“I’m not playing with him!” she squealed.
Their coach folded his hands and looked at her “Does it look like you have a choice?” She stared at him for a second, as if she couldn’t believe he was doing this to her. Finally she submissively looked down and walked towards the unknown guy who had apparently was a natural who was worth playing with. He looked at her quizzically, unable to understand her frustration.
But before he could ask her, or even introduce himself, their coach turned to them and gave them their task. “50 rallies, counter shots. No smashing. Is that understood?” he seemed to look at her pointedly. She unwillingly nodded. The new boy on the other side of the court didn’t seem to understand why this girl was so annoyed. To be honest, he was ecstatic to play with her. She was the best in class, and only the coach himself played with her. And today, the coach allowed him to play with her. It was an honour and a privilege and he couldn’t wait to prove his worth.
“50 rallies. I’m giving you guys 10 minutes. Shouldn’t take longer than that” their coach ordered.
The boy gripped his racquet excitedly as the best player in the class threw the shuttle upwards and served. The shuttle came at him so fast, he didn’t even have time to react.
“uh… Sorry” he mumbled.
She rolled her eyes, as if she had expected him to miss. This time, he served. They played a few rallies back and forth before he finally decided to ask her why she looked like she wanted to kill someone.
“you won’t understand it newbie”
“actually it’s Ben” he told her.
“Well listen here Ben” she said, picking up a close-to-impossible shot, “I’m the best in this class, and none of you little juniors deserve to play with me.”
SMASH. The shuttle went right past his eyes and on to the floor. Deciding not to argue, he picked it up and served.
“I only play with coach” SMASH. “I’ll be damned if someone over here can even get more than 5 points against me.” SMASH. “I still don’t understand why I’m playing with an amateur like you” SMASH.
The boy looked down at the shuttle. Feathers were peeling away from it, and it looked as beaten up as he felt. She was right, no one did deserve to play with her.
“Woah woah stop.” The coach interrupted before she got ready to smash again.
“I said no smashing!”
“That was hardly a smash, coach.” she argued.
“You underestimate him. You really do.” she looked at the new boy, who was waiting for an answer. When she didn’t reply, the coach suggested something. “Play a match. 21 points.”
The boy’s jaw dropped. He was not ready for this. The coach looked at his expression and reassured him, “I don’t expect you to win, but,” he looked at her “I do expect he will be a worthy opponent” At this she smiled tauntingly, as she tossed the shuttle up and announced “toss”.
11-21. That was the score that started the rivalry between two very good players. 11 was the highest anyone had ever gotten against her in that class. She may have won , but he did put up a fight. The match was long and tiring for both of them. The coach was extremely happy with the shocked expression on her face and the proud expression on his.
After that, their story was pretty repetitive. They were always paired up. They always played matches. She usually won. Eventually he started winning too, and that boosted his confidence. They got at each other’s throats arguing the entire time. Every time they got into an argument, the other players got terrified.
One day when he beat her at a match and dared to say the words – “I guess I’m better than you now.” She furiously picked up her water bottle and without thinking, threw it at him. The bottle hit him on his jaw, bruising it instantly. Everyone stared, jaw dropped and eyes popping as he rubbed his jaw and she walked over to pick up her bottle.
“Oh My God. They’re going to kill each other.” someone whispered, terrified. Their coach giggled. “Are you kidding me? These two are going to get married!”
“Aren’t you going to apologise? Or am I too unworthy for that too?” he spat, as she started walking back to her side. Hearing this, she spun around to look at him, “Oh, you want an apology? Well, I’m sorry that you came in here. I’m sorry that you had to play with me. I’m sorry I’m better than you, and I’m sorry my aim is so good I hit you square on the face!”
He took a step towards her, “I think you’re forgetting that I just beat you, 14-21. But honestly, I don’t have time for this crap once again. I don’t know when you’re going to understand that you’re not the best at everything! And what’s worse than being bad at something is not accepting you’re bad at it!” he shouted.
She looked at him, mouth agape and dropped the bottle she was holding.
“Did you just…” she pointed at him and took one step towards him. He did the same. “Oh I’m sorry, did I just hurt someone’s ego?” They were close as close as two people could get without being in contact. Both of them held their stare, challenging the other to give up.
“They’re going to kiss!” their coach whispered excitedly.
“They’re going to punch each other” someone predicted.
After a moment of heated silence, something happened so quick no one could make any sense of it. No one except the coach of course. The boy leaned in, putting his lips on hers. He put his hands on her hips and kissed her. She didn’t pull away. She put her hands around his neck and kissed him back. Everyone stood around them, mouths open in surprise, except the coach, who was jumping up and down in excitement that his prediction came true.
Finally, they pulled apart, catching their breaths. The girl moved a step back, picked up her bottle, and looked at the boy in front of her. “I still hate you.”
“Oh yeah sure you do.” the boy smiled as she blushed profusely.
“Okay fine,” she admitted, “maybe I don’t hate you, but I’m still better than you at the game!” he stepped towards her, “You may be better than me at the game, but I’m better at what we just did” He smirked as she stepped towards him too.
“Oh really? Wanna bet?” she challenged, before placing one palm on his bruised jawline, the other behind his neck and her lips on his.
Someone passed the coach 100 bucks, while others ooh’d and ah’d.
Both of them suddenly realized they had an audience and looked at everyone, slightly flushed and embarrassed. They looked at their coach, apologetically.
“Sir, this wasn’t supposed-” the boy started before being cut off by an overexcited coach. “I knew this would happen! I knew it! It was even better than I imagined!” he mused as he went towards them and clapped them on their backs.
“Say, I have one request…” the boy and girl looked at each other, confused. The coach continued ,”20 years from now, when you’re telling your kids about how you got together, do you think you could mention me teaming you both every class?”
The girl laughed nervously and nodded, “Sure sir, its all because of you anyway.”
The coach beamed “Did you hear that guys? Its all because of me. I take all the credit!”
The newly announced couple laughed as the rest of the class rolled their eyes.