Gracie Faltrain Gets it Right (Finally)

BOOK: Gracie Faltrain Gets it Right (Finally)
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Cath Crowley was born in Rosanna, Melbourne, but traded city life for a lush holiday farm in the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges where she roamed ten acres of land with her parents, three brothers and two dogs. Cath then went to university and studied to become a teacher. Her first character, Gracie, was born while she was watching some kids play soccer.
Gracie Faltrain Gets it Right (Finally)
is the third book in the Gracie trilogy. Cath's book
Chasing Charlie Duskin
was shortlisted for a Children's Book Council of the Year Award, Older Readers, in 2006. Cath now lives in Melbourne where she continues to write books for children.

Also by Cath Crowley

The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain
Gracie Faltrain Takes Control

Chasing Charlie Duskin

First published 2008 in Pan by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited
1 Market Street, Sydney
Text copyright © Cath Crowley 2008
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.
National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication data:
Crowley, Cath.
Gracie Faltrain gets it right (finally).
ISBN 9 780 330 42393 9.
1. Soccer for women – Juvenile fiction. 2. Friendship – Juvenile fiction. I. Title.
A823.3
Typeset in 11.5/15 pt Minion by Midland Typesetters, Australia Printed in Australia by McPherson's Printing Group
The characters and events in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Papers used by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd are natural, recyclable products made from wood grown in sustainable forests. The manufacturing processes conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin.

 

These electronic editions published in 2008 by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd
1 Market Street, Sydney 2000
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
All rights reserved. This publication (or any part of it) may not be reproduced or transmitted, copied, stored, distributed or otherwise made available by any person or entity (including Google, Amazon or similar organisations), in any form (electronic, digital, optical, mechanical) or by any means (photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise) without prior written permission from the publisher.
Gracie Faltrain Gets it Right (Finally)
Cath Crowley
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Online format  978-1-74198-154-4
Epub format  978-1-74262-464-8
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To Anthony and Cate, Peter and Ras, John and Marcella.

Acknowledgements

The last Gracie book has been a team effort. Thank you very much Anna McFarlane, Brianne Tunnicliffe and Karen Ward. Thank you Esther Crowley for writing my biography. Thank you Marina, Anna, Yosof, Ali, Emma, Karen, Liz, Kir, Frank, Mandy, Roj, Sue and Teresa for sharing your soccer and school stories. Special thanks to you, Amy Jackson, for your generous donation of time. Thanks Di for information about the school year and creative input. Thanks to all the students who have answered my endless questions about teenage life. Thanks Paul, Ant and Cate for writing advice. And of course, thanks to Mum and Dad.

Contents

Term One 31 January—30 March

School Soccer Season 14 April—1 September

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

State Soccer Trials 15 April—2 September

Chapter 8

Term Two 16 April—29 June

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Term Two, Day 16

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Mid-Year Exams

Chapter 50

End of Term Holidays

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Term Three 16 July—30 September

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

School Soccer Final 1 September

Chapter 63

State Finals 8—9 September

Chapter 64

Final Exams 5—23 November

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Term One
31 January—30 March

Every teacher tells you to study from day one in Year 12.
Trust me. Nothing important happens until April.
Gracie Faltrain

GRACIE

Relax. I told you nothing happened.

School Soccer Season
14 April—1 September

Now they're dates to mark on the Year 12 calendar.
Anyone can pass school.
But not everyone can pass the ball.
Gracie Faltrain

1
GRACIE

‘Make me proud out there, today,' Coach says. ‘New season, new start.'

The whistle goes and we're off, flying through our first school soccer game, sailing under a deep ocean sky and laughing. Sometimes life is perfect. It might only be like that for a second or it might be like that for as long as a year. It doesn't matter. You have to make the most of these moments while you can. You have to notice the good stuff. Like a fat sun shining when you expected rain. Like a game of soccer where you kick goals faster than the opposition can count.

‘Eyes on the ball, Faltrain, you're drifting out there,' Martin yells. Like a boyfriend watching from the side, willing you to win, even though he's in first year uni now and has other things to worry about.

I nod at Martin so he knows I've heard. He's here with his mum and dad and sister, Karen. This is the first time I've seen the Knight family together. Martin's mum has been
nothing but a voice floating through his head most of his life. She left eight years ago but now, thanks to me, she's back. Thanks to me, the sadness clouding Martin has cleared.

‘Faltrain!' Andrew Flemming yells, and passes. Dan Woodbury almost steals the ball but I'm faster. I kick to Anthony Francavilla. He kicks to goal. It's too easy. We win. We win, we win, we win.

I have Martin back by my side and a soccer ball at my feet. I have state trials coming up and a very, very strong feeling that I'm going to qualify for the squad. I have Mum and Dad and Jane and Alyce cheering from the side. ‘We knew you could do it; go Gracie, go.' Yep. I have it all. Welcome back to the life and times of Gracie Faltrain.

