You want to win so badly it’s almost an obsession.
There you are, standing tall and proud as you shake your opponent’s hand. She can’t want it as much as you do. No one can want the win as much as you do. I can win, you think. I can beat her. This is it.
You have never tasted sweet victory before. Always, always there is this bitterness in your mouth, like after sucking on a lemon and letting the taste linger on your tongue. Always, always a lump in your throat that won’t go away and hot, blinding ash in your chest.
Sometimes, you think you might quit and just give it all up. Just let it go. Sometimes, there’s a crushing feeling beating inside you, like hands gripping and squeezing your heart. Fingernails rip— you want to cry. But you don’t, and you deny, deny, deny, and you continue playing.
And you ask yourself: is this perseverance or simply foolishness?
All around you, there are those who began after you and have now far, far surpassed your level. Beyond your reach, beyond the heavens and stars, beyond you.
And you? Where are you?
You toss the ball up. And in a blur, time slips through your fingers, like sand, white grains that you have lost forever.
In the end, she has won, and you have lost.
The bitter feeling swells up inside you again. You shake hands with her— but she is shaking your hand, you are not shaking hers, because your hand is as limp as a rag. You do not look at her. You do not look at her coach. You do not look at her family.
You walk far, far away. Away from her, her coach, and her family. Away from it all. Away from where it all ended badly.
You sit down and wonder what went wrong— no, what you did wrong. Because it was not her fault you lost, nor her coach’s, nor her family’s nor anyone else’s. It was your fault. All of it— your fault. From the first point to the last hit— your fault. It is not your body’s fault, though you try to convince yourself it was in bad condition while in play— that is your excuse for losing.
You know very well that it was in fine during the game.
The ash falls into your chest again and burns your heart. The smoke curls up and chokes your throat, burns it, and stops in your throat— and just sits there. You don’t speak. It hurts, it hurts, but not in the tangible ouch way; it hurts because your heart is cracked. Numb and bewildered, you think: I want to go home. I want to go home and go to sleep and wake up again and do it all over. I want to go home.
You wish with all your heart, but you know very well that no one gets second chances.
A/N: Semi-autobiographical. We all have those times in our lives where we think that everyone else is better than us.
Well, at least I do.