Bad Reputation - Page 227
As new riders reach the gate, we all face the track.
Willow squeezes my hand in excitement and then starts snapping pictures.
“You got this!”
Everyone shouts around me.
I cup my hands around my mouth and yell, “Ride smart! Stay sharp!” My pulse ratchets up.
USA’s BMX East Coast Nationals has been in full swing. Day three, and my kid already raced six motos to qualify for this Main.
Every time I watch my thirteen-year-old, I’m fucking nervous. It’s not a safe sport, and we’ve already dealt with a broken arm at age six. Lost control of the bike during a district championship.
Crowds cheer, “Come on! Let’s go!”
Eight competitors grip their handlebars. My thirteen-year-old among them. In the blue and black jersey and full-face helmet.
I keep my arm over Willow.
“Set yourselves,” the announcer calls out. “Riders ready…watch the gates.” Beep beep beep. The gates drop, and I hold my breath as tires descend on dirt track. Speeding and flying over hills.
I clap and yell, and when the last lap comes, Willow grips my shoulder.
Our kid is in third and shooting for first.
“Wait, wait…” Willow says and then we wince when two competitors pass at the turn.
We see the standing.
“Good race!” I shout and clap. This year, our thirteen-year-old came in first at the East Conference Championships and needed to place fourth at this event to have enough points to attend Grand Nationals.
Have to wait till next year.
Willow and I meet the competitors at the end of the track.
“Awesome job,” I say with a hug and tap of the helmet. “You did great out there.”
“Except I screwed that turn.”
“You’ll get it next time,” Willow encourages with a loving smile.
And then our kid grips the helmet with two gloved hands. Taking it off and shaking out a loose sandy-brown braid.
Our daughter smiles a gap-toothed smile like she won the race, even when she lost. “I did better than last year, faster start out the gate.”
“Yeah, for sure,” Willow says, passing her a water bottle.
“Thanks, Mom.” She takes a swig. “So I can go to Arcadia Galactica tomorrow, right?”
I lift my brows. “You’re still grounded, Vada.”
“Aw, come on.” Her voice is light, knowing she shouldn’t get a reprieve for biking after dark. A rule she constantly breaks. We still live in the city, in the same Philly loft.
Vada is brave like her mom. And she’s also nonconfrontational, in a way like me. I rest easy knowing she walks away from fights.
“Next week,” Willow reminds her, “you can always go then, unless you get grounded aga—”
“I won’t,” she says quickly, walking her bike back to the tent with us. “I’m having Pac-Man withdrawals like so bad.” Her aquamarine eyes flit to me. “Literally, Dad.”
I hate that game. She knows I hate that game, and honestly, I can’t believe my kid loves playing for hours upon hours. Vada pulverized Willow’s high score when she was four, and not because her mom is bad. Willow is fucking good at that one.
While we keep walking, Vada talks and smiles over the pics that her mom captured.
They both laugh.
And my chest rises in a light breath. In happiness.
Vada Lauren Abbey was born from love, and we named her Vada after the character in the movie My Girl. Lauren after the guy who changed our lives.
As soon as we enter the tent, Vada is rushed by family, by her cousins, three of which are girls around her age—and also her best friends. They pour ice water over her head. Laughing. Congratulating.
I extend my arm back around Willow, sharing a gentle smile with my wife. Summers are my favorite part of the year, always full of family.
And with this family, these people who protect and love without question, sixth place can feel like first.
video game reviews
Overview: 9.5 IGN.com, 5/5 Trusted Reviews, 94% Metacritic
Developer: Abbey Game Studios
Publisher: Cobalt Electronics
Creator: Garrison Abbey
Director: Garrison Abbey
Designer: Garrison Abbey
Programmer: Garrison Abbey
Writer(s): Garrison Abbey, Jasmine Lang
Artist(s): Belinda Howell, Jackson Howell
Composer: Anya Rhodes
SALES: Sorin-X 5 sold 1.6 million copies within 24-hours of release and sold through its 15 million first-run shipment order to retailers.
AWARDS: Sorin-X 5 received high critical praise and gaming awards from publications, including awards from GamesHighlight and Game eVolution. It also won the Game of the Year for innovative gameplay and story, and the Sorin-X series continues to dominate the gaming landscape. Working under a small team with an emphasis on originality and character-connection, the creator has been lauded since the first iteration of the game fourteen years ago. Garrison Abbey is considered one of the greatest video game creators in modern history.
Willow & Garrison are first introduced as side characters in the Addicted/Calloway Sisters Series. Timelines overlap between those books and Bad Reputation. In order to read both stories together, we’ve created a helpful guide on the next page.
Note: Willow makes a small appearance in Addicted for Now, but she has a much more significant role in Addicted After All.