Fiction On Odyssey: Leaving You Was The Heart-Break I Never Let Myself Experience

Fiction On Odyssey: Leaving You Was The Heart-Break I Never Let Myself Experience

You still smell like coming home.


Following chapter two of my short story, here is chapter three! This week's chapter includes both character's point-of-view.

Vicki (2018)

I don't know what kind of out-of-this-world force drew me back to the town I left behind in my memories, collected under dust and layers of regret, five years ago, but something about this still-need-a-jacket weather, beautiful pink sky from the rising sun, this Tuesday morning drew me to the coffee shop I continued to crave as time slipped away. Rather than the usual quiet hum of soft, peaceful melodies playing overhead, a constant buzz circulated as if everyone in this town wanted their morning coffee at the same time, from the same place.

I recognize almost everyone – the barista is another new, fresh face probably trying to make a couple bucks to take his temporary girlfriend to a movie on the weekends with the car borrowed from mom until curfew is the only thing ruining their night. "I hope he stays like this," I thought to myself, but instead, I said, "Large dark roast – 1 sugar, no cream, 3 shots of espresso, please."

Almost snatching my coffee from the already forgotten boy behind the in-desperate-need-of-oil, wooden counter, I made my way into the caffeine-craving, zombie-like crowd. A familiar hand reached out, grabbing my arm and pulling me in like a remembered habit. Looking up, tears formed heavily in my eyes. My cheeks were red; I could feel it. Words wouldn't come out, and for the first time when it came to you, I didn't feel like running.

Before we sat down at the same table that remembered more stories, we whispered like secrets long ago, than we did, your arms pulled me into an embrace that I can still feel when a stranger in a supermarket smells of "Ocean" cologne and smiles the same welcoming smile I can still see when I close my eyes. You still smell like coming home.

Seth (2018)

"You'll regret letting her leave again," the desperate voice in my head warned. Nervous, I reached out, grabbing your arm a little too roughly, your coffee puddling on the roof of your lid. Daunting grey eyes quickly met mine causing not only time but my heart to stop. I wonder how many times I've been asked my favorite color, only to be consumed with the memories of watching your eyes slowly open every morning like they were unsure of their decision. Whose life were you trying to live?

Just before you sat down at the table that still held our whispered secrets, I drew you in my arms like I did so many times. I never thought there would be a day we would share a last embrace. You smelled like experience and a home you never belonged to.

Vicki (2018)

Laughing over cold coffee, it was hard to think about why it was so easy to leave you. Sitting here, hidden away from the rest of the world, my job, your job, family, I never wanted to leave. I think if I let myself, if I planted my feet down and glued them to these hardwood floors, I could grow old with you in this coffee shop on Main and 1st Street, whispering more forbidden secrets to our table that has now become a confidant.

A puzzling, playful look came over your face as you inquired, "Did you ever start that bluegrass band?"

Laughing, I shook my head as I sipped my coffee.

"It was more of a one-man-band that had a good, living room, one hit wonder."

"Your hair has pink in it."

It was a simple statement, a clarification, yet it came out in a tone that was thick with confusion and a simple sadness that might confuse one who wasn't quite comfortable with your disappointment.

"I always do what I want."

Faintly, you whispered, "I know."

Changing the topic from my latest instrument failures and possible regretful hair colors, we settled on a conversation I never stuck around long for personal affairs. Five years ago, I predicted we'd meet here to talk about your wife, and your new life, and your mundane daily routine. I was right. You spoke about your job in a way I never heard you talk before – with a certainty and confidence you never carried before. Confident that you hate your job, that is.


"I don't just up and walk away from things" came out a tad bit harsher than you had expected it to.

Wincing like I just took a physical blow, I pursed my lips and nervously checked my phone like I was expecting a phone call just to avoid the intensity from your eyes that I could feel burning more holes in my soul from across this table. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you; I was just trying to make a joke."

"It's okay, I get it," I quietly offered; although, I didn't. How many times could I apologize for something I never should've apologized for in the first place? I will not be sorry for the things that I feel, yet here I am, doing it again five years later with the same guy in the same place, picking up the roles of the same life I tried to run away from. Quickly rolling my eyes, I thought, "How could he joke about me leaving like it was nothing?" Leaving you was the heartbreak I never let myself experience.

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Why An Athlete Is Not Defined By Their Level

Pressure can drive athletes crazy.

