Today's Reading

Somehow in the midst of the chaos, I slip on the black tracksuit Emma and I wear. It has the New York skyline emblazoned on the back in silver glittering rhinestones and NYC GYM on the left lapel. Obnoxious, maybe, but gymnastics fashion is rarely subtle. The tears are really falling now. No matter what happens, this is the last time I'll wear my NYC Gymnastics tracksuit. From here on out, it'll be USA gear or nothing.

Stop it, Audrey. Enjoy the moment.

I try to channel Emma and push down the emotion. It only half works. Better than nothing, though. As I shoulder my bag, one of the workers I vaguely recognize as an NGC official is motioning for us to leave the floor. I shuffle in behind the rest of the girls, twelve of us about to be whittled down to four, plus two alternates.

Behind me, the announcer calls out to the crowd, "While we wait for the decision from the selection committee, please join us in honoring Olympic silver and bronze medalist Janet Dorsey-Adams, owner and head coach of Coronado Gymnastics and Dance, on her induction into the NGC Hall of Fame!"

The spotlight follows Janet up onto the floor, where there's a trophy waiting for her. It's pretty cool to be in the Hall of Fame; maybe in a few years I'll be—

"Audrey, come on!" Emma's voice interrupts my thoughts from farther down the hall than I thought she'd be.

I turn to catch up with her, but instead my eyes meet the chest of someone a lot taller than me. We nearly collide, my nose to his pec, before strong hands reach out, holding on to my upper arms lightly. In a quick leading step, we're clear of each other and he releases me. I glance up and gasp in surprise. I know him.

Leo Adams, son of Janet Dorsey-Adams and world champion snowboarder. His mom used to drag him along to competitions when we were little. We follow each other online, but I haven't actually seen him in person for years.

Wearing a sardonic grin and a THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE T-shirt, he's tall compared to my five feet four inches, maybe six feet or a little more. He's biracial—half Black, half white—and there's a dusting of freckles across the bridge of his nose.

"Hey, Leo."

I inwardly cringe at not having a better opener, and, like, what if I remember his name, but he doesn't remember mine?

This could be bad.

A smile lights up his face, though, and I find myself matching it. "Audrey Lee," he says. Oh, thank God, he knows who I am. "Careful. Don't want you to lose your spot on the team for being clumsy."

I let myself smile. "It might be worth the risk."

What the hell, Audrey? Are you flirting? Must be the high from the competition, and it's made you completely insane.

"Audrey!" Emma calls again from down the large corridor, her voice bouncing off the concrete walls. She frantically waves me toward her, but I hesitate. She and the rest of the girls are disappearing into the locker room.

It's weird. I've entered some kind of alternate universe where the adrenaline is still numbing my pain and my gymnastics career might be about to end and there's something totally liberating about that thought.

"I should probably . . ." I trail off.

"You should definitely," he agrees, and I laugh.

"Ladies and gentlemen, in fifteen minutes we'll be announcing the next USA women's Olympic gymnastics team!" the announcer calls out.

I take a step toward the locker room and then another. Don't look back, Audrey; boys are for a month from now, after you have an Olympic medal. Or two.

The door swings shut behind me. The rest of the girls are there, even Sarah Pecoraro and Brooke Cohen. They qualified last year as individual athletes. They're going to Tokyo, but they won't have a shot at the team medal like the rest of us—if we make it.

"Where were you?" Emma demands, dragging me over to two empty seats.

"Do you remember Leo Adams?"

"What?" she shrieks. "He's here? Wait, how much longer until they announce?"

She's all over the place, and I don't blame her. She's just won the Olympic trials, but she has to wait like the rest of us, and it's not like I don't need a distraction too.

"Fifteen minutes."
...

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