MISTAKE No. 1
– Unknown author –
(the story is true, only the names are changed)
It was an October Sunday afternoon. As usual, after every away game, Srećko and I were returning home by public bus. It wasn’t as crowded as it is on weekdays. We were sitting next to each other and were quiet. Suddenly, our eyes met and he hung his head, expecting me to say something to ease the unpleasant situation. I put my hand on his shoulder and cuddled his hair:
– You guys were good. You did your best! – I said.
– I know. But if I scored that penalty kick, my friends would be happy. This way, we were all sad in the dressing room! – he said with tremulous and crying voice.
– What did the coach say? Did any of your friends criticize you? – I asked him.
– No. The coach said, as he always does even when we win, that this is just a game and that we should be happy to learn that there is someone who is better than us at the moment, and that we should work hard and try to catch up with them. And that those who are not as good as we are will catch up with us if we don’t practice regularly and well enough. – And what about friends? – They know we will see each others at school tomorrow and that we will make this all up against 3c! – he replied.
– I don’t understand, 3c? – I asked.
– On Mondays we have joint class of Physical Education, and our teachers let us play football in the schoolyard. Their teacher was praised by the principal, he said that her class, the 3c is the best class and that they are perfect in every way. We promised our teacher we would beat them and prove they are not perfect! – he was saying with confidence.
– So, are they better than you? – I asked.
– You know, there is this Vasa, he is the best mathematician, we appoint him to be goalkeeper. He can’t run, so it is better if he stands at the goal. He is fat, and can cover the whole goal. And he himself wants to be the keeper. You know that Milica, she also plays for us! Do you know how skilled she is with the ball? And she is not afraid of boys. You know all the others – Srećko was speaking continuously, as if he was reciting a poem.
– And them, the 3c?
– They have two boys who practice at Red Star Belgrade. They are good, but not special. They also have one basketball player. You know how tall he is! He stands in front of our Vasa, and almost knocks him into the ground…
– And what about you? – I interrupted him.
– What about me? – he asked, confused.
– Where are you in this whole thing? – I asked.
– Well, everybody expects the most from me. But I never give the most – he sounded as if he was confused.
– Why? – I asked.
– You know, that girl Sanja goes into their class, and everyone was teasing me that I am in love with her. And whenever we play against them, she always stands behind their goal on purpose. And when I am in front of their goal with the ball, I feel as if my legs were cut off.
– Ha, ha… – I laughed.
Srećko blushed and hung his head again.
I didn’t ask him anything else. As bus stations were passing by, just like the days long gone, I remembered a girl named Ana from my childhood. Class 4a. After Srećko’s mother, the greatest love of my life. But…
We arrived home. My mobile rang. Unknown number. I answered, and on the other side there was this pleasant and kind voice.
– Good afternoon. Is that Mr. Sava? – he asked.
– Yes, how can I help you – I was kind.
– This is Vuk, coach in FC Partizan Belgrade football school. Our club is interested in your son Srećko. We’ve been watching him for quite some time. We would be honored if you could come tomorrow at 2PM to the hall of Partizan’s stadium and bring Srećko.
I was frozen.
– At 2PM? – my voice suddenly became tremulous.
– Yes, at 2PM. They will be playing between themselves, so we would like to see how he would fit in. Although, I know it will not be a problem. Srećko has the sort of talent that Partizan needs – he was convinced.
In one moment I erased everything with a rubber. Without knowing it.
– OK, I’ll see you at 2PM! – I replied.
– If you need anything else, you can reach me on this number – Vuk finished.
We hung up. I stood there motionless. For almost a minute. I entered Srećko’s room. He was packing his schoolbag.
– Son, you will not believe who just called! – I said excitingly.
– Coach Rade? To comfort us, as he always does! – he was sure.
– No. It was a coach from Partizan. Tomorrow at 2PM you are going to a practice at Partizan! – smile spread across my face, and I spread my arms to hug my child.
– But dad! Tomorrow I have classes in the afternoon. I can’t… – he wanted to continue.
– It doesn’t matter, I will inform your teacher about it. Invitation from Partizan comes once in a lifetime!
(to be continued…)
Version of this text in Serbian