Chapter 1 - Prologue
“You know, I got married at nineteen” my mom tells me, causing me to roll my eyes. I don’t know how many times she needs to keep telling me that.
“I know that mom” I say annoyed. “This isn’t the first time you have told me.”
“You are twenty-seven Kelley” my mom says in a sad tone. “You are eight years older than I was when I got married but you don’t even have someone special never mind an engagement ring.”
“Thank you for reminding me mother” I sarcastically reply.
“I am just saying that time is not too favourable, I am not suggesting that you should’ve married at nineteen but I did think you would be married by now” my mom tells me. “You don’t seem like you want to settle down, which is fine if that’s what you truly want, but all you did when you were a little girl was dream about your perfect wedding.”
“I do want to settle down, I want the same as what you and dad have” I admit truthfully. My parents have this amazing relationship and are so solid as a partnership. Sure they have had their ups and downs but they worked hard to get through it and I really admire them for it.
“Then you can have it, you are an amazing woman Kelley” my mom says with a smile. “Anyone would be lucky to have you.”
“Thanks” I say.
“You just need to put some effort into finding the person you are going to marry” my mom adds making me once again roll my eyes like a child. “Like I said before, time is not on our side. Your grandma desperately wants to see you walk down the aisle and after her heart scare earlier this year she is more concerned that she won’t see her precious Kelley take her vows.”
“I get that mom but just because I want to get married doesn’t mean I am not willing to wait for the right person” I explain before I take a seat at the kitchen table. “You met your soulmate in high school so it made perfect sense that you got married so early but I haven’t met mine and to be honest I don’t even know if I am close to meeting mine.”
“What about David from college?” my mom asks to which I can’t help but laugh at.
“He was just a phase mom, we all know if I get married it will be to a woman” I say. “The only reason you liked David was because his dad owned a wine company and you got a bottle of wine every time he came to visit.”
“I suppose, my favourite person you dated has to be Hannah” my mom says with a big smile. “Hannah was the best why did that not work out honey?” mom questions. “You only give me a vague answer of ‘we didn’t suit each other’ but never tell me how you concluded that.”
“Hannah was a nice woman and we had fun together but we were the total opposite of one another” I reply with a small smile. I did really like Hannah and if the circumstances were different then maybe she and I would have went the distance. “I know opposites attract but we were far too different.”
“Sometimes being totally different does work in your favour though” my mom reasons. “Look at your dad and I, we are different in so many ways but it works.” My mom places a comforting hand on my knee as she sits down next to me. “Your dad was this quiet, hardworking guy and I was a really loud cheerleader who didn’t know when to shut the hell up. Your dad had a vision for the future whereas I didn’t even have a clue what I was having for dinner that night.”
“You and dad are… you’re soulmates no matter how different you are” I say.
“Your soulmate is out there honey, just go and find her” my mom explains before kissing my cheek. “You never know, it could be Hannah or it could be the last person you would ever expect” she adds. “Don’t go out determined to find your soulmate, just make sure you are open to letting her find you.”
“Ok” I say. Who knew visiting your family before you head back to Olympic training camp included a very deep and somewhat awkward conversation with your mom about your ‘soulmate’. I only believe in soulmates because of my parents’ relationship but I also believe that some people may not have a soulmate and I may just be one of them. My grandma O’Hara means a lot to me, obviously I’ve always dreamt of her at my wedding but if it doesn’t happen then it’s not the end of the world. Maybe I am not meant to be with anyone but I’m ok with that, well I’m not actually but after the mess between Hannah and me then I can’t fake a relationship with someone.
“Anyway, your dad will be home soon and I know he is looking forward to seeing his little princess” my mom tells me with a grin on her face.
“I am twenty-seven, I wish he would stop calling me that” I say acting offended.
“You would be upset if he didn’t call you that sweetheart.”
“No comment” I reply with a smile. “When are Erin and Jerry getting here, I miss them?”
“They will be here in a couple of hours so while we wait you can help me prepare the food for tonight, I’ve invited a lot of people who are desperate to see you. We never get to see you these days.”
“I know mom but that’s part of being a professional soccer player” I say. “Once the Olympics are over then you will see a lot more of me, I promise.”
“I know sweetie” my mom then kisses my cheek again before she pulls me over towards the fridge. “You are on chopping duty honey.”
