#383: Players - 2015-10-08

It was already past three in the afternoon, and heat began to be felt at its greatest intensity of the day. At Chanco there were 24°C, for most people a rather enjoyable temperature.

There wasn't much motivation to get too far from the pool and the beach chairs; clearly the place lacked a lot if it wanted to be attractive for summer visitors. There wasn't a lot of time remaining, either; soon it would all end and they would have to leave, to never return. Some of the kids aimed to get the most of their stay there; others couldn't wait to leave.

When teacher Muñoz wanted to organize this trip, he wanted to break a dynamic he observed between his students; by now he already gave up on it, he didn't want to meddle in their relationships anymore. Also, he would be in charge of a different classroom next year, a new fifth grade.

That dynamic was centered in two main groups: one of them headed by Catalina and Javiera, and the other one headed by Emilia and Judith; a third group was being formed around Rodolfo and Marcela. The teacher's idea was to help students from both groups get to know each other better and also to integrate the kids who were further to the main blocks. However, the group dynamics remained present, in the teams the boys formed in order to play ball, at the table football duos, at the chairs where each kid sat during breakfast and lunch and at the bus, when they used the beach chairs, etc., etc.

Soon, the teacher concluded that such dynamics obeyed the personality of the students themselves, to the perceptions they had of each other, the chemistry between them. It was an equilibrium that he couldn't and shouldn't attempt to break.


The billiards table. about which the teacher never told the kids because his relatives were using it during the morning, was now vacant, hidden behind a door that nobody had dared to open. José Vásquez was the first one curious enough to open it, and when he discovered what was inside that room he invited three of his classmates to join him: Li Xiaoshang, Rodolfo Hahn and Marcela Kahn.

- “ Do you want to defy us, José? “ - said Rodolfo - “ I want you to know that we have a pool table at home, and that my cousins and me are very good at it. ”

- “ I also have a table at home. ” - said Li Xiaoshang - “ Mom and grandma love to play, and we play every Saturday. ”

- “ Oooh... What a surprise... I suppose that it'll be more fun this way. To be honest, I don't have a lot of practice, as I can only get to play when we go to my grandparents' house in Chillán. Though the last time I gave a beating to my brother... Yeah, let's play! ”

They were then encountered by Lucio Gómez, who was returning from the bathroom.

- “ What's up, ‘Rudolf’? ” - Lucio asked.

- “ We're going to play pool. Do you play? ”

- “ No, thanks. I have a lousy aim. I'll watch you play for a while, though. ”

- “ As you wish. ”

Alonso was alone at a side of the swimming pool. He was bothered by Judith's question because, though it was already a long while since they last made fun of him because of the girls he formerly liked, he still couldn't get over the many times he has been rejected. Yes, he was quite inclined to fall in love, but that was nobody's business. Also, Judith was his friend, she was supposed to support him, not to make fun of him this way. She knew many of his secrets and consoled him many times, but now she was treating as a joke something that was very serious to him.

No, Alonso and Judith were never anything other than friends. Judith in particular liked a boy she only saw a few times, a tall, slim, dark-skinned boy who was always running around. Apparently, he didn't go to the same school, but lived close to Judith's house. Alonso knew about this, but never made fun of Judith because of it. And he wouldn't do something like that; that would be to put himself on the same level as...

- “ Traitor! Traitor! Traitor! Traitor! Traitor! Yeah, that's what you are! Traitor! Traitor! Traitor! You're no longer my friend, Judith! You're just like everyone else, like all the girls! Nobody understands my feelings! They all make fun of me, even you do! I can't trust you anymore! Traitor! Traitor! Traitor! Traitor! Traitor! Traitor! ”

The sound of a splash made him stop with his mantra and the water that sprinkled over him cooled his head. When he opened his eyes he saw Rosa's head standing out of the water. Then, he remembered that the girl from sixth grade who stood as a substitute Math teacher during April of that year was her little sister.

- “ Rosa... Do you have a moment? ”

Rosa looked around, confused. It was the first time Alonso said anything to her in a long time.

- “ Yes? ”

- “ Could I speak with you for a minute? ”

- “ ... Yes, I guess. Let me get out of the water. ”

For Alonso, Rosa was a ‘special’ person, a girl who was quite different to the other ones, loving and admirable but also quite infantile and without much charm. Though it was none of his business and he would never tell this to her, he knew that she was wasting her time while in love of Rafael. Actually, he knew a lot about his female classmates and about the girls of most of the morning session, he knew who was in a relationship and who was single... If Alonso Zúñiga and Carlos Mansilla were friends, the latter would have never needed to make his survey.

Alonso brought Rosa to a hallway near the showers, away from everyone else.

- “ So? ” - asked Rosa, a bit nervous.

- “ Tell me, Rosa... ” - Alonso asked . “ Do you know the girls from class 6-A? ”

- “ ... Some of the girls that are my sister's friends. For what? It's about the girl you mentioned? ”

- “ It's that... I don't know much about her. I always see her, but I never could muster the courage to go and talk to her,,, ”

Alonso made a pause, and became quite restless.

- “ ... It's the redhead. Do you know her? What's her name? ”

Rosa sighed. She would have to give bad news.


- “ Yeah, her name is Luz Vergara... and you should forget about her. My brother also likes her, but he told me that there was already a boy she liked. Also... a girl like that must have a lot of pretenders. Don't you think so?

- “ Not that your brother is dating someone else? ”

- “ I have two brothers. Pedro is 10 years old, but he likes older girls. He left Luz alone, and I advice you to do the same. If you don't, well, stand in the waiting line. And you better start practicing your karate, because you're not in a good shape. ”

Alonso was surprised by Rosa's honest answer. Up to this moment, Alonso, who had a weakness for cute girls, never thought about his own physical attractiveness as a way to attract them. It just never crossed his mind, that in order to get a girl he likes she should also like him in the same way.

- “ ... I'm not in a good shape... wow, it's true... maybe I've been asking for too much... huh... But why ‘karate’? ”

- “ My younger brother is already a green belt. He's quite skilled, and also very strong. ”

- “ Whoa... say, do you practice Karate too? ”

- “ No, I don't. I spent some time practicing with my siblings... but I just can't control my strength well, I always overdo it... also, I don't like it. I prefer to stay in shape in a safer, less violent way. ”

Alonso then gave a quick look to Rosa's legs... yeah, these were some very strong legs. Compared to her, Alonso felt like a poor weakling, a defenseless kid who was lightyears away from being the dream man of any of the girls around his age range.

- “ Well, thank you for your time. I think I'll go throw myself to the pool for a while. ”

Before plunging himself to the pool, Alonso looked around. Arnoldo, Fulvio, Agustín, Rafael... all of them were in better shape. Pablo was in a similar state to him, but Alonso didn't like fat girls. If he wanted something better, he would have to start getting in shape... horror.