“But she’s a witch, Mom—I don’t wanna go!”
“She’s not a witch honey. And every soccer team she’s coached ends up at the championship. Google it, you’ll see.”
“She doesn’t even look like a soccer coach. Her clothes are crazy, her hair is wild. Plus, she’s ancient Mom—she’s way older than you! She’ll probably be dead before the season is over.”
“Thank you dear.”
“No, but really! She’s got whiskers, Mom! Why can’t we have our other coach?”
“Because he’s gone. He’s gone and no one can find him, and seriously sweetheart, I think we’re pretty lucky. You need to google this coach because her record is….”
“Coach Agnes? Agnes? Jules said she’s not playing for a witch and neither am I.” Alexis threw herself down heavily on the sofa and let her backpack slide to the floor with a thud. Her mom went about collecting her soccer gear and clothes, glancing at her watch.
“Up!” She said, grabbing her daughter’s hand, pulling the dead weight up off the couch. “Come on, I don’t want to be late.”
“No buts, in the car, missy.”
Later Alexis stood sullenly, one hip jutting out, arms crossed tightly across her chest. She still didn’t have her team shirt on. Or her shoes. In fact, she looked like she was ready for the mall. The other girls on the team were half-heartedly going through their warm ups. And now the “Coach” was heading straight for the girl, her long, skinny shadow preceding her, step by step closer, finally enveloping Alexis in darkness. She shivered and looked up at the old lady, trying to hide her fear with a dismissive sneer. It didn’t work.
“I hear you think I’m a witch. Maybe more witch than Coach, yes?”
Alexis narrowed her eyes and tightened her lips. She wasn’t going to give in.
Coach Agnes snorted. “Ha. I’ve dealt with your type a thousand time before, girlie. So let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?” Coach looked over her shoulder and back at Alexis, leaning in closer. Alexis could smell her sulphur breath. “I win championships, okay? You girls haven’t won a championship in…oh, I don’t know,” the old lady snapped her fingers, old reptile eyes sparking. “Oh wait! Never. Not EVER! And I don’t like that, do you?”
Alexis found herself shaking her head no. And somewhere inside her she realized she really didn’t like it. She really didn’t like losing all the time.
“No, I didn’t think so. So here I am, and just in time. You girls don’t know how lucky you are.”
“But you don’t look like a coach or act like one, you’re too old and too…”
“Ancient, yes I know. Enough of that, Alexis,” she said, resting her arthritic hand on the girl’s shoulder. Alexis felt some strange surge of energy seeping into her, felt her resistance just slipping away and even more astonishing, felt a tiny spark of excitement taking its place.
“You…you really think we could win?”
“No, sweetheart,” said the witch, laying her arm across Alexis’ shoulders, urging her onto the field. “I KNOW we can win.” The old lady laughed, softly at first and then more loudly, a loud cackling laugh that echoed across the field, the parking lot with its SUVs, the nearby parks and neighborhoods, letting everyone know there was a new coach in town.