Chapter 1: livestreams and fans
"If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it."-Toni Morrison
Tobin always loved reading.
She owns this little bookshelf stocked with piles and piles of books at home, next to her bed that she has categorized in genres and series. She is messy, her bags always scattered around, her school materials all over her table. But her collection of books are kept in order, every book unscathed and of no creases, in perfect condition because she loves them so much.
She wants to be a writer, despite being really good at soccer.
She wants to write novels that advocates social issues, messages deep within the plot. She wants to create stories that touches someone’s heart. She wants to…wants to write like Rookie Press.
She’s in love with her writing. The book of hers, ‘The words written in our hearts’ that she chanced upon at the New Reads section in Barnes and Nobles gave her so much thought about society that she never did before. It taught her self-love, empowerment and the need to love others. It made her affirm her decision to start her journey, as a writer.
She’s dumbfounded when she realized that Rookie was the same age as her, and a few months younger.
But Rookie Press was a pseudonym. The author had decided to keep her identity a secret, not wanting anyone to know who she was. Tobin still tries though, to see if she could find any platform to send her a message. Just to tell her what she inspired her to become.
But there wasn’t any.
Tobin was just scrolling through Tumblr when she found out that one of the very minimal fansites of Rookie posted a link to a live stream of Rookie’s online meet-and-greet. The fanbase was still very small, but with each of them thoroughly in love with her writing. Tobin appreciated that she had this small group of 20 accounts to hype upon this, quickly clicking to the link that Rookie was already livestreaming on.
This was the first time Tobin ever saw Rookie.
Rookie was this tanned girl with beautiful curly locks of hair. And bright green eyes. Those eyes being the only thing not hidden by the mask she was wearing. Tobin’s heart kept beating, wildly, as she continues to speak in her light, eloquent tone, one that she thinks she’ll remember forever.
‘Sorry that I had to be in the mask. I would like to thank everyone for coming to this livestream! Thank you for supporting my work. I am astounded by the responses I’ve gotten lately for the book and I owe it each one of you here.’
Tobin listens, immersed, through the entire hour of the meet-and-greet, which Rookie answers questions sent by the fans. Tobin doesn’t send any, just yet, because she’s utterly content just listening to her talking. It’s weird how she can be in love with a voice and just thinking about a possibility of an ebook, which Rookie just mentioned was in the works, just gave made her eyes widen in excitement. Totally going to be broke but it’s fine.
Tobin decides to send one, at the last minute, because she didn’t want it to end. And when Rookie reads it, Tobin sees the blush flash across her face and grins.
‘Sent in from Heath23: How are you so badass with writing and being so beautiful at the same time?’ Rookie actually chuckles and her smile becomes so much brighter than before. ‘Well thank you for calling me badass. I’m doing my best here.’
Rookie actually winks at that last sentence and Tobin doesn’t even think she was taught how to breathe anymore.
When the livestream ends, with Rookie waving goodbye with a promise of more meet-and-greets like this, Tobin slumps down, grabbing for her copy of ‘The words written in our hearts’ and opens it again, rereading it for what had to be the third time since it was released at the start of the year.
Her heart softens as she reads the line that Rookie had put at the start of the book.
The one that always reminded her of her purpose of her choice of career again…and again.
"Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul."
Rookie had decided to write that in her own handwriting, plastered on the page in the book and Tobin memorises the curves and strokes of the little paragraph, her fingers dragging over the ink as she flips over to the story of hope, love and relinquishment.
Tobin wonders then, if there was a chance to see her, for who she is, for real, just one time.
Tobin makes sure to check for the livestream every now and then, tuning in to the monthly meet-and-greets that happen.
Rookie’s following is starting to increase and Tobin’s proud of that, but she isn’t sure if Rookie is.
Tobin realizes something that the rest doesn’t as she tunes in to the livestreams.
The subtle frowns that Rookie has for a while before the start of livestreams. The little droops of her eyebags that accompany her as she tries to grin for the camera. Her bright turqouise eyes that seemed to be more sullen than usual, lacking the spark that she had as time went by.
And when Tobin sees a tear go down Rookie’s cheek when someone asked when was the next book was coming, Tobin closes the tab and shuts her computer off.
Rookie wasn’t okay and Tobin’s frustrated that no one sees that, every account still going in a frenzy as they find out that her new book should be out next year. Deep down, Tobin’s excited too, but she can’t help but feel a little bit of betrayal and guilt that no one seems to ask if she’s okay.
Christen receives a letter a week into the new year.
It was sent to her publishing company, which was in the UK, as she did not leave her home address, fearing the exposure of her identity, so it took some time before reaching her house.
It was wrapped in grainy brown rice paper, and addressed from Portland. The sender wasn’t indicated but she purses her lips as she opens the letter. She hopes that it wasn’t like the one before.
Christen used to receive letters, a lot of them, last year. It was all from a crazy fan though and this fan wasn’t even supposed to be deemed as a fan probably. He or she kept sending her letters masked as praises but was actually criticizing her work. They were unhappy with her stand towards female equality and the lgbtq+. They hated the representation that she brought in her story, about the journey that her gay characters went through to achieve their love. They hated that she added some real life stories from her town-wide search for genuine stories from strong individuals that advocated for societal rights and love. It strengthened her purpose towards writing, to advocate those messages, but it didn’t help that those words definitely hit a part of her that she can’t help but feel insecure about.
But this letter changes everything.
The fan thanked her for giving her the inspiration to write more and to voice her thoughts more openly. The fan even talked about how amazing she was in terms of sharing about those issues and inspiring her about being more aware of her self-care. These was everything that she set out to do.
She breaks down though, when she reads the last sentence.
I don’t know what’s making you sad and tired during the live streams but I hope you are okay. If you’re tired of writing, it’s okay. We will always be here for you. It’s better to write when you are inspired anyway. We want you to write when you want to and not be forced to. We will wait for you! We love you!
Christen feels her heart ease. She flipped through the papers, trying to find a name to whoever wrote this, but was met with nothing. Nothing.
But this letter set her course of action for the next couple of months, and Christen went on to write a new book in three months, publishing it and she was whole again, with the letter hanging over her working table, the first thing she sees, every morning.
Tobin is happy.
She thinks that perhaps Rookie had gotten her letter, the one that she sent a week back, because in the new livestream, she swears that she’s never seen her favorite author glow in such a way before.
Rookie is answering questions with a squeaking high voice and she’s laughing in such a way that Tobin loves. And she wants to hear that chuckle forever, no matter how weird it sounds, sometimes.
But Tobin now knows that she never wants to wipe this smile off her face, so she writes another letter.
Then another, after the next stream.
And in each livestream, Rookie laughs and jokes and talks and Tobin never felt happier.
Chapter 2: an aspiring writer
hey! sorry for the long wait! it's been a very busy week & my exams are coming so the chapter updates might not be as regular, but i will try to update maybe once a week!
tell me what you think:-)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Christen holds the letter in her hand.
It’s now the fifth one that she’s received from the same anonymous sender and its making her go crazy.
Every single time her growing pile of fan mail comes in, she always look for that rice envelope first. She always hoped, that some how, finally, she will find a name attached to the end of the letter, like every other fan mail.
But she was always met with a blank page at the bottom, with only the lazy scrawl to be the hint to whoever the writer was.
She still loves the letter though and she places it up on her wall, on her special section of the ‘rice paper letters’, along with the rest of her fan mail.
She just hopes that after the next livestream, she’ll finally get a signed letter.
But she knows, she probably wouldn’t.
Well, it doesn’t hurt to hope.
‘Hey Tobin. Where are you planning to go after high school?’
It was after their Saturday morning training and everyone was already back in the showers. There could be only one person that could still be here other than Tobin staying back taking shots at t goal. Tobin turns and she sees her coach, Paul, coming to a stop beside her, arms on his hips. She knows what he’s here for.
A waste. Why would you want to write? You have potential. You have so much more in you that you’ve never explored. You should do soccer. These were the most common reactions that came from people around her when they found out what she was planning to pursue in college and she didn’t want to hear another person criticize her decision again. Especially from her favorite coach at that. One that made her falter on her decision.
