The Game Changer The Final Score
Author:L.M. Trio

The Game Changer The Final Score - By L.M. Trio

Chapter 1


The buzzing of my phone startles me as I lie curled up in the twin bed that I have become so familiar with since arriving at the University of South Florida several months ago.

“Hey, Dad,” I answer cheerfully, unconsciously fixing my hair as if he can see me through the phone. “I’m good… I can’t… Not yet… Hey, why don’t you come here? The weather is so warm; you’ll love it. You need a break every now and then,” I exclaim, attempting to convince him the weather is the reason I would prefer him to visit me.

“Dad, it’s too soon… I’m not ready.” My dad has been asking me, for the last couple of weeks, to come home for the holidays. The wounds are still raw. I haven’t been able to return to Bay Point since the day I left. “Yes… Everything is fine here… You’ll love it this time of year… Dad, I have to go. I have class in a few minutes. I’m running late… Okay, love you, too. Talk to you later.”

I let out a sigh, hanging up the phone, and crawl back under my comfy covers. It’s draining trying to convince him that everything is great. That’s one good thing about living over a thousand miles away. I can lie without having him know that I’ve already finished my classes for the day, ending up here, in my favorite spot; my bed.

As I lay here, my mind swirls with its usual thoughts; how, once again, my life has been dramatically altered. How could I be so wrong about something? Actually, someone? I think, as I once again replay the events of the last year over in my head.

My dad makes a point of visiting at least once a month. He rented a condo not far from my dorm for the Thanksgiving weekend. I know it made him feel good to be able to cook for me again and spend a few days together, somewhat pretending that our lives are normal. He’d love to have me home for Christmas to continue our tradition, but I’m unable to return, as of yet. I said goodbye to that street a long time ago. As much as I loved my home, I can’t get past the memory of that one awful night; I can’t go back. Not yet, anyway.

While reminiscing over my painful memories, I’m interrupted by my roommate, Mya, entering our room.

“Oh good, you’re in bed. I can always count on you being more pathetic than me. For some odd reason, it cheers me up,” she says drearily as she climbs in the bed across from mine.

Mya is from Chicago. We are night and day on some levels, but we get along great. I figure it’s probably because we both are so damn depressing. At least I try to hide my sad, sad life from everyone, but not Mya; she’s your stereotypical, morbid, gothic girl. Way too thin, wears nothing except black, has a piercing in her eyebrow, tattoos all over her pale-white skin, jet-black hair—usually with streaks of some crazy new color each week—dark, red lips, and she smokes like a fiend. Not to mention, she’s promiscuous. She hardly ever goes out, yet, when she does, she always manages to pick up some random guy that is just as dark as her. Actually, she’s a pretty girl, if you can get past all of the darkness that she hides behind.

I figured we were paired together, not because of our troublesome lives, but because we are both enrolled in the art program at USF. I wasn’t sure what to make of her at first, but, to be honest, I really didn’t care. I wasn’t here to make friends, and likewise for Mya. She had me pegged wrong from the first time she met me.

It’s hard to remember how we came to bond in the first place, though it wasn’t long before we both realized we share more in common than we originally thought.

While I manage to lose everyone that I love, Mya comes from a family that doesn’t know how to love. Well, that’s not entirely true. They do love their money, which makes Mya rebel against anything to do with it, except for the all-expenses-paid college experience.

We often joke about whose shitty life is worse and, in the process, we’ve become really good friends.

Bringing her into the group of my other friends has been a little more interesting. I’ll never forget Mikey’s first visit to my dorm at USF. He was just coming off a two week road trip on Florida’s east coast and I wasn’t expecting him. I was sitting at my desk working on an assignment while Mya answered the knock at the door.

“Holy shit,” I hear the familiar voice trail in through the doorway. Typical Mikey, doesn’t hold back his thoughts.

“Who are you?” Mya asks bluntly in her monotone voice while glaring at him; dressed in her darkest gothic wear with streaks of blue scattered throughout her jet black hair.

“Who the hell are you?” he shoots back, eyeing her up and down.

“Mya, it’s my friend… My very rude friend. Let him in please,” I intercede, jumping from my chair and rushing to the door, giving Mikey the evil eye to zip it.

Mya mumbles something under her breath that can’t be heard, but I’m assuming it isn’t nice. Mikey smirks as he arrogantly walks past her, picks me up in a bear hug, and swings me around.

“What are you doing here?” I laugh, quickly forgiving his rudeness, as he twirls me around. I’m happy to see a familiar face.

