Audrey walks her parents into the five stories brown brick building that is currently her temporary home. Each floor has about fourteen rooms and they make their way up the stairs to the third floor which is where her room is. She puts her key in the keyhole where there are several scratches, an indication of the many times people have missed the keyhole in an attempt to open the door. Immediately after opening the room, the first noticeable thing is two chestnut clothes closets attached on each side of the back of the room. On top of these drawers are different types of accessories, showcasing each of the girl’s personality. Her parents easily notice Audrey’s drawer since it has a basketball mounted on it. Next to the drawers are two desks which serve as working areas since they both have computers on them. These furniture make the back of the room completely full. Audrey leads her parents into the room and onto the couch on the left side of the room while she sits on the opposite couch. These two pieces of furniture, at night, consist of two pull out twin size beds.
Audrey and her parents sit in her dorm room for hours catching up after months of not seeing each other. Her mother looks out the window and notices it’s getting late. There is a soft blues music playing in the background. Audrey is clothed in a hoodie, blue jeans trouser, and sneakers. Her dad wears a gray suit and has black nicely polished shoes while her mum is clothed in a flowery pink dress and white palms shoes. Their cloths have been packed in their suit case.
Honey it’s been so good seeing you,
we missed you so much.
But we have to get going if we want to catch our flight back home.
Audrey and her mum both stand up at the same time and come together for a long tight hug.
Oh mum.
I missed you too.
It was so nice seeing you and dad.
Don’t worry I’ll come home soon and visit.
Audrey’s dad waits patiently for them to say their goodbyes before standing up. He gazes at his watch as if to show he is becoming impatient. Suddenly, he pulls Audrey into a short light hug and pulls back while still resting his hands on her shoulders.
Your brothers and sisters send their love and they can’t stop asking about you.
Take care, work hard
I hope you know your mum and I…
We love you very much and always want the best for you.
Audrey knowing her father to be a man of few words and not a person to easily express his emotions is slightly shocked by his loving expression, but she quickly brushes it off, accepting this display of affection that rarely ever sees the light of day. She clasps his hands on her shoulders and looks into his eyes.
I love you too dad.
The radio is still singing in the background. Audrey walks them to the door and watches as they drive off as a feeling of sentimentality washes over her suddenly. She shakes it off and waves goodbye and makes her way back to her room.
Hours later she paces back and forth in her room trying to reach her parents for the fifth time that night. Mary, her roommate and best friend tries to calm her down but cannot get through to her. The phone is finally answered but it is neither her mother nor her father on the other end.
Hello, who am I speaking to?
Who is this? Why do you have my mother’s phone?
This is Patricia from the Genera Hospital
I’m sorry to tell you this but your mother was involved in a car accident.
Are my parents okay?
What happened?
When did this happen?
Where was the accident?
Please calm down ma’am
Can you please come to the hospital the doctor will answer all your questions.
Where is the hospital?
Ok. Am on my way…
Audrey feels confused. She hangs up the phone with tears streaming down her face and starts rummaging through the room in search of her shoes. She quickly pulls on her black trainers and grabs her keys from her desk. Mary, who had been closely listening to the conversation stops her and offers to drive her instead. There is heavy rain and the traffic is slow because of the heavy evening traffic as people return home from work.
Please, let me drive you
You cannot operate a car in your condition.
Audrey, unable to speak, just nods and follows Mary out the door.
Audrey bolts into the hospital building heading straight for the reception. Mary follows behind closely noticing the large number of people in the white waiting room. At the reception desk, there are three nurses, two brunets and a blonde. Audrey has no time for formalities and starts talking immediately she reaches the desk.
I’m looking for my parents John and Whitney Griffin,
They were just in an accident.
Can you tell me where they are?
I need to see them
There is a baby crying in the background as she demands to see his mom. Audrey is unable to recognize any person in her premises besides the nurse. The nurse looks sympathetically at Audrey.