‘I’m probably going to Portland U.’ Tobin just mutters and walks to her water bottle, which was lying on the synthetic turf, and squirts a little water into her mouth.
‘I know whatever people have been saying and Tobin, I just wanted to tell you that I support you.’
Tobin quickly whips her head at her coach, meeting his eyes.
‘Everyone should pursue their passion. What gives them strength to keep going. Even if we are going to lose a good player, you should do what you want to do Tobin. Don’t care about what others say. I’ll wait for the day when you publish your first book. Remember to send me a copy, yah?’ Paul holds on to Tobin’s shoulder firmly, giving a piercing look into Tobin’s and she could see the love and passion he hid in those dark brown eyes. Tobin choked and tears involuntarily rolled from her eyes.
‘Ye-ah?’ Tobin wavers, not believing what was coming out from her coach’s mouth.
‘Soccer is what gives me happiness, strength and is my life… And I want that for you too. I’ve seen you, Tobin. That summer when you had that thigh injury, you were always sitting at practice with a book, your head buried deep in it. I went to your story-telling competition too, do you remember? If that wasn’t the clear indication of where your passion lay, I didn’t know what was. I’m not here to force players to be in the sport, I’m here to help players find what they love. So go for it.’
‘Thank you, Coach.’ Tobin buries her head in Paul’s shoulders and the coach grips her tight, before moving to her pocket, taking out a piece of paper.
‘I saw this advertisement the other day. I thought it’ll be a good experience for you.’ He places the paper on Tobin’s outstretched hands and she opens it, reading with wide eyes.
Portland University Writing Camp
For interested youths of ages 16 and above
This camp gives exposure to the new Writing bachelors module that we’ve opened up for up and coming writings to boost their writing styles and grow their love of reading!
Apply on Our University Site
‘Oh, wow coach! I haven’t heard of this, but I’ll definitely go! Thank you coach!’ Tobin rubs away her tears, jumping in excitement as she goes to hug her coach again who smiles back at her.
‘Anything for you Tobin. Go out there and set fire to the world. Now go home.’ He pats at Tobin’s back as Tobin waves, jogging towards the showers.
Tobin suddenly feels a weight lift off her body, running with ease. She feels that she’s ready to set off to the world, to begin her writing journey. And she turns back, looking at her coach that’s been supporting her since she was a child.
Coach thank you.
‘So missys. Come here we are going to discuss where to travel to during the summer holidays.’ Christen’s mother called her sisters and her over, as she sits at the couch with her father, a laptop perched on her legs.
Christen runs over and fights a little with her sisters to be in the remaining space of the couch, with Channing and Tyler getting it and Christen stands at the side, pouting a little. ‘Oh Christen, come over here. Good thing you’re small enough.’ Stacy pats at the hand rest and Christen walks over, making a ‘I’m watching you’ at both Tyler and Channing, who were smirking and giggling.
‘I’m not small mom!’ ‘Yes you are. Come on let’s just sit down.’ Christen sighs, but just squeezes onto the couch anyways and Stacy proceeds to click at the sheets document both her and her husband had put their plans on.
The first thing that Christen places her focus on is Portland. And she’s weirdly set on the location.
But there’s also New York, Chicago and Utah.
‘We know how you guys are fans of different nwsl teams so we added them in so you guys can go and watch some games.’ Her mom looking specifically at the three girls, where Tyler and Channing are mouthing ‘Christen!’, knowing what a big fan their sister was to Utah Royals. The other two were big fans of Portland and they wanted to watch them so bad.
‘So if you all want to make a compromise, do it now. We can also go to either New York and Chicago after the one that you all decide on.’ Their father speaks, pointing at them to be civil, Channing and Tyler already making pleases at Christen.
‘We could go to Portland. I mean there’s a writing camp that I could go to too, while we’re there.’ Christen murmurs shyly, her eyes meeting the jubilant eyes of her sisters, both yelling and yelping.
It wasn’t a lie, technically. She saw the advertisement in her inbox a few weeks before, from the site she subscribed to give her the latest news on creative writing universities and she had planned to go, but just hadn’t solidified her plans.
Her parents turn to her in shock but smiles. ‘You sure about this? ‘ Christen nods at this and then they erased Utah from the list, then turned to the trio.
‘Okay then, it’s settled. We’re going to Portland for two weeks.’
Everyone celebrates and jumps on the excitement of traveling in just two weeks and Christen grins too, happy about the prospect of going the writing camp of one of the up-and-coming modern writing modules in the entire country.
Though, she also looks forward to that week where, she could possibly find, that someone.
She doesn’t know how, but she’s going to try.
‘What? You’re going to Portland for the holidays?! Please bring me with you!’ Kelley screams, jumping on her best friend, who was choking from how they landed on the bed.
‘Kelley! Stop! I can’t-breathe!’ Christen flushes, rolling her eyes at her ever energetic friend who was a huge Portland Thorns fan.
‘Oh my god! Please go for the Youth team game that’s on the 17th! I heard Tobin Heath is ending her youth club career this summer because she’s going to pursue some other career! Take videos for me! You can see Emily Sonnett and Lindsey Horan too! The upcoming youth players! PLEASE??’ Kelley continues her hold on Christen’s throat, as if threatening her and Christen nonchalently nods. ‘Okay… Kelley.’
‘I can’t believe you’re going there… to watch the team play. You…the Utah fan. Why didn’t you ask them to go to Utah anyways?’ Kelley releases her hold and the two best friends lay on the bed, looking up at the ceiling, splattered with a painting of the night sky.
‘There’s this writing program I’m going there.’ Christen mutters, her cheek unknowingly turning a little pink, knowing the true reason of her decision, but she doesn’t speak of it and Kelley nods.
‘Right. I forgot about that. BUT I WISH I’M GOING INSTEAD…. What do I have to do so that I can disguise myself as you?’ Kelley whines and Christen smirks.
‘Well…first things first, you gotta grow a little taller.’
And Christen laughs as Kelley lunges at her, attacking her sides, pushing her hands away.
‘Too bad too sad.’ Christen sticks her tongue out, and jumps off the bed, running out of her bedroom door, down the stairs, which Kelley chases after. But then, because of the commotion, Christen’s two dogs were suddenly awake and runs to Kelley, knocking her down.
‘LOSER!’ Christen chuckles, walking over to Kelley, who was throdden on the ground by the dogs.
‘MOREENA AND KHALEESI! I THOUGHT WE HAD A PACT!’ Kelley pouts but smiles anyway, from the affectionate licks the dogs were giving her.
‘Oh right. Is it okay if my dogs stay with you while we’re away?’
‘Of course. I’ll be happy to have them!’ Kelley brings her dogs closer and tugs at them, bringing the two heads next to her face.
‘Right… please don’t choke them like this or I’ll rather pass it to Tierna or Andi.’
‘NOOO! I CAN TAKE CARE OF THEM!’
Christen smirks and she nods, knowing full well that there wasn’t anyone else other than her friend here that she would allow to take care of her dogs anyway. Kelley had been her friend since they were five and she knows how much Kelley loves animals. She’ll never hurt them, especially when she’s literally a dog herself.
‘YAY!’ Kelley jumps at Christen, jumping in excitement and the dogs misunderstood, thinking she was attacking Christen and lunges at her again and Christen is dying at the floor as she sees the two dogs lick at her friend again, who was trying her best to get out from the situation.
Kelley o’ Hara, everybody.
It’s now two weeks later and Christen holds onto her plane ticket to Portland excitedly.
She has exactly one week in Portland before the camp and she’s going to enjoy herself.
Well, and also the nagging thought to also, maybe, have a chance, in finding,
find me @danipreathtrash on tumblr!:-)
Chapter 3: portland
hello! i know it's been a while but i'm in the midst of my exams & at this point i'll prob only write when something sparks within me lmao! but don't worry, i'll try updating maybe once a week or in two weeks as it's a very good destressing activity. I'm just rlly sorry about the delay!
btw i apologise for any Americans or ppl living in Portland if i portray anything wrongly because i don't live in the US [although i want to] & i'm mostly using google for images on the scenery & food info [hee] please tell me if there's any changes to be made! i'm willing to take note! [and hopefully maybe in the future i'll be able to go there and experience it myself]
anyways, hope you all enjoy the chapter! i rlly enjoy reading the comments!:-) thank you for the support! <3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Christen was awfully tired.
