A Hard Lacrosse to Bear

by Sofia Haugen (W. Griffin Hancock), 3.24am 10th March 2021

My exile in Bear Creek (the result of a hex cast upon me by my five most recent ex-girlfriends, who have formed a cabal-slash-polycule (cabalycule) to exact their revenge upon me for my fear of commitment, general emotional distance, and tendency to complain about my breakups at length in any newspaper foolish enough to publish me) has been a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of the big city. All the other lesbians are in happily monogamous relationships, so I can’t get my heart broken by, for example, a gorgeous flannel-clad small-town lumberdyke who disappears mysteriously every full moon (ex number three of the cabalycule); I’ve managed to kick my nicotine addiction, since none of the stores in town stock my preferred brand of imported European cigarettes (the photographs of late-stage lung cancer patients give them an extra death-trip thrill that domestic brands just cannot match); and, most importantly, this town has no goddamn sports teams, allowing me to finally be free of the ancient family curse that compels me to pursue that most abhorrent of professions, sports journalism.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. I am still trapped here, and will be until the cabalycule breaks up (unlikely; my compulsive perusal of their social media accounts indicates they have moved in together and are weighing the merits of adoption versus in-vitro fertilization) or a majority of them either die or take mercy on me (even less likely; most of them are at least passingly immortal, and none have the capacity for forgiveness, at least where I am concerned); but Bear Creek High School recently hired a new Phys Ed teacher, a Ms. Cleopatra Corvallis, and she has brought the spectre of sport to this fine town, in the form of a high school lacrosse team. (She also has a small rainbow flag sticker in the back window of her Subaru Forester. I am now yearning; soon I will begin to pine.) I have never watched a lacrosse game before. I have no interest in watching a lacrosse game. But if there are sports, I must write about them; and so, on a miserable, chilly Sunday afternoon when I should have been buried in blankets in my illegal sublet in the dentist’s office basement huffing nitrous oxide and watching bad cop shows on my brother’s Netflix account, I dragged myself down to the rec center to watch the Bear Creek Acolytes face off in their season opener against the Hemlock Philosophers.

I must confess: I did not watch much of the game. Most of my time was spent gazing longingly at Coach Corvallis, playing solitaire on my phone until it ran out of battery, and/or meditating on the nature of the curse that has kept me chained to this town and how I might escape its clutches (sleeping each night in a box of Bear Creek soil; leaving my still-beating heart in the hollow oak at the center of town; apologizing). Those parts of the game I did pay attention to were generally unexciting, the fumbling athletic efforts of gangly teens still adjusting to their adolescent growth spurts. (Some might say I am being overly critical. My typical journalistic remit is collegiate sports, and so I am accustomed to a higher level of competence than either the Acolytes or the Philosophers displayed. I would ask my hypothetical detractors to consider the following: I don’t give a shit, these kids suck lmao.)

At halftime, already trailing 4-1, the Acolytes resorted to drastic measures. Taking a leaf from Bear Creek’s last attempt at high school sports, the ‘86 Bear Creek Vermin football team, and also taking a leaf from the Runic Grimoire of Sveinn the Bloodless (the copy in Bear Creek Public Library is notable for its human-skin binding, said to have been made from the flayed skin of the town’s founder, whose name shall not be said), Coach Corvallis led the team in a ritual dance that instilled in them the berserkergang fury of the ancient Norsemen. (I paid especially close attention to this unwholesome rite, for unwholesome reasons of my own. I like a woman who knows her way around a forbidden tome of arcane lore. For those of you keeping track at home, this is where the pining started.) Mouths frothed; sticks were bitten; blood was drawn. Only a little blood, though. Junior Christy Bartzman bit down too hard on her stick in the throes of berserkergang and shattered her mouthguard, stabbing her soft palate with shards of plastic. She was given some gauze and aspirin by the school nurse, and is expected to make a full recovery.

Unfortunately for our hometown heroes--well, your hometown heroes--sometimes forbidden occult secrets are simply not enough. Despite their untamed berserker fury, the Acolytes lost 5-4. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. They would’ve done that if they won, the berserkergang doesn’t really discriminate, but it would’ve been triumphant wailing. This was just depressing. Their next game will be an away game against the Dagon’s Bay Fishermen. (Or possibly Fishmen. This school newspaper I rescued from a dumpster is not in the best condition.) I will not be attending, as per the curse. Oh, and Coach Corvallis, if you’re reading this, I’m free every night except Thursday, because that’s when my WoW guild raids. I dropped my phone into a storm drain last night to stop myself from going further in debt to the developers of “Catgirl Harem Gacha Elite!” but you can get in touch with me by calling the dentist’s office after hours. If you call during business hours the receptionist will deny any knowledge of my existence, but you can set up an appointment for your bi-yearly cleaning; dental health is important.