Six years old, little Lisa ran towards the group huddled on the soccer field. A group of all guys, around her same age. They were kicking a soccer ball back and forth; screaming and yelling.
Her bright red hair was tamed in a ponytail, electrifying green eyes filled with excitement. Even though it was her birthday, she wore jeans and a t-shirt; instead of a girl, pink dress. Nope, Lisa preferred comfy to cute.
Bouncing up to the field, she was surprised when all eyes turned on her as she quickly stole the ball from a player and launched it towards the goal. The ball sank into the goal with no one trying to stop it; bouncing off of the net.
They were too busy staring at her. Some with amazement; who knew a girl could kick like that? Others with confusion; what did she want. One was glaring.
He had black hair, deep brown eyes and a fierce scowl. If Lisa had to guess, she would say he'd have dimples while smiling. If boys didn't have cooties, she would contemplate kissing him.
"What do you want?" the glaring boy spat, voice still high-pitched from age.
Lisa recoiled from the venomous tone. "I-I just wanted to play,: came her meek answer.
An indignant sniff was heard. "Girls can't play!"
Frustration coursed through Lisa, so she dug her Barbie sneaker into the ground. Tears pricked her green eyes. "And why not?!" she demanded in answer, her small voice becoming shrill.
Just who was this boy to tell her she couldn't play?
A little blond boy piped up, timidly, "C'mon, Daniel. Let her play. She can kick as good as any of us." Lisa was amazed the boy was speaking up for her, a stranger, over his friend, AKA Daniel.
"No, girls cannot play!" he insisted, adamant on this decision. "They can't play as well, so she might as well not play at all. Go comb your dolly's hair or something!" A foot stomp followed the short speech, the black haired boy was scowling something fierce. "All girls are good at is makeup and whining."
The tears spilled over and, ashamed to let him see her cry, Lisa quickly wiped them away. Rejection hurt. "Fine! I don't care. I don't even want to play anyways with you stupid boys!" Then, she turned and ran, her pride bruised way more than her feelings.
For the next ten years, those words stayed with her.
* * * *
ELEVEN YEARS LATER
- Lisa is now seventeen.
-Daniel is eighteen, same grade.
"I-" Lisa scowled as Natasha cut in.
"Ohmigosh! Clarissa is wearing the same jeans for the third day in a row. Two days is cutting it close, but three? That's, like, social suicide. Oh well, she has no friends anyways. Perhaps that's why." Pointing a pink nail across the humming lunch room, Natasha seemed shocked.
Idly, Lee glanced up from her book. "Maybe she just doesn't have any clean clothes," a shrug from pointy shoulders.
"I-" Lisa started again, only to be interrupted. Darn her chatty friend!
"Daniel's such a sweetie. Guess what he did this time! Go ahead, guess. Well...I'll just tell you anyways..." Natasha rambled on, much to Lisa's amusement.
So, instead of listening, Lisa slipped into silence, studying her friends.
Natasha, her girly, preppy friend had short blond hair, dark blue eyes and a figure to kill for. High, prominent cheekbones, button nose and naturally pink lips also played a part of her facial features.
She had a bubbly personality at her best, and an ice cold bitch side. Much like a prep. Always bouncing everywhere, she was the center of attention. If she wasn't, Natasha made sure she was. Pink was a favorite. She wore it often enough.
"....and then he, like, said, he didn't want me to get hurt so I shouldn't go out for cheerleading. Wasn't it so sweet of him?! That I would be better, like, in...I believe he said sewing or home ec. Seriously? I can't cook..." Natasha babbled on, completely unaware her audience was bored.
Lee made the appropriate nod, totally absorbed in her book, as usual. Natasha continued, but Lisa tuned her out. She didn't want to hear about that douche anyways.
Lee was only five foot seven, but she was skinniest out of all three of them. If she didn't also eat the most, Lisa would have called her anorexic. She certainly looked the part.
A book could be found at almost all times in her hands; thickness ranging. Lee didn't wear glasses, though.
For a bookworm, she was gorgeous. well, she would be if Lee ever wore makeup! Naturally curly hair was usually tied back in a ponytail, and dreamy, brown eyes hid behind long black eyelashes. Lush lips were red, bitten and gnawed on while reading.
She was the practical one of the trio, even though her head was in the clouds at almost any given time.
"Lisa, did you know Daniel's favorite color is green, like, grass stain green. Why grass stain, though...It's so.."
Taking a deep breath, Lisa cut in, "Imightgooutforthesoccerteam." There! She had told them!