She knew she shouldn’t have stayed up late skyping Kelley watching their weekly scheduled The Office, but she knew it was probably the last time in a while that she’ll be able to do that with her since she’ll be taking the flight to Portland today.
She puts her airpods into her ears, effectively shutting off the pleased shrieks and bouncing of her sisters who were running about draped in their Portland Thorns jackets and flapping their scarfs like birds.
Ugh for the love of God. Christen tries to calm her very tired and annoyed self down and prevent herself from screaming at her sisters. I just need coffee.
‘Mom? Can I go to get coffee?’ Christen whispers softly, poking at her mother’s arm who was checking her phone for Uber arrivals.
‘Can you get them after reaching our Airbnb? Our Uber is coming in two minutes.’ Stacy points at the app, which showed their driver being just a two kilometres away from them.
‘Okay.’ Christen places her airpods back in place and slumps on the seat in the waiting area, closing her eyes.
‘Chrissy? Do you want some water instead?’ Stacy pokes her middle child, who opened an eye to look, nodding. ‘Are you alright?’ Her mother looking at her, concerned.
‘Yeah…Just a little tired. I was up late last night.’ Christen murmured in between sips of water, looking right at her mother’s teasing eyes.
‘Calling somebody?’ Christen rolled her eyes. This again.
‘Mom! It was just Kelley!’ Christen knew she spoke a little too loudly because her sisters heard and they ran over with twinkling eyes.
‘Does Chrissy finally have a boyfriendddd?’ Tyler yelled and Channing gave the creepiest smile to Christen and Christen just turned away and rolled her eyes.
Lol if they knew. I’m totally never going to have a boyfriend.
Christen from two years ago would’ve been affected by these teasing, but thankfully she isn’t now.
Christen was sixteen when she found out that she could be a little gay, in which she’ll come to realize she was someone that did not discriminate against sex, but more for one’s personality. Or maybe, just a little more biased for a certain sex. Her friends had been teasing her about the many boys that wanted to give her their numbers, but she only had eyes on her close friend Nat, who totally, was not, reciprocating. It was a tough year, seeing Nat with a new boyfriend and then settling and coming to terms with her new founded identity. She’s proud of who she is now, but not just yet with her family. Baby steps.
So she brush her sisters and her insistent mom away. She knew they were excited for her, seeing that her elder sister Tyler had a good boyfriend and her mother always told stories about her meeting their dad when she was in high school. It was romantic, but Christen probably, won’t be, interested. Her love life will probably be very different and she doesn’t mind.
She knows that when the time is right, and if she truly finds this person that she loves, that’ll be it.
There’s really none, now.
She gratefully sits at the back of the limo-Uber, fully plugged back and blasting her ‘Relax!’ playlist with the first chords of Yellow by Coldplay flowing through her ears, blocking out what seems to be a enthusiastic discussion about the upcoming Portland vs Utah rivalry match the following week. Christen decides to lower her volume and eavesdrop a little.
‘…but you know maybe they’ll incorporate Tobin since it’s her last match! It’s still so sad you know… I want to continue watching her play!’
‘right! She’s just so good with the ball. But anyways with Sinclair back from national team duties and the newbies Horan and Carpenter, I think we’re good to go! [whispers very softly] portland is definitely going to beat the royals!’ Channing cheekily peeks over at Christen, who gives back a teasing glare, letting her sister know she’s listening.
Christen then holds up her phone, pointing at her Utah Royals wallpaper and then making a slicing movement across the throat.
‘We’ll see about that.’
When their Uber finally reaches their Airbnb, Christen runs out of the car and yells that she’s going to get coffee, with multiple orders from her family calling behind her. She checks her phone and sees that Spella Coffee was three blocks away so she heads there.
She unclasps her camera bag, taking out her Kodak disposable, taking in the scenery around her as she walks. She sees the beautiful graffiti on the brown brick walls. She sees the green trees rooted along the road, the sun shining down on them, giving them a light brim as the wind whistles the leaves. She sees this young teen skating down the street, capped in a Thorns beanie and a white personalised Jansport. Hmm. She quickly snaps a shot right when the girl does a heelflip. That’s so cool. The girl quickly skates along and swiftly pushes herself to the next block.
Christen continues taking a few more pictures before remembering her original purpose of her walk, coffee. So she quickly slow jogs over to where the online map told her Spella would be at and she sees it, a small little shop with a tall front door, the sign hanging high above the shop. There were already people sitting outside and she takes in the savory aromatic scent of the freshly brewed coffee they were slowly indulging and she can’t wait.
She steps in, the door ringing behind her, whiffing in the now enhanced coffee aroma and hot milk, warmth. She moves to the counter and orders a latte. She takes the small paper cup with the coffee and takes a sip. She looks around the small store and decides to take a few shots of the shop. It’s so cozy.
She takes a shot of the display of croissants, with the blackboard of the menu items hanging above it. She turns and moves to the small stool by the door of the café, where the Spella Caffè sign was displayed. She takes a shot of it, right when the same girl in the Thorns beanie zooms by in her skateboard. It’s her again.
The girl with brown flowy hair[which Christen just noticed], comes to a stop in front of the shop, picking her skateboard up before opening the door, walking into the shop. Christen sees her yell a hello to the baristas and the cashier, hi-fiving them and giggling before being ordering for her usual. She must be a regular.
The girl seems to notice her gaze because she suddenly whips around and they make eye contact. Christen quickly turns away and just settles to looking at the road outside. She looks back a little, peeking and the girl was already sitting at a table behind her, typing into her laptop as she bites onto a croissant. Christen smiles and she stands up, walking back to the counter and ordering two more lattes and a cappucino and a couple of croissants for her family. She heads out of the door, feeling a little lighter.
She turns back again to have a glance at the girl in the Thorns beanie though. People here are cool.
Tobin zooms through her usual Saturday morning pathway, heading to the skateboard park.
It was a little later than her usual 8am schedule, since it was already about 9am and she’s usually at Spella’s by 9.30am. So she only heads to the park to do a little bit of tricks for fifteen minutes before heading towards her magical place. She goes there every Saturday to write and do her work and she loves it there. The people, the ambience, the food. She eats an unnecessary amount of croissants but its good enough to make it a guilty pleasure.
She zips by Sticker Ninja, and stops a while to look at the new designs for the week. A ‘words written on our hearts’ sticker catches her eye. It was a heart, with the words strewn across it in Playlist font.
‘Yo dude! Nice seeing you again. I just made that two days ago. I read the book. It’s rad.’ Tommy, the shop’s owner gave Tobin a little clap and fistbump, seeing the sticker Tobin picked out from his basket of new designs that he puts out everyday.
‘You read the book?’ Tobin turns to him, excited. She almost lets out an excited shriek but she holds it in, her eyes wide.
‘Yeah dude. Amazing. Here have it for free. The book needs more recognition! Really taught me so much about self-love man.’ Tommy crosses his arms and nods, pushing the sticker to Tobin.
‘Nah! Here’s a dollar. It’s worth it. Thanks Tommy!’ Tobin flicks a coin at him, waving goodbye before skating towards Spella.
She goes into the store, smiling wide at the friendly workers there that was her fans that has become one of her great friends.
‘Lauren! Jrue! Amy! Ashlyn!’ Tobin steps forward and hi-fives each of them individually, grinning. Lauren and Jrue were the ones who started the shop, with Amy and Ashlyn and her now fiance Ali working part time here. Lauren makes their best croissants and Jrue brews the best coffees. Amy makes the cakes while Ashlyn and Ali hold the fort a few times a week. After Tobin started coming a few weeks into their start and frequented the place at least twice or thrice a week, they’ve somehow added her into the family. Tobin helps along on some days and she was their friend and vice versa. Whenever she needed someone to talk to, they were there for her.
I got to thank Lauren for pushing me to write too. Lauren was the one who helped her read her writing submissions and sometimes the fanfiction she puts online, giving good criticisms and really pushed her to continue writing.