We’re finally here. I’m in Rio for my second Olympics and I couldn’t be more excited, we have a great team and a great spirit. I really believe we are going to take that gold again, I can feel it.
“Ok, dinner is at six and the team meeting thereafter” Dawns shouts above the noise. “I suggest you all head to your rooms and get settled in, from here on out it will be all business until we get the gold. See you all at dinner.” And with that we are all dismissed.
“Kriegs?” I shout quietly since Ali was the closest to me.
“Yeah?” Ali answers with a grin.
“Who am I rooming with?” I ask. “I wasn’t paying attention, I was distracted as usual” I say before Ali and I both laugh.
“You’re with Hope” Ali answers.
“Cool” I say with a smile before I walk towards the elevators with Ali. At the last Olympics, in London, I was roomed with Hope on a number of occasions which turned out to be really great for me. It was my first major tournament in defence so rooming with someone as soccer-smart as Hope helped implicitly. London is where Hope and I formed a friendship, sure we are not best friends but we are definitely friendly and I am grateful for her for helping me become the defender I am today.
Hope and I sort of lost touch after London, we still spoke and hung out during camp but outside of camp we rarely communicated. I don’t know why but London was so unique and special, I opened up to Hope in ways that I would never imagine opening up to my best friends; Alex and Tobin. It feels incredibly weird now that I let myself go that deep, I told Hope things that I’ve never told anyone yet Hope is the person on the team that I communicate with the least. It is so strange how I could be that raw with someone but yet we never became friends as such, in London I wouldn’t think twice about talking about my deepest secrets with Hope but now she is just a friendly teammate. Nothing happened between Hope and I, we never had an argument or anything to break the bond we made in London. I guess we just drifted or London was so special that we were completely different people for those two and a half weeks. I really don’t understand how that tournament done that to me, was it meant to be a symbol or something. I really don’t know.
“Kelley!” I hear behind me before I hear a few chuckles.
“What?” I say confused.
“You’ve just walked right by your room” Alex explains before laughing. “Tobin was shouting at you to stop but you kept walking right ahead. You looked like you were on a mission.”
“I’m sorry, I was just lost in my own thoughts” I reply. I really hope four years from now I won’t look back on this Olympic experience with as much confusion. The journey to winning gold in London never confused me, only my personal journey throughout. What was so special about London? What was so special about Hope and me in London? How could I act like that with her back then but yet feel so distanced from her now? Maybe those are not the right questions, maybe the question is; what is so special about Hope Solo, other than her playing ability I mean.
“Are you ok Kelley?” I hear Christen’s voice this time breaking me from my thoughts.
“I’m fine” I reply. “Just fine.”
“Ok then, see you at dinner I guess?” Christen says and I nod with a smile. “Come on Tobes, I need your help with that thing.”
“What thing… oh yeah, that thing” Tobin says before looking at Alex and me. “See you at dinner.” With that Tobin is dragged away by christen.
“I am going to head to my room to unpack but if you want we could hang out at bit before dinner” Alex suggests. “I thought you, Tobin and I could explore the hotel before dinner but it looks like Tobin is otherwise engaged.”
“Looks like it” I say with a laugh. “Give me an hour to shower and unpack and then we can explore.”
“Ok, I will see you back here in an hour” Alex says before she walks off to her room and I enter mine.
“Hey” I say loudly when I enter the room.
“Hi” Hope says from her spot on one of the beds. “I hope you don’t mind that I took this bed, you usually like the one next to the window so I left that free for you.”
“Thanks” I reply with a smile. “What are your plans before dinner?”
“Once I have finished unpacking I think I am just going to read my book” Hope answers.
“You are welcome to come exploring with Alex and I if you want” I offer.
“Thanks but I am quite happy with my book” Hope declines politely.
“It’s funny how we are roomed together again, we haven’t roomed together properly since the last Olympics” I say as I sit on my bed.
“We’ve roomed together dozens of times since then” Hope says looking confused.
“Yeah but I meant properly” I say but Hope still looks confused. “It’s only really been for a night or two since then where you would get up before I was awake and when I would get back to the room at night you would be sound asleep.”
“Right” Hope says.
“I find it different rooming with someone at a big tournament from any other time during camp” I explain. “We never roomed together at the world cup so the last major tournament we roomed together at was the Olympics and now here we are again.”
“I guess” Hope says. Hope isn’t one who likes to talk too much, not as much as me anyway. I over talk sometimes.
