“You alive or what?” shouts a harsh voice in my ear.
“Huh?” I somehow manage to sputter.
“It’s ten-thirty, in case you’re still alive.”
The world sharply comes into focus. My head is aching from the strain of not being able to sleep till eight in the morning and all the over-thinking that had been going on while tossing and turning during the night.
I am more fashionably late than Coco Chanel for my game.
Oh, by the way, I’m the striker for my field hockey team and we have a BIG game starting at two thirty today.
I bet you would ever find a soul as careless as me!
In my grogginess I manage to catch the faint click of the front door as my wife leaves for work after waking me up so lovingly.
When televised events like a national level hockey match fail to lure you into attending them, you know you’re too famous. That’s what happened with her.
Anyway, I’m ready in twenty five minutes. Call someone fast!
Gathering my duffel bag and keys, I sprint out the front door.
It’s a beautiful day. The weather is just perfect for a good game.
I put my key in the ignition and start my machine. I’ve driven for about seven minutes when suddenly it stops.
Oh hell! I’ve forgotten to refuel it again. My petrol tank is empty and I have barely enough time to make it before the warm-up.
Now what? I rack my brains and the first thought that flashes is Luke! Oh yes, my savior, the friend made in heaven who lives only ten minutes’ drive from here.
He agrees to come over in a jiffy.
Hehe. Luck god, you can’t play with me today. It’s my day to play at the field.
I’m calm when he arrives and quickly settle into the passenger seat. He eases the vehicle onto the road and we start.
There’s cool wind blowing outside now. We are joking and talking animatedly while the stereo blares in the background.
He stops at a t-point red-light. We continue to chat.
I’m calm now. We’re going to reach well in time.
The light turns to green, we start moving slowly, he’s looking at me and i’m looking into his eyes when suddenly in my peripheral vision I see a dot approaching behind him. Before I get any time to react, the dot comes closer and closer and suddenly, BOOM!
The motorbike has rammed into the driver’s side. Luke is unconscious and there’s a deep gash above his left eye. I notice the blood trickling down his left cheek and the clock ticking on his left wrist almost simultaneously.
Surprisingly, the bike driver isn’t hurt that bad except for a few bruises. The passersby haul him into a standing position and then come to look at us. I can’t feel any pain anywhere so I presume myself to be fine.
We take Luke and the biker to a nearby hospital. The doctor gives me a few bandages to cover the hitherto unseen bruises on my arms. My worries over Luke disappear in a jiffy when I see him smiling askance as soon as he regains consciousness.
“You are so gone.” His grin widens.
“Has his mind been affected?” I ask the nurse.
“Your match.” He laughs.
I glance at my watch. One thirty-two.
Were I a thief with the crown of Queen Elizabeth in my bag and I had to run with it to that field and it would be mine, I swear I still couldn’t have run any faster than I did at that time.
Huffing and puffing, my nerves jangling in my head, I dodge the nurses and ward attendants. I lose count of the cuss-words I heard in the background. I just run and run to the door where to my surprise there are no taxis.
What, I ask a passerby who just looks at me as if I’ve asked him the atomic weight of barium.
No taxis, I signal towards the road.
He shakes the newspaper he’s carrying in his hand. On the front page, in bold letters, is written – “PUBLIC TRANSPORT STRIKE”
I cannot write here the profanity that escaped my lips at that time.
Spitting and sputtering, I break into a run towards the stadium that’s roughly eight kilometers from here.
The world dissolves into a blur of colors by the time I reach the gates. My watch says two eighteen.
My team-mates are looking at me with the same expression as the gentleman outside the hospital.
I know I’m quite a sight by now.
Half-choking on my breath, I ask why they aren’t in the field.
“God, save this soul here”, utters my goalkeeper.
All the others are smirking to themselves.
And it is precisely at this point that I fall sideways to see a big screen on the right that says, MATCH CANCELLED.
For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Corinne at http://www.seedsofcoriander.com gave me this prompt: You wake up one morning as a professional hockey player with a huge game that afternoon.
I gave Michael at http://MichaelWebb.us this prompt: Friendships that went sour