‘We got your Latte and croissants ready!’ Lauren hands over a plate of piping hot baked rolls and a cup of Latte, with a little sprinkle of Tobin’s favorite chocolate chips on top.
‘Thanks you guys! I’ll be at my usual corner. If ya’ll need any help just call me over okay.’ Lauren nods and Tobin turns.
She was walking to her table when she feels a tingling sense that someone was looking at her, so she turns and she meets the gaze of a green-eyed girl. Those eyes were so strikingly familiar but the girl quickly turned away to the road before she could decipher who she was.
So Tobin turns away and settles on the table, opening her laptop to her book draft she has planned to work on this entire summer before college.
And so she writes, but not without thinking a little about those green eyes and she may or may not have accidentally typed green a few times as she wrote, unable to get those turqouise orbs out of her mind.
‘So where should we eat?’ Stacy asks her daughters and husband, who were all scattered in the living room of their Airbnb sitting and lying down, swamped from having just organised their temporary living spaces.
They all groaned, knowing how hard it is for the family to decide where to eat.
‘Actually, I created a list of places we could go. I kind of made a plan of where to go.’ Christen softly offers, opening her planner to a bookmarked portion with highlighted words and sectioned tables. ‘So I have to submit my entry for the writing camp later at Portland University. So, we could go to Higgins? Or West Café?’ Christen points at the store locations, both located about 0.4km from the University. ‘I’ve read good reviews about them. Should be worth a try.’
‘Alright then! Since Chrissy here created a list of good restaurants we could go to, let’s try and see how it is!’ Cody claps his hands together and Tyler nods. ‘Yeah I heard about Higgins! Let’s go!’
As the family chose to walk to the restaurant, they passed by Spella’s again and Christen couldn’t help but turn back to look through the window, trying to see if the girl with the Thorns beanie was still there.
And she was. She was still in the shop, on her laptop, but the laptop had a sticker on it now, but its too small for Christen to look at what it was. The girl had took off her beanie, but tied her hair up in a bun, a weird bun though, with half of her hair ends sticking out. But she kinda looks good.
Christen quickly turns back to the road and then takes out her Kodak, catching some moments of her family walking down the street, her sisters making funny faces at her, which made her smile. ‘Come on! Move a little! You’re blocking mom and dad!’
Her sisters complies and it was perfect. She takes a couple more and forgets about the girl in the café, helping to take more pictures of her sisters and of the scenery. Channing suddenly grabs at her camera and tries to check on how she looked but Christen runs after her, trying to grab at the camera.
‘Channing! You can’t see how it looks like!’ Christen laughs and Tyler points and yells a ‘stupid!’ which Channing softly murmurs a whoops to as she hands the camera back to Christen.
What she missed out was the girl with the beanie was looking at her laughing with her sisters as she sips a little of her coffee, smiling a little. But the girl doesn’t know it was the same green-eyed girl as the one who she made eye contact with before. Just a couple of strangers, having fun on a Saturday afternoon, which makes Tobin’s heart ease with lightheartedness of the peaceful ambience of doing the simple things in life.
After lunch, Christen walks over to University, after settling on a set timing for her to meet with her family at the shopping district nearby fifteen minutes later.
She quickly shows the guard her student IC and the form to the writing camp before heading in, walking to their new building for the language and writing faculty.
She suddenly hears a rough sound of wheels scrapling and shoes met with friction on the gravel floor and she feels someone coming from behind her. She takes a careful step to the side and it was a good call because the girl with the Thorns beanie went right past her in her skateboard, zooming right to the building she was heading to.
Whoa okay that was scary and is that her again?
Christen couldn’t quite believe her eyes, knowing she had seen this girl like three times today already. And it doesn’t seem that this will be the last time, because she sees the girl come to a stop in front of the Language building and walk towards the registration booth for the writing camp.
She sees her hand a form that looks identical to hers to the officials there, before being handed a drawstring bag that’s probably the Writing Camp kit with all the instructions and itinerary that was stated in the email that she will also receive.
So she’s a camper. Christen twitches her eyebrows, feeling an increased sense of excitement, not exactly knowing why.
But she also catches a glint of her taking out her belongings in her bag as she makes space for the drawstring bag in her Jansport.
She has my book! She reads my book! I can’t believe someone here reads my book!
Christen comes to a stop behind the girl, who zipped up her bag and waved goodbye to the officials before stepping onto the skateboard and zipping off again, leaving a very surprised, confused and also proud Christen behind.
Nah. I can’t automatically think she was the one. Christen fidgets as she approaches the officials, giving them a bright smile as she hands them her form.
She grabs the assigned kit and says goodbye and heads back down the road which the girl had left towards just a few moments ago. She shakes away the thought of the girl possibly being her fan and continues out of the University, her drawstring feeling a little lighter on her shoulders.
She feels a little bit of excitement for the upcoming camp next week and she can’t help but think it’s because of that rather interesting girl with the Thorns beanie, who, she’s already seen three times, in one day.
so yes Christen does actually have a playlist called Relax!
it's right here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3xShoKZVPiNczubkclUygY
side note, this spotify account is probably unused since 2014 so... its totally not updated! But it's fun to know about what the players listen to in the past & christen has some great picks! esp the 1997 playlist she has. [i am totally not a stalker i'm sorry]
i hope you all enjoyed the chapter! i'm sorry if this is taking some time but the next chapter will be based on the match! so stay tuned! have a great day everybody:)
find me on tumblr @danipreathtrash :-) dm me to pester me/ talk i'm rlly open! + follow me for preath & uswnt updates + some dumb memes hah
& lmao im a sucker for comments & i love reading them so feel free to leave them! i'll respond to any qns too!
Chapter 4: little amanda
hi! so it's been about 2 weeks? i have literature tomorrow, but i've been inching to write this since forever, so i did! I couldn't stop writing so i hope this was alright! i will try to update soon, maybe wednesday after my paper!
I hope that everyone's having a good day & i thought i should update too, maybe to fill your hearts a little after utah's loss:(
hope you all enjoy this chapter! most of my chapters are unedited so pardon any mistakes
i'm open to feedback & i love ur comments do keep them coming:-)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When Christen walks into Providence Park with her family, she wished she had brought her notebook along with her, because the area was just a place blooming with unique stories.
There were hundreds of people there already, queuing up to go through security. A small group of fans had gathered together, drumming and cheering, hyping themselves up and Christen could feel the energy radiating off to her. A woman with a mohawk hairdo and a bandana was leading the group, swaying a rose flag in the air as she chants and sings. A few booths were set up, with merch stands, player cutouts and mock penalty shootout areas, where you could win shirts or coupons for beers. A dozen of kids were lined up, ready to win the prized Christine Sinclair signed football hanging behind the gift stand.
Channing and Tyler had already ran towards the merchandise stands where some of the player life-sized figures were placed.
‘Chris! Help us take pictures!’ Channing yelled.
Christen enclasped the top of her camera, snapping a few before following her excited sisters to the booth, already ready to spend their long saved money for the merchandise.
Christen, embarrassingly, was wearing the Royals jersey that day, being the only yellow in the sea of red and black and the moment she stepped out of the car, she felt like draping her jacket over her jersey but her sisters told her not to.
‘Chris! You should be proud of your team! Just wear them! You know it doesn’t matter!’
Christen knew it didn’t matter, she’s proud of her team, but she just feels so small, in the midst of red. But she’s over it know, after seeing a couple more Royals fans who even came with boards and she’s back to being quite excited about seeing the team she’s been supporting since five years ago when Tyler began to play soccer and telling her all about the national league. She didn’t play much soccer, sometimes just to defend against her sister or act as a goalkeeper [obviously not doing much] but she loved watching the games, especially hooked after the World Cup three years ago in 2015 and she’s ready for the upcoming one in France, though she probably won’t be able to go.
As her sisters try to decide between a scarf and a cap, Christen spots this little girl in the midst of the queue of young kids queueing up for a try at the shots station. She was also wearing a Royals jersey, waiting timidly for her turn. She was standing, alone presumably and she was looking really nervous as she looks at the boy in front of her get ready to take a shot.
No one has made the goal at the top corner yet, through the hole, which was where they would win the signed ball. The net was strategically placed about seven metres away, so they would have to make a strong shot at goal for them to make it.
