“Logan, get down here! You are going to be late to your first hockey game.” Logan’s mom shouted. “Coming!” Logan replied while he shoved his clothes into his new duffel bag. He jogged down the stairs, already in his new uniform that read “Underwater Hockey” and on the back it said “Habel” in honor of his last name. This was his first game with his new team so he was pretty nervous. He had never played underwater hockey before and he wasn’t even too clear on how to play, but he was sure that he could pick it up quickly. He loved swimming and playing hockey so he thought that this would be a piece of cake for him.
The whole ride there, Logan was silent and tapping his foot along with the radio. The closer they got to the game, the more nervous he got. Finally, after 10 minutes of driving, they arrived at the game location. Logan spotted some of his friends in a huge pool warming up. They were under water hitting the puck back and forth. Logan slowly took off his shirt and pants to get ready in his jersey and bathing suit. On his head, he wore a cap to control his hair from getting wet. His mom had just dropped him off because the coach requested that they were there an hour in advance to the game to practice.
Logan could smell the powerful smell of chlorine as soon as he entered the indoor pool. It was hot, humid, and bright in the room. Logan slowly dipped his feet in when he heard a familiar voice behind him. “Hey, Habel!” exclaimed one of his friends on the team, Ethan. He pushed Logan in the pool in a joking manner and hopped in after him. Logan expected the pool to only be a few feet deep but he was wrong, very wrong. The pool was 10 feet deep and Logan was only 4 feet and 10 inches, he was the shortest out of all his friends. Ethan was 5 foot, 2 inches, Jack was 5 foott, and Liam was 5 foot 6 inches, but no one was tall enough to stand in the pool. He wondered how they were supposed to swim to the bottom of a 10 foot pool to get the puck. Logan was already getting tired just from treading water. The team has had 2 practices so far, one Logan was in Hawaii for so he had to miss it and the other one only had 3 kids there so the coach ended it early. “Wildcats! Gather around for your equipment!” exclaimed the coach, Coach Mick. Coach Mick handed 1 foot sticks to attach to gloves that he also handed out, a puck for practicing at home, fins, and goggles. It was all very overwhelming for Logan.
“Team! I see Jay over there, their meanest player. Everyone keep an eye on him, he can be very sneaky. On another note, I need to pick my 10 starting players. For the first 15 minute half, we are going to start with Ethan, Bobby, Lucas, Harry, William, Xavier, Benjamin, Jack, Mason, and….”, the coach trailed off looking around the room for his final starting player… “Logan!” he exclaimed. Logan looked around anxious. He did not want to start the game, he wanted to watch a little and get a feel for it before he was thrown in the middle of all this chaos. He quickly put on all his gear when he saw this mom entering the stands. She smiled and waved at him. He lightly smiled back.
His nerves were taking over and he froze up for about a minute. Finally he heard a whistle blow and all 20 players dove in the water. Luckily Logan started as one of the substitutes so he sat on a bench in the pool with 3 other teammates waiting for one of the players to get tired and have to take a break. Ethan was probably the best one on the whole team so he was mainly watching him. It didn’t seem too hard, he thought. Bobby came up out of breath and tapped Logan on the shoulder. “Yes?” Logan asked. “Get in the game! We only have 5 players in right now!” Bobby shouted back. Logan took a deep breath and went under. “Wow,” he thought, “It sure is deep under here.” Ethan smiled at him.
Everyone was jabbing Logan and scooting past him as he sat on the bottom of the pool watching in amazement until one of his teammates looked at him and then shot the puck right towards his face. It bounced off his goggles when the other team started charging at him. Logan hit the puck towards the goal and scored! He went to the top of the water and started cheering. He wondered why everyone else was still down there. Slowly Ethan came up and took Logan to the bench with him. He tapped William and Mason on the shoulder in replace of them. “Wow, what a shot, right? I think it was just luck..” Logan went on bragging when Ethan stopped him and said, “Yeah, luck for the other team.” Logan looked at him confused when Ethan explained that Logan had scored in the wrong goal. Logan’s face turned bright red and he felt like crying. Ethan patted him on the back and tried to cheer him up. Harry popped his head up and tapped Logan but he did not want to go back in after that embarrassment. At the same time, he did want to go in to make it up to his teammates. The score was 1-1, he had 4 minutes left of this half and he was going to make the most of it.
