"Forty-two, get your head out of your ass and hustle! This isn't a walk on the beach with your girlfriend!" I hear my coach's words, but I can't seem to process them. My vision goes in and out of focus, and I stumble as I walk across the field.
"Adam, you alright?" My buddy Josh asks as he comes up to me. I must nod my head, because he pats me on the back a bit too hard before jogging away.
I take off my sauna of a helmet and feel the heat of the sun beat down on my face. The last thing I remember seeing is the world dip and sway before I fall over and blackout.
"Payne! Payne, wake up!" Coach Evans grips my shoulder firmly and rattles me awake. I feel water run into my mouth and trickle down my throat. My head throbs with every small movement. I gradually peel my eyes open and squint at the bright sun.
"Dehydrated again, Adam. What did I tell you about getting liquids in your body, especially during practice?"
"Huh?" My eyes wander towards the source of the voice, only to find the athletic trainer hovering over me.
"Can you hear me?" She inquires a little louder than needed. The commotion around me makes my head feel like someone is ramming a sledgehammer into my skull repeatedly.
"Yes, I hear you." I mumble.
"You should be fine, but stay hydrated, Adam." She advises before carrying her fragile looking body off the field. I prop myself up on my elbow and take another sip of water, and cringe at the burning sensation it creates in my throat.
"Get him to the bench. As for the rest of you, hurry up and finish drills!" Coach Evans voice rings in my ears louder than his whistle. Two pairs of rough, meaty hands grab me by the shoulders and practically lift me up themselves. I hobble my way over to the bench, and plop myself down. I sit with my head in my hands until practice is over.
Later that night at the dinner table, an unsettling feeling sat in my stomach. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't shake it.
"I got a call from the school nurse today. You passed out during practice?" My mother says calmly. She says it in such a tone that reminds me how much I hate her. I glance over at my father who sits across from me. I see the anger growing on his face and I immediately lower my gaze to my untouched plate of food.
"I was dehydrated." As I speak, the words taste sour in my mouth and they barely come out as a whisper. My father slams his fist down on the table violently, making my glass of water ripple, and I flinch.
"What have I told you COUNTLESS TIMES!?" My father barks. I could immediately tell what was coming. His words slur out and he reeks of alcohol. I try to brace myself, but no amount of time could ever prepare me.
"I know you guys don't support my football career but-"
"There is no such thing as a football career!" He growls at my face, and I detect a slight hint of a mimicking tone. I hear his chair skid against the wood floor and fall back as he bolts up from his seat.
"Shut the hell up, Anna!" My mother rolls her eyes in annoyance, wanders over to the liquor cabinet, removes a red bottle, and proceeds upstairs. Moments later, a door slams and the sound of a TV blasting follows. My heart races uncontrollably.
"You are going to quit that stupid waste of time, got it kid?" My father gnarls through gritted teeth. I can tell he isn't in the mood to beat me tonight. I take that to my advantage as I stand up as well with clenched fists. I have suffered in silence for far too long, and it's time to speak up.
"Those are my dreams, dad. I'm not going to quit and you can't make me!" I immediately knew I had the wrong idea and regretted ever opening my mouth. My dad lunges at me, but luckily I'm faster. I knock my chair down in front of him in hopes to slow him down and dart upstairs. I hear the chair break behind me, but I don't stop to look back. I sprint into my room and lock the door behind me. I push my heavy dresser in front of it just as my dad starts pounding on the door. My hands shake and I back away, bumping into my bed.
"OPEN UP NOW!" He yells. The dresser starts to shake back and forth a bit, so I force my desk in front of the dresser as well. I make a quick decision and grab all the bags that I own out of my closet along with my suitcase. I fill them with essentials like clothes, my wallet, a half-eaten bag of chips from the other day, and whatever else fits. I sling the bags over my shoulder, slightly surprised at how light they are, and crack open my window. I chuck my bags out first, and then scale down half the side of my house, before jumping the rest of the way. I felt the grass underneath my bare feet just as the door broke two stories above me. I don't wait around to see what happens next. I grab everything and run aimlessly into the night.