Christen saw the little girl grip her hands tight as the boy runs forward and kicks with all his might.
Whish. The ball goes right through the hole and the boy jumps, shouting as he runs over to get the ball from the clapping person-in-charge.
The girl looked really sad, her shoulders immediately slumping as she starts walking away, even before seeing the next prize, which was a Thorns jersey.
Even before Christen could run and talk to the girl, she was swept away by her sisters who wanted to get to the seats early.
And when she turned back, trying to explain to her sisters, she was gone, lost in the midst of the moving crowd.
Tobin was nervous.
It was her last game. The last ever game she was probably going to play for the club.
Last year, after declining offers from UNC and various after universities, her youth club coach had looked for her and she had told her that she had no plans to go pro. And when that was confirmed, the club had to let her go, as they had to think financially, for the future investments and she was out of the picture.
She was really grateful though, that she was still considered an important player in her team such that she had a final match. She made many friends in the ten years with the Providence Youth, some had grown along with her since she was eight, like Meghan and then little Lindsey and Sonnett that had came three years later than her, but in the same youth team as she was.
Tobin was put into the senior team last year, playing just five matches for growth and experience and it was definitely fun and she was kind of sad to go, but she knows that it wouldn’t be fair for her to hold on to this halfheartedly and not give the club her all.
So it’s her last game and she’s going to be starting.
‘Hey Tobs, you a‘ight?’ She hears a voice beside her and she shakes out of her thought, turning to her right.
‘Oh Christine. Yeah. Just feeling a little emotional? I guess.’ Tobin offers, shrugging.
‘Kiddo. I’m sad too, that you’re leaving. But I’m proud of you, you know that? It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to play alongside you and I’ll continue supporting you in whatever you do. Just keep in touch ya? Know that you can come back and scrimmage with us anytime.’ Christine clapped her on the back and bumped her fist and Tobin nodded, before reaching up for a hug with the woman who was much taller than her. ‘I’m honoured too, Christine. You’ve taught me a lot.’
‘Now, we’re going to get you a win alright! Go out with a win!’ Christine cheers and her other teammates were obviously listening, because the entire locker room erupted in cheers and Tobin grinned and swiped at her eyes, some bittersweet tears unable to be kept in.
As they walk to head out to the field, Lindsey and Sonnett, along with Ellie came along beside her, hooking their arms with hers and Tobin never felt so warm. ‘Let’s gooooo TOBIN!’ Emily yelled and they all ran out to the field to warm up, which made Tobin smile, a little more.
Christen was stunned.
Her parents got them seats at the middle row of the stands and they were surrounded by an almost filled crowd in the stadium.
The Tifos were out, flags, signs and the drums were beating, the resounding beat echoing in her heart. boom. boom. boom. People were already cheering ‘P T F C’ repeatedly and Christen absolutely loves the feeling. It was so immersive and the entire stadium was like a heart beating as one. She was given a pair of Portland Thorns clappers and she started blowing them up so as the clap along to the rousing beat.
Cheers erupted as the players came streaming in for warm ups.
‘Chris Chris! That’s Christine Sinclair! And oh my god yes! Tobin Heath is playing! And Lindsey, Emily and Ellie! That’s Raso too and Meghan! This is so exciting!’ Tyler pulled at Christen’s arms, rapidly shaking it in pure euphoria as she sees her long time idols for the first time.
‘Oh that’s Tobin and the other youth players that was coming in to play today? ‘ Christen suddenly remembers Kelley’s desperate request for their pictures, so she takes out her camera again and zooms in to the field, where the players were doing passing and set pieces in front of them.
Wait… That brown-haired girl looks familiar. Hold on!
‘Oh my god Tyler. That girl in the middle, in the pink scrunchie, who is she?’ Christen has her eyes wide, glancing back down at the pictures she had taken in her camera, pointing at the picture, where the girl was doing some keepy-ups.
‘Oh that’s Tobin Heath. Why?’ Tyler eyes her, then points at the same girl, who is now doing some crosses towards the box.
‘Oh! Nothing! Just never seen her before.’ Christen quickly replies, although she knew the truth.
She doesn’t know why she didn’t want to just say that she saw her at the coffee shop and is going to be in the same writing camp as Tobin Heath but somehow she keeps her mouth shut about that.
A part of her, somehow senses that Tobin doesn’t want it to be known and she should keep it a secret, although she has never known her before, heck, they’re not even friends. But that scene she saw at the coffee shop, it was a place that was like a haven to the girl, different from whatever she was here, where she was known and being cheered for. So she keeps quiet, but looks a few more times anyway, because she just can’t quite believe that she’s seeing this girl again.
And she's there. Here. Playing.
The game has started.
At the 23rd minute, Tobin receives a ball from Sinclair and guns it down the right flank. She’s being marked by Becky, who was in fact Christen’s favorite, and she’s trying to think of ways to get pass her. She knew Becky was good, considered the best defender in the league, so she contemplates, holding the ball a little longer as she inches little by little to the front of the box.
That’s when she hears a yell of a ‘HEAD’ by a very known voice and she immediately does a ronaldinho and gets a little space before sending the cross into the box, right to the left end and Tobin looks up, looking for the play that she knew was coming. Lindsey was on the ball and her forehead connected with it, banging the ball right to the back of the net. YES!
( ‘woah she’s good’ thinks Christen)
The stands erupted and Tobin ran over to hug Lindsey.
‘Got you an assist!’ Lindsey excitedly whispers into her ear and her other teammates all started to pile around them, hugging Tobin, until Mark from the sidelines yelled for them to get back into the game. ’22 more minutes in the half!’
And that was only the start of Tobin’s fire.
In the 67th minute, Tobin asks for the ball in the far post and Emily scoops the ball right towards her. One. Two. Tobin waited for the two seconds, dribbling the ball, as she looked at Barnhart’s legs, the goalkeeper obviously looking at her feet who was angling for a high shot. But Tobin fakes and then gives a speedy hard shot right through her legs and that was it.
Everyone ran at her, collapsing on top of her as they all cheered and Tobin was laughing and giggling. ‘WHAT A TRADEMARK MOVE HEATH!’ ‘WHAT A GOAL!’
Tobin got subbed out at the 70th minute and the entire stadium clapped for her, which shocked her as quite a majority still didn’t know her name yet. Her number, 17, was flashed on the referee board, which signalled to the crowd that it was her last match.
Tobin looked around, absorbing the view around her, something that she might not ever be back in again. The full-house crowd, her teammates, shaking her hands and clapping at her back, the shouts and clapping from the stands, the Tifos and the red smoke drifting through. She blinks back tears as she walks to the line, where she meets Mark, who gives her a hug. ‘You did great out there kiddo.’ Tobin smiles and she reaches to hug her other teammates, who rose from the bench to clap for her, before grabbing her bib and settling on the bench, for the last time.
Christen was kind of sad that her team lost 2-1 to Portland, but she can’t deny that she did enjoy the great football she’s seen today. She realizes, for the first time, and finally agreeably to her sisters and Kelley that Portland did play good football, and she’s particularly impressed by Tobin Heath. Kind of sad it’s her last game.
She asked her sisters why she was ‘retiring’ at such a young age and they didn’t know why, just that she decided wasn’t going pro.
Now, she’s standing with her sisters at the front row, waiting for the players to come by and sign for them. Her sisters had made a Portland Thorns board, filled with meme pictures of Emily, Lindsay, Ellie and Caitlin that her sisters somehow found online, which she called them stalkers for, but it was kind of funny so she is holding it up too.
The players were slowly walking over and Christen had already gotten a signature from Becky, who had seen her jersey right after the game and beelined towards her and Christen was honestly still recovering, repeatedly holding her notebook, which had Becky’s signature sharpied on top.
Her sisters were ready, screaming as the players came into view, but Christen was turning to look around and she saw the same little girl from before, where her mom was trying to get her over to the front to see the players. The crowd in front was obviously not helping, with the fans scrambling to the front with cameras and signs (including her and her sisters whoops) and the little girl had no chance, jumping a little as the players came one by one, signing and saying hi.