Please take a seat ma’am
I’ll call the doctor right away.
(Raising he voice)
I want to see my parents now
Mary noticing Audrey’s distraught nature and increasing temper pulls her back towards the seats and calms her down
Audrey please calm down
Let’s wait for the doctor.
A few minutes later the doctor comes into the waiting room and the nurse points towards the direction of the two girls. He has a white rob and a stethoscope hanging on his neck.
Miss Audrey Griffin. I’m doctor Patel.
Audrey quickly stands up and hastily approaches the doctor.
Doctor, are my parents okay?
What happened?
Miss Griffin, your parents were hit by an oncoming truck.
I’m sorry, we did everything we could…
But they didn’t make it.
Audrey’s world suddenly starts spinning and everything goes black. Patients and their family members are streaming in and out of the hospital. Audrey can hardly hear anybody around her. She wails and sobs uncontrollably. Mary is remorseful and tries to console her friend.
Mary, now working at her father’s company after graduating with a business degree a year ago has come to visit her best friend Audrey who discontinued her studies after the accident to take care of her five younger siblings. Mary suddenly noticed some changes in her friend. When she first met her she had a cheerful character which was complemented by her beauty. She had long midnight black hair which flowed over her shoulders which was in beautiful contradiction to her pale white skin. She had emerald green eyes that penetrated right through your soul with sweeping eyelashes and arched eyebrow, honey sweet lips hiding milky white teeth, an elegant nose and slightly full cheeks. She had a sculpted figure with a curvilinear waist. Now looking at her, Mary notices that her hair now only rests above her shoulders, she barely ever smiles anymore and her body is much slimmer than before. Her eyes now seemed to always have a hint of sadness behind them.
(Hugging Audrey)
I missed you.
How have you been?
(Offers Mary a seat on the couch)
I missed you too.
We are doing well. It was hard for a while but we are now settling back to our lives.
At first I didn’t know how we would ever get back on our feet or ever be okay.
It was especially hard for Tracy and Jack since they are so young and did not really understand why mum and dad weren’t ever coming back.
I can only imagine
But you’ve done well,
Taking care of all your siblings by yourself.
I didn’t do it by myself. Dad and Mum left us well taken care of.
I thank them for that.
Plus our grandparents always help us out.
Actually, they are coming by to stay with us and help out for the next few months since I will be going back to college
(She reaches over and clasps Audrey’s hands)
That is great.
And you know a job will be waiting for you at the company when you graduate.
I appreciate that Mary.
They make their way into the kitchen to start making a light lunch as they make up for lost time.
As Audrey makes her way through Campus, everything looks the same, but feels completely different to her. The last time she was on these ground, both her parents were alive and she wasn’t sorely responsible for her siblings. The last time she was on these grounds, she was still growing up. Now forced to grow up too fast, she has lost her faith in life and in herself. She has a devastating emptiness and bitterness in her heart that she cannot seem to share with anyone since none of her friends would understand her since none of them know exactly how it feels to lose both parents and have all your dreams crushed in such a short time. She was supposed to have graduated a year ago and would now be employed and taking on the world. She feels angry at the world and at everyone for missing all these opportunities. She feels like her world was on pause for three years and has suddenly been unpaused with her whole life completely upside down. Trapped in her thoughts, someone taps her on her shoulder and she suddenly comes out of her haze. She turns around and notices Kevin. Kevin was her Basketball coach. Since she used to work out extra hard. They would meet for jogs in the early morning and stay back after practice perfecting her skills. They had grown pretty close over the two years she was in school. But after her parents, she went straight home and they haven’t seen each other since.
(Slightly shocked)
Hey Audrey I didn’t know you were back.
When did you get here?
I just got here this morning
I was just looking around, reacquainting myself with the surroundings.
School starts tomorrow.
What are you doing on school grounds?
I was meeting the new assistant coach we just got for the semester.
How are you doing?
Will you be coming back to the team?
