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They Don't Know What This Feeling is Like

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A searing pain shot through Pernilles head, the headache no doubt from her rambunctious evening the night before. She groaned before rolling over and shutting off the alarm that’s blaring through her phone. She takes her hands and rubs her fingers on her temples, hoping to help subside the pain. Pernille slowly squints open her eyes, the morning light peering behind the curtains, almost blinding. The light is blocked after a moment and Pernille is relieved. Once she notices that it's Magdas legs that are blocking the sun, she peers up at her like a puppy dog that knows it’s in trouble. 

Magda doesn’t say anything, she just hands Pernille the Advil and glass of water she was holding. Pernille sits up and takes the glass. She swallows the pills and takes a long sip of water. Magda takes the glass back and sets it on the nightstand. She walks over to the curtains and pulls them fully open, illuminating the room with the bright morning sun. Pernille squints her eyes, blinded by the bright light. Magda just laughs at Pernilles apparent discomfort and sits at the edge of the bed. 

Magda’s hair looks blonder than it already does and the light hits her eyes so that there is a sparkle present in them. “So.” 

“So.” Pernille repeats, her voice still a bit scratchy. 

“You’re dads flight is going to land soon. I told him you’d pick him up.” She’s twirling her finger around a strand of her hair, a nervous habit. It’s almost like she’s afraid that Pernille is going to be mad that she called her dad. 

“Okay.” Magda places her hand on Pernilles leg and gives her a soft smile before going back to the kitchen. The quick contact makes Pernille long for Magdas touch even more and she wants more than anything to march straight into the kitchen and wrap her arms around Magda. But instead Pernille reluctantly gets out of bed and throws on a pair of black leggings and a loose white t-shirt. 

Before she heads out the door, Pernille stops in the kitchen and grabs a thermos for coffee to go. As she heads out of the room, Pernille is surprised when Magda grabs her hand. It’s a firm grab so Pernille knows she’s not going to let go. She eventually spins around until Magda pulls her in closer. 

Pernille searches Magda’s eyes looking for any indication of how she’s feeling. Magda licks her lips and looks down at Pernilles lips back up to her eyes again before placing a soft kiss onto her lips. Pernille instantly feels more energized as if Magdas kiss cured her hangover. 

“I love you.” Pernille says after a moment. 

“I love you too. We’ll talk later okay?” 

Pernille nods and turns to leave, still holding Magdas hand so that when they let go they are both reaching for each other. 

During the car ride to the airport, Pernille thinks about everything that has happened in the last 24 hours. She thinks about the doubts she has about her career. She thinks about how proud she is of Magda. She thinks about her fears about the future. She also thinks about the immense love she feels for Magda. 

Cece told her that love is the most important thing. But what about football? For as long as she can remember, football has been the most important thing in her life. It’s hard to just change that, especially when her girlfriend is going to the Olympics and she’s not. It really shouldn’t be this complicated, yet it feels like she’s a guinea pig in an experiment trying to find its way out of a maze. 

Pernilles thoughts are put on hold as she pulls up to the pickup area at the airport. She smiles when she spots her dad. He’s wearing his favorite grey Puma hat she got him, clutching his small carry on bag. She pulls up to the side and unlocks the door. 


“Hey Pi, I’ve missed you.” He says as he gives her a side hug across the seat. He gets buckled in and Pernille takes the car out of park. 

“How are you?” Pernille asks as they head back onto the highway. 

“I’m good, but you know I’m always a little worried when my little girl isn’t doing so good.” 

Pernille rolls her eyes and that deserves her a stern look from her dad. 

“I knew you were bummed about not going to the Olympics, but I didn’t know how bad you really felt until Magda called me yesterday.” 

“Yeah.” Pernille sighs. 

“Yeah.” Her dad repeats. 

Pernille pulls up to a place that she knows has a decent breakfast a few miles away from the airport because clearly her dad just wants to jump right into this. 

After they order their drinks, her dad clears his throat. Pernille looks away, not quite able to meet his eyes. Her dad has always been her biggest supporter. Sure her whole family is into the whole football thing, they even all played, but her dad really gets her. As a player, as a person. He came to every game she had when she still played in Denmark and he always gives her the truth about her game. So it’s hard to look her biggest role model in the eye when she knows he’s disappointed in her. 

