In 2020 my creative juices were flowing as I penned three award-nominated (not actually nominated) horror stories about youth soccer. Whether the story was about a murderous sprinkler, haunted basement boots or a petrifying porta-potty, you could always count on some nightmarish and relatable scenario taking place.
This story is about the terrifying experience of running late and not knowing where you’re going.
To provide some context, this tale takes place in the mid to late 2000’s. The fancy, schmancy iPhone that tells you exact directions has yet to be invented.
Mom Takes A Wrong Turn
My nerves were at an all-time high. Today was the last game of the U-13 soccer league I played in, and my team was going up against the team in first place. My team wasn’t half bad and sat sixth in the league, however, to advance to a higher league next spring we needed to win today.
It was a gray, chilly and cloudy day. When I opened the shades that morning, I thought about how much it’s going to sting when that cold rock disguised as a soccer ball hits any of my exposed skin.
I went through the motions of the morning soccer game routine. Put on the uniform I laid out the night before, load up my bag and wait for mom to finish whatever random tasks she’s doing. It’s incredible how she’s always in a rush to get out the door yet finds anyway possible to delay our departure.
This time around she was battling with the printer for directions to the game. The team we’re playing is practically on the other side of the state, so we had quite the trip ahead of us.
The printer was low on ink so the directions that now sat on the dash of this rust bucket of a 1999 Plymouth van looked more like ancient ruins than directions.
After escorting me out the house in a frazzled and distressed manner, we hit the road. I was already worried about the journey before it began. You see, my mother isn’t great with directions. She could get lost on our own street and we live in a cul-de-sac.
The drive to the opponent’s soccer fields was a whopping two hours. With kickoff at 10 a.m. and my mom finally on the road by 7:30, we were already cutting things a little close.
Mom forgot to fill up on gas the night before, so we lost another 10 minutes getting gas AND she didn’t let me get a snack. I don’t believe her “you’re going to get cramps” excuse for a second. I don’t understand why we’re penny pinching the gas station snack department when she gets Starbucks every morning.
The first hour of the drive is relatively uneventful apart from the 20-minute tirade from my mom about how ABBA and Madonna made real music unlike artists today.
I dozed off for the next 30 minutes of the drive but was woken up by the sound of flustered noises coming from the driver’s seat. My mom was lost. Great.
She passes me back whatever hieroglyphics the printer provided us for directions and asks me for help as if I had any idea where we were. I was asleep for the last half hour! We may as well have been in Zarasai, Lithuania, because I had no clue what I was seeing outside the window.
We were eventually able to deduce that she turned onto the wrong road and had missed her exit… 15 miles ago. We’re doomed. It was 9:40 a.m. at that point. I could maybe still get there right at kickoff and miss the warmup, but it was looking bleak.
After backtracking and listening to my mother curse out every other driver along the way, we eventually made it to the correct exit. Thankfully the soccer fields were close enough from there that she couldn’t get lost again.
My mom was pushing that old van to its limit. It felt like she was auditioning to be in the next “Fast and Furious” movie.
The next worry was her parking. She has zero confidence parking, and it was 9:57 a.m. at that point. In an effort to save time I started putting on my shin guards, socks and cleats. At least that’s what I thought I was going to do when I realized I forgot to put my socks in my soccer bag the night before.
“You WHAT?!?” my mom shrilled in utter bewilderment.
I’d have to borrow an extra pair from my teammates or something. It was too late to worry about socks as kickoff was in one minute.
Mom was just going to drop me off at the front and find parking by herself as we frantically approached our destination.
We turned the corner to the fields only to be greeted by an empty parking lot…
My face went pale and I felt a pit the size of soccer ball in my stomach.
“Oh yeah... Today is a home game.” I whispered.
My team would lose 3-0 without me, the drive back was completely silent and I didn’t dare ask to stop for a gas station snack.