With tryout season among us, it is so important that this be addressed before the teams for this upcoming year are formed.

So many athletes that tryout, don't make the team they want and either quit to "take a year off" or jump ship to a gym that promises them to place the athlete on a higher level. I know that every athlete wants to be on level 5 team, the division is the most prestigious of all of them, especially because going to worlds is the end game for most athletes.

The problem these days in the cheerleading world is that our athletes are trying to level up at a rate that is just not quite realistic. If an athlete is on a level 1 team, the chances of her being on level 4 next year are slim. It is necessary for athletes to experience each level for at least a year to learn all of the fundamentals of the level and build on them for their foundation as an athlete to be more concrete. This produces the best athlete possible.

A lot of athletes think that all that they need to jump levels is tumbling and that is just not the case. When teams are formed, coaches take a look at many different things, these qualities include but are not limited to: mental toughness, dedication, tumbling, stunting abilities, pace of learning, dance and attitude.

Contrary to popular belief, there are so many factors that go into forming a team. This team not only has to be suitable for individual athletes but putting a team together is like a puzzle and as coaches we have to put a team together that will work well and have all the necessary percentages of skills to be competitive in their division.

We are concerned about building well-rounded athletes, not an athlete that is only capable in one facet of cheerleading. Some athletes are great level-4 tumblers but have level-2 stunt ability and those two will not equal a level 4 athlete until we boost the stunting ability of said athlete.

Putting an athlete on a team to just tumble is doing a disservice to not just the team, but also the athletes themselves. If this athlete joins a level 4 team to just tumble all year, when their tumbling progresses to that of a level 5 athlete, they will still have level 2 stunting skills and won't be put to good use when they are level 5 eligible. A well-rounded athlete is the kind of athlete that wins Worlds.

SEE ALSO: To The Coach That Took My Confidence Away

When athletes take their time and learn their level, they are not just learning completely new skills each year, but building on them. If done correctly, each year an athlete should improve on all points of cheerleading and not just one. The rules in each level lead to progressions for the level that it directly follows, so that athletes can safely learn skills by going up the ladder one step at a time.

What most don't realize is that skipping steps is such an unnecessary practice. If Susie stays on level 2 for an extra year, she is not "learning nothing", she is improving on the skills that she didn't quite execute completely the year before, this will perfect her performance in this level and give a more solid foundation for her to build on when she is on a level 3 team.

Pressure can drive athletes crazy. Parents, your athletes have so many years ahead of them to be on a level 5 team and go to worlds, so pushing for a 10-year-old, that is just not ready, to be on a level 4 team is unreasonable. Let your 10-year-old learn maturity and mental toughness at a level that is more appropriate, when your athlete is pushing herself too hard it takes the fun out of the tryout process and creates unnecessary stress on the athletes.

Lastly, please be sure to support whatever decision your coaches make for your athlete's placement, they know your child and they are not trying to hurt their pride, but build them up so they can accomplish all of their goals as an athlete. Know that the level your kid makes this year doesn't define him or her as an athlete, but helps them grow into the cheerleader they have the ability to become!

Cover Image Credit: National Cheerleaders Association

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5 Things That I Encounter While Driving And How I Am Still A Safe Driver After Them

Stay in your lane, my friend.


When I began driving as a 16-year-old, I was terrified that I was going to do something wrong. On the road, it's easy to mess up, swerve into another lane even just a little bit, or be in the wrong in a car accident. There's, unfortunately, an endless amount of things that can happen on the road and already do every day.

With a lot more practice driving in the past 5.5 years, I've learned a lot about my own style of driving as well as other people's. I never come across the same people on the roads, but some of their actions are similar, if not the same as others. Driving like an idiot has become a new trend on the road nowadays. I don't know who started that, but it's bothersome to the safe drivers who are trying to get from point A to point B.

Over the years I've driven on my own so far, I've encountered lots and lots of different scenarios and I've learned from each of them. In turn, I've become a much more defensive and safer driver.

1. People in a huge hurry.

Photo by Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash

It's inevitable, there are people who are in a hurry to get where they're going. I understand if an emergency arose, but if it involves getting somewhere and not running late, people should plan to have more time for their commute. Instead, since they don't, they believe that swerving into lanes in order to get in front of people is a problem-solving way of driving.

