Blindsided

By: Emma Hart


“Run, dammit. Run!” I glance up from my drawing pad. “Go ahead, fumble it. Why wouldn’t you?” I lean back against the sofa. “And this is supposed to be good preseason form. Good, my ass!”

“Leah? Why are you shouting? Are we being attacked?”

I look over at my elderly aunt as she enters the front room, her cane clicking against the floor with each step. “No. It’s just the football. That’s all.”

“It’s the what? The wall?”

“Football,” I repeat, my eyes following the play on screen. “Are you wearing your hearing aid?”

“Oh!” She slides her hand into her pocket and removes the tiny device. “There,” she says as she fits it.

“Is it turned on?”

She fiddles with it. “It is now.”

I shoot her a fond smile. “Oh, go! Go!” I point my pencil at the screen. “Run, you useless—”

My mom interrupts me. “Shouldn’t you be working?” My mom interrupts me.

“Um, I am. Kind of.” I wave my pencil lamely in her direction and keep my eyes on the game.

She leans against the doorframe to remove her shoes. “I still don’t understand how you love football so much.” She sets them in the hallway then enters the front room.

“Butts,” Aunt Ada answers her. “It’s the butts, am I right, Lele?”

“Yeah, that’s it. I watch hours upon hours of football because of their butts. Hey!”

Mom waves the remote. “You have to get those designs submitted before Quinn sends you all your Fashion Week designs to finalize.”

“I know.” I swallow the bitterness that rises at the mention of New York Fashion Week. “It still sucks that I have to miss it.”

“You could be honest.”

“No.” I fill in some detail on the shirt on my pad. “I told you before. I want to be successful for my work, not because my mom is Hollywood’s sweetheart.”

“And I respect that, honey, but you should be there for your show.”

“Are they winning?” Aunt Ada butts in, perching on the sofa next to me. “What colors are they in?”

“Red and black, and”—I glance up—“yes, they’re winning. Only just.”

“Oooh, who’s that?”

“Who’s who?”

“That!”

“Corey Jackson,” Mom answers. “He’s the Vipers’ quarterback.”

“He’s a handsome young man, isn’t he?”

“Aunt Ada!” I snap my head up. “Are you seriously crushing on him? Don’t you have bingo or something to go to?”

She cackles. “Not tonight, dear. Where can I find him?”

“Oh my God!” I smack the pencil down and look at her. “You are not going cougar on me!”

Mom laughs. “He’ll be at the premiere tomorrow night. It’s a shame your bingo will interfere with that, Aunt Ada.”

“What? Since when?” I look at Mom.

“Since the invitations were sent out.” She fixes her blue eyes on me. “Have you listened to anything I’ve told you about the premiere?”

No. “I, er… Not exactly.”

“Leah!”

“What? I’ve been real busy. Plus, I am not interested in being asked when my big acting debut is going to be. If I have to tell everyone one more time that there isn’t going to be one, someone’s gonna get hurt.” I raise my eyebrows and go back to my design.

Mom sighs, but it’s obviously fake. “You know the drill. Turn up, humor them, watch the movie, hang around for an hour. Then you can escape out of the back door.”

“Let’s swap,” Aunt Ada announces loudly. “I’ll go in your place, Lele. You can stay here and work.”