I’m holding up okay.
I want to come back but I haven’t been actively training the last couple of months.
I don’t know if I’ll be good enough for the team.
I don’t want to cost the team any games.
I can help you with your training like we used to do.
Train in the morning and evenings and in no time you’ll be back in shape to rejoin the team as part of the starting five.
That would be great.
I could really use all the help I can get.
(Pointing to a bench nearby)
Let’s take a seat,
You can tell me exactly what you need help with.
We can come up with the best training strategy to help you make the team in the shortest time possible.
The beach side breeze and the quiet environment provide them with the ideal conditions for their personal talk. They talk for hours and it is during this extended conversation that Kevin notices the major shift in Audrey’s personality. Since they had been very close in the past, Kevin easily notices that she harbors a deep sense of bitterness over her parents’ death and the effects it had on her life. Her self-esteem has also suffered greatly after this tragic event. She is also neither hopeful nor excited about the future anymore. Kevin is saddened by this fact and hates to see such a young beautiful girl lose any hope of having a bright happy future and resolves to help her overcome all these negative feelings.
(Standing up)
Now that we have a working strategy, when would you like us to start training?
We can start as soon as tomorrow.
I am very eager to start training again.
It’s the only thing I am really good at.
It’s not the only thing you are good at…
Okay let’s meet here tomorrow in the morning, at the same time we always did.
They walk in opposite directions as the sun sets. Audrey is excited, for once she feels that she has fully regained her previous cheerful personality
Audrey and Kevin meet at dawn dressed in workout clothes ready to start on helping Audrey. Audrey is wearing tight fitting shorts with a black sports bra and a loose grey tank top. Kevin on the other hand is wearing a white tank top with loose fitting grey sweatpants. For a thirty five year old, Kevin was in pretty good shape with well-defined muscles and on top of that, he was handsome. He wasn’t a male model, but most people would disagree. He had blonde hair of great quality. He had mud brown eyes with beetle brows that would knit if he was frustrated. He had a curved nose which was a complement to his prominent cheekbones that appeared to have been fashioned by a master craftsman. He had a well-defined jaw and strong masculine shoulders and legs. When he flexed, you couldn’t help but stop and stare.
How far do you want to run today?
As far as I can.
(Noticing that this is the first time he has seen her smile since last evening)
Okay, let’s do this.
They run for a full forty five minutes before Audrey decides it’s enough.
They take a seat on the bleachers to catch their breath. Kevin takes this opportunity to start up a conversation.
You are still in good shape.
Forty five minutes isn’t so bad.
Yeah it isn’t but I used to do more than an hour.
I want to go back to that.
You’ll be able to do that soon enough.
How is the team holding up?
All the players are new this year…
You know everyone that was on the team when you were last here already graduated.
This causes some grief to Audrey. She should have graduated by now. She shouldn’t still be in college at this age. She should be in a big city chasing her dreams.
(Noticing that her mind has wandered)
What is wrong?
Where did you just go?
(Suddenly snapping back to reality)
It’s just… I don’t know… I feel lost right now.
How so?
It just feels like everyone has completely moved on with their lives.
And is on the way to accomplishing their dreams.
I’m still stuck in one place.
I feel like I am way behind in life.
I should be done with school by now and taking better care of my siblings.
I should be getting ready for work right now and heading to the office.
All these responsibilities, they are wearing me down right now.
You should never compare yourself to others.
We all follow different paths in life.
We all walk different roads in life.
It’s easy to say that. But believing it is hard.
I know it is. But it’s true.
It’s a profound loss, what you went through,
And most people feel exactly what you are feeling right now.
Years back, I was once where you are right now.
And I felt even worse than you did.
Most people would not take up the responsibilities that you have, and they wouldn’t handle it as well as you are right now.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
You are doing very well.
You went through something like this?
(Scratches his head)
Yes I did.
But that’s a story for another day.
But don’t worry, it gets better.
I promise.