Their logic is: if there's enough room for me to squeeze in between two people, I'll do it so that I can get where I'm going faster. Lots of people think that if they get past a traffic mess or get past slower drivers that their problems will be solved and that they'll get where they need to go on time. Since this is not the case, I leave enough room in front of myself and other drivers in their automobiles in case something like this happens. I don't want to be at fault for someone else's mistakes.

2. People out to get you.

Photo by Per Lööv on Unsplash

Call me paranoid, but I have a strong belief that some people like to act the way that they do on the road in order to ruin someone else's day. Even if this isn't the case, there are people who can still have malicious intentions. These can involve someone cutting me off without using a directional to let me know they're merging into my lane or even people who try to merge into my lane in front of me with very minimal space. When drivers do this, they're stressing me out because I leave enough space in case I need to slam on my brakes in case of an emergency, not enough for someone to squeeze into my lane and make me slam on my brakes to slow down to let them in. The reason I leave space in between myself and other drivers is not that I'm welcoming someone into my lane so that they can get their way.

3. People clearly distracted.

Photo by Alexandre Boucher on Unsplash

Look, I understand that it's IMPERATIVE that you talk on the phone while driving. All power to you. My car has the ability to call anyone for me hands-free, as well as text someone for me and not have to lift a fingertip off of the wheel. Isn't that also why we have Siri? iPhone users, it's become so easy to text, call, email, etc. while driving now.

A lot of people are victims of texting and driving, but if there's traffic on a road with stoplights, or we're driving on a one-way road where we can't pass others driving too slow, it's a courtesy to put your phone down to make sure you aren't going to run into the back of someone. One thing I notice with distinctly distracted drivers is that they'll brake more often for no reason when they're distracted. It's because if someone is looking down or away from their view of cars in front of them, they'll constantly brake more in hopes that they won't accidentally run into someone. But what about the people stuck behind them who are wondering why the people in front of them are braking so often? Not to mention that there's usually not anyone directly in front of them, so it makes it much more obvious that they're distracted.

In hindsight, it's much better to just wait until you're stopped. Please and thank you (:

4. People who tailgate.

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

This is something I'll never come to terms with.

Why people need to tailgate me is beyond me. I used to have a habit of doing it myself but realized how unsafe it was and how quickly something accidental can result from it. That's the thing - if I'm being blatantly tailgated and someone runs into me, it's much more intentional than it would be if it were a different circumstance. So to an extent, it's not "accidental".

I'm a person who is very conscious of people around me in all directions, so I know when someone is riding my as*. I don't just stare directly in front of me, I can see you tailgating me. My strategy when this happens is to slow down even more to tick off the driver behind me in hopes that they'll get fed up and kindly (but never actually kindly) merge around me.

Another useful strategy I use - not as often because it can be unsafe - is brake checking. I'll do it so that the driver behind me knows that I'm very aware that they're there and what they're doing to me, but it's not recommended for anyone to do. A safer option is the former.

Something I'll notice when I have a tailgater on me is the fact that they'll flash their lights at me in hopes that I'll either move out of their way or speed up so that they can get around me. All that makes me want to do is get neck-and-neck with the people in the other lane and drive alongside them, trapping the tailgater. I'm a petty driver, so don't cross me.

5. People being stupid.

Photo by Bailey Hall on Unsplash

This one might sound pretty broad, but let me explain.

This is for those people who think it's a good idea to pull out onto a road when they clearly see someone driving in the right lane going 50 m.p.h. For those who think it's a wise, smart decision to cut someone off who is already driving at full speed.


Lemme just say that I did not think people were actually this stupid, but boyyyyy am I wrong about that one.

Not only are people stupid in this way, but are simply careless. If they pull onto a road into a lane that I'm in, and I'm already going 50+ m.p.h., they don't care about me. They know I'll have to either slow down or somehow merge into another lane in order to miss rear-ending them. But it's not like I just have to tap my brake pedal when this happens. Oh, no honey. It's the fact that I have to slam on my brake pedal in hopes that I slow down fast enough.

If you're one of these people, please re-evaluate these decisions as well as your own life. Quite frankly, that was meant to be a joke, but it's actually literal because it's life or death on the roads and not a lot of in-between.

If you haven't seen all of these different types of drivers on the road, bless your heart. They're coming.

I only wish I could avoid these types of drivers at all costs, but unfortunately, I cannot. They always find me and they always irk me (:

PLEASE make conscious, smart, INTELLIGENT decisions while driving. You could put not only your own life but some other innocent person's life at risk. Think before you act. It's that simple.

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