The late autumn flies and moths buzz and bump against the glass of the stadium floodlights as they shine down on the playing field. The green grass and white stripes now show brown and blue from overturned sod and the neon glow from the scoreboard.
Hot dogs, popcorn, and the smell of cut lawn mingle with sweat as dirt permeates the air, adding to the excitement that comes to my turf every other Friday night in fall.
There's no denying I get caught up in the show and exhilaration as much as the onlookers do. It's a fucking rush of power, watching these teenagers fight and push and strive to be the best under my guidance.
Some of these kids might only get this far in life, a dream, a "what if", a hope. But for these forty-eight minutes of game play, they're not a farmer's son; they're not working in the drive-thru of Burger King.
They're fucking rock stars.
"GO! GO! GO!"
I run down the sidelines to keep my eye on Newton, as the crowd behind me yells at the action they see on the field. It's only the second quarter, and already my boys are blowing away the opposing team. I'm trying not to smile too much and keep my game face on, but it's hard when it's so obvious just how much better we are than the Bixby Spartans.
Even through the dense crowd, I hear Tanya screech behind me, cheering me and my kids on. The rustle from my windbreaker as I run mingles with the sound of stomping feet and clapping hands. My own hands slap and pound my clipboard, drowning out the cries of distress from the opposite grandstand.
The plastic feels light in my grasp as I thrust it out in front of me, full of plays we've practiced a hundred times, but only matter when everything is going right. The sweat on my neck, chilled from the Oklahoma night air, clings as I hold my breath watching Newton run his ass off towards the end zone, escaping the opposing teams clutches, narrowly missing the hold of a linebacker double his size.
The crowd seems louder than a freight train as the referee's hands fly up, giving my boys their six points. My own fists pump the air as the whistle around my neck flies up and hits me in the chin.
After scoring the field goal, the buzzer signals the end of the quarter, and I jog with them, giving accolades as we make our way across the running track towards the locker room where I'll give my criticisms, as few as there are.
Can't let them get cocky.
"Overall, a good first half, but keep your eye on where Emmett's throwing, Newton. I don't care how many complete passes you might've caught tonight, one interception is one too many," I chastise my receiver, who smartly says nothing, just nods his head and spits out a mouthful of Gatorade. The cinder block room is alive with activity as I point out things they did right and things they could do better. The freshmen that hope one day to have the chance to be where my players are jump around them with towels and bottles while my assistant coach ices down Emmett's all-star arm.
My speech turns to a pep talk, reminding these sweaty teenagers that there is no other option but to get to state. There's really no question that we'll be there, given their talent, but I can't let them lose focus now. Some of these kids will go to college, but most of them won't. They'll run tractors and fix farm equipment, but for right now, for this short but exciting time in their lives, these boys are the heroes of this small town that only cares about football.
The cheerleaders sound out loud past the entrance, giving their rally cries and keeping the pumped up crowd high for the next line of battle as I finish up. I kneel down in front of Emmett, his shoulder pads and jersey pushing out as his overheated body pants, and he gulps down a mouthful of water and we decide on the next play.
Soon enough, we're back on the field, my shouts of encouragement egging them on, and the cheer of the crowd reminding them that their parents, girlfriends, and classmates want only for us to win, make them proud. To give them something to talk about over coffee at The Empire Diner or Sunday dinner with Pastor Webber.
A tense third quarter leads to a successful fourth, my boys bringing it home under the energized nightfall of an evening filled with school and town spirit.
I high five them all as they walk off the field after congratulating the Spartans, who leave the turf forlorn and depressed. We all know the bus ride home will be nothing but silence and the quiet complaints of what that kid or this kid did wrong.
The next moments spent in the locker room full of rowdy boys are chaotic, the energy fuels my own exuberance. I was here once, and through them, I'm back again. Revelry at winning a coveted spot on the roster generates fist bumps, slaps on the ass, hoots and hollers. The first players begin to make their way out, showered and anxious to greet their girl who stands outside the gates, waiting to be taken to the Mr. Frosty down the road. I finally start to relax and come down from my high, so I adjourn to my office, moving to tack the stats to the bulletin board for us to review on Monday.
"Fucking yeah!" The shouts call out from beyond my glass windows, and talk turns to the party at Mike Newton's where my boys will get shitfaced and sleep with the girls so ready to be claimed by small town champions.
My adrenaline starts to ebb as I pull the whistle off my neck and stick it in the drawer next to the little four leaf clover keychain Tanya gave me at the start of the season. I stare at it before I shut the drawer and move back out to the party happening in my locker room.
"Coach! We did it!" Newton shouts as he passes me, towel slung low on his hips and a cocky smile on his face.
"Practice Monday, we're not at state yet," I remind as I slap him on the shoulder. Tonight's winning touchdown was a good moment for him and I give him that, even though I will again scold his bad fumble in the second quarter at Monday's review.
"I'm gonna go get laid!" I hear from far off in the locker room, followed by a rise of cheers that makes me hide my grin and shake my head. I don't parent them; my boys have earned this happiness, this party that always follows a game, especially when we win.
Somewhere a radio kicks up in volume, the clanging of locker doors a shallow sound as the team celebrates a bit more before leaving.
