Take me back

Sol Plays Soccer01-2022, 1000 words

High school

“Fweet! Play ball!” 

Sol stood in the middle of the field with his legs shaking. 

A whistle blew, sneakers hit the ground, and a ball hurtled through the air. Around him, boys were running like their lives depended on it. 

This was soccer and Sol was terrified. 

He wasn’t a soccer player, he wasn’t any kind of athlete at all. There was no sporty bone in his body, rather, he was afraid of breaking his bones. The only reason he was playing soccer was because of Chet. 

Because minutes before the big game, Chet had gotten over-excited and ran into a goalpost. He fell down right away and didn’t get up. 

It turned out that Chet Chester had sprained his ankle. 

Without anyone to take his place, the team needed a stand-in. Unfortunately, at that moment Sol had walked over to wish Chet good luck, blissfully ignorant. 

They’d roped him in, saying he was always watching the games anyway. The captain, a brown-haired boy with a big smile, said he obviously knew the rules since he was always there. Plus, he was tall, which had to be good for something. 

It wasn’t. That was basketball. 

Staring blankly at the chaos around him, Sol tried not to whimper. Someone charged at him and he barely dodged. 

“Move, move, move!” 

On the sidelines, Chet was hollering. He was heckling Sol from the bleachers, punching the air when he got really fired up. “Hit him where it hurts! No mercy! Get his balls!” 

Sol had a feeling he didn’t mean the soccer ball. 

“I can’t,” he called back, the fifth time he’d said it that day. Every time he did, he sounded more and more broken.

Chet was supposed to be on the field, him on the sidelines. But instead, Sol was suffering the fate of being a jock. 

“Help me,” he whimpered, squeaking in fear as the ball whizzed past him, followed by five boys in mad pursuit. “Get me off the field!” 

“I believe in you! Run to the ball! Take down anyone in your way!” 

Chet’s confidence was heartwarming. So heartwarming that Sol tried, he really did. He ran to the ball, then let the other guy have it. 



“Stop being so nice to them!” Chet was yelling. His arms were whirling through the air, threatening to smack anyone nearby. “This is soccer! British football! A bloodsport! Be mean! Be vicious! You’re only allowed to be nice to me!” 

He was shouting his lungs out but Sol only heard the last part. 

Suddenly, everything on the field seemed to melt away. The grass became soft and fluffy, and the ball disappeared from sight. Sol beamed up at him. “Chet, are you jealous?” 

Later on, he would realize he had profoundly missed the point, but it didn’t matter now. Chet was so honest with himself. It made him really cute. 

At that moment, Sol committed the worst and most dangerous sin by any amateur soccer player.

He took his eyes off the ball.



Chet’s eyes were wide with horrified fascination. Sol found out why a second later. 


Suddenly, everything turned upside down.

“I hate soccer,” Sol muttered, sprawled out on the grass.

“It was a good game, even if we lost,” Chet said sympathetically. 

“No it wasn’t,” Sol said. “You can tell the truth. It was bad…” 

The game was over. They’d lost 3-0, the final goal made after Sol was knocked flat. The ball had rolled from his head to the other team, who kicked it and scored. 

Sol sighed, head still hurting. It wasn’t like he was a soccer player so why did he care? In the first place, their team had forced him to play. 

“Sorry,” Sol muttered and he had to admit, he cared a little. 

Chet made a reassuring noise and patted his back. “Hey, come on, don’t feel bad. It’s not like the team lost because of you, you’re not that important. I mean, they’ve got ten other people!” He huffed, crossing his arms. “All this shows is that everyone else can’t play soccer either! I’m the only good person on the team.” 

He might’ve been trying to make Sol feel better but Sol could tell he was upset. Chet was passionate about soccer, really passionate, enough to yell about it from the bleachers. Spraining his ankle must’ve hurt in more ways than one. 

Sol was a bit jealous. He didn’t have anything he felt so strongly about. “Sorry you sprained your ankle,” he said. 

“Yeah, it’s stupid.” Even now, Chet was limping as he walked. Sol offered his arm and he leaned against it, clinging on. “Honestly, Sol? Even if you’re a bad player, they don’t care,” he muttered. “The team’s probably happy to get me off the field.” 

It was the kind of thing that was hard to argue because it was true. Chet was known to kick and scream, and one time he’d nearly bitten someone. 

He might’ve been good at soccer but he was also a hazard. Dangerous for the health. 

Still, Sol had to say something. 

“They’re probably just... not used to playing dangerously?” he offered hesitantly. “You have a very unique style.”

“Hmph,” Chet huffed. “I just like winning, okay? Actually, that’s not true. I hate the look people give you when they win. Hate seeing people get all smug and look at you like…” He trailed off, gesturing sharply to make his point.

Sol exhaled. He nudged Chet gently with his shoulder, then reached over to steady him when he started tipping over. “Then hurry up and get better so you can take my place.”

“Give me a week.” 

“I have to keep playing for a week?!” Sol stared at him in shock. 

“No worries.” Chet shot him a mischievous grin. “I’ll be there to cheer you on. I mean it, you have to start kicking people really hard.” 

More like Sol would duck and cry. Still, he smiled back. “You shouldn’t worry either. Even if the team doesn’t like you, I still like you.” 

Blunt but it got the point across. Chet seemed reassured, or as much as he could be. “True,” he said slowly. “I still like soccer but true.” He looked away bashfully. “Once I can play again, keep coming to my games, okay?” 

“I’ll never miss it,” Sol promised.