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Week 03: Marley & Sloan

(pre-game nerves)

“I can’t believe we’re finally here,” Sloan said.

Marley turned to her wife and smiled. Sloan was nervous; she rarely got nervous these days. After five years in the league, she was more than a pro when it came to dealing with the anxious energy that sometimes took over before a match. This match was different, though. This was the NWSL Championship, and they were finally in it after five years of trying to Sloan, and more for Marley.

“You’re going to be great,” Marley replied.

Sloan turned to her with wide eyes.

“Babe, it’s okay. You’ve got this,” Marley added. 

“You don’t call me pet names when we’re in the locker room. You must actually be worried that I don’t have this.”

“I have literally never worried about that. Sloan, you’re the top striker in the league.”

“That doesn’t mean we’ll win.”

“No, but it means we have a pretty good chance if I don’t screw things up for us.”

“What?” Sloan turned to her on the bench they were sitting on while the other players milled about and got ready for the match. “You’re going to be great. You’ve only allowed two goals in the entire postseason, and one was a penalty that you could do nothing about.”

“I wasn’t supposed to be number one this year,” Marley said.

“But you were. You earned that spot.”

“She got hurt, Sloan.”

“Babe, she got hurt, yes, but then she healed right before we got to the postseason.” Sloan slid over closer to her on the bench and whispered, “And you’re still number one.” She smiled at Marley. “You’ve earned that spot, and you’re going to kill it today.”

“You know, five years of being on your pro team, and I am still so happy you’re here with me,” Marley told her with a smile. “It just somehow makes it all better that you’re in this room, wearing the same jersey I am.”

“Well, different colors because you’re a goalie.” Sloan winked at her.

“You know I probably have only a couple of seasons left, right?” Marley asked. “I’m older than you, and my shoulder still-”

“Hey, that’s for after we win a championship. Now, your parents are out there, waiting for us to win this thing. Emily, Alison, and their girls are there, too, with one of them wearing my number and the other wearing yours, so let’s give them something to cheer about.”

“When we started this conversation, you were the nervous one. How did we switch places?” Marley laughed. 

“That’s what we do for each other.” Sloan smiled back.

“I like what we do for each other.” 

“Save that for after the championship, too.”

“That’s not what I meant.” Marley laughed again. “Hey, I know we have a match to win here, but we need to talk about that other thing later.”

“The really big thing that we agreed to talk about after the season was over?”

“Yes, that thing,” Marley confirmed. “So, after we win, celebrate, and wake up tomorrow, let’s do that. Can we do that, please?”

“Yes, we can,” Sloan replied with a smile. “Not right away, though, on that thing.”

“Not tomorrow,” Marley agreed. “But maybe soon?”

“All right! Let’s get together!” their coach yelled when she entered the room. “We’ve got a championship to win!”

Sloan leaned over and kissed Marley on the cheek, which they never did when they were working. Marley gave her wide eyes in response.

“I love you,” Sloan said.

Marley winked at her and said, “Score some goals.”

“Stop some goals,” Sloan replied in their usual pre-game ritual.

Finding a Keeper - Part I
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