After 3 minutes of getting shoved around some more, Logan was getting mad and frustrated. Just because he was the youngest one on the team, didn’t mean that everyone had to shove him to the side. He was still a person and a part of this team so he was going after that puck! Xavier shot the puck but he missed, this was Logan’s chance. He dove after the puck and made it there first. He looked around him and saw the other team running at him like bulls. He had to move quickly! There was only 48 seconds left in this half. He scooped up the puck with his stick and sprinted towards the goal, he made sure it was the right one this time. By the time he made it to the goal, there was only 13 seconds left. He shot it and… SCORED!!!
The whole team came up to him patting him on the back and cheering him on when someone from the other team, Bulldogs pulled him back under water. He gave him a nuggie. Oh no, Ethan reminded Logan about someone on the other team who was a very sore loser. “Hey buddy, this was only the first half,” Logan assured the tall, buff boy treading water in front of him with steam coming out of his ears. The boy nudged him aside as he swam to the top angrily. Logan trailed after him when a hard flipper whacked him in the head. Logan toppled to the bottom of the pool and hit his head on the bottom roughly. Coach Mick immediately jumped in and grabbed Logan. He was unconscious. His mother came running over and was already calling the ambulance.
Within minutes, doctors were surrounding him, giving him CPR and mouth to mouth. Nothing was working. When he was down there, lots of water got into his lungs, which can be deadly. While the paramedics were with him, Coach Mick was checking the cameras to see who kicked him. It was Jay. Jay was the meanest, toughest, sorest losing kid on the whole team of the Bulldogs. It also seemed purposeful because Jay was very angry with Logan for scoring the winning goal of the first half. Everyone looked around for Jay to talk to him but he was nowhere to be found.
Finally Logan coughed up some water and took a deep breath. His mother comforted him and explained what had happened. Logan was very tired so he went home. Everyone agreed that the Wildcats just won that game even though it never technically finished. Ethan came up to him and there were already news reporters there shoving cameras and mics in his face asking questions left and right. One of the Wildcats members, Liam, was getting a call from Jay.
Everyone was silent as a mouse dying to see what he had to say. Liam quickly put Jay on speaker phone. “Liam, tell everyone I’m sorry for what happened today…I’m sorry that we never got to finish the game.” Jay was so insensitive. Even when he could have killed Logan, he was thinking about the game. He can never admit when he is wrong. He doesn’t even have enough decency to say sorry to Logan. “-but tell everyone that it wasn’t my fault. Logan grabbed my foot when I was swimming up. I thought I was tangled in something so I swung my foot and must have hit him.” Jay continued.
Logan started denying it to everyone that asked him. That is not how it happened at all! Logan thought in frustration. I can’t believe Jay is trying to pin this on me. “He was mad about my goal so he threatened me and then swam away. I did not touch him!” Logan exclaimed, getting annoyed. People were torn over who to believe. Both stories sounded convincing enough, but most people decided to side with Logan. Luckily Coach Mick hadn’t left the stadium yet and he had access to all cameras under water and throughout the stadium. Ethan spotted him by the vending machine and shouted “Over there!” The whole team ran over and the news reporters followed.
Coach Mick had willingly agreed to check the cameras. Everyone was hovering around him waiting for the footage. He finally got it pulled up about 10 minutes later. When the footage got to 1 minute, everyone was dead silent until the camera fell to the floor and they could no longer see what was happening. Coach Mick ran to the pool and hopped in to find the camera wires ripped and the camera laying on the floor. The coach grabbed the camera and came up with it. Everyone sighed in disappointment. They couldn’t see who ripped it off in the video so the mystery still remained. Logan decided to go home.
Ethan came over so they could practice underwater hockey in his pool so Logan could become as good as Ethan. After warming up and exercising for about 15 minutes, Logan’s mom came outside and pulled him aside. “Logan, do you really want to keep doing this? You could have-,” she trailed off. “…got hurt, possibly died.”
“I know mom, but this stuff is rare.”
“Ok you can practice with Ethan right now but when the next game comes around we will have to have a family conversation.”
“Thanks mom!” exclaimed Logan. So, he hopped back into the pool to join Ethan.
20 minutes later, when they were underwater fighting for the puck, they heard footsteps. Logan assumed that it was his mom bringing out some snacks but when they came out, it was to their surprise to see Jay. “He-Hello.” Logan stuttered. “I’m going to get you back for-”, Logan’s mom barged through the door. Jay started hysterically sobbing. “Your-Your kid grabbed my foot and now everyone thinks it is my -my fault,” Jay said through tears.
“That is not how the story went at all, you were mad about my goal so you kicked me and knocked me out.” Logan’s mom was of course on her kids side but she couldn’t help feeling bad for Jay just a little. Logan’s mom decided to forgive and forget. He was just a kid and everyone makes mistakes. Maybe he was just jealous and couldn’t help getting mad. Maybe it wasn’t on purpose so she decided to invite him to join them.
