aug 31, 2020

Wow! Such a great story

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Doubra Akika
00:14 Sep 01, 2020

Thank you so much!

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S. M
00:29 Sep 01, 2020

np

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Tariq Saeed
18:27 Aug 31, 2020

Akika,you are a good writer,comments on my story.

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Doubra Akika
20:18 Aug 31, 2020

Thank you and sure!

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Tariq Saeed
18:25 Aug 31, 2020

I'm waiting for your comments.

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Doubra Akika
20:19 Aug 31, 2020

I don’t remember you asking me in the past to take a look at your stories, but I have now!

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Deidra Lovegren
21:41 Aug 30, 2020

Inspirational. Gentle. Elegant. "Things need to change, and I have to be the one to change them. This is my battle." Adanna and her fierce grit. Just a wonderful character. Love her and her mother's relationships (Moms rock.)

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Doubra Akika
22:23 Aug 30, 2020

Thanks so much D&D! And yeah, mums really do rock!

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Juliet Martin
20:15 Aug 30, 2020

Ah I love this take on the prompt! You've gone for a difficult topic and handled it really effectively. The narrative is really heartfelt, which gives a lot of life to your main character. I would suggest making your plot smoother in places, for example when you introduce the fact that Adanna loves rugby it is a little abrupt. Perhaps you could try to show this at first rather than tell. This is of course just a suggestion, and difficult to do in a short space! Great story either way!

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Doubra Akika
20:19 Aug 30, 2020

Thanks so much and I definitely get what you mean! Your comment means a lot!

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S Smith
02:26 Aug 30, 2020

Oh my gosh, this is amazing!!! (By the way, I'm S Smith on my second account, I can't get into my first one)

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Doubra Akika
02:51 Aug 30, 2020

Thanks so much! Oh okay!

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You never cease to amaze me Doubra! Your stories are always satisfying. I love the quotes you always use they always blend well with the story. Your last sentence is spine tingling. Awesome. You are a very skilled writer. Great job with this.

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Doubra Akika
01:32 Aug 29, 2020

I’m obsessed with quotes so I’m happy you like them 😊. Your comment means a lot! Thank you so much!

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Your welcome! If you haven't already, could you check out my recent story?

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Doubra Akika
01:42 Aug 29, 2020

Of course! I should be sleeping as it is nearly 3am but since I’m awake😂, I’d love to!

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Oh wow. It's 10pm where I am. That's so cool. Lol. Thank you tho.

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Doubra Akika
10:17 Aug 29, 2020

My pleasure!

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Deborah Angevin
22:18 Aug 28, 2020

The last sentence is... perfect. This story is very well-written and I love the use of quote as the opening sentence! P.S: would you mind checking my recent story out, "The Purple Sash"? Thank you :D

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Doubra Akika
22:19 Aug 28, 2020

Thanks so much! I’m obsessed with quotes. Of course! I’ll read it this night!

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Kristin Neubauer
21:50 Aug 28, 2020

Ooooooo....what a great last line, Doubra. The perfect end to a great story. I'm glad to see Adanna's spirit and grit and wisp of support in Jacob. And of course, so well written that the whole thing sucked me in right from the beginning - I was rooting for Adanna and wanting to kick dumb old Peter Andrews in the shins. Since you're a quote person too, this story made me think of one I've just come across recently: "To win respect, never deceive nor act an artificial part. Be simply yourself."

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Doubra Akika
22:05 Aug 28, 2020

I loved the quote! Thank you so much for reading and commenting! It really means a lot! Hope you’re staying safe!

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Kristin Neubauer
22:17 Aug 28, 2020

Thank you - you too - keep safe and healthy!

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Doubra Akika
22:18 Aug 28, 2020

I will! Thanks!

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Doubra Akika
20:42 Aug 28, 2020

So... I’m a really big fan of Lion King, that’s where the title came from. (Probably too old to be watching Lion King, but the movie's timeless) If you have a better title, I’d love to hear it! Still haven’t settled on this one yet. I do feel that we need to learn how to treat each other better. That’s something I’ve believed in for a long time. We’re getting better but we’re not quite there yet. Hope everyone feels blessed. I know I do.

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