2
GRACIE

And now welcome back to reality. When I've got a little time to daydream, that's how I like to imagine things happened at the end of last season. No offence, but anyone hoping for an end that perfect needs to step away from the television. Life only turns out that way in the movies.

It is a blue-skied April day. That's the truth. It is the first school soccer game of the season and we are playing in the Firsts league again, so, clearly, we're still great. It's also true that we're up against Dan Woodbury's team. But like my best friend, Jane Iranian, says, I've got more chance of seeing the Brady Bunch in the crowd today than I do of seeing the Knight family.

At the end of last season I thought I'd get Martin back as my boyfriend. But he didn't just leave me after his exams. He left the state. And when that happens a girl doesn't need to take a
Cosmo
quiz to see that things are over. I don't blame him. He asked me not to find his mum and I did it anyway. I lied about it, too.

‘I'm sorry, Faltrain. Am I boring you?'

‘No, Coach. I'm listening.'

‘Good. And why is it important that you listen while I'm giving instructions?'

I take a wild guess. ‘Because I'm as big an idiot as the rest of the team?'

‘Wrong.'

‘Really? Thanks, Coach.'

‘Most of the time you're an even bigger idiot because you're working with Flemming.'

Ouch. Even for Coach, that was a little harsh. It's safe to say that Martin isn't the only one who has issues about the way I acted last year. Coach is yelling so hard today he's spitting like an April shower.

‘I don't want you kicking anyone in the balls this year, Faltrain.'

‘He asked for it, Coach.'

‘Trust me, no guy asks for that,' Flemming says.

‘I don't care what the other team asks for out there; let the ref handle it. You do not hit back.' He looks at Flemming. ‘You do not rub their faces in it when you win. You do not hog the ball.' He points at me.

In my defence, the guy's going back a long time, there. I haven't hogged the ball since Year 10. I'd remind him but I figure he has the right to blow off a little steam. Coach spent years making us the best team around. And then we stuffed up by making everyone who played us feel like crap when they lost. When we joined the Firsts competition last year Dan Woodbury organised every team in it to teach us a lesson.

They slammed us on the field. We slammed back harder. It got ugly. Almost-lose-a-boob-sort-of-ugly for me and almost-kill-someone-sort-of-ugly for Flemming. The only person on our team with enough brains to stop fighting was Martin.

I called a truce with Dan's team in the final. We played fair and square against the toughest side in the league and tied. I proved to Martin that I'd changed. But I proved it too late. So he gave up soccer. He told Coach he didn't want to be in a league next year at uni. He told me he didn't care that he'd been scouted for state trials.

I had a feeling he'd come home today. I couldn't sleep last night for imagining it. Nobody hold their breath, though, not unless there's someone close by who can do CPR. I've been rating less than zero on the ‘I'm right' scale lately and today won't be any different.

At least Jane's in the crowd. She moved to England in Year 10 and I almost lost her. I was so busy missing her that I missed that she was missing me too. When she stopped calling I thought it was because she didn't need me. It turned out she'd needed me for months but I was too busy thinking about myself to notice.

She came to visit in December. When she got off the plane it was like hugging the other half of me. ‘Not so tight, Faltrain,' she said. ‘I'm no fun without oxygen.' I couldn't lose her again, especially after losing Martin. I begged Mum and Dad to let her stay with us for Year 12. And they begged Mr and Mrs Iranian.

Alyce Fuller, my other best friend, is in the crowd, too. I didn't listen to her last year, either. I signed her up for the
comedy debate because I thought she needed to prove herself to people like Annabelle Orion. Alyce is worth a million of the kids who've given her crap since primary school. What hurt her most is that I couldn't see it.

I've got my eyes open and my ears on now. I'm a new-and-improved Gracie. I know I've said that before but this time it's true. If Martin ever comes back he's going to see a girl who doesn't fight. I've even reformed when it comes to Annabelle Orion. Sure, I still hate her. I mean, the girl's been my enemy since kindergarten. She threw herself off the swings and framed me for it; I can't wipe the slate clean after something like that. But I only call her a dog under my breath now, or behind her back.

It's because I have two great best friends this year that I can be a little kinder to people like Annabelle. There's safety in numbers. Jane and Alyce and I are like doughnuts. ‘Some girls don't like it when you compare them to something cheap, round and deep fried,' Jane said when I told her that. I meant that three doughnuts are always better than two.

‘Your head's not in the game,' Flemming says.

‘The game hasn't even started. How do you know?' I ask.

‘Your eyes are all over the place.'

‘Worry about yourself. I'm focused.' Okay. So usually I'm thinking about how to get the ball to the striker before the whistle and today I'm thinking about doughnuts. When the game starts I'll be the old Gracie Faltrain. You can take the Martin away from the girl but you can't take away the soccer. I'm soccer girl. I'm Super Soccer Girl.