I am not too sure about that.
(Looks at her watch)
I have to get going.
I have a class at nine.
See you at practice
Okay. See you then.
Stepping onto the basketball court, Audrey is hit with a familiar scent that she had really missed. The sound of balls on hardwood floors everywhere, the rich warm air that was always present. The flying balls and the sound of a ball going into the net. The graceful move of people from sideline to sideline. She had missed this place, and could not wait to get back on the court.
Already dressed in her jersey, she dropped her bag and rushed to join the team with a smile on her face knowing it would be a worthwhile practice.
After practice Audrey and Kevin stay behind to practice some shoots since she wasn’t able to make as many as she used to. They practice for forty minutes before deciding to call it a day. .
So how were your classes today?
How was it being back in school?
It was good.
Although there’s is no one I know in the class.
Except some of the professors.
Don’t worry.
I’m sure you will make new friends soon
It can’t be that easy.
All my classmates are just way younger than me.
We can’t connect that easily.
Age is just a number.
You shouldn’t focus too much on that.
It is just a matter of the mind.
You can connect with anyone of any age regardless of their age.
Society has conditioned us to give such significance to age that we let it control our lives to the extent of letting it influence our greatest decisions.
(Having a realization)
That could be true.
But doesn’t age influence one’s way of thinking.
Well it’s not like that.
You can find a very young yet mature person and at the same time you might also meet a very old yet immature or childish person.
You know the expression “she’s an old soul” clearly demonstrated this point.
We are so conditioned by society to think that there is a certain age for doing everything:
There’s an age to study, an age to date, an age to have fun, an age to marry and an age to have kids.
We are forced to make decisions, not because of what we feel or desire but based on what the society sees fit to do at that particular age.
(Listening attentively and nodding)
I think that is the main reason you feel like you are way behind in life.
Because society dictates that at this age should have a college degree and venturing into the job market.
And now you feel like you are running out of time.
You feel like the time to do all this things is slowly running out which is making you feel depressed and insufficient.
But you should know, it is never too late to chase your dreams and accomplish everything you want to.
There is no expiration time for your dreams or desires and you are not running out of time to pursue them.
I have never really thought of it that way.
What you are trying to say is that we are free to do whatever we want but the chains of society hold us back
Your life is completely under your control and you can do anything you want.
And don’t be afraid to connect with people younger than you.
Who knows, they might actually turn out to be better friends than people of your own age.
Age is just a number, don’t give it power it does not deserve.
So what actually matters?
Your mind. Your attitude. Believing in yourself.
These are the things that you should pay more attention to. A positive attitude can have tremendous impact on our lives.
With positivity and belief in yourself you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
I’ll try and put this into practice with my classmates.
I have a dance class right now, I should get going, and I don’t want to be late.
Same time tomorrow?
Over the next few weeks, Audrey and Kevin train Monday to Friday every morning and evening. With every day they spend together, Audrey opens up more about her feelings and fears. Kevin, on the other hand continues to share his thoughts with Audrey in an attempt to help her through this difficult situation and inspire her to change her attitude and regain her confidence in herself and in her life. With each passing day they grow closer and learn more and more about each other. Audrey however, was always insistent that no one really understood what she was going through.
I know you think that no one feels exactly what you feel but I do.
I remember you aid that once. I admit I have been wondering about that.
Well I was eighteen when it had happened.
It was just a few weeks before graduation.
My parents and I were driving home from a game that I had just scored the winning point on.
To get home, we had to drive past a bridge.
This truck came out of nowhere and I don’t know what happened, but suddenly we were submerged in water.
I looked over to the front seat and saw my parents both unconscious.
We were sinking fast and I couldn’t get my seatbelt free. With every passing minute, we sank deeper and deeper and suddenly we were completely submerged in the water.
I couldn’t get my seatbelt free and I couldn’t hold my breath anymore.
I felt something pulling me under and suddenly everything went black. I thought I was dead, but the next thing I knew, I was waking up in a hospital bed.
