Amber and the Enchanted Sword
I'm finally back to Amber and her adventures. The plan is to write books two and three back to back then release them three months apart. I must say it feels good be back writing her story. Here's a snippet.
Amber and Bissau sat face to face staring at the tennis ball in Amber’s palm. Bissau’s face was tight with concentration, but Amber’s emotions were less focus. Her gaze kept drifting to Bissau’s eyes, light brown orbs with flecks of gold. He had the prettiest eyes she’d ever seen for a boy.
“Amber,” Bissau said.
“What?” she replied.
“You’re supposed to be concentrating on the ball.”
Amber jumped. “Yeah, that’s right.”
She turned her attention back to the ball, her forehead furrowed with wrinkles.
“This isn’t working,” she said.
“It would if you would concentrate,” Bissau replied.
Amber wrapped her fingers around the ball, drew her hand back then threw the ball by Bissau’s head. It bounced off the bleachers of the soccer field down to the track.
“It’s not my skill,” she said. “You said everyone is blessed with a certain nyama. Apparently levitation is not mine.”
“It is,” Bissau said. “You have to practice.”
“Why do you believe so much?” Amber said.
“Because Master Jakada said it is in your capacity,” Bissau answered.
“Master Jakada could be wrong.”
Bissau gasped. “Master Jakada is never wrong.”
Amber shrugged. “There’s a first time for everything.”
“I’m not going to sit here and listen to you insult Master Jakada,” he said. “I have soccer practice soon. I’ll see you later.”
Bissau picked up his books then sauntered away. Amber watched him with mixed emotions. This was not the way it was supposed to be. She expected things to be tough at her new school, and it was. Making new friends had not been easy; her classmates and some of her teachers expected her to be behind the curve coming from a public school. She proved them wrong, which seemed to make them even angrier. Nothing like seeing your certainty smashed into little pieces, she guessed. And then there was soccer. The girls on her team had played together most their lives. They were familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Amber was an unknown, and none of them seemed eager to get to know her. Except Britani. The tall, lanky junior seem out of place on the field, but she possessed a natural grace on the field that reminded Amber of Jasmine. She was new as well, but Britani was a soccer phenom known throughout the Metro Atlanta area. Maybe that was why she took to Amber. She wasn’t threatened by her.
All this thinking was making her head hurt. She focused on the tennis ball.
“Rise up, stupid ball,” she whispered.
The tennis ball shimmered against her palm then launched upward like a round rocket into the clouds. Amber’s eyes went wide with shock and glee.
“Hey, Bissau!” she shouted. “Hey!”
She jumped from the bleachers, running after Bissau.
“Bissau! I did it!”
Bissau turned about, a smile on his face.
“Where is the tennis ball?”
Amber pointed up.
Bissau’s smile faded.
Amber shrugged. “I don’t know. The moon, maybe?”
Bissau smiled. “I knew you could do it, but you must learn how to control it.”
Amber folded her arms across her chest.
“I’m still trying to figure out why you’re so called training me. Let me see you levitate a ball.”
Bissau sighed. “You know I can’t. I need to go, and you do, too. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.”
“Whatever,” Amber said.
She trudged to the girls’ soccer field. Her teammates straggled in, talking and jibing each other. Their conversations diminished as Amber approached.
She turned to see Britani jogging toward her, a soccer ball under her arm. Amber forced a smile to her face.
“What’s up, girl? Britani threw up a hand for a high five and Amber obliged. She knew then what bothered her about Britani. She was trying too hard.
“What’s up, gurl?” Britani asked.
“Same old same old,” Amber replied.
Britani sucked her teeth. “I know that’s right. Ready to show these kittens how to play football?”
Amber grinned despite herself. She was really trying not to like Britani.
Britani opened her arm, dropping the ball. She kicked it up then kneed it to Amber. Amber bounced it back with her head.
“Hey,” Britani said. “What’s up with you and Bissau? Y’all like cousins or something?”
Amber stiffened and almost missed her turn passing the ball.
“We’re friends,” she replied.
“Friend friends, or girlfriend boyfriend?”
Amber hesitated. Why, she didn’t know.
“Friend friends…I guess.”
Britani frowned. “Don’t be guessing. I need to know.”
Amber cut her eyes at Britani.
Britani rolled her eyes.
“You need to ask? Boy is cute, and fine.”
“And a bit short for you,” Amber replied.
“I’m not complaining, and I know he won’t.”
Amber kicked the ball hard. It zoomed over Britani’s head.
“Sorry,” she said. Not sorry, she thought.
Britani trotted to retrieve the ball as Amber strolled to join the others. She ignored the tepid smiles and greetings of her teammates.