“Would you like to join them in the pool, Jay? If the teams are uneven I can play too.” Logan’s mom suggested. Jay’s face lit up and he quickly stopped crying to accept the offer.
“I call Logan’s mom for my team!” Jay shouted lightly, smiling at her.
“Let me just go get into my bathing suit, guys. Also let me get some snacks for you guys.” 10 minutes later, Logan’s mom came out full ready in a face mask, goggles, a snorkel, flippers, and a bright red bikini. In her hand, she was holding a tray full with granola bars, fruit cups, bananas, chips, and brownies. The kids all hopped at the brownies. In minutes, all the snacks (except for the bananas) were devoured.
They all hopped in the refreshing, cool pool and made a team plan. The game started! Logan and his mom fought for the pucks while Jay and Ethan were goalies. They have been playing for 15 minutes and Logan already felt so much better but he also felt tired, really tired. Suddenly Logan choked back something in his mouth and he sprinted out of the pool. He should have let his food digest. Logan barfed all over Jay’s hair. Logan was expecting a hissy fit of curses and tantrums but Jay just said “Are you ok, buddy?” Logan responded a little confused, “Yes..” Maybe it was a trick. Jay respectfully asks to use their shower to wash off his hair and they willingly agree of course.
“Lalala.” Jay sang in the shower. He thought to himself for a while about his parents. They said that they told him to do it just to protect him but he found it hard to believe that it was actually about protecting him. He started thinking aloud a little to himself. He role played a conversation with his dad if he asked him where he was the past hour. Logan walked past the door and heard him over talking to him. “Dad, I was just on a walk. No, too hard to believe. Dad, I was at a friend’s house.” Logan asked Jay what he was doing. Jay kept humming for a minute acting as if he didn’t hear Logan ask him. He hoped that he would just go away and forget about it but no, Logan asked again. Jay just decided to tell the truth after Logan asked a couple more times. “My dad told me to injure the best player of the game so they would get scared and play worse. It is wrong and I shouldn’t have done it but he made me! He was at the game watching my every move. Then we ran out as soon as the paramedics arrived so no one would interview us. As you can see, under pressure I crack. My dad was next to me making me say those words on the phone. He told me all the right things to say so I wouldn’t mess it up. I am sorry that I threw you under the bus and acted like it was all your fault. I tried to become friends with everyone until my dad made me make this pact with him.”
Logan sighed. I can’t believe any parent would be so insensitive and tell their kid to injure another child, Logan thought but all he said to Jay was “Well I’m glad that you came over today, friend!” He could tell that Jay was upset and felt really bad about what he did so Logan decided to forgive him. He dropped off a towel and closed the bathroom door.
Logan went to tell his mom. Logan’s mom questioned if this was true or if Jay just felt made it all up. After a couple minutes of thinking, she decided to forgive him, too. He seemed like a good boy and some people do just have messed up parents like that and Logan’s mom especially took pity on those kids. After Jay was all dressed and dried up, Logan’s mom took him home. The car ride was pretty much silent until towards the end when Jay said “Mrs. Habel, I assume that Logan told you everything so I just hope that you can believe me and maybe Logan can even come over sometime if he would like to.”
“It’s ok sweetie I understand and I think Logan would love that.” Logan’s mom exclaimed as she pulled up into his driveway. She walked him in and waited with him for someone to answer. She could tell Jay was embarrassed of his tiny house and that no one was answering.
Finally a little old lady came up to the door and grabbed Jay by the sweater. The old lady was about to slam the door in Mrs. Habel’s face until she said “Jay was a pleasure today. He is a good boy.”
“Okay.” the old lady responded.
“Are you Jay’s grandma?”
“I’m his mom!” she shouted clearly offended.
“Oh sorry about the mishap. Well, have a good night you two.” She slammed the door in his face. Logan’s mom was shocked as to how rude Jay’s mom was. Now she understood just where Jay was coming from. A big, old lady like that can be intimidating for a young boy like Jay, imagine what his dad looked like.
The next day they had another game against the same team but Jay wasn’t there. Everyone wanted to ask him about yesterday and get the true facts. They waited around for 10 minutes, then 15 until the game just had to start. Everyone got in their positions. Logan started the game today but after what Jay told him, he couldn’t help thinking why he wasn’t here. The other team had 10 players exactly so they got no breaks. In the second half, Logan overheard the coach telling his team something and he heard Jay’s name! Logan and Ethan acting natural but truly they were eavesdropping and they heard that Jay couldn’t come because of his dad. His dad doesn’t want him being part of the team anymore and his mom agreed.