“Do you ever look back to London and find it strange?” I ask.
“I suppose, British people live slightly differently from us but I wouldn’t say London is a strange place” Hope responds. “Just different.”
“I didn’t mean the city being strange” I say with a small laugh. “I meant the way you and I were in London.”
“I don’t follow” Hope says looking thoroughly confused. “What do you mean, our team dynamic or something?”
“Not exactly” I answer. “I meant how we were around one another, how you and I acted with one another.” Hope just looks blankly at me, I am usually quite good at figuring people out but I am really struggling to work Hope out. I can’t decide if she is genuinely confused or just a really good actor. “I told you things that no one else knows, every night I would bare all my feelings to you and you would listen to me and reassure me about stuff.”
“Yeah” Hope says.
“We are not like that now and we weren’t before London” I say, trying to get Hope to say more so I can judge her stance on London.
“I know” Hope says and then she just looks at me. This is probably one of the times I wish that Hope was a talkative person because I am really struggling here trying to hold this conversation on my own.
“What was so special about London that made us so different around each other?” I question. “I don’t understand how we could be that close in London but so far away now.”
“I don’t understand it either” Hope says like it isn’t really important.
“Why did you open up to me in London?” I ask. “What was so special about London? Why couldn’t we talk like that after the Olympics?”
“I am not very good with words or feelings Kelley” Hope says. “It takes a lot for me to let someone in, I am very reserved and opening up to someone scares me to death. I hate being vulnerable.”
“I know that” I say gently with a comforting smile. “In London, you did let me in but as soon as the Olympics finished it was like our friendship did too.”
“We are still friends” Hope says.
“Barely, we hardly talk to one another unless it is necessary” I say. “Why did you open up to me back then?”
“Because I trusted you” Hope says.
“Do you not trust me now? Did you not trust me after the Olympics?” I ask without pausing. “Why did you trust me in London and then suddenly act like you didn’t know me as soon as we touched down in the US.”
“We were in a bubble in London Kel” Hope starts. “All we had was each other and the rest of the team but when we got home, we both had our own lives to go back to. You had other people to talk to about stuff, I wasn’t needed anymore.”
“If you are trying to insinuate that I only opened up to you because I had no other choice then you are wrong” I say getting annoyed. “I didn’t use you Hope, I wouldn’t use you like that just because I didn’t have anyone else to talk to.”
“I didn’t mean that, I just meant…”
“The things I told you about, I had never spoke to anyone else about them before” I say. “I didn’t talk to you about those things because you were the only person available Hope, I did it because I made a connection with you and I trusted you.”
“I’m sorry, I guess I didn’t understand that” Hope says looking a little sad. “This is exactly the reason I don’t get close to people, I always fuck things up.”
“No you don’t” I say as I stand up and then sit next to Hope on her bed. “I guess I didn’t understand either, I should have made it more obvious that I wanted our friendship to continue after London.”
“We both had other things going on in our lives back then and I guess over time we never had the chance to be what we were in London” Hope says.
“This is going to sound really weird but sometimes I wish we could be back there again” I say. “In London” I clarify. “I liked it when I could talk to you, it was like I wasn’t alone because I wasn’t the only one with fears, and you had fears too. I could tell you something and I wasn’t embarrassed.”
“Sometimes I wish I could go back too” Hope says in a whisper. “But the thought that I could be so open with someone I barely knew scares the shit out of me, I hardly knew you before London yet after London you knew everything about me.”
“We are so opposite to each other yet I have a connection with you that I have never had with anyone else” I say.
“You are my total opposite but for some reason I have a deeper connection with you than I do with my own family, with my husband for that matter” Hope tells me.
“You are not my soulmate are you?” I ask jokingly to try and lighten the mood.
“I don’t think so” Hope says with a laugh. “I’m sorry that we didn’t continue our friendship.”
“Me too” I answer. “I want you to know that I haven’t and I won’t tell anyone about what we told each other, I won’t ever disclose any of the stuff you told me back in London.”
“I know you won’t, I still trust you Kel” Hope says with a smile. “Just because we became distant doesn’t mean that my trust in you went with it, what we tell each other stays between us.”
“Ok” I say with a nod. “Friends?” I ask as I hold out my pinkie causing Hope to roll her eyes playfully before she intertwines her pinkie with mine.
“Friends” Hope says.