‘Hey! You wanna come here?’ Christen yelled, waving at the little girl who met her eyes. Her originally sulky expression is now brimming with excitement, as she jumps and nods, before tapping at her mom and running over.
Her mom brings her down beside Christen, whispering a thank you, which Christen nodded to.
‘So hey? What’s your name?’ Christen asks, peering down at the little girl, who was now trying to peer above the divider.
‘I’m Aman-da! I wanna see Chri-st-ine!’ She jumps and Christen looks around, trying to find Christine.
She was unluckily quite a few people ahead and it was quite hard to see from where she was from.
‘Are you looking from someone?’
Christen suddenly hears a voice and she turns, seeing Tobin Heath looking at her. She was signing on her sisters’ board and Christen did not even realize.
‘oh- Uh… Actually, yes! Amanda here, wants to meet Christine Sinclair!’ Christen explains, stuttering a little, as she tries to carry Amanda, a probably five year old kid up, her legs now around her waist. ‘She’s been trying to find her!’
Tobin’s brown eyes seemed to sink deep in her, before nodding and turning towards Amanda, grinning at her. ‘Hold on a sec, Amanda!’
Christen sees her run towards Christine Sinclair and tap at her back, and within seconds, the both of them were back.
‘You were looking for me?’ Christine asks, looking at Christen first before turning to little Amanda, who unlike her excited self from before, is now awfully shy, hiding behind Christen. ‘yes.’ Christen hears a little whisper, which Christine chuckles to.
‘What is your name?’ Christen brings her towards Christine, putting her on top of the divider, where she could properly talk to Christine.
‘I’m Aman-da!’ She perks up a little, now touching her fingers as Christine takes the ball, which Tobin had just gave her.
‘Hi Amanda! So I’m going to give you this ball alright?’ Sinclair smiles, talking to her as she signs the ball.
‘Really?! T’ank you! I wan’ to be a soc-cer player like you when I g’ow ‘p!’ Amanda bounces excitedly, which made Christen’s heart grow warm, being as excited for her too.
‘Oh really? I think you’re going to become a better player than me! Here. Practice with the ball okay? 100 touches a day!’ Christine hands the signed ball to her, patting her head and smiling before waving to sign other’s items.
Amanda quickly turns to her mom, jumping out of Christen’s arms towards hers as she yells ‘MOMMY! MOMMY! I got the b-all!’
Christen smiles, before turning back to the front, where Tobin was still standing, though a little further away and about to walk away, but Christen meets her eyes and her brown eyes glint into hers.
‘Thank you!’ Tobin nods and then waves, before turning to the other fans and clapping at the crowd for their support.
She’s so nice.
sorry for the slow burn, we will get there i promise! i hope you all enjoyed the chapter though:) i really enjoyed writing it!
comment & likes are really appreciated, i'm so grateful!
find me @danipreathtrash on tumblr
btw I went added chapter names lol🤓
Chapter 5: surprise
hi! i'm back! :-) i am finished with my prelims so i'll take this short break to write a little more
i hope ya'll enjoy the new chapter! thank you for the support!
find me @danipreathtrash on tumblr:)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
‘Chris…I can’t believe Tobin came and signed our boards and then came to talk to you! Christine Sinclair came too! Are we dreaming or what?’ Tyler grabs at Christen’s cheeks, squeezing them as they stand outside the stadium, walking to take the bus stop.
‘Nope. It was real.’ Christen blinks, mumbled almost incoherently due to her very much squished up cheeks.
‘That didn’t felt so.’ Tyler says, turning away and now looking down at their poster that had the signatures of almost everyone, heart still beating rapidly.
‘All I felt was that Tobin seemed to have a thing for little sis!’ Channing elbowed Christen, who immediately blushed.
‘What no! She was actually just so nice! She wanted to help the Amanda. She really was so thoughtful, I think if she never came over and asked, I wouldn’t have garnered up the courage to yell for other players to look for Christine.’ Christen explains, but rolls her eyes as her younger sister raised her eyebrows. ‘Yeah… if she wasn’t obviously looking at you and observing your every action.’
‘Yeah… come to think of it, she kept glancing at you as she signed our poster. Ooooo what are you going to do?’ Tyler points and twinkles her eyes, winking, though failing a little [a familiar trait].
‘Oh Tyler not you too! What will even happen?’ Christen gestured incredulously, shaking her head as she walks to a stop at the bus stop, unable to keep herself from blushing, though just a little. The thought of the possibly of someone like Tobin observing her, it’s just impossible.
‘Well… we have literally a month here! A lot of things can happen! Like what if you meet her at some coffee shop? Or what if you meet her while we’re eating? I’m sure she lives somewhere near here, there’s always this possibility of meeting her.’ Tyler winks again, but then suddenly turned serious.
It’s funny because Christen already did meet her three times and exactly what Tyler had said, but she isn’t going to admit that.
‘You don’t even know if I swing that way.’ Christen mumbles, turning away.
‘Doesn’t matter. It’s Tobin. Did you see that girl smile? And her abs?’ Channing smiles widely, grinning.
‘Wow, Chan. Didn’t see that coming from you.’ Christen rolls her eyes, folding her arms as she looks at the bus timing, tapping her feet.
‘Agreed, she’s hot.’
‘Can we please talk about something else please…that we can discuss if it ever happens. I don’t ever see that happening, okay?’ Christen begs, feeling just a little uncomfortable by the topic, but her heart still beats on rapidly, thinking back at those brown eyes who stared right into hers, as if it read her soul. She shakes the thought away, her sisters poking at teasing again before finally changing the topic and they got on the bus, bringing them back home.
‘Yo Tobs. Good game.’ A couple of teammates came over and clapped her back, shaking her hands as they walked into the locker room, where they all congregated for a talk by Mark.
Tobin didn’t exactly know what was happening, but suddenly hands were coming from the back and she’s blindfolded, squirming. ‘Guys! WHAT ARE YA’LL DOING?’ Tobin yells, though laughing, anticipating at the prospect of mystery.
‘You’ll SEE!’ Tobin figures it was Emily who yelled that, who seemed to be one of the few that was carrying Tobin up, bringing her to some unknown destination. Tobin was trying to keep still, afraid of being dropped by her teammates, who were all chuckling as they brought the blindfolded soccer player into the medical room.
All Tobin wanted to do was scream as she was suddenly dropped by her teammates and she did, before her mouth was filled with water that it became sputters. A gush of cold spread through her body as ice pieces surrounded her entire length. She was dropped into a ice bin.
‘Oh my god! IT’S FUCKING COLD!’ Tobin screams, as she takes off her blindfold laughing a little. She can’t believe her friends just did that. And it wasn’t the end.
Right when she thought she could finally see the people that did this to her, an entire cake slammed into her face. Cream, cake, frosting, chocolate, everything.
‘mmmff-puf-is this Ellie’s peanut butter cake?! Oh my god!’ Tobin mumbles as she tries to wipe away the cake from her eyes and mouth. ‘We could’ve shared it!’ Tobin blinks, taking in the scene in front of her as she stands freezing in the ice. She tries coming out and Lindsey and Emily comes and help her out.
‘We actually did. Ellie made another one.’ Lindsey points at the cake in a ‘17’ shape that was being rolled in by Ellie in.
As her teammates celebrated Tobin, she smiles, looking around her as they sang and said little speeches. It was a moment where she would never forget, all her teammates’ faces at this moment engrained in her memory forever. She was utterly touched and being reminded of her leaving the club just made her feel nostalgic, knowing that this is something that will never happen again.
Her teammates sat in a circle around her, eating cake and abruptly throwing it at each other, running and screaming. She smiles, trying to make mental images so that she can replay it over and over again.
As everyone packed their bags and waved goodbye after a good hot shower, Tobin stayed behind, wanting to say goodbye at each of them before leaving.
‘Yo Tobs. You not going home yet?’ Lindsey appears from the shower, drizzling wet as a towel wraps around her head, walking in in a sports bra and some torn denim shorts.
‘Yeah. Wanted to make sure everyone goes home first.’ Tobin gestures at the remaining bags scattered in the locker room. ‘And Linds, thank you for the surprise.’
‘No problem. It’s not like it’s the last one too! You aren’t cutting us off your life just yet Heath! Still got an entire life with you!’ Lindsey winks, pulling a club shirt over her head.
