Chapter 2 - A Bad Day at School
So, wearing her basketball uniform, Eveline walked in the hot morning sun, perspiring in her only clean outfit. On top of everything else, she had not had the chance to clean up in two days. She didn't realize it, but she stunk.
As the student came up the street towards the school parking lot, she was hard to miss, wearing a sleeveless gold shirt and wine-colored shorts made out of metallic-looking cloth. A tall, severe-looking woman with a tom-boy haircut noticed her. She was immaculately dressed in a business outfit, ready for class. The woman stepped onto the sidewalk to intercept the girl before she could duck into the school building. Eveline cringed, because the woman was her basketball coach, Jamie Strickland.
"Well, Eveline. Good morning. What a pleasant surprise, seeing you so bright and early, in your uniform, all ready for the big game. Thinking about getting a jump on today's workout?"
"I, yes... I yes, I... 'spose."
"You're a lousy basketball player, but you make an even worse liar. You skipped yesterday's practice, but now you're running around in your uniform. Why are you running around in your uniform when there's no game?"
"I dunno, ma'am."
"Oh come-on! You don't know why you're wearing your uniform? Am I supposed to believe that?"
"No! No more excuses! This is really getting old, your excuses, and I'm putting a stop to it! And you'd better show up to practice today and NEVER miss it again! One more excuse, one more of your lies, and you are off the team, and this time I mean it!"
"Please, I'm sorry! Please don't kick me off the team!"
"That's your choice, not mine! And keep in mind, I'm gonna work your ass so you become a better player! You will spend quality time in that gym and you will stop embarrassing your teammates! We're gonna fix this!"
The coach tapped her student's backpack.
"Hand over your wallet!"
"I, I mean, what, ma'am?"
"Your wallet! With your ID's! Hand it over! Now!"
Reluctantly Eveline took out her wallet. Her coach snatched it from her. Then she remembered that, along with her ID's, it contained the forty dollars she had stolen from her brother's friend. That meant she was back to being totally broke.
"You'll get this back after practice today. Assuming you put some effort into it. Assuming you don't piss me off."
Eveline was exasperated, but at least for the moment she no longer was thinking about her miserable situation at home. She now had a more immediate concern that had nothing to do with Lucas and Alicia. Coach Strickland put the student's wallet in her purse.
"And another thing. Go shower before you go to class! Right now! You smell like rotten goat cheese!"
Eveline rushed to the locker room with tears in her eyes. She had not thought about how she smelled, but she was totally humiliated her coach's comment. She quickly showered and dried off just in time to make it to her first class.
The rest of the day at school did not go well. Eveline had not done any of her homework assignments, which earned her three referrals. Coach Strickland received e-mails from her student's other teachers about her performance in class. She was reminded by her co-workers that her student's continued poor academic performance meant that she would have to expel her from the school athletic program.
The coach, in spite of her outwardly harsh treatment of the girl, really did not want to kick her off the basketball team. She knew that doing so would cut Eveline's final tie to the school and ensure she would be a failure in life. She knew that her student's mother had recently gone to jail and that she was dealing with serious problems at home. A quick drive-by the Rogers' house told Strickland everything she needed to know concerning how much the girl's life had deteriorated over the past year. Looking at that house, the coach knew there was a very good reason Eveline was not able to complete any of her homework assignments.
Strickland knew that Eveline's life could be salvaged if she could somehow find another place to live and have someone watch over her to motivate her to work. If someone intervened in time, the damage to Eveline Rogers could still be repaired.
Strickland wondered whether she could be that "someone". During her coaching career she already had taken in three female students who had nowhere else to go and mentored them until they were ready to graduate and face life on their own. The guest-room in her house was currently unoccupied. Three girls had passed through that room and put their lives together.
Strickland figured that perhaps Eveline Rogers could be the fourth. As bad as her life was, Eveline was not any more messed up than the other three girls had been. Yes, she had psychological issues and a wrecked work-ethic because of her home-life, but at least she was not drug-dependent or pregnant. However, she was at a point where her life was just about to go very badly. If there was any hope that she could be "saved", the coach knew she'd have to act within the next few days.
There was another issue, that Strickland was honest enough to admit to herself. She was physically attracted to Eveline. She was fascinated with the girl's petite body and pale skin, and with her shy expression and short blond hair. At that moment, the teacher did not have any plans to attempt to seduce the student, but she wanted to bring her under her control and protection. She didn't want to see that lovely girl end up on the street and go to waste.
After school, Eveline went into gym and joined her teammates as they got ready for practice. Although she was just a junior, she was the oldest girl on the team due to having flunked the previous year. She knew that she should have not been allowed to continue playing and that her coach had petitioned the school board to make an exception for her. She felt guilty about Strickland's effort, because she had not done anything to earn it.
She didn't really understand why Strickland had gone out of her way to keep her on the team, because she was not a good player. She wanted to be valuable, but she was totally distracted by her circumstances at home and her over-all feeling of being a failure at everything she was doing. And yet, for whatever reason, Strickland continued to believe that something good could come out of her, that her life was still salvageable.
The team was important to Eveline, in spite of her lackluster abilities. It was the last thing remaining in her life that gave her a sense of belonging, the last group she could say she was a member of. Whenever the other girls went out anywhere, she was invited to go with them and always did.
Eveline had not thought about it, but already her coach's patience by letting her stay on the team had affected the course of her life. She had not yet been tempted to try Lucas' meth. Without the distraction and responsibility of the basketball team, it is likely that Eveline's curiosity would have gotten the better of her, given how hooked everyone else around the house was on her brother's product.