The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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My stomach knots as I trudge toward my dad’s Ford Focus beyond the chain-link fence of Syracuse University’s Coyne Stadium.  I open the passenger door with my sweaty palms, slump into the front seat, and lock my arms around my father’s neck as tears flood my face.  Two to three minutes of inconsolable sobbing pass before my dad comforts me with words of unconditional love, and we speed away from Syracuse, New York, one final time.  Together, we distance ourselves from that tainted city as I regurgitate the unbelievable events that I experienced at the hands of the five foot two head coach of SU’s field hockey program.  Within forty-eight short but incredibly long hours that woman kicked countless turf beads into my face, spat cruelties into my ears, induced blisters on my palms, humiliated me in front of my teammates, and deemed me a prima-donna incapable of playing for an elite Division I field hockey team.  Quickly but painfully, this supposed coach shattered my eighth grade dreams of becoming a successful Orange-woman.  “Luckily, I’m going home for surgery.”  The tears dwindle as I realize I would escape her wrath as I recover from compartment syndrome surgery.

“No,” my mother abruptly greets me. “You can’t return.  If you were in an emotionally abusive relationship with a boy, I wouldn’t let you to go back.  Why would I let you return to the tyranny of an emotionally abusive coach?”  Committed to Syracuse University since the age of fifteen, I would be abandoning my middle school aspirations and giving up my scholarship.  I struggle with my decision, but my mother is absolutely right, I cannot return to Syracuse.

Context: I thrust my pointer finger toward the ceiling, mimicking the caricature plastered onto the concrete behind me.  My eyes search for the camera lens of Ainslie’s iPhone before I momentarily lose myself in the events that transpired a mere fourteen days ago.  Click, Flash, Ainslie nonchalantly snaps my first photo as a Drexel Dragon, and my mind cheerfully greets the present without a regret of the past.  

Syracuse

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