Silence overtook the lunch table. Even Lee was distracted from her engrossing book.
"Can you repeat that?" Lee asked slowly, voice Natasha's thoughts.
"I might-No, I am-going out for the soccer team," Lisa repeated, brushing her bangs out of her multi-shade green eyes.
Natasha's pink lips opened, most likely to ask, "Why?" but another voice cut in. A male voice.
"You won't make the team," an arrogant, deep voice smoothly interrupted. Daniel had arrived.
The years had done him good. A natural tan coated his body, once short black hair still short but spiked. Those dark brown eyes were cold while looking at Lisa. A rock hard sculpted body matched the lean face. His voice had deepened, also.
A lean face, sculpted body and a rough voice? Daniel was the catch of the grade, maybe even the school. And Natasha had caught him.
Did Lisa care? Sure, it was her friend who was with him. Was she jealous? Of what? The relationship her best friend and Daniel had? Hell no. There was nothing to be jealous of.
...Well, maybe a little.
The years hadn't been too bad on Lisa either. Her long, flaming hair had grown past her shoulders. A beautiful, shining mane girls were envious of. Large, almond shaped eyes held a calculating green in them. Thick, long, black lashes lay around them. No freckles, which made her face seem almost like porcelain.
'Little' Lisa had sure grown up from the child she used to be. Hips and breasts had formed, legs grown long, also. She was all legs, had a pretty face and an hourglass figure. And it came naturally.
"All girls are good at is makeup and whining." The quote stayed with her since she was six years old. In rebellion to the stereotype, Lisa wore almost zero makeup and barely ever complained.
Shooting Daniel a glare, Lisa coldly questioned, "Says who?"
Ignoring her, Daniel proceeded to suck face with Natasha, who was a willing participant. After all, Natasha had been pushing sex on him for about a month. They had been dating for about two.
Daniel had been putting it off ever since she first brought it up.
Which surprised Lisa. It also made her suspicious. If Daniel didn't want to bang Natasha, obviously there was another girl. And if he was cheating on her friend, Lisa would strangle him!
Reaching across the table in disgust after several moments, Lisa gave his shoulder a solid shove. The couple broke away with a "pop!". Natasha was glaring. For some reason Lisa couldn't understand, Lee was smirking.
"What the hell?!" The screech came from Natasha, pale nostrils flaring with anger.
"Calm down. It's not like you can do it right here in the cafeteria," came Lisa's sardonic reply. Turning to an amused Daniel, she demanded, "Who says I won't make the team?"
His girlfriend spluttered, "Y-You broke us apart to ask that?!" Flustered, she lifted her tray and stalked off, dodging people in the busy cafeteria.
The three left behind watched with amusement as Natasha tripped in her stilettos, tray landing on the floor before she did. Her skin-tight jean mini-skirt flapped up, flashing the school and showing off her bright red thong. Natasha landed in her food, and, with a gasp, pushed to her knees.
Her white top was splattered with spaghetti.
Lisa shot Daniel a look when he didn't move from the lunch table. "Shouldn't you go help her. She is, after all, your girlfriend." How any girl could want to date him was beyond her.
Glancing over where Natasha had fled, a short chuckle escaped her. Natasha was her friend, yes, but the incident was still humorous. Obviously the whole cafeteria thought so, also.
Lee even laughed! A hearty sound since Lee barely ever chuckled, or even smiled for that matter.
Daniel met Lisa's green eyes. "Shouldn't you? She's is, after all, your friend. Besides, I don't think the females would enjoy me in the Girls' Bathroom, would you?" A smirk glided across his lips.
"You'd fit right in." The satisfaction of seeing his eyes narrow was great. "So, run along and help your girlfriend, Danny Boy."
Lifting a carrot, she bit into it slowly, eyes dancing with triumphant.
"I will if you will, Carrot Top."
Gasping in outrage, Lisa tossed the carrot onto the tray and sprung to her feet, in one agile movement. Slowly, he copied her. "Why y-you!" She gave no thought to how close their faces were.
Surprise slid through both of them when Lee stood. "I am going to go help Natasha while you two finish flirting-"
Identical protests, in different vocals, of, "It isn't flirting! I hate her/him!" were cut short with a single look from the bookworm.
Lee ignored them and finished her sentence, "-I will go help our friend." That said, she grabbed her barely touched lunch and book before disappearing.
Daniel received the butt end of a deadly glare before Lisa, too, stalked off. Her red hair flew behind her, strides confident.
