We lost that game because of me.
After the Game
A lot of cars were on that four lane highway. “Everyone else must be heading home after the big game too.”
Within one of those cars was Stephen. Sitting next to him was his fourteen-year-old daughter Brandy. When Stephen looked over at her she was looking at the floor.
Every so often Stephen would honk his horn. After each honk Stephen followed it up with a finger salute at that driver.
“Would you quite doing that? I’m already embarrassed enough as it is,” said Brandy.
“How do you know what I am doing? You’re looking at the floor,” said Stephen.
“I know you, father,” said Brandy. “Every time you honk your horn you give the driver a finger salute.”
“You don’t know me as good as you think,” Stephen said. Then he looks over at Brandy. “Why are you so down? You did very good at the game today.”
“No, I didn’t,” said Brandy. “I’m the one that lost the game for us today.”
“Is that why I’m taking you home instead of you riding home with the rest of the team?” Stephen would have said more but he had to honk his horn again – and give the driver a finger salute.
“I can’t face the rest of the team,” said Brandy. “Maybe I shouldn’t be on the team after all.”
“That’s nonsense,” said Stephen. “You aren’t the first girl to be on a team. Not even from this state. But you are the youngest one. And you wouldn’t be on the team if you didn’t deserve to be on the team.”
“Your right, I know. But it doesn’t make me feel any better,” said Brandy.
“I left work early so that I could come to this game. And I have traveled almost a hundred miles to it,” said Stephen. “Do you think I would do that if I wasn’t proud of you?”
“Yes, I know father,” said Brandy. “You are the one who encouraged me to try out for the team. And when they refused to even give me a chance you fought for me. I think you even threatened to take them to court if they didn’t even let me try.”
“Of course I did,” said Stephen. “I knew you would make it if you were given the chance. And I was right. You haven’t disappointed me since then. I wouldn’t have come to every one of your games if I didn’t feel that way.”
“Until today,” said Brandy. “I disappointed you today.”
“No, you didn’t. You may have missed that long pass,” Stephen said. “But I still say it was Pass Interference.”
“But I didn’t miss that pass," said brandy. “I caught the pass – I just couldn’t keep a hold of it.”
“You did? I must have been concentrating on the Pass Interference on your quarterback to noticed it,” said Stephen. “I’m sorry.”
“There’s no reason to be sorry,” said brandy. “I’m the one who dropped that easy pass.”
“Maybe you did miss that pass,” said Stephen. “But you didn’t lose the game for us. Your whole team lost that game.”
“The other team was good,” said Brandy. “But they weren't that good. We should have won that game – but we didn’t because of me.”
“I want you to stop talking like that,” said Stephen. “You didn’t lose that game.”
“You have to say that,” said Brandy. “You’re my father.”
“Like I said your whole team lost that game,” said Stephen. “You weren't the only one who messed up. Both side did that. The other team just didn’t get caught as much.”
Just then Brandy’s cellphone started playing some music Stephen didn’t recognize. Brandy took it out of her pocket. And looked to see who was calling her. “It’s from Gregory. He’s one of our Quarterbacks. I can’t answer that call.”
“Yes, you can. And you will,” said Stephen.
With her head still down Brandy looked at her father. Then at her cellphone. After a few seconds she sighed. “Hello.”
Thomas couldn’t hear what Gregory said too good. But he could hear him through Brandy’s cellphone. “We just noticed you weren’t with us on the bus.”
Brandy looked at her cellphone. Then she said, “I didn’t think you wanted me on the bus, I mean the team, after what I did.”
“What did you do?” Gregory said. “You’re not talking about that last pass you missed.”
“But I did miss that pass,” said Brandy. “And as a result we lost the game.”
“We didn’t lose the game,” said Gregory. “You must have left so quickly you didn’t hear what happened.”
Brandy straighten up. “What are you talking about? What happened?”
“One of the parents from our side called someone. And they claimed Pass Interference,” Brandy looked over at her father as Gregory continued, “We don’t know how they did it, but the Pass Interference was challenged. And it went in our favor. Because of the penalty we actually won the game.”
“I think I know who made that call,” said Brandy. But she didn’t say to Gregory. She said it to her father.
“Did you say something? We are celebrating our victory,” said Gregory. “What to join us?”
Brandy smiled at her father. And she silently mouthed, “Thank you father.” Then she said to Gregory, “I sure do. Just tell me where you are. And we will meet you.”
“We are four cars in front of you,” said Gregory. “I thought I recognized that honk, and finger salute, when we passed you a few miles back.”
“How did they get in front of us?” Once again, Brandy was talking to her father.
“I have been going slow. So that they could catch up to us,” said Stephen. “Why do you think so many cars were barely passing me in protest.”
The bus pulled over. And Stephen’s car pulled over right behind it. Once stopped Brandy got out and headed for the bus.