“Pernille.” Her had says, looking like a goof, moving his head around trying to meet her eyes. “Look at me. What’s up? And don’t bullshit me.” 

She looks up and bites her lower lip before speaking. “I’m so proud of Magda. Like so proud. And I love her so much, I really do. But sometimes it’s hard watching her live out her dreams that are also my dreams. I feel like I’m sitting in the backseat, when I want to be the one driving. And I feel like everyone always expects me to be this perfect person, perfect forward, perfect football player and I’m just not. I’ve fallen short and I want more out of my life, my career. And I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people recently, especially you and…” 

Her sentence is cut off as her dad interjects. “Pernille you could never disappoint me.” 


“No buts, never.” 

“Okay fine, but I’ve still disappointed a lot of people. Whether that’s with my football or my attitude lately, and I’m really trying not to let it get to me, but I just can’t help it. I really want to be there for Magda in the way that I should, but I can’t help but wonder every waking moment about the future of my career. And I know that’s dumb and selfish, but I just can’t make it stop.” 

Her dad looks at her and Pernille thinks he’s going to tell her to suck it up and move on, but instead he takes out his wallet and pulls out a few bills to put onto the table. 

“Let’s go.” He says getting up. 


“I have an idea let’s go.” 

Her dad gets into the driver's seat with some protest from Pernille, but he argues that he knows where he was going. 

A few minutes later, they arrive at the same field that Pernille came to just last night. She looks over at her dad skeptically, but he just gets out and opens the trunk where he knows she keeps extra footballs. 

“Race you to the field.” He says before taking off into a sprint, well more like a jog, he is older now. And just like that Pernille is off too, unable to pass out on a competition.

“Hey you cheater.” She calls out. 

And just like that, it's like old times. Pernille is taken back to when she was younger and it was just her and her dad, practicing extra hard so that she would be able to achieve her dream someday, being the best. 

They pass, shoot, and juggle, until eventually in turns into a competition. How could it not? Her dad is the one who she gets her competitiveness from. He taught her everything she knows. 

They are going one v one, Pernille clearly being the better player, but she doesn’t even care about that right now. She’s having fun and that’s what matters. As she throws out tricks left and right, a smile is attached to her face. 

“Okay, okay.” Her had huffs out, leaning down with his hands on his knees. “You win. I can’t play anymore.” 

“Age finally catching up to you old man?” Pernille says laughing. 

“You bet.” 

They walk over to their stuff on the side of the field and Pernille hands her dad the water as they both sit down onto the grass.  

“You feel better?” 

“Yes, actually.” Pernille says, not having realized that it feels like a weight has been lifted off of her chest. 

“See, now you know.” 

“Know what?” 

Her dad takes another sip of the water. “That all that other stuff doesn’t matter. Sure you’ll always have fears and feel like you have disappointed someone somewhere. But all of that doesn’t matter. Because what does matter is that you love what you do." He pauses.

"Pernille I know sometimes it feels like there’s an incredible amount of pressure to be the best, but sometimes you just have to remember why you do it. I see it every time you play. It’s because you love football and it makes you happy. It’s easy to lose sight of that and get caught up in all of the awards or the important games, but the thing is that all of those other things are just bonuses. I can tell that when you play happy, you play better. So if you ever lose sight of why you play, then call me and I will always be there to be your football partner.” 


“Hmm is all you have to say?” 

“No, it’s just...” Pernille pauses and shifts her legs so she’s sitting criss cross applesauce. “You make it seem so simple.” 

“That’s because it is.” 

Pernille rolls her eyes. “I’m serious Pernille. I can tell when you’re just enjoying playing football because you play better. You don’t need to think about the other stuff, it’s all white noise.” 

Pernille picks at a piece of grass before looking at her dad. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Maybe I really am just overthinking everything.” 

“Yeah, I think your wise old man is right.” 

“Ha, don’t give yourself too much credit.” Pernille says, staring off at the trees in the distance, watching them flow with the wind. 

“You want to go talk to Magda.” He says it as a statement rather than a question, knowing exactly how she feels. 

“I want to go talk to Magda.” 

