Tunnel Vision

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My heart beat fast as I gazed into his eyes. Pools of emerald green that faded into brown pupils stared back at me. I normally just saw people as they were, not paying close attention to the shape of their jaws or the way they talked when they got excited. Yet I knew that his sharp, square jaw became circular around the edges when he smiled. His dimples emerged when he laughed, often at a corny television show. He was a stereotypical football jock, the type who gets any girl he wants, plays well, and works little. In a way, I was stereotypical to like him, wanting what I ultimately can’t have. He represented everything I disliked, and I loved him for that.

Through a near pitch-black sky, a blue hue shone and contrasted against the bright flood lights surrounding the stadium. We were on our home turf, playing our rival school. He had just returned a football to me that his team borrowed for the warm-up drills. My teammates heckled me for supporting our rival team, but I wasn’t supporting the team, just him.

In an instant, it was game time, and I could hear the crowd screeching from the stands. The football in my hands felt cold beneath my gloves. The microphone chattered in my ear, unintelligible over the roar of the stadium. Assuming my cue, I hiked the ball back, letting the quarterback take control of the following moves. I ran wide right, no one on my tail, hands at the ready. I caught the ball, holding it tight to my chest as if carrying a baby through a fire. My foot spun around on the turf, the bottom of my cleats digging into the mush of broken black plastic. I ran down the field, tunnel vision keeping me focused on the end zone. Yards flew by until my eyes met blackness, the clanging of helmets, and finally the sound of the whistle. I opened my eyes just to meet his again. Blood trickled from beneath his hairline, but he seemed to be breathing fine.

“You good, man?” I asked.

He laughed louder than the screeching whistle. “Ya. My stitches just probably busted.” He wiped the line of blood off with one finger; only one could fit through the helmet. “We got a game to play. Let’s get going.”

He extended his hand out for a moment. Grabbing it seemed like a commitment, like giving into his charm. He saw the look on my face and raised his eyebrows.

“Too good for me to help you out?” He pulled me up and slapped me on the back.

“I hope not,” I whispered back.

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