“Just got back, thought I’d surprise you and see if you wanted to get somethin’ to eat?” he asks.

“Sure; where?”

“We’ll decide along the way,” he says, leading me out the door.

I turn back to Mya. “Mya… do you want to come with us? Mikey’s treating, since he was so rude earlier.” I laugh, giving him a wink.

“No thanks, I’ll pass,” she grumbles.

We aren’t out of the door for a second before Mikey begins to badger me. “What the hell is with Morticia? JJ, please don’t tell me that’s your roommate?”

“Yes, she is… And that’s not nice… We get along fine.”

“Yeah, of course you do,” he says with sarcasm. “You’re supposed to be here to cheer up, not to want to slit your wrists… Great, now I have to worry about Morticia bringing you down.”

I laugh, loving the way Mikey just says it like it is because I know in all honesty, he does worry about me. If nothing else, Mikey is loyal to the people he cares about.

“Trust me; I’m not going to slit my wrists… You have nothing to worry about… And her name is Mya, by the way.”

Later that night, after returning home, it doesn’t take long before Mya makes it clear that she isn’t so fond of him, either. “I really can’t believe you are friends with someone like him. He’s so fucking full of himself; it’s written all over his perfect, arrogant face. Typical, egotistical jock,” she exclaims. I laugh, unable to argue his case. In some ways, she’s right.

However, as the months pass, and Mikey continues to faithfully do his weekly visits, Mya and he decide to call a truce; trying on some level to get along. She even agrees to attend a couple of his games with me and we all grab a bite to eat afterwards. I actually think they enjoy pretending not to like each other.

Deanna on the other hand, is having a tougher time accepting Mya as my friend. Her visit for a long weekend a little while back has her petrified of Mya and she’s afraid for me to be living alone with her. She honestly believes Mya is going to kill me in my sleep.

Then again, Mya wasn’t on her best behavior when Deanna visited. I know Mya well enough to realize she was intimidated by Deanna’s beauty, confidence, and our friendship; which in turn, caused Mya to act out more so than usual. Deanna tried her best to be nice, but Mya wasn’t having it. She laid on the psycho, depressed girl routine pretty thick.

Sadly, my dad has the same impression. Although Mya is pleasant whenever he is around, she scares the hell out of him. I know that he’s thinking, in the back of his mind, that it’s only a matter of time before I show up on his doorstep dressed in Mya’s attire.

I know they all think I’m vulnerable and will be pulled to the dark side once again, with Mya leading the way. Even though my life isn’t what I want it to be, I am making the best of it and moving on. I do my best to assure my dad and Deanna that all is well.

I haven’t made many friends, other than Mya, since attending USF. It doesn’t help having her as a roommate. She’s just as content as me to mope around and lay in bed all day; both of us refusing to socialize with anyone other than each other. At least I’m polite enough to talk with my classmates. I’ve even been invited to a few parties, but I have yet to take anyone up on their offer; although, I have studied in the library with a few of my classmates on several occasions.

Mikey is being a good friend, not only is he protective, but he somewhat takes over the role of Deanna in the friend department; especially since we only have each other here in Florida.

I was thankful we immediately cleared the air about “the kiss” we shared the night that everything went down. I was feeling rejected and drunk; he was trying to console me, knowing I felt rejected. There was nothing more to it. We were more than happy to put that moment of insanity behind us. It was another senseless act during a night full of regrets. We agreed to wipe the moment from our memory and never speak of it again. It was the first time I had actually seen Mikey embarrassed to talk about something, but I was glad when he brought it up; so it won’t be hanging between us, getting in the way of our friendship.

We have this unspoken bond between us that keeps us close. Each believing that staying close with each other makes us feel closer to Luke and Deanna in some way. Although neither one of us will admit to it.

I try to attend at least a game or two each week that he’s playing home or close to it. It gets me out of my room. I enjoy watching him play, but it’s hard sometimes. I can’t help being reminded of when Luke was playing alongside him. Mikey and I never discuss Luke, although I get the feeling that sometimes he would like to. I always manage to change the subject before he gets the chance. Mikey wants me to be happy, so he always lets me. He’s even encouraged me to meet more people from school; make friends and get out once in awhile. I’m trying, although my progress is slowly moving along.

Other than the fact that they don’t get to see each other as much as they would like, Deanna and Mikey’s relationship hasn’t changed much. He loves discussing the girl of the week in front of her, knowing it annoys her to all hell. As well as just the mention of any guy from her is enough to infuriate him. Some things never change.