Angela and I are walking through a building that I now know is called “The Guild”. There are a bunch of people are gathered outside, wearing various brightly-coloured clothes and shoes with the little things on the bottom to help them grip the grass better.
‘They all look like jocks to me.’ As if she somehow knew what I was going to say, Angela points to people who are talking about cupcakes that they have baked for the game. ‘Okay, that’s kind of not jock-ish. This is the game from that wizard book, right?’
‘That wizard book,’ Angela sighs, ‘yes.’
‘But in that game don’t they fly?’
‘Yeah, but we haven’t got flying brooms yet.’
Angela flashes a cheeky, toothy smile. ‘Technology’s five years away, tops.’
I’m not sure if she’s serious or not, but I can’t ask because she is off hugging people hello, and fake wrestling with one of the taller guys, and now pointing at—
‘No, not me.’ I hear myself groan as I find a seat and stare at my shoes. I think about getting my phone out of my pocket. But it’s too late, Angela has walked up with a new person for me to meet.
My wave is sheepish, even for me. ‘Jordan, Jason. Jason, Jordan.’ Jason shakes my hand. He’s so tall, imposing. But he has friendly eyes. I guess he counts as a new friend, right?
Angela spends the next few minutes introducing a swath of people whose names I can’t remember. Seconds later, she sets me up with a chair near the sidelines of the game.
‘I’m not going to be the weirdo sitting on a chair on a field.’
‘Actually, you’ll be one of about a dozen weirdos.’
I glance around and see several other chairs have made or are making their way onto the grass. ‘Still though, I can stand just fine.’
Angela shrugs. ‘Suit yourself,’ and I watch in awe as she calls out to someone nicknamed “Chaz” and throws the chair over five metres before some other girl catches it and promptly sets herself up.
‘Okay, sure. That’s normal.’
A few minutes later and it's game time. With pipes between people’s legs as makeshift brooms, four separate balls and brightly-clad teams. It’s actually an impressive spectacle. The teams move in ways that make no sense.
I suppose if I had a better understanding of the game I’d be more immersed.
Although it doesn’t look like something I do. People, running, tackling, and throwing, it all seems so rough. I see myself as a small creature and on the field I just see…
Battle-hardened warriors beyond human. I am a small creature in a dark corner.
This is how I’ve always seen sport, this is how I’ve always seen conflict. I am a pacifist and I don’t like the conflict. Give me movies or board games any day. I can’t see myself on that field.
I don’t see the players anymore. I only see the beasts racing around, and weaving in and about each other. I see the fangs and claws. I hear the snarls and roars. Some are tall and slender who are just blurs on the field. Some are broader but they charge their way through enemy lines. This is a battle field. They are dangerous and brutal…
But what I saw has passed. I'm now in a different moment. Someone is on the ground, everyone has stopped. She jumps to her feet, eager for more. Even though she took a hard hit, she isn't hurt. People are cheering and laughing with her as she taunts someone twice her height.
This is when I see them for how they truly are.
Their horns and tusks are comically rounded and their eyes are adorably big. I no longer see the snarling beasts. I see friends. Everyone is having fun and everyone is pushing themselves in their own way. They're all athletes. Although competing on different levels they play on the same level simultaneously. They slide, jump, and throw. They are all baby monsters, playing together.
And in this moment, I could see me being on that field. Maybe.
'I never realised how different people could be.' The games have finished and all of the baby monsters are packing up chatting. Angela and I are walking back to the apartments.
'What do you mean?' Angela is only half-paying attention to me. If I had to guess I would say the shirtless tall guy she was wrestling with before is where her attention is being drawn to.
'Well, sport has always seemed rough, brutal, and difficult for me.'
'Uh huh?' Her eyes haven't left him.
'But that seemed much less... serious, much more fun. I wasn't expecting it.'
'Yeah. So you going to play?'
'Play. Next week.' I was waiting for her to walk into something.
'Nah. Even if you did manage to pull your eyes off that guy's butt...'
'Huh?' her head whips around as she stares at me with the worst innocent look I've seen in a while.
'...I've never been much of a contact-sports-kind-of-person.'
'Well, you never know until you try. Besides, you had fun watching, right?'
I think back to the adorable little monsters still dancing behind my eyes. Their squeaks and soft roars. Their running and bumping. They seemed so warm and friendly, I regret that I'd been so nervous and closed off.
'No harm in watching. Besides, there's no reason I can't come back next week and maybe meet everyone all over again.'
Angela punches me in the shoulder. 'Now you're getting it! We'll make a socialite out of you yet!'
'Let's just start with remembering someone's name.'
I chuckled softly, wondering how many people would let me call them "Little Monster". I looked over my shoulder to see some of the baby monsters munching on cupcakes. A lot less scary now.