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Switching goals, p.1

Switching Goals, page 1

 

Switching Goals
 


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Switching Goals


  Chapter One

  “Devin, coming your way!” Jessi had just intercepted a pass from the other team, and two Panthers defenders were hot on her tail. I was closest, but I was hemmed in by Panthers too. She was desperately looking around the field to see who was open, but no one was.

  At her words, I managed to slip by and free myself to receive Jessi’s pass.

  As soon as I got the ball, though, the defenders swarmed me. I searched the field, frantic for a Kicks teammate to pass the ball to. This had been a tough game. The Kicks were down five players because Grace, my co-captain, and some of the other eighth-grade players had been suspended. The score was 0–0, and we were in the last quarter. We had fought hard to protect our goal, but scoring chances had been slim.

  If we got this score, we could win the game!

  I eyed Frida. She usually plays defense but was pressed into playing midfield because we were missing players. She was open and in striking distance of the goal.

  Our eyes locked, and I could see Frida’s widening with fear. Frida is a fantastic defensive player. She defends our goal from strikers as if she were a leprechaun protecting her pot of gold. However, Frida was out of her comfort zone. Scoring opportunities were not in her bag of tricks. But I knew she had it in her. She just had to act like an offensive player!

  Frida’s skill on the soccer field comes from her acting talent. She recently had a starring role in the TV movie Mall Mania and was also in a bunch of commercials. Pretty cool, huh? Now each game we play, Frida pretends to be a different character. The Kicks have had on the field everyone from an Amazon warrior to a fairy princess to an army general. It sounds crazy, but it works. Frida’s acting has given the Kicks an advantage in many games. And maybe it could now!

  “You got this, Frida!” I said as I passed the ball to her, just as a Panthers defender tried to kick it away from me.

  I watched as Frida expertly caught the pass, dribbled the ball closer to the goal, and then feigned a kick to the right. A second later she had planted the ball solidly in the back left corner of the net, while the goalie jumped for empty air to the right.

  1–0! I looked at the clock. We only had nine seconds left in the game. Frida had just sunk the only goal in the game, which would give the Kicks the victory over the Panthers!

  The crowd cheered when the ref called time. I saw Grace, Megan, Anjali, Jade, and Gabriela, the eighth-grade players who had been suspended for this game, on their feet and applauding for us. A rivalry with another team had almost gone too far, and Grace and her friends had planned to spray-paint Kicks-blue flowers on the field of the opposing team, the Roses, to send a message. I had tried to talk them out of it, but they were caught on the field by the Roses’ coach right before they could paint the flowers.

  They all regretted what had happened and were really disappointed in themselves that they had let the rest of the Kicks down by being suspended. They would have felt even guiltier if we had lost, but luckily we didn’t, thanks to Frida!

  Hands slapping me on the back in congratulations brought my attention back to the field and my teammates.

  “Glad you got the ball to Frida, Devin.” Jessi grinned. Her springy curls bounced as she landed next to me, still filled with energy from the game.

  “It was thanks to you. That was a great steal,” I said to my friend, and her smile grew bigger.

  “You know, I’m starting to think we’re a really great team,” Jessi said, and I laughed.

  “Yeah, I’m beginning to get that feeling myself.” I grinned back.

  “Devin!” Frida bounded over, her brown eyes widening dramatically as she stopped in front of me, placing a hand on her heart. “My first goal ever, and it’s all thanks to you! I pledge my loyalty to you, from this day forth.”

  Um, did I mention Frida can be a bit dramatic? I guess it comes with the territory when you are an actor. When I lived in Connecticut, I didn’t know anybody who was a TV star. It was just one of the many ways life was different in Southern California, like not having snow in the winter and always living under a drought warning.

  “You don’t need to do that,” I told her. “You’ve always been an awesome defender. Now you just showed us you have the chops to score, too.”

  Frida shook her head from side to side. “No, it goes way beyond that. It’s you, Devin. You’ve been good luck to me ever since we first met. Remember how I was terrible at soccer and didn’t want to play?”

  “How could I forget? You just sat on the field reciting Shakespeare. You didn’t even try,” I reminded her.

