The first of the short stories by my co-blogger, Pamela Moeng, as promised. Enjoy! And please leave a comment? The next story will be published next Friday.
Soccer Mom, By Pamela Moeng
Lindy whistled shrilly between her teeth. “Go, Neo!” she shouted. “Kick that ball!”
A few of the other parents watching the soccer match looked disdainfully at her - Lindy ignored them. She paid a mountain of money for Neo to attend this snooty school and by God she was going to make sure she got her money’s worth, including cheering on her son township style in his first match.
Unfortunately despite her loud support, Neo’s kick sent the ball straight into the goalie’s arms. Not an auspicious beginning to a soccer career, but then Neo was only nine and a bit small for his age.
At half time, the score was one nil in favour of the visiting team.
“Everything is under control here. Enjoy the game!” Maggie, her PA, said when Lindy took advantage of the break and called her office. A single mom herself, Maggie knew the precarious balance required to accommodate work and parenting.
Lindy grimaced as she eyed the scoreboard. The match meant a lot to Neo and losing would mean a despondent little boy. She sighed. On any day playing both mom and dad was tough enough, but senior primary school was creating a whole new set of expectations and she was not sure she could meet them.
When the final whistle blew the score was still in favour of the visitors – two nil. Neo hung his head as he walked toward her from the pitch and Lindy knew that it would take a fast-food bribe along with one of her best mom talks to convince him that he hadn’t let his teammates down.
As they walked toward the car park, another youngster hit Neo on the arm. “That was a dope game, Neo. See you tomorrow.”
“That means good, “ Neo explained.
“I knew that.”
She noticed Mr Dope was climbing into a double cab bakkie parked near her late model Toyota. “Who is that, Neo?”
“Cameron. His Mom died.”
“I’m sorry to hear that – it must be tough for him. I hope you’ve been extra kind to him.”
She turned away from helping Neo into the car just in time to see what must have been Mr Dope’s totally hot father crawl into the bakkie beside the little boy. Not bad. Not bad at all. Lindy chided herself. The man has just lost his wife and here she was lusting after him. She should be ashamed of herself. Just because she was faced with a tall, muscular hunk of manhood didn’t mean she had to revert to shameless stalking mode.
A month later and Lindy was again standing beside the soccer pitch shrilly whistling. She whirled at the sound of a hearty chuckle behind her.
“You seem to be a real fan.” The speaker was Mr Dope’s totally delicious dad. Mentally slapping herself, Lindy reminded herself that he was a man in mourning.
“My son Neo is playing. He’s only nine but I have high hopes of another Lucas Radebe or Brian Baloyi to take care of me in my old age.” She grinned.
Mr Dope’s father held out his hand. “I’m Jack and we’re practically family. My son Cameron is one of Neo’s teammates and I’ve heard a lot about him.”
Lindy took the proffered hand. “All good?”
“All good,” he assured her.
The two turned their attention back to the pitch. When the game ended and two little boys ran up to them, it seemed natural to amble companionably to the car park together.
“See you at the next match,” Lindy said as she prepared to drive off.
“You can be sure of that,” Jack said.
Glancing in her rearview mirror, she watched him clamber into his bakkie. Hmmm, she thought. If he weren’t a man in mourning, I might be interested in pursuing that thought, but a grieving widow with a child would complicate her already hectic and rather complicated life. She wasn’t ready to trust a man with her heart again, no matter how delectable he might be.
Lindy’s ex- was long gone. As soon as he’d discovered that Lindy was pregnant, he’d disappeared and she heard much later that he’d impregnated another girl about the same time and had been forced by several menacing uncles and an angry father to pay damages and marry the girl. Fortunately Lindy’s family supported her throughout her pregnancy and welcomed Neo as warmly as if his mother had been married.
Sadly, when Neo was barely two, Lindy’s parents had been killed in a car accident, and she was left to raise her son alone. She missed her parents dearly, especially her dad who had doted on Neo and would have made a wonderful role model for her child. Nowadays Lindy depended on a motherly but expensive child-minder when work responsibilities kept her away from home. She rarely socialized, preferring to spend her time with Neo. No, a grieving widow was not what she needed – in fact, she didn’t need any man.
At the next soccer match, Lindy couldn’t help looking around for Jack, but she didn’t see him anywhere. As she and Neo drove out of the car park after the game, she casually asked Neo where Cameron had been.
“Oh, he’s sick. He’s in hospital.”
Lindy’s breath caught in her throat. She couldn’t imagine anything worse than Neo being sick in hospital. Tomorrow she’d call the school to find out how to get in touch with Jack. Just to check on the boy, she told herself. Truth was she had looked forward to seeing Jack and it was a disappointment that he wasn’t at the game.
The next morning she phoned the school but the prissy secretary refused to give out any personal information about a learner to anyone. Lindy pleaded and finally the woman gave her a bit of information.
“Mr Howes’ son is in the Sandton Medi Clinic. I heard his class teacher mention it this morning in the staff room. But please don’t let on that I told you.”
Later that day Lindy slipped in to the pediatric floor of the clinic. She had a National Geographic Kids under her arm because Neo had told her that Cameron liked wild animals. Turning the corner of the passage, she bumped into Jack backing out of a room. The doctor was doing her rounds.
Jack’s eyebrows rose. “This is a surprise, but thanks for coming. Cam will be glad to see you.”
Lindy was flustered. Maybe coming here was too presumptuous. After all, she and Jack were just two soccer parents. She thrust the magazine at him.
“Stay and keep me company over a cup of coffee while the doctor examines Cam. Please.”
Lindy couldn’t resist the plea and she followed Jack into the lift and downstairs to the coffee shop .
“So Cam has had to have his tonsils out after six months of repeated tonsillitis?”
“That’s right,” Jack said. “He just kept getting one sore throat after another and the doctor said it was time for surgery.”
“It must have been frightening,” Lindy suggested delicately, “after…” Her voice trailed off.
“After?” Jack looked puzzled.
“After losing his mother so recently,” she said.
“Cam’s mother died in childbirth when he was born nine years ago,” Jack said. “What made you think we lost her recently?”
Lindy was flustered. Come to think of it, why HAD she assumed that Cam’s mother had died recently? All Neo had ever said was that Cam’s mother had died.
She stammered. “Um…er…I’m really sorry. Neo told me that Cam’s mother had died and I just assumed that it had been a recent loss. I thought you were in mourning.”
Jack smiled gently. “You can’t miss what you’ve never had and Cam has adjusted well to me being both father and mother. I came to terms with my loss a long time ago. Cathy was a kind and loving woman who never liked to see anyone sad or lonely.”
Lindy grinned, a wide smile that lit up her face and made her eyes dance. He wasn’t a grieving widow. He was just a doting dad, a single parent struggling with the day-to-day issues of all single parents. Maybe, just maybe, she was ready for a man after all. She’d certainly like the chance to get to know him a great deal better.
Jack’s own heart lurched in the light of Lindy’s smile. His eyes wandered to her lips and he imagined kissing them. As they rose together to go back to Cam’s room, he reached down to take her hand in his - they both felt the jolt of electricity the moment their fingers touched. Jack clasped her hand gently.
“We’d better go back to Cam,” Lindy could feel her body quivering. Wow, she thought. Wow!
“No need to hurry,” Jack murmured. “We can take our time, all the time in the world.”
She knew exactly what he meant.