Logan wondered why Jay couldn’t come so he decided to stop by his house. He knocked, no reply. He rang the doorbell, no answer. He looked through the window and saw Jay sitting on the couch. He wondered why he didn’t answer. Logan got Jay’s attention finally after waving and whistling. Jay gave him a stare that said you shouldn’t be here. Then Jay walked away. Logan didn’t want to leave on that suspenseful note, he wondered what was wrong and why Jay was acting so weird. Two minutes later, Jay came back and slid a note under the door. He waved goodbye through the peephole and Logan was on his way to walk home.
The note read, “Hi Logan! I’m sorry that I was not at the game today and that we couldn’t talk face to face. My dad doesn’t want me being on the team anymore because someone told him that I told you about his sabotage plan. I don’t know who told him and why they did but yesterday I got a beating for doing it so I’m afraid that we can’t be friends anymore. We also may be moving as a punishment for me. I had to swear never to tell anyone but I had to tell the truth to my friend, my only friend, you. I have to go now, talk to you later my number is 918-546-3271, text me :).” Logan felt terrible. He showed his mom the note as soon as he got home.
The next day, Logan stopped by Jay’s house. There were no cars in the driveway. Maybe Jay was home alone again. Logan went to the window, no sign of Jay. He knocked and rang the doorbell but nothing. He waited for a couple of minutes until his mom’s car came screeching up. “Logan get in!” his mom shouted. Logan hopped in the car. He was very confused but could tell that his mom was stressed out so he stayed silent until they arrived in a dim alley near a supermarket. There was Jay and a huge, hairy guy leaning over him about to hit him again. Logan couldn’t believe his eyes. He stayed close to his mom in case the dad cracked.
“Excuse me, sir. What are you doing?” Logan’s mom yelled. Jay looked thrilled that someone had come to help him.
“None of your business!” Jay’s dad replied in a nasty tone. Jay’s dad took another swing at him. Logan’s mom couldn’t stand to watch this anymore so she tried to kill him with kindness.
“Where are you from? What is your name?” she asked.
“None of your business!” he replied again very rudely.
After 3 minutes of everyone standing around trying to get Jay’s dad to stop, the police arrived. “Yes!” Logan’s mom whispered. They grabbed Jay’s dad and put him in handcuffs.
“Sir, you are going to jail.” the cop said sternly. “Is there any family or friends that you can leave him with?” Jay’s dad shook his head, no.
“We can take him until there is a resolution.” Logan’s mom offered.
“Yes, please!” Jay said. The cop made her sign some contracts but then Jay was living with Logan and his mom until they had another solution.
2 months later
Jay was still living with Logan. No family had offered to take him. His aunt was across the country in California. His mom was nowhere to be found, she must have ran away and his grandparents had passed away last year. Jay was happy about his situation and so was Logan. They were getting really close, like brothers. Jay also loved his new temporary house. It had 4 bedrooms so he got his own bedroom even though he and Logan had sleepovers most nights. It had 3 bathrooms, one in each room so he also got his own bathroom. It also had an outdoor pool, deck, mini swing set, and Logan’s mom had bought Jay a ton of clothes and toys for his room. She bought him Star Wars sheets, a pink shirt, a blue shirt, a yellow polo shirt, a white T-shirt, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of shorts, some navy blue sweatpants, a Mets cap, and a Star Wars lamp to match his sheets. On the other hand, in Jay’s old house, he only had 1 bedroom, a sofa bed, (he got the sofa bed and his parents got the bedroom), 1 bathroom, no laundry room, a tiny kitchen combined with the dining room, and a small basement where there was a mini fridge. Jay also never had much clothes, he had some sunglasses, a couple of black or red t-shirts, 3 pairs of shorts, and 1 pajama that was Star Wars. His grandma had given him that pajama before she passed. Jay was also enjoying Logan as a temporary step-brother. They had game night every Tuesday, movie night every Saturday and they went to church every Sunday which Jay really liked. He had always wanted to be more strong to his religion and now he had the perfect opportunity. Mrs. Habel was also a very loving mom to Jay. She made him feel very welcome.
1 year later
“Where do I sign?” Logan’s mom asked.
“I’m so excited!” Jay exclaimed. It has been a year fostering Jay and still no family has stepped up so Logan’s family was going to adopt him. Logan had always wanted another brother but after his dad died at the age of 2, his mom never remarried. After all the papers had been signed, they drove home.
“Welcome Home Jay!” Logan’s mom cried out. Jay almost had tears in his eyes. This is what Jay had always wanted.