I watch over them, hands on hips, taking the occasional handshake, the occasional fist bump as my kids trickle out to drink too much beer and cover themselves in hickeys. "We won, Coach!" Emmett slaps me in the arm as he passes, one hand already texting Rosalie, who is sure to be waiting outside the locker room doors, one braid dipped in gold and the other, red.
"Monday, Emmett, we're working on snaps," I shout with a knowing smile, as he nods his head and grabs his bag before slamming his metal locker.
"Tell Mom I'm staying at your place tonight, bro."
"I'm not covering for you!" I yell at his retreating back, although we both know I will.
"Woman in the room! Woman in the room!" I hear, and turn my attention from my superstar brother to my supermodel Tanya, smiling bright and rushing towards me. The half-naked kids duck behind their locker doors, but I see a few checking her out. Her blonde hair and long legs are still things of hormonal fantasy around here.
"Oh, Edward!" She launches herself into my arms, not caring that I'm still sweaty and in my game clothes. "That was fantastic! You're going to state, I just know it!" Her silky hair brushes my face as she hugs me tight, her body pressed against me in a way these boys shouldn't see.
"Did you have any doubt, baby?" I smile at her as she pulls back, her hands pressed against my chest.
"Never. You're the best." I kiss her back when she leans in, congratulating me, and I wrap an arm around her waist.
The last boys depart, and Tanya and I wave. She knows these kids as well as I do and restrains from any further public display until we're alone with the sudden silence and post-euphoria calm.
She gives me a searing kiss as I hold her to me, her body fitting to mine like molding clay after years of practice. One hand cups me through my nylon track pants, and I moan.
"Your parents are here, they want us to go to Mr. Frosty." I kiss her head and nod in acknowledgement, before turning to lock my office door.
"You go on ahead, I've gotta pick up some smokes. I'll meet you."
A big sigh resounds from behind me, and I turn, knowing Tanya is not happy about this.
"I don't understand why you started smoking again."
Smiling, I turn a lock of her hair over in my hand. "Filthy habit, but it's stress. You know this."
"Stress." Her eyes roll at the familiar excuse, but a hint of an understanding smile plays at her lips.
"State… the wedding… hey, would you rather I was shooting up?" I smirk, placing a kiss on her worried forehead.
"Of course not." Another sigh. "Just hurry, okay?"
She leaves and I slap her on the ass as she goes, which makes her yelp and smile back at me coyly.
Switching off the lights, I do a quick double check that I've left no man behind before heading to my truck. I turn the radio up when I hear a favorite come through as I fasten my seatbelt.
One quick scan of the parking lot tells me I'm the last survivor, and I pull out, headed towards town.
The night is clear. Chilly, but not cold. I keep the window down as I maneuver through the blocks that make up the ritzy part of town. It's quiet here, all big stone houses with manicured lawns, topiaries, and wide, white sidewalks. Easing my foot off the pedal, I slow as I approach number 334.
The car in front of me is idling, the rumble of the engine the only sound in the still night air of the exclusive neighborhood. The brake lights in front of me go off, and I hold my breath as the person I'm waiting for takes their time in exiting.
I look around making sure no one is out, walking their dog, or on their porch sipping an after game beverage. The dull thud of a car door closing pulls me back to the vehicle I'm watching like a hawk, its sleek red lines stationary where it lies in the driveway of a home I have no place being in front of.
She's there suddenly, ponytail bouncing, the white and red pleated skirt and school mascot on her chest shining like beacons of wrong under the dim street light. I watch as she approaches quickly, her head glancing side-to-side like I was just a moment ago, making sure no one is witness to what's about to happen.
The passenger door opens and she's there, all vanilla and ice cream. All-American beauty and the devil's right hand.
The air in the car grows heavy when she enters, danger and sex and everything immoral encased in the small space of my truck as the door in her hand jerks shut and she sighs.
"Hi, Mr. Cullen." All breathy sounds and teenage life.
Her legs are smooth, her cheer skirt short as she turns, a hand twirling and grasping the ponytail that makes me lose my mind.
Hey hey! I'm so happy to have you here with me at the start of my new story! I hope you like it. As usual, it's finished and I'll be doing my normal Monday and Thursday posting.
Please take a moment to read the following, as a lot of work goes into making me shine, and I couldn't do it without these three amazing women. I'm damn lucky to have my girls work so hard for me once again.
As always, Lolypop82 made my awesome banner and put up with my OCD.
LayAtHomeMom graced me with her superior pre-reading skills, while pointing out things I don't think of and making sure I'm not looking a fool. I'm truly blessed to have her care as much about my story as I do.
And last but never least, Carrie ZM - my bestie... besides making these words readable, she's always there to talk me through things when I get unsure or tangled. She's my number one cheerleader and gives me the gentle prodding I sorely need. We always post chap one together on the phone and this was no exception. You can thank her for this one ;)
Moving forward, any mistakes are mine, or deliberate choices of incorrect grammar, 'cause really, no one talks/thinks with proper English all the time! (Including this non-beta'd A/N!)
One more thing then I'll let you go. TFMU is in Philly this year, June 25-28. I will be there and I'd love to meet you if I never have or hug you silly if we already know each other! Check out the website, Twificmeetup dot com.