Magda stepped out of the airport and instantly felt the humidity hit her skin. Summer in Brazil is such a contrast to summers in Sweden. However, even in the hot and humid weather, Magda is overjoyed to be at the Olympics. First they are playing South Africa, then the host country Brazil and finally China. 

It’s something she has dreamed about for her whole life. It’s also easier to finally be happy about participating in her first Olympics now that her and Pernille are in a good place. 

Magda could tell that Pernille wasn’t exactly being truthful about how she was feeling and so Magda had decided to call Pernilles dad, hoping that he could help her, and that was even before the whole drunk in a random bar situation.

Magda likes to act all tough on the outside, but the fact that Pernille was hurting that much really affected her. All she wanted to do was wrap Pernille up and never let her doubtful feelings invade her mind again, but the reality is that’s impossible. But the fact that they were able to talk through it makes Magda proud of their relationship. 

Magda can’t help but smile when she thinks about Pernille. It’s only been a handful of hours since she had last seen her, but she can’t help but recount their morning together before Magda had left for Brazil. 


Magda woke up to the smell of eggs, toast, and bacon. She checked her phone and saw that she had woken up an hour before her alarm, presumably excited for her journey that would start today. 

She turned over and noticed that there was just a pile of sheets in place of where Pernille should have been. Magda got up and headed to the kitchen, guessing from the smell, that’s where Pernille would be. 

She finally spots her in front of the stove in just an oversized shirt, caught up in the cooking and the song that was playing from her phone. Magda stands behind Pernille and swings her arms around the back of her shoulders, engulfing her into a hug. 

“Magda!” Pernille sounds startled. She turns around in her arms so that she is facing Magda. “You ruined the surprise. I was going to wake you up with breakfast in bed.” 

Pernilles pouting, but she looks so cute with her pajamas and her bed head that Magda kisses her pout, until Pernille smiles into the kiss. 

“That’s okay. I’m still surprised. Especially since you’re cooking.” 

“Hey.” Pernille says. “I am an excellent cook, thanks to you.” 

“Yes, thanks to me.” Magda says kissing her on the cheek. Actually she's surprised that Pernille managed not to burn anything, or trip over anything in the process, but she'll never say that to her face. “If we want to actually eat this food though we should get started because I have to leave soon.” 

They sit down and enjoy the breakfast that Pernille cooked, talking about random things, but of course about the Olympics. 

Pernille cleans up the kitchen while Magda goes back to their room to make sure she has everything packed. Magda tries to contain her excitement as she double checks her bags one more time before zipping them up. 

She hears Pernille come into the room and feels her place a kiss on her cheek. 

“You ready?” 

“So ready.” Magda smiles and Pernille gives her another kiss, this time on her lips, before embracing her. 

“I’m so proud of you. You’re going to do amazing.” 

“It was so cool and the goal was a screamer.” 

“I know I saw it.” Pernille laughs. Magda knows she’s talking a little too loud, but she can’t help how excited she is to be going on to the semi-finals. 

“God I was so nervous during the penalties though. Like so nervous. But we did it. We won!” Magda’s practically screaming with joy now. 

“I know and I’m so proud of you. I wish I could be there.” 

“Me too. I miss you so much, but hopefully we’ll be celebrating when I get back.” Magda winks and Pernille is laughing again. 

“I’ve been wearing your jersey non stop.” Pernille moves the camera so Magda can see that she is in fact wearing her jersey. “People keep asking me if I’m Swedish now.” 

“Ha, well I appreciate the support, it means a lot, especially with everything that’s happened.” 

“Of course.” 

“Hey Magda you coming?” Magda turns towards the open door and calls back, saying she’ll be out in a moment. 

“Hey those were the girls, we’re going to dinner.” Magda pauses. “But I can stay here and talk to you.” 

“No, no.” Pernille insists. “Go have fun, enjoy the Olympic Village while you can. I’ve heard it’s quite the experience.” 

“You sure?” Magda knows they are good now and Pernille has been giving her overwhelming support, but sometimes she can still see glimpses of the sad Pernille. 

“Yes, go have fun!” 

“Okay, okay.” Magda reluctantly agrees once she is certain Pernille is still her supportive self. “I’ll call you later.” 

“Sounds good. Love you.” 

“Bye. Love you.” And off she goes to enjoy what time remains at the Olympics, with Pernille, and of course football, on her mind.