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Final Fantasy X Sketchbook

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Slowly I sink into the water of the warm-up pool, putting myself back into my element, back in control. Tonight's game is a big one for the Abes, and I need to clear my head before it starts; I can't afford any distractions if I want this to be my break-out performance. I want the water to wash away the traces of unpleasant memories which plague me no matter where I go. They are making me second-guess myself.

Man, just an hour ago, I was on top of the world. This is a huge blitzball tournament, and it feels like half of Zanarkand is looking to me. They don’t doubt my ability to win the game for my team even though I am the youngest player. I could barely leave my house this evening without being engulfed in a buzzing mob. Boys beg me for an autograph on their blitzballs, and plead me to teach them the game. I feel like a god. Girls who don’t even play ask me for autographs too. I’m pretty sure they were starting to swoon. I admit it, I get caught up in it all. I tell the girls I’ll score a goal for them, and meet them after the game. I promise the boys that tomorrow I will practice with them. This is my life!

And yet, it seems that no matter how successful I am, this life is not mine. As I hurry towards the stadium, I am stopped by more well-wishers. I am positively beaming until the name comes up again: Jecht. “We expect no less from Jecht’s son,” they say, and my grin evaporates from my face. “Will we see THAT shot tonight?” they continue, oblivious to the cloud that covers my face. All I can do is mutter something like ‘we’ll see’ and turn away. I am greeted by the image of my old man, cocky grin and all, plastered across a billboard. Smug bastard is still looking down on me. Even as I press onward, I can overhear the children muttering “I wish I had a father like Jecht…”

I shouldn’t let it bother me like this. After all, I am playing in the Jecht Memorial Tournament. Still, it’s eating me up inside how gaga the city is going for a man who’s been gone ten years. It’s not like they knew him. If they did, if they lived with him like I did and got a glimpse of the man he truly was behind all that swagger, they wouldn’t be swapping “where I was when I heard about Jecht’s disappearance” stories. Worst of all, no matter what I do, it will always be beneath his shadow. He was the best blitzball player there was, and even if I rise to that level, it will always be because of my lineage. It makes me wonder why I even took up the sport at all.

I close my eyes and listen to the hum of the stadium. The energy out there is electric. I feel the ripples gently beat against my chest. The water is cool and cleansing. Soon, my thoughts turn to our opponents. My teammates have told me many times that they play dirty. Well, tonight it won’t help them at all! I think about those girls. I owe them a goal. I think about the boys. I really do owe them one too. My heartbeat quickens and my fists clench as I imagine what it will be like in the pool, dodging tackles, winding up to fire…

And I see myself begin to flip backwards… No matter what, tonight is the night I will perform THAT shot. Then, no one can say my old man was the best. It will be me! I'll surpass him at his own game, and the fact that it will happen on the night honoring him will make it all the better. This is my reason for taking up blitzball, there's no point in denying it.

I take a huge breath, then dive, letting the water swallow me. Ten years of preparing for this moment will pay off, I swear it.