‘I know. I wouldn’t forget you guys. I’ll come back sometimes I promise.’
‘I know where to look for you anyways. I got your mom’s number too. No getting away from me!’ Lindsey grins, punching at her shoulder. She approaches Tobin, sitting right next to her.
‘Yeah… blackmailer.’ Tobin pokes back at her. She knows fully that she will probably see this best friend of hers in probably two days, where they have their weekly scrimmage with random strangers at Peninsula. She isn’t just about to forget her so easily.
‘Hey. I know you don’t want to discuss this, but what was that with you and that fan just now?’ Tobin immediately flushes at this, her mind immediately reminded of the turquoise eyed tanned woman around her age wearing the Utah Royals jersey just now.
‘Don’t act dumb… That girl in the Utah Royals jersey that you helped! You even ran!’ Lindsey points.
‘What about it? I just wanted to help a fan.’
‘Don’t think that I didn’t notice your lingering stares at her! It was so unsubtle Heath.’ Lindsey clicks her tongue, raising her eyebrows.
‘It’s nothing…I was just helping her find Christine.’ Tobin shaked her head, knowing her friend’s useless teasing. After coming out to Lindsey three years ago, whenever there was some girl that she talked to, or was just really pretty, Lindsey would tease and ship them together. It wasn’t helping that this mystery girl was both and she definitely felt like she’s seen her before.
‘It felt like you knew her.’ Lindsey continues insistently and Tobin brushes her elbow against hers.
‘Yeah, nope! There’s nothing….’
‘Well… sooner or later, I’ll get something out of you.’ Lindsey squints her eyes at her.
‘Sure…’ Tobin smiles wide, blinking at her friend, thinking how insane it’ll be to ever possibly see that girl again and how her friend even sees them together.
Well… life is always unpredictable.
Christen stays home that night, sitting at the table in her Airbnb room, facing the window as her family goes for dinner in a nearby restaurant, promising to bring back some of their famous lobster sandwiches.
She overlooks the scenery outside, of pedestrians walking on the pavement under blinking streetlights. The trees cast shadows, leaves fluttering in the slow breeze that’s bringing her sweet pine scents to her room. She picks up her pen, flipping open a fresh page on her ‘art’ journal. It is where she scribbles new ideas for stories, or even just short journal entries of her day, the latter what she was focusing on today.
She writes a little about the atmosphere in Providence Park, the mohawk lady and the passionate cheering band. She describes it down to the littlest details, and then moves on to Amanda. She writes about the little girl at the prize stands, then also about her meeting with Christine. It warms her heart just thinking about it again and she takes a sip of piping hot chai tea before continuing.
She writes about the newfound realisation about Tobin Heath. She stops a little, thinking back about her seemingly fateful it seemed to be, to have gotten the chance to see her again. And in just three days for the camp. She doesn’t know if she should be excited or to be scared at the prospect of having someone as like her in the camp. She doesn’t know much about her and that she even writes.
She holds on to the thought that Tobin was nice to her today and hopes that she will also be so in camp. I mean…it’s not like she’ll remember me. I shouldn’t worry so much. I’m always overthinking so much.
She completes her diary entry and opens her laptop that she brought along for the trip, opening her document for the book she was currently working on, which was a collection of short stories about women.
She opens her journal again, flipping to the last page and took out the letter that she stuck there.
She looks at the piece of rice paper again, her eyes flitting down the letter, reading it again, although it was probably the hundredth time. It was the first letter the anonymous fan ever sent to her and she decided to bring it along with her on the trip, being the reference if she ever finds her, or him.
It fuels her and she places it beside her computer before continuing to work on her book.
She starts a new short story below and named it ‘Amanda who plays soccer’ and she writes, until her father yells at her to come out for her meal.
‘Hey yeah mom. I’m all packed already, don’t worry.’
Tobin was sitting on the sofa of the apartment that she was staying with her older sister who was currently in Reed University, speaking to her mom who had just called to check on her before the start of camp the next day.
‘Yeah I checked on the accommodations. I think we’ll be staying in groups of four. We’ll know about them tomorrow. Yeah. I’m really excited.’ Tobin murmurs softly, trying to answer the numerous questions her mother was spouting at her as she tries to reread the same paragraph of the book laid across her lap.
‘Enjoy yourself alright? Remember to call me tomorrow after you’ve settled in.’
‘Yes mom, I will. Don’t worry okay? It’ll be fun.’
‘I love you, just remember alright? Can you pass the phone to Katie?’ Tobin stands up, bookmarking the page as she walks into the room where her sister was typing furiously on her laptop, probably working on a new assignment on management studies, Tobin thinks. ‘Love you too mom. K it’s mom.’ She hands the phone to Katie and she holds it.
Tobin walks back to the sofa and continues reading, before her sister walks out, going in the direction of Tobin’s already packed luggage at the door.
‘What are you doing?’ Tobin stands up, placing the book at the coffee table before walking towards her, folding her arms.
‘Mom told me to check on what you brought.’
‘WHAT! I know what I’m doing K! I’ve packed everything that’s needed!’ Tobin raises her arms, annoyed that her mom has once again not trusted her in taking care of her own things.
‘Well, I’ll check and I’ll report for you that you’re perfectly capable.’
‘You’re mocking me and I know that. You better not-‘ Katie unclasped the lock and opened the luggage.
Out spilled a whole unfolded pile of shirts, an array of soccer shorts and hoodies, with a small bag of toiletries.
‘You were saying? Ugh… now I have to check if they’ve been washed.. T!’ Katie sighs, as she throws a whole bunch of shirts at Tobin who rolled her eyes.
‘It was a perfectly neat mess. I knew where everything was and now you messed it up. They’re clean okay!’
‘Right. Shut up and I’ll help you fold your clothes.’
Tobin folded her arms, grumbling, but walks over anyway, and the two spend the next thirty minutes refolding everything and packing it neatly until Katie felt that it was perfect.
Guess that’s what older siblings are for.
:-) hope it was okay! i love reading comments & your kudos thank youu! i'll try to update soon
Chapter 6: group ten
camp starts with a tiny incident that brings the two together
hi! sorry that i haven't updated in a while... and do foresee about a month of static silence from here as i'm still preparing for my exams ><. I just really need a break today and after seeing the recent results... i felt compelled to write again!
this is not exactly long but hope you enjoy it!
i planned out the entire camp timeline, with their own objectives & activities ahaha and its all from my head not from real experience, so it might be a little different from what you expect:) but i think it aligns with my own ideals of how learning should be
anyways enjoy! i might- update soon because i'm rather excited from the events in this to come and don't want you guys to be left hanging, but i will probably have to focus on my exams still...
anyhow, enjoy! hope you enjoy it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
R"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make."
Christen didn’t know what to expect as she walked into the hall, so when a blonde woman came towards her and asked for her name, she felt a little flustered, but quickly managed out her name.
‘Do you have your bags with you?’ The lady asked, looking down the list of campers’ names as she clicked her pen, scribbling beside what had to be Christen’s name.
‘Yes. I left it outside in the area where bags were said to be put. Are we supposed to bring it in?’
‘No it’s fine. Here, paste your name sticker on yourself and put it on your bag outside. After you’re done, head to the lecture hall on the left of here.’ The lady handed her two stickers, both with her names written on it and she quickly pasted one on her chest before bowing with thanks and heading out. ‘Thank you!’
Christen hurriedly puts down the sticker beside her nike duffel, which was actually pretty heavy as the camp guide had instructed them to bring at least a book. She couldn’t decide, so she brought three and along with her clothes and other items, it was quite heavy, so she was happy she didn’t need to carry it around that much. I hope my books don’t get ruined though.
Christen then proceeds to the Lecture hall, eyes shining with little bit of a mix of excitement and nerves as she opens the door with a squeak.
She sees six heads turn towards her and she instantly blushes, before scanning the room for an empty space to seat. Luckily for her, she came rather early, at eight-thirty, half-an-hour before which the session was supposed to have begun. So, there was plenty of choices available and she picked the one at the second row, where it wasn’t that far from the front and not exactly too near the speakers later, where she usually sat in class. She eased into the sit, plopping her small camp drawstring beside her as she took out her planner and the Day’s timetable she had gotten just now.
