The Substitute

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
One of the darts team is unable to play in an important practice match.

Submitted: September 04, 2016

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Submitted: September 04, 2016

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The Substitute

 

Brian, Jeff, Gordon and Gary were waiting for Ian. He was late for their big darts match, the final practice before the championship. Bad enough that Frank couldn’t play because of a wrist injury.

 

If I rest it now, it’ll be okay for next week,” he’d insisted. “And come on.....Which is more important?”

 

They hadn’t been able to argue with that but it had messed up their plans. Now, with Ian holding the whole thing up they were starting to get impatient. Every time the door to the bar opened they expected it to be him. Five minutes, ten minutes, now fifteen minutes late. Brian and Gary went to the dart board and started tossing the darts. If they waited much longer some other kid would take it over, or even worse a couple of the locals, and then there would be no telling what time their practice would get to start.

 

And thenthere he is, Ian, their best player. Short, thin, but excellent at placing those darts on that board. And he’s got company – a girl. That explains why he’s late, anyway. She’s no one they’ve seen before, doesn’t look like she is long out of school. Beautiful, no. But cool, casual, almost as though she is not really there. And there is something about her that makes them accept her.

 

Sorry, guys,” Ian said. “This is Jen.”

 

A few ‘Hi’s’ and ‘How are you’s’. Ian walked off to the bar for his pint and her shot of JD, which she knocked back straight off without even a splutter or a wince. She gains a bit of respect when she then heads back to the bar for her next double and pays for another round for all of them.

 

They then turned to the serious discussion of the practice teams and the disaster of Frank’s injury. It seemed to be a very complicated problem to solve and there was much debate of how to proceed.

 

I’ll play,” Jen said.

 

That’s a girl,” said Ian.

 

Have you played before?” asked Jeff.

 

No, never. But how hard can it be? I’ll give it a go if it will help you out of a problem.”

 

And so they had got going, taking turns, keeping score. Jen went back to the bar for another double JD. And to her credit she was still dead steady on her feet, not the hint of a slur in her speech.

 

Come on, then Jen. Come and have a go.”

 

Jen was left-handed so she had to find her own stance. She looked at the board, weighed up the dart, then threw it straight into the centre of the board. Not just one dart either, but all three. And she didn’t even seem to go through much of an aiming process.

 

Hey, well done.”

 

A spot of beginner’s luck.”

 

Are you sure you’ve never played before?”

 

Jen had just smiled and took all the remarks in her stride. She hadn’t cared that they thought it was a fluke; she’d done well and that was okay. Brian bought a round and again she had knocked back her drink.

 

She watched the others take their turns. Ian was definitely the most consistent, followed by Brian and Gordon. Frank had come up and sat beside her. “Shame I’m out of action tonight, lass. I’d be able to give you a real demonstration.”

 

Jen had nodded her head, not wanting to get into a discussion on the merits of each player’s accomplishments. She was saved from answering by her own turn, and again her three darts had headed straight to that centre. When it came to getting doubles to finish she was spot on too. The guys were impressed but there was a bit of resentment that this.....girl, had just dropped in and beaten the lot of them.

 

It’s a shame you can’t be part of the team, Jen, but this is darts you’re talking of. Guys only, you know,” Jeff said. “But if they ever change the rules.....”

 

How come you’re so accurate? You’ve not missed once. Do you put a spell on them or something?” Ian had been quite surprised by his girlfriend’s performance. She’d certainly impressed his mates.

 

Oh, you know. Us girls always have to learn to keep an eye on the bull!” Jen smiled and then had made her way casually back to the bar.

 

And over the next few months she did play again, several times a week. She never had such a successful night again and gradually her appearances at the pub became less frequent. But even though several years have passed there is still sometimes a mention of Jen, the darts phenomenon.


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