Winning the Game: Ch. 3

“Did you attend the party last night?”

At this question, Karissa felt as if she was going to scream. This had been about the billionth time she had been asked this question, and it was getting annoying. 

It wasn’t just that the question was getting annoying, though. It was also the look people gave her when she said no. They looked at her as if she was a crazy person, and when she told them she was doing homework all night instead, they looked at her as if she was even crazier. 

Obviously, attending this party was at the very top of everyone’s list of things to do while homework was at the very bottom of the list. This had only been apparent in every class Karissa had attended. 

Only a couple of people from each class were able to hand in their homework, and only a handful of people were able to refrain from falling asleep. A few people weren’t even able to show up. Karissa assumed it had something to do with the massive hangovers everyone was complaining about.

 Karissa was beyond frustrated and annoyed, but since her new friend Abel was the one asking this question at this precise moment, she couldn’t find it in her to yell at him.

“No, I had too much homework to do.” Karissa answered, trying to keep herself composed when she really just wanted to seethe at him for asking her.

“Good because I didn’t either. I was hoping you would say no so I wouldn’t feel like a total loser for not attending the party. They're just too crazy for me, and I’ve got more important stuff to do,” Abel responded with a look of relief on his face, and Karissa’s mood instantly shifted to one of delight.

“Finally, someone I can relate with! I can’t stand parties! On the other hand, though, it was real nice to have my dorm all to myself. Joyce wouldn’t dare miss a party of this magnitude. I just wonder where she happened to wake up this morning. She has a darned hangover I’m sure.”

“Oh, I think almost everyone has a hangover this morning. It’s ridiculous how many people waste their college years away partying. I don’t understand it. It costs way too much to waste away something so important. I mean, these are the years that shape our future! My grandparents would kill me if I blew it partying.”

“Are your grandparents helping you with school?”

“Yeah, they live upstate. I’ve lived with them my whole life. My parents were addicts who never managed to get clean. My grandparents took me in when I was really little. They’re all I’ve ever known, really. I love them, but it was rough growing up with them. They were always paranoid I was going to end up like my parents, always convinced I was up to no good, no matter how much I proved otherwise. It’s been a relief to get away, honestly.”

“Oh Able, it breaks my heart to hear that! If it makes you feel any better, I think you’re a wonderful man your grandparents should be proud of.”

“Thanks. I’m sure they will be eventually. Anyway, what’s your story? What’s your family like?”

“Well, my dad is a good man. He’s very protective. He’s always lookin’ out for me. I don’t know why. I can take care of myself. I s’pose he’s just lookin’ out for his only child. There were some complications during my birth, and my mother wasn’t able to have any more children after she had me. They were lookin’ at adoptin’ but it was too expensive. You ain’t got much to spend on a ranchers salary. They make enough to pay the bills, put food on the table, and feed the animals, but there ain’t much extra money, especially not enough to adopt a child. It was hard for my mom. She came from a wealthy family. She wasn’t used to wearing the same clothes for years at a time or not being able to afford a pair of nice earrings, but you get used to it. It ain’t a bad life, but it ain’t really a good one either. Every time I go home, I learn to appreciate my life here more and more, that’s for sure!”

The conversation went like this for what seemed like hours. Karissa learned what his grandparents did for a living, what his favorite things were, that he had visited the beach hundreds of times yet had never learned how to surf, what his goals for the future were, and much, much more.

 What he had learned was practically everything about Karissa. At the end of their lunch, they could have written a book about each other, and been dead accurate on every single word they wrote. 

Any other time and Karissa would have hated talking about herself. She didn’t like letting guys into her head very much. She knew that it would too easily lead to something else. 

However, there was something different about Abel. He was warm and inviting. She wasn’t afraid to pour her heart out to him. In fact, he was so delightful that she gave him a loving hug when she had realized that she was going to now be a little late to her next class. 

She didn’t mind, though. It wouldn’t be the first time she had been late to a class, and this particular class was one of which everyone happened to be late to. It was late in the day, and everyone was always caught up doing something which meant that (like Karissa) they were too distracted to keep track of the time. 

Luckily, Karissa had been smart enough to pack her book in her backpack when she had left her room today. She wouldn’t have to go back to her dorm to retrieve it.

“So, can we meet here tomorrow?” Abel asked after Karissa had hugged him.

“That sounds wonderful, Abel.” Karissa answered with a grin, and Abel smiled widely at her.

“Great. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“Alrighty then!”

Karissa gave him another hug (a quick one this time), and then began hurriedly walking to her class. Thankfully, she was saved from humiliation when she walked into her classroom. Another girl and guy walked in late at the same time. 

She sat down at her usual seat, and then realized that her professor hadn’t even called roll yet. Apparently, he had finally learned that his students showed up late, and was giving them more time to show up. Therefore, Karissa had time to pull out her book, pencil, and notebook before her professor began taking roll. By this time, he knew what name belonged to which student, so Karissa was able to daydream a bit before the lecture began.

During their talk, Abel had told her where she could find the soccer stadium on campus, and where she could find the practice schedule (just in case she wanted to watch the team practice). She vowed she would check out those times after class because she knew she could probably learn a thing or two from observing the practices. 

Abel also told her that she wouldn’t be the only one watching the practices. He told her that many of the guys on the team had girlfriends who would watch them practice, and that a few people would go up to the stands to study. 

That had been his response to the conflicted look on her face. He had probably figured out that she was thinking about the embarrassment she would feel if she were the only one observing the practice. She loved how he could practically read her mind sometimes.

In her daydream, she imagined herself playing on the boy’s soccer team. She imagined winning the scoring goal, and having everyone lift her up, shout her name, and seeing the coach beaming proudly at her. She imagined her parents coming up to her, and telling her how wrong they had been about soccer only being a hobby for her.

When the lecture began, Karissa forced these thoughts out of her mind. This was her World Literature class, and since it was an English class, she knew she really had to pay attention. It wasn’t one of her better subjects.

When Karissa’s class was finally over, she wasn’t as relieved as she thought she would be. She would have an essay due the next week, and with all the other homework she had yet to work on, she knew it would take her forever to get it done.

Therefore, instead of going to athletic building to check out the soccer practice schedule like she’d planned to, she went straight to her dorm to retrieve her homework so she could begin working on it in the library. When Joyce wasn’t there, she wondered whether she could just stay in her dorm room to do her work. However, she knew that Joyce could come in at any time, and she didn’t want to chance Joyce ruining all her hard work. 

Instead, she grabbed her homework, books, and laptop, and went straight to the library to work on it. 

It was a Thursday night, so the library was a bustle of people doing exactly what Karissa came to do. People were working on projects, homework, and finishing reading the required books when Karissa sat down at one of the tables to do her homework. 

She started on the math homework that was due the next day because she knew it would take the longest and work her brain the hardest. Since it was also due the next day, she knew it had the most need to be finished. It took her about two hours to finish, and then she started on her other homework that was due the next day. That took her a short fifteen minutes for each assignment, and then she was finally able to concentrate on the essay due the next Tuesday.

Coming up with an idea was easy for her. It was putting the idea into proper and perfect sentences that was hard. She always had the hardest time remembering grammar rules and what was considered proper spelling. The essay took her another few hours before she was finally done with all her homework. 

She could only hope that her classes the next day wouldn’t give her even more work to finish. She was eager to get to the practice field.

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