0900: Official introduction in the Hall
0930: Grouping session
1000: Official grouping ceremony + Ice Breaker
1020: Group activity
1100: End of Group Activity + Debrief
1130: Nature Walk at the Forest Park
1430: Head back to the College
1500: Relaxation Session for Reading
1700: The Daily Grind
1930: Debrief + Room assignments +Handing out of keys
2200: Lights Out
That sounds pretty fun. She notes the Nature walk and the session for reading and then…the grouping session. Didn’t know there’ll be groups for this. Christen never really had a good experience with group activities, as she always ended up tanking the team or not being able to click with her group mates. In school, she had always stuck with Kelley. There wasn’t a Kelley here with her now.
But this might be a chance for her to finally bring herself a step forward. She knew that sometimes it was just due to her inability to really open herself up to other members and often, wanting to finish up the group work the way she wanted it to be. So, this might be good. Without Kelley, and putting past experiences behind, she will take this as a chance to properly open herself up and work with others, and hopefully, not die of anxiety.
She shakes her head, hitting herself a little on the head due to her stupid overthinking that often makes her uneasy in front of others. She has to learn to let go of those thoughts and enjoy this experience.
Christen writes it down in her bullet journal, scribbling the words, ‘Objective: Be more open to others, enjoy this experience.’ She smiles, satisfied, after drawing a few flowers at the side before closing it and looking through her drawstring and taking out her book to read while awaiting the rest to arrive.
Tobin knew it was going to be different when she placed her bags with her sticker on it in the racks beside the hall.
The brochure had only provided vague information about the activities and the timeline only revealed that much. She looks forward to the surprises though as she had never went to a writing camp before and she really wants to see how it’ll be like, especially for a new program like this.
She enters the hall right on time, at 8:59am, and she already sees that the lecture hall was almost filled, with approximately hundred or so kids around her age and even older adults occupying the seats in the hall. There wasn’t an age limit to the camp and she’s excited to see a mixture of people of different ages and ethnicities intermixing in the hall.
She quickly scans the hall, trying to find a seat and she sees that there’s a seat at the second row that’s unoccupied.
She quickly slips in as what seemed like the camp head walked to the front and adjusted the microphone.
‘Hi everyone. Thank you for coming to this Writing Camp hosted by our very new program in Portland University. I’m Rachel Beuhler, the head of the Creative Writing Program in school and I’ll give you guys a little introduction before starting the activities.’ The blonde lady waves at the crowd and Tobin sees some people in her row wave back at her, so she does it as well.
‘Now, this camp will probably be different from other writing camps some of you might have attended, as we wanted the experience to be more personalized and catered to your individual interests and hopefully, the next five days will be enjoyable for each and everyone of you. The objective of the camp is to hopefully, allow each of you to connect with nature and with your own emotions in your writing. Our program’s vision is to reimagine the world you are living in and to reconnect your souls with your writing. This program aims to do more than just improving your writing, but also to boost self-improvement and care for yourselves.’
Tobin listened intently. This was definitely something that was different and positively so. She could see the passion in Ms Beuhler’s eyes and she silently clapped as she nodded along with her words.
‘Now, without further or do, I will be explaining the sleeping situation, grouping to everyone.’ Ms Beuhler raised her hand to the front of the lecture hall as the screen brightened with a QR code.
‘Please take out your phones now and scan this code. It will bring you to a sorting simulation, where we will use to group you to ten different groups. Each group will consist of about five individuals. Do the survey seriously as you should pick out your desired activities and interests. Don’t be influenced, be true to yourself.’ Ms Beuhler added, as the fifty participants took out the phones and tapped onto the page, filling in the sheets one by one.
Christen quickly scanned the code and proceeded to fill in the survey.
She was still, honestly, recovering from the shock that Tobin had in fact, arrived at the camp and is now sitting just a seat apart from her. Though, she had not seemed to have recognized her whatsoever.
Christen peeked to the right as she filled in the survey and sees Tobin slouching down and tapping onto her phone with a frown. She quickly looks back to her phone and continues answering the questions.
‘Hey Christen, are you planning to go for the Adventure segment?’ Trig, the boy sitting beside her asked, pointing at the option. ‘You wanna go together?’
Christen had only known him for about five minutes, since he came in and immediately planted himself beside her and introduced himself. He came with a group of friends, that sort of looked like the typical group of frat boys and she didn’t even know why they had come. She can sort of guess his intention with her as she glances at his friends sitted at the row beside them, with all their wagging tongues and silent hoot calls.
‘Um.. I haven’t reached there yet.’ Christen lowers the brightness on her screen and continues with her survey. She doesn’t want to be such a jerk but she doesn’t want to seem to lead him on, thinking that she might be interested, when she is, in fact, gay, and very very not interested in becoming his hookup.
‘Well. I’ll go for the romance then, I know you’ll like that.’ Trig winks and brushes her muscular elbow against her and she hears a small hoot go out from the side of friends.
‘Um.. Yeah..’ Christen squeaks out the lie, as she uncomfortably pushes his arm away from her and quickly presses the option of Sports which was what she had intended for. ‘Just choose something you like.’
‘Yeah. You.’ At this, Christen flashes red, she’s thankful that she had finished the survey and she quickly pushes it back into her bag and turned towards him. She was about to come up with a hopefully soft rejection when-
‘Hey. Stop it. She’s already attached.’
Tobin couldn’t help it, but she’s definitely annoyed with the boy beside her right now.
It seems that his awfully muscular head couldn’t understand that the girl he wanted to ask out is so incredibly uncomfortable with his intrusive questions and attention and very, very, obviously, isn’t interested at him.
She hadn’t wanted to butt into something that wasn’t her business, but this had gotten way too far and that girl, that looks awfully familiar, was inching back at her own seat so much that it just didn’t look comfortable at all. Doesn’t the dude know boundaries?
And when he decides to blurt out the most stupid line, she couldn’t take it anymore.
‘Hey. Stop it. She’s already attached.’ Tobin blurts out, poking at the dude’s shoulder.
Both heads whipped right at her and she sees the silent relief on the other girl’s face as the panic drained out of her.
‘Yeah I am and I’ll appreciate it that we can be friends instead.’ The girl firmly reemphasises and the boy notably deflates a little and replies with a ‘Oh.’
He doesn’t speak for the rest of the session.
And he definitely shouldn’t end up choosing romance, because, well, Tobin doesn’t really think he’ll excel at that option.
Tobin catches the girl’s eyes before Ms Beuhler came up to the front to announce the groupings, giving her a soft ‘thank you’ as Tobin looked right into her turqouise eyes.
Wait. She’s the-
‘Everyone, can I have your attention please?’ Ms Beuhler announces, snapping Tobin back to the front of the hall as she continues.
‘Thank you for your patience. We have finished sorting out your groupings and we will be announcing it right now. The group leaders will be coming down one by one and those assigned to that group will be announced and you will join them. The group leaders are Year 3 students from the current Art Faculty, various students focusing on different art forms, such as Psychology, Art, Humanities, Law etc. Their experiences and expertise would be helpful for your progress in writing during the camp.’
‘Without further ado, Group 1. Dominic, Sydney, Taylor and Little.’
As Ms Beuhler drones on and many participants started leaving one by one, Tobin can’t help but get a little jittery as she awaits her name to be called. She sees that the girl and the boy beside her hasn’t been called yet and she sincerely hopes that they do not end up in the same group.
‘Group 9. Trig, Alex, Servando and Kyle.’
Tobin notices the sigh that the boy lets out as he stands up quickly and without saying any word to the girl, quickly runs to the front of the stage. The girl gave her an appreciative smile as Tobin turns at her.
‘Looks like we’re group mates.’ The girl murmured, extending out her hand. Tobin takes it and grips the girl’s hand tight, which was notably smaller.
‘Nice to meet you, I’m Tobin Heath.’
‘I'm Christen Press.’
so they finally meet! formally!
sorry for the slowburn:-) but hopefully it'll be worth it
look for me @danipreathtrash on tumblr !
any thoughts about the story/if you're liking it?