“Robinson,” Coach Sandalwood called out.
Amber turned her head toward the coach. Mary Sandalwood was a stocky built woman with short cut red hair and pale freckled skin. In her youth she’d been a no-nonsense defensive player and had the distinction of playing on the US Olympic soccer team, as well as a few years as a pro in Europe. Her personal style of play reflected in the team. They were known for their impenetrable defense and straight forward offense; a direct opposite of the style Amber was used to playing. Amber adapted, but it was obvious the coach had little use for her skills.
Coach Sandalwood attempted to smile, which was like watching a snake try to shake hands.
“I want to try something different today,” she said. “I want you to play defense.”
Amber’s mouth dropped open.
“Defense? I haven’t played defense since elementary school!”
“So, you have some experience then.”
The coach cradled her tablet against her chest.
“You’re a great play, very versatile,” she said. “You know defense is our strength, and I only ask the best players.”
“What about Cynthia?” Amber asked.
“Cynthia’s a great forward,” the coach said. “But she doesn’t have your versatility. You would make our defense impenetrable.”
“How do you know?” Amber asked. “Like I said, I haven’t played defense since elementary school.”
“Trust me,” the coach replied. “There’s reason I’m the best soccer coach in the state.”
Amber was proud of the fact that she didn’t roll her eyes. The truth was Cynthia Hollingsworth was the face of the Wildcats. Everyone loved to watch her sprint up and down the field, her blond ponytail bouncing behind her as she dribbled the ball with imperfect precision to barely score. After the game the local media gathered around her, marveling in her skills and predicting her amazing college and pro career to come. But there was no fighting it.
“Okay,” Amber surrendered. “I’ll give it a try.”
“Carole!” the coached called out.
Carole Simpson strolled up to the coach. The straw blond girl was their best defensive player, destined to receive accolades for her abilities.
“What’s up, coach?” Carole said in her syrupy southern drawl.
“Sit this scrimmage out,” the coach replied. “Amber’s playing your position.”
Carole’s eyes widened then narrowed as she glared at Amber.
“She’s not defense,” Carole said.
“She is today,” the coach replied. “Sit.”
Carole gave Amber a hard stare before trudging to the bench.
“Thanks coach, another enemy,” Amber thought.
Coach Simpson sat down her tablet then blew her whistle.
“Okay everyone, let’s hard scrimmage!” she shouted. “First team!”
The coach looked at Amber.
“That’s you, Amber.”
Amber rolled her eyes as she jogged onto the field. Not only was she being forced to play defense, Coach Simpson was having her play with the first team. The other players were looking at her with disdain while hand gesturing with Carole on the bench. Everyone except Britani. She threw up a peace sign.
“Alright now woman!” she shouted. Let’s see what you got!”
The scrimmage began. Amber felt useless as she waited in the back field for the action to come her way. It didn’t take long. Britani worked her way down the field with her usual style, trailed by Cynthia. The two displayed great dribbling; Amber had to admit Cynthia was better than she gave her credit for. The two worked their way toward Amber. They were challenging her off the rip. Amber backpedaled until she knew who was going to go for the goal. As she suspected Britani passed to Cynthia for the shot. Amber was halfway to her before Britani kicked the ball in her direction. Amber intercepted the pass as a mischievous smile came to her face.
“Time for some real practice,” Amber said.
She kicked the ball hard. It soared high as Amber reached out for it with her nyama. She guided the ball over everyone’s head to the opposite goal, catching the goalie off guard. But Penny Rothchild was good. She adjusted, diving for the incoming ball body extended and hands outstretched. Amber gave the ball a nudge and it just cleared Penny’s hands. It hit the ground just before the goal then rolled into the net. Everyone froze in stunned silence.
“Damn!” Britani shouted.
“Language!” the coach replied.
Amber grinned as she strolled back to her position.
“Lucky kick,” she said to the coach.
“Obviously,” the coach replied.
Amber was rewarded by the astonished looks from her teammates. The rest of practice was as normal as practice could be with Amber playing defense. She didn’t do as bad as she thought she would; Cynthia and Britani took advantage of her rusty skills, but Amber held her own at times. As practice came to an end Amber noticed the impressed looks on everyone’s faces. The coach trotted up to her, a grin on her face,
“Not bad,” she said.
“This isn’t going to be permanent, is it coach?” Amber asked.
“No,” the coach replied. “You’re still a forward. It’s good to know we could use you if injuries forced us.”
Amber smiled. She dodged that bullet. She trotted to the locker room; Britani came up beside her.
“Look at you!” she said. “Playing defense like a beast!”
Amber smirked. “What can I say? I’m good like that.”