Chapter 4:

Mundane Morning: Cole

Insurmountable Odds

I opened my eyes to a beam of sunlight reflecting directly into my face. I shut my eyes tightly as I waved my arm over my nightstand haphazardly in search of my phone, almost breaking my glasses in the process. After grabbing it, I moved it overtop my face and slowly opened my eyes. 7:56.

“Ughh.” I groaned as I pushed myself up to a sitting position.

I looked around my dorm room to try and figure out who the culprit behind the beam of sunlight was; my gaze landing on the silver crutches my mom forced me to bring leaning against the foot of my bed.

I haven’t needed them in almost a year, she’s such a worrier.

I small smile escaped my lips as I thought about my family before I remembered that I was, in fact, awake when I should be asleep. Knowing I could no longer fall back to sleep, I begrudgingly stood up fully and made my way to the bathroom, making sure to shift my crutches along the way.

Without turning on the light, I turned on the shower and took my medications while waiting for the water to heat up a bit. The weak stream from the shower head was barely suitable to keep me conscious as I continued my morning routine. After finishing my shower, I put in my contacts and brushed my teeth methodically before trudging back into the main room.

Honestly, it still didn’t feel real. I moved into my room a few days ago to get acclimated but even still, just looking around now fills me with a surreal feeling. After taking in the moment, I finished getting ready, changing into my baggy jeans and dark jacket.

It’s hot but it’s better than the stares.

I booted up my laptop and proceeded to play some games and watch a few random videos to pass the time. After a couple hours had passed my phone alarm blared next to me, distracting me from the game I was playing and causing me to throw a team fight.

Shit, I forgot to turn that off from this morning.

I silenced my phone alarm, checking the time simultaneously. It was only 9:00 so I had a little longer to go until I had to leave for the club fair. Honestly, I considered skipping the whole thing, but I figured I might as well at least check it out. Maybe I could try something new and discover a hidden side of myself.

I sighed again, redirecting my attention back to my laptop.

After I finished my game, I switched tabs and began searching up popular clubs and societies at Briarson University. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of attempting to navigate through the labyrinth that was my college’s home page and only found the list with under ten minutes to spare.

I continued to scroll through the alphabetized list until around the letter “K” before having to sign off, nothing grabbing my attention. I shut down my computer, stretched my arms, grabbed my phone, and left my room.

The summer breeze was light against what little skin I had exposed. I squinted into the sky, my contacts burning holes through my corneas, the sunlight assisting in their aggravated attack. Even through my sunglasses, it took a second for my eyes to adjust to the outside world enough to see even a few feet ahead.

I started walking to the club fair, crossing the street to avoid anyone coming in my direction. I don’t have social anxiety; I just don’t like dealing to people. As I approached the venue, I could hear an announcement being made over the outdated speakers in the distance, although it was too far away and grainy to make out. As the announcement ended, the crowd began shifting.

So it begins…

I took my place at the back of the sluggish line, refusing handouts of maps and water on my way into the massive complex. After I entered the space, I attempted to slide past the crowd of students in order to make my way to the clubs and societies I hadn’t already scouted online. I didn’t need some overly enthusiastic college kids trying to sell me on something I already knew I wouldn’t care about.

After mild amounts of disappointment, I arrived at a new isle of clubs and recruiters preaching mundane nonsense. For instance, I don’t know what premed student wants to be, or even cares about, matadors in any capacity but there shouldn’t be enough to have an entire club about them!

Just as my disappointment began transforming into annoyance at the entirety of humanity, I saw a stand that grabbed my attention. It was by far the worst, most phoned-in, set up in the entire venue. The pictures were faded, the sign and information were handwritten in black Sharpie, and the poster board it all was tacked upon still had the $5 price tag in the top left corner.

“The MMA Club” the ajar signage sat, shoddily drawn by the same person with the black Sharpie, on the table below.

Even so, I couldn’t stop looking at it. I picked up a seizure-inducing pamphlet resting next to the sign and began flipping through the pages.

The first meeting starts in while the club fair is going on? And it’s in an entirely different location? What a joke!

I thought it would be hard to avoid getting back involved with martial arts at university but at this rate, it’ll be a breeze.

I continued looking at the board and pamphlet for a couple of minutes.

Just checking out the first session couldn’t hurt, right?

At that thought, I turned around and started pushing past the oncoming crowd in an attempt to leave the club fair, quietly apologizing to anyone I ran into. Sadly, there wasn’t enough time to give a proper apology thanks to the awful planning on the part of the MMA club.

After I ran a short way in the overbearing sun, I took a break in the shade outside of the sport center’s club hall where the MMA club would be holding its meeting. I regretted not accepting that water bottle at the beginning of the club fair but how would I know I’d be forced to jump through hoops for some dumb club. I was beginning to regret wearing such heavy and dark clothing.

After I caught my breath, I searched the long hallway until I found the clubroom labeled “MMA” at the end of the building, the sign taped to the door written in a familiar black Sharpie.

“Fitting,” I sighed as I walked into the room apprehensively.

Miao Miao