  “Well, you were the one who helped me combine my passion for acting with my love of soccer,” Frida said. “But I’ve been thinking. It goes way beyond that.”

  “Goes way beyond what?” Emma, the Kicks goalie, said. She jogged up to us with Zoe, a midfielder. They’re some of the best friends I’ve made since I moved to California, along with Jessi and Frida.

  Emma, one of the tallest girls on the team, stood about a foot taller than Zoe. Her long black hair was pulled into a ponytail, while Zoe’s short strawberry blond bob was held back with a blue headband.

  “I have finally come to realize that Devin was sent here, from Connecticut, to bring me good luck in all my endeavors,” Frida stated.

  Jessi shot me a look that was half eye roll, half surprise. “Huh?” she asked Frida.

  “I think that Devin brought all of us luck when she moved here,” Zoe jumped in. “The Kicks were the last-place team in the league, but thanks to Devin, we made it to the championships.”

  Frida sighed, her hand still on her heart. “It goes way beyond the soccer field, dear Zoe.”

  I could tell that both Zoe and Emma were trying to stifle giggles. Frida was really on a roll now.

  “You see,” she continued, not realizing her friends were holding back laughter, “when I got the callback for my second audition for Mall Mania, who was there? Devin! When I passed that science test—the one my mom said if I got a bad grade on, I would not be able to go on any more auditions—who was sitting next to me in class? Devin!”

  I shrugged. “Yeah, I do sit next to you in science class. What does that have to do with anything?”

  But Frida ignored me and kept right on with her monologue. “And when I had the pizza commercial audition, who told me to wear red, which turned out to be Chef Antonia’s favorite color, which got me the job? You did, Devin!”

  I vaguely remembered sitting in Frida’s bedroom, with her frantically holding up different tops, and pointing at one and saying, “That one.” But I didn’t think that made me good luck.

  “Yeah, I guess,” I said, at a total loss for words.

  Frida spread her arms wide open. “The bottom line is this, Devin. You are my good luck charm.”

  “Devin Burke, a human rabbit’s foot!” Jessi joked, causing Emma and Zoe to crack up. “Do you come in pocket size?”

  Since Frida was all wound up, she ignored Jessi’s jokes and kept going as she pointed both her arms at me. “So you must, must come with me to my next commercial audition. It’s this Tuesday after school. You cannot say no. I need you there. If you are, I know I’ll get that part!”

  I thought it over. I didn’t know if I believed in good luck charms, but we didn’t have practice this Tuesday, and I had never been to something like a commercial audition before. It sounded fun.

  “If it helps you, of course I’ll come,” I told her. “I just have to ask my mom first.”

  Frida whipped her head around, looking at the soccer stands. “Mrs. Burke, yoo-hoo, it’s me, Frida!” she called out before racing toward my mom, who was standing there with my dad and little sister, Maisie. They were all wearing Kicks-blue T-shirts to show their support.

  “Okay
, Lucky Charms,” Jessi said as we watched Frida in an earnest conversation with my mom. “I’m going to start booking time with you. I have a killer algebra test on Monday.”

  “Ooh, can I have a lock of your hair? If I carry it around in my pocket, maybe it will bring me luck too?” Emma teased.

  I threw my hands up in the air. “Come on, you all know what it’s like when Frida gets an idea in her head. The best thing to do is just go along until she tires herself out.”

  “I think you’re the one who is going to need the good luck,” Zoe joked.

  I wasn’t worried. How bad could tagging along on one commercial audition be, anyway? It wasn’t like anyone was going to be paying attention to me or anything.

  Chapter Two

  “So what’s the commercial for?” I asked Frida in between mouthfuls of pizza. Zoe, Emma, Frida, and I were hanging out at Jessi’s house after the game. She has this really nice screened-in back patio, so we could enjoy the breeze without fighting the bugs for our pizza. Besides, Jessi claims that her new bedroom is too small to fit all of us. She’s an only child, but that’s about to change. Her mom is pregnant and expecting Jessi’s baby brother or sister soon, so she had to give up her bedroom for the nursery.

