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Everything That Makes You(9)

By:Moriah McStay



It had only taken five minutes to lose the thing she loved more than anything.

Fi pulled Panda in and spoke into his patchy head. "This sucks."

Her mom grimaced. "Language."

"This is so not fair."

"Life's not fair, Fi," her father said.

"Can't you, like, feel sorry for me for two seconds? I've got a compound  break in my ankle, which hurts and itches and just"-she looked directly  at her mother-"sucks. I'm stuck on this couch when I could be on the  field. I've got SATs and ACTs coming up, on top of all the stuff the  teachers are loading on me . . ."

Her father closed his eyes. "Let's try to keep it in perspective, shall  we? We're talking about a broken ankle. If this is the worst thing that  ever happens to you, count yourself blessed."

Ryan walked in, looking beyond sweaty. He leaned on the doorframe and wiped his face with his jersey. "What's going on?"

"Just learning how blessed I am." Her eyes narrowed at her parents as  she pointed at her able-bodied brother. "What about him? Does he get the  same lecture?"

Ryan's expression said Dear Lord, help me. Her dad replied, "He's not the one whining, Fi."

"Because he doesn't have a broken ankle."

"He also has a 3.5 and volunteers with the church youth group," her mom said.

"And plays second-string to a freshman," she shot back.

Ryan flinched, and she regretted it immediately. Brother-sister issues notwithstanding, it wasn't fair to drag him into this.                       
       
           



       

It was true, though. She was better at lacrosse than he was.

"Enough!" her father barked, standing up. "You will not finish the  season. You will do all the physical therapy prescribed. You will make  whatever grades you need to get into Northwestern-or whatever school  offers an acceptable alternative. And you will stop feeling sorry for  yourself."

He stormed from the room, followed by her mother. Ryan stayed in the doorway.

She should apologize. After all, he couldn't help that he was the  smallest guy on the team-and men's lacrosse made hockey look civilized.  She wondered if he regretted switching from soccer to lacrosse. With his  speed and moves, he'd have been an incredible soccer player, even at  five six.

Still, she wouldn't-couldn't-apologize for doing this one thing better  than he did. "I didn't mean to bring you into it," she said instead.

Shaking his head, Ryan turned and walked away. She was alone with her misery-until her phone buzzed.

"What?" she snapped, recognizing Trent's number.

"Whoa. Easy."

"Sorry," she mumbled. "Unless you're calling to make me feel bad or guilty or whatever, in which case I'm hanging up."

"Guilty about what?"

"Not being grateful my freaking ankle's broken."

There was a pause on Trent's side. "I'm assuming I've missed some key points."

Despite herself, Fi laughed-because Trent was the only person who got  her most of the time. Who knew the right thing to say and how to say  it-when he wasn't insulting her, that is.

"It does suck, though," he said. "When can you get off the couch?"

"Another week-maybe two." She glared into the kitchen. "Probably two."

"But the cast will be off before States, right?"

Fi groaned. She'd totally forgotten about States. They'd won last year  for the first time ever. They were going to defend their title. Shaking  her head, Fi told Trent the news before she could tell her teammates-no  more lacrosse for her this year.

She heard him suck in a breath. "Man. That bites."

"Finally. Someone who understands the total suckiness of this situation."

"I'm sure Ryan gets it."

She didn't fill Trent in on how bitchy she'd been to her brother, just moments before.

"We worked on a cool play today," he said. "You should see it."

"You'll have to find some other girl to beat up. Nothing I can do with it."

"But you could still see it. It's pretty awesome."

She stared at a hairline crack in the plaster wall across from her. It  looked bigger than yesterday; she should probably tell her mother. "Hmm,  sitting on a chair and watching someone else drill," she said. "Think  I'll pass."

"It's a double slide you can run from either crash or near-man."

"Are you listening to me?" she snapped. "I'm out for the season! Can we talk about something else?"

"What, you're just going to pretend lacrosse doesn't exist?"