‘Faltrain, you idiot. The whistle's gone. Move!' Flemming yells. Okay, I'm Idiot Soccer Girl. And that just doesn't have
the same superhero ring to it. I take off. Corelli sends me the ball. I catch it on my foot and glide. I flick it to the right and then slam to the left. My shot goes exactly where I planned. Straight to Dan Woodbury? Huh?

‘Thanks, Gracie,' he says, and lazes the ball around his feet for a second, looking for the best path to goal. He flicks his hair back and kicks. Dan's standing exactly where Martin always stood. I passed to him on reflex. It won't happen twice.

Okay. It won't happen more than three times. ‘Thanks again,' he says, and grins. I grin back. I can't help it. I got to know him over the summer and he's not so bad. ‘In case you forgot, Faltrain; he's the opposition,' Coach yells. ‘It's not date night out there.'

As if I'd date Dan Woodbury. Sure, he's good-looking. When he's not on the field he wears a lip ring and a faded leather jacket. He bought the jacket for his first solo flight. That's right. The boy can fly. His hair is black and half-shaved. But for me it takes more than style, a plane, some great muscles and a great . . .

‘Behind you, Faltrain. Stop dreaming and get the ball,' Flemming yells.

I run after Dan but I'm too slow. He kicks to Truck, the guy who caught me in his headlights last year and almost de-boobed me; Truck kicks to his striker and his striker kicks to goal.

Coach calls time. ‘What are you doing out there?' I know my lines by now. I shut up, and he yells, ‘Nothing. You're doing nothing. Get back on the field and play like you usually do. Win us the game.'

Right. Win the game. No pressure there. Every time I'm close to the ball Dan's closer. Seconds before the whistle, I see my chance. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of time for accuracy but I still make the shot. Half-time and we're two down.

‘I told you to focus,' Flemming says.

‘I headed a goal, didn't I?'

‘With your face.'

‘And you think that didn't take focus?' You try smacking a fast-moving object with your nose sometime.

‘I'm serious. Stop looking for Knight. He dumped you. Tom Baker's on the field, now, so if you need to pass, kick to him. Otherwise, go straight down the line to Francavilla. He'll get it to goal.'

Ouch.

‘You think you're humiliated now? Wait till the word spreads you can't play without your boyfriend. You want to end up like Kally Gordon?'

Double ouch. Flemming has less tact than a speeding train. Kally Gordon is Annabelle Orion's cousin. She's living with the Orions and going to our school this year because she was picked to trial for the state squad like me. She tried out for the school soccer team three weeks ago. People are still laughing about it.

There's nothing like a little fear of humiliation to make a girl like me play good soccer. I block the voices. I block the crowd. I do what I should have done from the start. I stop daydreaming. I get my head in the game.

Dan looks surprised when I take the ball. I'm quick like magic. Fast. Light. My feet feather across grass as I scoot around everyone. I love this. Knowing I'm good. Knowing
I'm better than the guy running behind me. I send the ball to Francavilla. He sends it home. We're one down, which is two too many. But the game's back in my blood, now. So I do the whole thing over and score again.

With ten minutes to go we're tied. We can do this. Flemming passes to me but Dan's too close. I pass to Corelli, who misses. Dan takes the ball and sends it to Truck, who loses it to our player, Ross Singh. He kicks to Flemming and we start again.

With five minutes to go the score hasn't changed. I'm sailing down the field. Dan's close at my side. He steals the ball. I steal it back. Forward, back, forward, back. I can't get the space to shoot.

‘Stop flirting out there and kick, Faltrain,' Coach roars. Flirting? You think I can run at breakneck speed, steal a ball, shoot it to goal and flirt while my mum and dad are watching? How good do you think I am?

Flemming appears. He and Dan and I run in a tangle. Belting blind, legs blurred, twisting around each other, searching for the ball. We're moving too fast for any sense of direction or distance. We won't make it. There's no way. And then Dan and Flemming tumble. I hear a crack behind me as I slide in, kicking on the whistle.

So, did I score a goal and win the game? No. Was that crack behind me the sound of Dan's face as it hit the ground? Yes. Did Flemming trip him on purpose? Possibly. Am I standing at the scene of the crime when Martin appears? Of course I am.

Dan's on the grass bleeding. Flemming's yelling at the ref that it was an accident. Coach is standing between them,
calling out to me to explain what happened. And Martin? He's on the side, watching it all like it's a last-year replay. It
is
a last-year replay.

‘Looks like you're a bit busy, Faltrain,' he says. I stare at him and wonder if I'm the one who cracked my face in the tumble and this is a hallucination. But I'm not that lucky. Okay. Now you can believe me when I say it: welcome back to the life and times of Gracie Faltrain. This day was so much better in my dreams.

BOOK: Gracie Faltrain Gets it Right (Finally)
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