Lisa drummed calm fingers on the soccer ball, blue eyes narrowed as she followed the players on the field. The orange team was in control now. Movement shifted to the left. Lisa tensed her legs, ready to run. The white team reclaimed the ball. Lisa relaxed.
Working at a soccer game was boring. That’s what people said. And people who work at soccer games are just wannabes that didn’t make the team. This wasn’t true. Lisa had no desire to be on the team. If she was playing, then who would be waiting on the sidelines? Who would be the ball-girl?
Movement shifted; this time to the right. The white team was trying to score. Lisa sprinted towards the goal with them. This was important. If they missed, and the ball rolled past the goal and off the field, the goalie would look to her for a new ball.
Lisa did it fast. The game moved on seamlessly; no interruptions. This is what being a good ball-girl was about.
#31 kicked; the ball was flying; Lisa was ready. They made the goal. Lisa sighed and walked back to the left.
No one watched the game as she did. She saw the movement in terms of what would happen six seconds later. She knew when the ball was not really being controlled. She knew when it was going to go out of bounds.
“Hey, Lisa!” Caroline appeared at her shoulder.
Lisa did not take her eyes from the game. “I’m working.”
“This’ll only take a minute,” Caroline insisted, “I found this really cool–”
“Can’t. Working.” Lisa watched the movement shift left, and then right. She didn’t run yet. She passed the ball from hand to hand. She hugged it to her hip.
Caroline growled. “You’re just a ball-girl! The game will go on without you.”
Lisa didn’t answer. The movement shifted. This time, it shifted for real. She sprinted down the field with the team, eyes on the ball. It was out of control. Feet flicked around it, tapping, grazing, but never mastering it. It was close, less than a foot from the line. The white team tried to save it and failed. The ball rolled out of bounds. The orange jersey stepped across the white line and held up a hand. Lisa tossed her ball into it.
Then, there was a brief moment when the player connected with the ball-girl. Lisa nodded, and gave the player a look that said, Don’t worry. Just play your game. I’m here to take care of you. The player gave her a look that simply said, Thanks. The player turned, threw the ball into play, and the game continued. It was a seamless transition.
Lisa looked at Caroline and repeated, “I’m working.” Then she ran to retrieve the ball that had rolled out of bounds.
Olivia Berrier is a student at Hollins University. She is often clueless and always shoeless.