"Because I don't want to watch you run a stupid play?"

"You wouldn't have said it was stupid yesterday."

"Yesterday, I still thought I could play."

"Just because you can't play doesn't mean it's not there."

For years, lacrosse and her dream of Northwestern had been as much of  her as her bones and skin. One freak second-one bad play-and it was  gone. How pathetic that even her best friend didn't understand. "Can you  just stop shoving my face in it?"

"I'm not-"

"Forget it. I gotta go." She hung up, flung the phone to the floor, and  glared at the crack in the wall. Who knew how long she'd have to exist  on this god-awful couch and in this vile cast-while lacrosse went right  on without her.





APRIL


FIONA


Fiona was sitting in Otherlands, biting her fingernails to shreds and  staring at the stool. It sat right underneath the spotlight. Some girl  sang Radiohead a cappella-off-key, but hey, she was up there. She had  those holes in her ears, and the lights shone through them. It was  impossible not to stare right at them.

"Only one more to go," said Lucy, pointing to the blackboard list on the wall.

Fiona chewed on her thumb.

I don't want the glaring lights / Blazing down on me.

"Where is Ryan?" Fiona said.

"With Gwen." Lucy nodded toward the bar. "He walked in about ten minutes ago."                       
       
           



       

Fiona looked over her shoulder. Ryan and Gwen the Blue-Haired Coffee  Shop Girl leaned across the counter toward each other. Gwen glanced in  Fiona's direction and smiled. Fiona didn't smile back. The blue-haired  girl was stealing her brother when she needed him most.

Finally, Ryan left Gwen and walked over to Fiona and Lucy's table.

"Glad you could join us," Fiona said, when he sat down beside her.

Ryan held up his hands in surrender. "Calm down. I was just saying hey."

Lighting up my fears and frights / For all the world to see.

"Whatever."

He leaned forward, nearly knocking his forehead against hers, and spoke  quietly. "You'll be fine. No one's even paying attention."

"So they won't notice if I don't go."

"Ona, you can do this."

Give me the cold and dark / A little cave for me.

She felt like she was drowning. Well, if she was going under, she was  going to drag her brother down with her. "I can't believe you're making  me do this, Ryan."

He gave her the same, pitying expression she'd get from everyone else  tonight. Like she was some poor, ravaged, special needs girl. And her  lyrics, why did she have to make them all so personal? She may as well  go up there naked.

The girl onstage said, "Thank you very much," and clunked away in  battered clogs. Lucy gave a bored clap, looking past Fiona toward the  door. Her eyes got huge. Ryan followed her gaze, and then his eyes got  huge, too.

"What?" she asked, craning to see why they were gaping.

Lucy gripped Fiona's chin, so she couldn't turn to look. "Nothing. Just somebody . . . dropped coffee."

"So, Fiona, what are you thinking about playing?" Ryan asked. Loudly. He scooted his chair closer.

"Why are y'all acting so weird?" Fiona pushed Lucy's hand away and looked across the coffee shop. Trent McKinnon waved.

Lit up by the single spark / That your smile sets free.

Fiona waved back numbly. "No way. No. Freaking. Way."

"What's he doing here?" Lucy asked, just as dumbstruck.

Fiona pulled her hair in front of her face. "I can't sing in front of him. Half the songs are about him."

"They're about him?" Ryan said.

Lucy scowled at Ryan and grabbed Fiona's hand. "He'll have no clue. He won't know."

"I can't do it."

The three argued back and forth, two against one. Lucy and Ryan threatened, pleaded, encouraged, but Fiona held firm.

Ever since this stupid bet, Fiona had waffled back and forth about  playing tonight. There was something to be said for finally doing it.  Maybe her anxious panic would disappear if she just sucked it up and  played. Now, she'd never know. Trent McKinnon may as well have had the  words Don't Play, Fiona tattooed all over his glorious body.

The coffee shop guy took the microphone, looked at the blackboard, and said, "And now, the musical stylings of Fiona Doyle."

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