What if you never score another goal in your life?
What if you never prove to them that you actually still have it in you?
What if they never realize your worth?
What if you can never repay the trust they had in you?
These were only a few of the questions that ran through his mind as he sat on the bench watching the game unfurl before his very eyes.
There once was a time such questions were banished to the outer regions of his mind, never to see the light of day. Alas with much doubt comes much uncertainty. Those questions had sneaked their way into his every day thought process and had taken a firm hold of his consciousness.
With every miss they became more persistent…with every bad game they got even louder. The victim unfortunately was his confidence. On some days it stood its ground, parrying such nonsensical thoughts with ease, unfortunately most days it was the opposite. His was the sad case of one of Europe’s most prolific scorers. Who went from sure fire hall of famer, to a guy who was the brunt of many a sad joke.
It all started in Spain where his legend took off. At 18 , he had been dubbed the ‘Prodigy’. Playing for Valencia, he had stunned the nation by scoring 19 goals in his first season. A feat that didn’t go unnoticed by the top clubs in Europe. The calls never stopped coming, trying to woo him to their respective teams. Valencia stood their ground, not buckling to the pressure of selling their young star. It turned out to be a smart move because his stock went up even more in his second season. This time he increased his goal tally by scoring 25 and giving a Valencia a top 3 berth and a slot in the Champions league. If the deluge of suitors in his previous season had been daunting, it was doubled after the season he had just had. The offers poured in, some quite lucrative. At the very same time, the Spanish national team called him up to be a part of their European title squad. It was a dream come true, for a kid who only a few years back didn’t even see football as a way out of poverty.
He had grown up in a single parent household, the last child out of three. His mother, God bless her soul, was the sole provider, often working two jobs to make sure there was food on the table.
Hilda was a very pretty woman, the belle of a little Spanish village by the sea. Interestingly enough, she just like her son now, was no stranger to suitors. It was almost as if every eligible man in the village was after her. Besieging her with gifts, begging for her hand in marriage.
Finally she married Alfonso, a young carpenter who had caught her eye. Theirs was a great love story but one destined for disaster. Alfonso it turned out had a nasty temper, and would often decorate Hilda’s face with his fists. To make matters worse, this temper seemed to come into play whenever he was out drinking. Hilda should have seen the warning signs but she desperately tried to work things out with him. Hoping and praying that he would change.
After the birth of their first child, things got better between the two. Business was booming and Alfonso was happier. He prided himself on being a good father and did everything he could to provide for his new family.
Once in a while he’d drink, but he made sure to keep his temper in check. Hilda had no cause for worry, she believed he had changed for good. Their second child, a beautiful girl that many said looked just like her mother was born two years after the first. Annabel was going to be a stunner, she was the replica of her mother in every aspect, Hilda was more than ecstatic about the beautiful family she had helped to create.
Unfortunately for her, the cracks in her marriage were about to widen. Alfonso was well on his way to reverting back to his old self and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
Frustrated with his life and the direction it was headed, he found solace in the bottle, his old confidant. He secretly blamed Hilda and her children for his woes. They were the leeches sucking the life blood out of him. Everything he worked for went into taking care of them.
Of course he never openly told them this, but it showed in his actions. He became colder and angrier, snapping at them at slight provocation. Hilda was shocked, unsure of where the resentment was coming from. Just like the last time, she believed it was only temporary and prayed he would over come whatever was bothering him.
Unbeknownst to her, Alfonso was having an affair with a woman across town. It seemed to placate his frayed nerves as he stopped drinking and became calmer at home once more. Hilda thought it was her prayers at work, and went about things happily, never suspecting that there might be some foul play involved.
It wasn’t long after wards that he impregnated her once more, ironically, right around the same time he knocked up his mistress across town.
Maybe it was the guilt weighing on his conscience, or maybe he was just tired of living a facade. Whatever his reasons on that fateful night, he walked into that house, packed up his things and told Hilda and his children that he was done with them.
Dumbfounded, Hilda could only watch with her kids as he left that house, bags in hand, headed off to his mistress’ home to begin a new life.
Four months to that very day, Andres Rafael was born. He would grow up not knowing who his father was, only the stories his siblings told of him, and his mother’s tearful recounts of his father.