  “It’s a totally fun new app,” Frida said as she pulled her phone from the messenger bag that was slung across her shoulder. “It’s called Flash Fortune, and it predicts your future. It works like this.”

  Frida held her phone up so we could all see it. A spinning disk filled with bright colors appeared on the screen, and then it stopped.

  CHOOSE A COLOR flashed above it, and Frida tapped on the red portion of the disk. It started spinning again, and Frida was given the choice to pick another color. She did this five more times, and then the disk stopped, grew larger, and flashed the colors Frida had chosen in sequence, slowly at first, then faster and faster. As it did this, it said, “Fortune being calculated.”

  “I’m getting dizzy,” Emma said, her eyes wide as she stared at the flashing lights on Frida’s phone.

  “It’s almost done,” Frida promised. With that, the lights stopped and the screen went dark before filling with stars. A button popped up that said, Click here for your fortune.

  Frida clicked, and she read out loud what it said.

  “ ‘A great success awaits you.’ ” Frida squealed. “The commercial—I’m gonna get it! But I knew I would because Devin is coming with me to the audition. Here you go, Devin.” Frida handed me her phone. “Give it a try.”

  I started choosing colors like Frida had done.

  “Of course Devin would pick Kicks blue first!” Jessi chuckled.

  “Now she’s picking white and black!” Emma shrieked. “Soccer ball colors!”

  I laughed. “You guys already told me that my brain is really a soccer ball, so why are you surprised?”

  I waited as my fortune was calculated, then read it out loud.

  “ ‘Soon you will take a trip to a faraway place.’ ” I shook my head. “I don’t think so. My grandparents were just here for a visit. My parents said we’d go back to Connecticut to visit them, but not until next summer.”

  “Hey! Maybe you’ll be going to the next Women’s World Cup. It’s in France.” Jessi gasped. “I’ll go with you!”

  “That would be awesome, but that’s not exactly soon,” I replied.

  Frida shrugged. “You never know, Devin. The stars move in mysterious ways.”

  Uh-oh. Would this be Frida’s next obsession? I could just see her walking around with a crystal ball and giant hoop earrings like a fortune-teller, predicting all of our next moves.

  “Your turn, Zoe!” Frida grabbed the phone from my hand and passed it to Zoe, who took it reluctantly.

  “I don’t believe in this kind of stuff,” Zoe said.

  “It’s just for fun,” Jessi said. “Come on, Zo.”

  “Fine.” Zoe gave an eye roll as she started her color selection and waited for the results. “ ‘You will make a new friend,’ ” Zoe read from the screen.

  “See!” Frida said. “That’s a great fortune to get.”

  “Come on.” Zoe sighed. “That could apply to anybody. It’s not very specific.”

  “But it’s something nice that could happen,” Emma said. “Why not think the best? Now I want a turn!”

  Emma took the app very seriously. “Oh, should I choose purple or pink? Maybe I’ll choose pink first and purple second. But that could change my future!”

  “Just go with your gut,” Frida told her. “Don’t overthink it.”

  But Emma still took the longest out of everyone picking her colors. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, she got her fortune.

  “ ‘You will learn to see things in a new way.’ ” Emma looked up with a disappointed frown on her face. “That’s not much of a fortune. And I put so much time into picking the perfect colors too.”

  “What were you hoping to hear?” Zoe asked her.

  Emma’s cheeks turned red. “Maybe something about the cute new boy in our history class.”

  “Aha!” Jessi said triumphantly. “I knew you were crushing on him.”

  Emma blushed even further. “No, I don’t even know him! He does look a lot like Brady McCoy, though.” Brady McCoy was a pop star, and Emma was his number one fan. “I was kind of hoping the fortune would say I would at least talk to him or something, to find out what he’s like.”

  “You don’t need a fortune to do that,” Zoe told her. “Just go over and say hi to him one day.”

  “Look who’s talking,” Emma shot back. “You are, like, one of the shyest people I know. You should get that it is not that easy to just start up a conversation with some random boy you don’t know.”

  “Uh-oh, looks like making that new friend is going to be hard to pull off,” Jessi teased Zoe.

  “I guess I’m stuck with you guys.” Zoe grinned at us.

  “Looks that way.” I grinned back.