The first thing I did when I woke up was ask for my parents.
My aunt was the one who broke the news to me.
Both of them had died instantly from the crash.
There I was, only eighteen, hadn’t even graduated and suddenly I was bombarded with all these responsibilities. Unfortunately my parents never thought they would leave us, so they did not leave us any money.
We practically had nothing to live on.
I had to get a job to keep my brother in school and make sure he had something to eat.
I never even went to college.
Fortunately my former coach offered me the assistant coach position.
And that is how I started my coaching career.
Oh my God. I am so sorry, I didn’t know that.
Audrey could see the pain in his eyes, it was still so fresh. She cups his face in an attempt to comfort him.
He looks up at her
How did you manage all that?
My brother.
He kept me going and the desire to see him have a normal life and a brighter future than I got.
Audrey bends her head in an attempt to hide her tears.
Kevin holds her chin and turns up her face towards him and notices her eyes filled with tears.
What’s wrong?
I just didn’t know you’ve been through so much.
And I’ve been so self-absorbed and selfish I never even asked about your family.
Hey, don’t think like that, this was your moment to grieve, I had my moment long ago.
You never have to worry about being selfish with me.
He leans his head towards her and their foreheads touch. They sit like this in comfortable silence for a few minutes. He raises his eyes and looks deeply in her eyes and cups her face with his right hand. She moves her hands from his face and places them on each of his shoulders. He starts caressing her cheek with his thumb. He slowly moves his hand from her cheek and softly brushes her lower lip with it. She gently places a kiss on it. He leans his face towards hers and gently places a kiss on her lips. She returns his kiss, opening her mouth a little further to grant his tongue access. He moves his right hand towards the back of her head and glides his left hand across her right hand holding his right shoulder and intertwines his fingers with hers. He deepens the kiss and she slowly moves her left hand from his shoulder towards his chest, and starts to tug at it. He holds her hand and pulls his mouth away.
Let’s not rush it.
Are you sure you want this?
I mean I am much older than you.
Yes I am sure I want this.
Have you forgotten what you told me, age is nothing but a number?
Let’s not let a number stop us from what we want.
(She lays her head on his head and he puts his arms around her pulling her into a tight hug.)
He places a gentle kiss on her forehead.
I promise it gets better.
I believe you.
A few weeks later Audrey is finally granted a spot on the starting team.
A minute to the end of the game, the score was tied, the team that would win the next point would win. Audrey’s team was in possession of the ball, all they needed to do was make the shot. Sweat was dripping down her face and her mind was sorely focused on the game. Her teammate Sara started dribbling the ball while running towards the basket. One of the opponents suddenly blocked her way. With no way of getting to the basket, she looked around and noticed Audrey was open. She passed the ball towards her and she easily caught it. She took a quick glance towards Kevin who simply nodded. With that, she steadied her feet, took a very deep breath and took a shot. Swish, the ball went clean through the net with the sound of the buzzer. The crowd went wild, exploding with cheers. Audrey smiled victoriously and looked over at Kevin, catching him smiling towards her. She had finally regained confidence in herself.
After the game, Audrey and Kevin are once again in the court together alone.
(Flirtatiously moving toward her)
Congratulations on the winning shot.
(Taking a step back away from him)
I owe it all to you
(He takes another step towards her back)
No you owe it all to yourself.
This is all you.
She takes another step back and her back settles on a wall. He moves closer to her and places his hands on both ends of the wall behind her.
He leans down towards her and tries to kiss her.
She playfully turns her face to the left.
There are still some people in the building.
It’s late… No one is around.
Everyone is out celebrating your victory.
Out Victory.
She looks up towards him and finally kisses him.
It did get better. You made it better.
I Love You.
I Love you too.
With a newfound purpose in life and herself, Audrey has a new outlook in life, and with Kevin by her side, she is ready to take on the world and face anything that she may have to face.