Kayleigh Tristan was burnt out. School was tough, and she couldn’t remember the last time she had a good night’s sleep. One couldn’t tell she was struggling, though. Her brown hair, accented with blonde highlights helped to bring out her fair skin and hazel eyes was immaculate. Her outfit chosen was athleisure and filled out every curve of her body. She turned heads with every step she took, but never noticed it, for she had better things to worry about than boys and their interests.
“One more day,” she would chant in her head in an attempt to cheer herself up.
Kayleigh would often repeat this mantra once a day every day until the weekend. This day was no different. She trudged up the steps of her Southern California University, mentally battling herself again, “Did she belong here? Should she have chosen a different school? Perhaps somewhere on the East Coast?”
With a sigh, she realized that she shouldn’t be wondering all these negative thoughts, since this was the path she chose for herself. The school was beautiful so why was she unhappy? Sighing, Kayleigh checked her watch and noticed that she had about an hour before her class started so she decided since it was such a beautiful spring day to seat herself down on the grass and enjoy the warmth of the sun.
As Kayleigh started to drift off, her phone vibrating took her out of the dream world and jolted her back to reality. The name “RJ Esperanza” flashed on her phone, with a picture of two younger kids smiling broadly as the girl was in her boyfriend’s arms right after his team had won the State Championship for football. This was unexpected for this name hadn’t popped up on her screen for a very long time.
2 Years Ago:
Kayleigh quickly brushed some lip gloss over her lips before shutting the compact mirror and shoving it back into her car’s glove compartment. She was in the driveway of her boyfriend, RJ’s house and was due to see him soon. Gathering her belongings, she slammed her car door shut and started up the steps to his house. Loud shouting from inside the house could be heard before she had even reached the porch. She caught phrases like, “NFL,” “wasting your time with your girlfriend,” and “choosing the right college for you, not her.” It didn’t take a genius to figure out that her boyfriend was in there arguing with his parents about which football scholarship to take.
Taking a deep breath, she pushed the door open and was instantly met with 3 pairs of eyes, all of whom were ranging from sympathy from his mother, anger from his father, and lastly, determination from the boy who she believed she loved so much.
“We’ll talk about this later,” RJ’s dad gritted out before spinning on his heel and walking out of the room.
After briefly smiling at his mother. Kayleigh gently grabbed RJ’s hand and guided him up the stairs. She could feel the tension radiating off her boyfriend in waves. Arriving at his room, RJ exhaled slowly and sat on his bed, burying his hands inside his head.
“Want to tell me what’s going on?” Kayleigh asked softly, taking a seat next to her boyfriend.
RJ lifted his head to gaze at her and his gaze was so intent that Kayleigh shifted away, uncomfortable. She had a sinking feeling she already knew what he was going to say but she didn’t want to hear it.
“So, you know how I got two scholarships, one to play here in California, and another one at Northeastern University, right?
Kayleigh nodded, unable to speak. She knew that in her heart, he was going to say he wanted to go to Northeastern and that one made more sense because it was a better school in terms of sports for him and most athletes there would get drafted into the NFL straight after college.
“I’m choosing to play here in California.”
The words dropped like a bomb. What?!
“What?” Kayleigh asked, shocked, “Why would you do that when clearly the better option is to go to the East Coast?”
“Easy, I want to stay here with you.”
Kayleigh was getting irritated now. She had always been taught to never settle for less than what you deserve, and she knew RJ deserved to be playing at a D1 school. Flipping her hair and with a decision made, she carefully asked, “If we weren’t dating, would you still choose staying here over Northeastern?”
“No,” RJ scoffed, “Of course not.”
“Good. Then we’re done.”
Kayleigh stood up to leave, heart heavy.
“Kayleigh, baby, what? I don’t understand.” RJ stammered.
“Go play at Northeastern, RJ. Go live out your dreams and become the NFL star I know you were always destined to be.”
“Kayleigh.” RJ’s voice cracked when he said her name but Kayleigh couldn’t bear to turn around and see the hurt etched on his face.
“We’re not done.” RJ finalized. Choking back a sob, she rushed out of the room, merely saying a word of good-bye to his parents who looked confused.
She rushed into her car, slammed the door shut, and sped off. It was then, that she allowed the tears she had been holding to fall so freely.
That was probably the worst break up that anyone could have done but, in her defense, it had to have been done. There was no way they could have maintained a long-distance relationship. She had seen way too many of her friends go through them and end up getting more hurt in the long run. RJ deserved to be at that school, playing football with elites.
~End Flash Back
Ending that reverie, she focused on her now buzzing phone. Hesitantly, she picked up the phone, “Hello?”
“Kayleigh?” A rough voice asked.
Kayleigh’s eyes drifted shut. How many times had she wished she could see him, have him hold her in his arms?
“Kayleigh, are you there?”
“Yeah,” she murmured, “I’m here.”
“Listen, I know we haven’t talked in a while, but I really need a favor.”