  “Gimme, gimme!” Jessi grabbed the phone from Zoe’s hand. “I’m next, and I can’t wait to hear that I’m going to be a member of the US Women’s National Soccer team one day.”

  Jessi chose her colors quickly and impatiently tapped her foot while the results were being calculated.

  “ ‘Your life will soon be in chaos.’ Oh, great,” Jessi moaned. “Why didn’t I get a good one? Let me try again.”

  “Nope!” Frida grabbed her phone from Jessi’s hand. “You’ll confuse the cosmos. One fortune per day at most. You’re better off doing it weekly, or even monthly.”

  Jessi arched an eyebrow, showing her disbelief. “Really? There’s a science to this?”

  “It goes far beyond science,” Frida pronounced dramatically.

  “Anyway, how’s your mom doing?” Emma asked Jessi, changing the subject before Frida could get going.

  “She’s tired all the time. She’s lying down now,” Jessi said. Her dad had given us all a ride home from the game and had ordered the pizza for us to share. Usually when we go to Jessi’s house, her mom, Mrs. Dukes, makes yummy and healthy snacks and lunches for us. But I wasn’t complaining. Jessi lived near the Brick Oven, and they had some of the best pizza in the area.

  “So, are you ready for your new baby brother or sister?” I asked.

  “Ready as I’ll ever be,” Jessi said. “I helped Emma babysit her cousins last week to get more practice, and that helped.”

  “She even changed a diaper all by herself.” Emma slung an arm around Jessi’s shoulder. “I was so proud.”

  “Well, it was only a number one,” Jessi said. “I’m not planning on doing those stinky number twos, that’s for sure.”

  “Do you think it will be a boy or girl?” Zoe asked her.

  “My dad thinks girl, and my mom thinks boy,” Jessi said. “All I know is that it will be a baby, and either way it will be crying and screaming, so what does it matter?”

  Frida said, “Maybe that’s what the chaos is going to be!”

/>   “Well, I knew that already!” Jessi laughed. “I didn’t need the Flash Fortune app to tell me that.”

  “She’s got a point, Frida,” I agreed.

  I knew Frida was taking the app, and all this good luck stuff, very seriously, but I didn’t have much belief in it. I wasn’t going to be taking a trip far away soon. But I guess it was all just for fun. Right?

  Chapter Three

  The next day before dinner, I sat down at my desk in my bedroom to video chat with Kara, my best friend from Connecticut. There is a three-hour time difference between California and Connecticut. Sometimes I forget that and text Kara at nine at night in Cali, when it is actually midnight in Connecticut. Or sometimes Kara will want to talk to me, and it’s five a.m. in California—a little too early for me. But overall we’ve been pretty good at figuring out the time difference and keeping in touch.

  “Hey, Devin!” Kara’s face popped up on my computer. She had her light brown hair pulled up on the top of her head in a bun. Wispy pieces fell from the bun and framed her face. It looked really pretty.

  “Oh, I love your hair!” I said. “I’m going to try that.”

  “Hey, you’ve got that rocking beach hair going on, complete with highlights,” she said. “Don’t steal my look!”

  I laughed as I touched my own hair. Playing soccer out in the Cali sun had added some blondish streaks to my brown hair, and when I take a shower at night, I always pull my wet hair into a messy bun. When I wake up in the morning and take my hair out, it’s in nice beachy waves. That’s my beauty routine—fast and easy. I usually prefer spending time on the soccer field, not in front of a mirror.

  “Hey, I’ve got great news!” Kara’s blue eyes got big and sparkly. “I was invited to Charlotte’s sweet sixteen party!”

  “Oh, wow! I’m so jelly!” I told her. Charlotte is a few years older than us. Her middle school soccer team mentored our elementary school team. Charlotte was one of the nicest girls I’d ever met, and besides being really cool and an awesome soccer player, she had taught me so much. Thanks to Charlotte, I became a better player. I’ll never forget what she taught us about dribbling. While passing is important and shows good teamwork, Charlotte had explained, the best players in the world dribble the ball like it is part of their foot, without even looking down. She would hang around after practice and help us perfect this skill.

 
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