With a chuckle, he proceeded to sit and finish lunch.
-Players have already changed clothing
"This is a sport, not a silly game! If you aren't willing to give your all, step backwards," the coach ordered.
He was a bulky man, arms and legs like tree trunks. Tight blue shorts, white t-shirt, and a whistle lay upon him. He was also an ex-general from the army. So, nothing but the best was required of his team.
After all, because of that, the Vikings had gone to state championships more than once.
Glancing around, Lisa watched several players take a step back.
"Our team captain, Daniel Willows, will be choosing who will and won't be on the team." Wait, what? Lisa did a double take, eyes narrowing. Yes, Daniel was next to the coach. And he had the audacity to smirk at her!
"In an extreme case, Coach himself will be choosing players to keep, or too...Let go," Daniel's deep voice lulled over the players, as if to soothe. It sure didn't 'Soothe' Lisa when he looked right at her, met her eyes even, while finishing his sentence.
Coach finished with lessons, but Lisa wasn't listening; she tuned him out. Instead, she was glaring daggers at Daniel, who was smiling like nothing was wrong.
When the players were ordered to the field and given several practices to do; Lisa did them without complaint. No, she would not Daniel the satisfaction of cutting her from the team.
The next week was hell. Lisa struggled, bled, and sweated out of pores she didn't even know she had. The coach pointed out she was ahead of the other players and, much to their jealousy and her dismay, she was given extra practice.
And she fumed as Daniel eagerly agreed. All this work for nothing!
Lisa made Daniel's soccer practice hell, since he was assigned to be her partner. Kicks in all places and a couple hits later, he began appointing her to running hills, along with other workout exercises.
Sore past stiffness, Lisa slept the full day of rest. Her appetite had seemed to disappear, so she ate little to none that day. Water was the main nutrition.
It wasn't fair! Lisa had to do all this extra work and the rest of the players did regular practice! And she was going to be cut from the by Daniel.
Hallways at school were always flooded with people once the final bell rang. Buses were packed full, vehicles started and locker rooms filled with changing bodies.
Lisa was still at her plain locker, collecting books to take home, when she saw them.
Natasha and Daniel.
And they were yelling at each other.
Glancing around the deserted hallway, Lisa crept closer, within hearing distance. She knew it was wrong to listen in, but curiosity had gotten the better of her.
"...You like her! I know you do. Everyone can see it when you look at her, Daniel!" Natasha screamed, jabbing a pointy manicured nail at him.
Daniel raised an eyebrow at the fingernail. "I don't like her. Why would a carrot-top interest me when I have a beautiful girlfriend? Besides, she reminds me of my grandmother."
Lisa was ashamed to feel prickles of tears in the corner of her green eyes. She looked like a grandma?
Natasha sniffled, running a hand to smooth her skirt. "You won't take the next step with me because of her." Lisa did a double take. Say what? She disliked Daniel and Natasha knew it, so what was with the accusation. Daniel disliked her just as much...right?
"I won't take the next step with you because I want it to be perfect," he sighed. "There just hasn't been the right time yet.
A scoff came from the blond as he flipped her hair, a scowl marring her pretty face. "What about when my parents were out of town, hmm? Or the time we were at the party thrown by some senior? Why not when..."
As she spoke, listing times, Daniel seemed to wince. "You just don't understand, Natasha," his deep voice was soft, a resigned sigh sliding from him. A sad, resigned sigh.
Flinging an arm up, Natasha screeched, "Then make me understand! What does she have which I don't? Can she do something better than me? Tell me!"
Lisa would have expected Natasha to break down by now. Even though she seemed to hate Lisa, Lisa had to respect her. Natasha was way off, however. Daniel could never like her.
"I've seen the way you look at her, you know. Don't try to deny it. And she glares at you. Do you really think you have a chance with Lisa? She's hated you for years, Daniel. So go ahead...spill your pitiful heart out to her. A laugh what you'll get in return. We're through," Natasha bit out, voice ice cold and eyes matching.
This wasn't the same person Lisa had grown up knowing. No, Natasha had never been so... Disturbing. Of all of her tantrums because she couldn't have something, Natasha had never turned like...This.
"I'll deal with you still sitting with us, but only if Lisa dates you. Otherwise, get lost. She's my friend, and if you hurt her..." Natasha trailed off. Maybe she was just jealous of Lisa? "We may not be friends, but I won't let this-you-affect our friendship."
Daniel's shoulders slumped. "I'm done trying to convince you I wouldn't do Lisa if she was the last woman on Earth, Natasha. I've got soccer practice to get to."
It was when he turned to go to the locker rooms, Lisa realized three things: One, he was going to see her. Lisa didn't want to explain what she was doing or why she was eavesdropping.
Two, she didn't hate him. Yes, she was angry over the past, but it was what it was. The past. It seemed stupid to hold a grudge for ten years. Immature, also. However, she didn't like him very much. A friend was pushing it...right?
Three, pain sliced through her at his words. How many other guys thought the same thing? Not that it mattered, but still...To be called unattractive hurt. A lot.
Before Daniel could see Lisa or the pain sketched on her face, she pushed away from the wall she had been hiding behind. The idea was to go back to her locker and pretend to have heard nothing.
The trashcan had different plans.
It landed with a clang against the tile floor.
Lisa's bright green eyes went wide before flashing to see if they had noticed. Both teenagers had. A smirk played along Natasha's mouth, but pity lay in her eyes. Daniel had surprise written on his face.
Turning, Lisa fled back down the empty corridor, towards her locker.
"Shit!" came from Daniel, before he went after her, leaving Natasha behind. Lisa would bet Daniel was regretting making her run hills now.
Lisa was shoving books into her worn bag, when he managed to catch up.
Ignoring seemed the best way to go, so ignore she did. Besides, she didn't wish to talk to him right now anyways.
Daniel leaned against the lockers, breathing hard. "Damn, you can run." No response. "How much did you hear?" Again, Lisa didn't answer him.
Shoving another book into her bag, she said nothing. She had heard enough. Too much, in fact. In her peripheral vision, she saw him watching her. Frustration played upon his feature, his dark eyes...Worried?
Why would be care about her? After all, he had said so himself, a grandma is what she reminded him of.
One hand reached out to grasp Lisa's upper arm. She stiffened, pulling out of his hold. Another book shoved in the bag.
"C'mon, Lisa...Say something; anything. Insult me. Scream. Just...Say something!" He was practically begging.
Lisa stopped through books into her bag, mainly because there were no more books, and just stood there for a moment, breathing hard. If she thought too much about what he had said, the tears would drip over.
By now, she had admitted the words had stung so much because she liked him...A lot. And to hear he wouldn't do her if she was the last woman on Earth...
...Well, that hurt.
It felt like someone had taken a razorblade to her heart.
"...Do I really remind you of your grandmother?" slipped out softly, pain lacing her words.
Daniel swore. "Yes-No-She's funny, smart, and knows a lot. I didn't mean-" a hand was run through his short hair.
"Save it," came from slightly trembling lips. He had no idea the effort it took; the energy it took; to keep her voice steady.
Stepping backwards, Lisa slung the old bag over her shoulder, slammed the locker door shut with a clang! and walked away. Each footfall away from Daniel was a piece of her heart shattering. Even she didn't know she liked him this much.
Lisa was aware of footsteps behind her, but ignored them. Ignored him when he called her name in a desperate voice. Probably wanted to tell her she was like his mother, also.
It was impossible to avoid Daniel when he, with one fluid movement, had her pinned against the wall. Her arms were above her head, his holding them. Surprised was an understatement, Lisa figured.
How on Earth had he managed to turn her so fast?!
Fabric against fabric, breath mingling, Lisa couldn't help but be aware of his body pressed solidly against hers. If he were to bend his head just a little...Those firm lips would meet her soft ones.
"Now. You listen," his voice echoed in her ears, low and raspy. "You do remind me of my grandma because-and pay no mind to how she looks-I love her too." A pause.
Was it just her or did his lips move closer? Wait! What did he say? The big L word?
Lisa managed to croak, "What?"
"I love you, Lisa. The only damn reason I even like the color green is because it matches your eyes. I've liked you since you first told me off back when we were kids. You challenge me; keep me on my toes. Lisa, you also won't let me run all over you and tell you what to do, no matter my views."
Did he sound unsure? Daniel, the most self-assured guy she knew, insecure over something? Almost impossible.
"I don't want to be a rebound, Daniel. If I am, please walk away now," she whispered. If he didn't admit now, Lisa didn't think she could handle knowing later. "What about Natasha?"
"I think Natasha will forgive you." Oh, yes, his head had definitely moved closer this time. "You could never be a rebound, Lisa."
In response, she pushed to her toes and her soft lips met Daniel's firm ones...
For the first time in three years,
A girl made the soccer team.