This is where I belong; I can feel it in my heart. An incredible warmth hugs me, the familiar sense of passion and excitement swirling through my veins. Surrounding me are happy faces, people laughing and chatting. Here, everything is okay; I can forget about the anxiety; about the family problems; the dark thoughts that haunt me, night and day. Only the football matters. Well, that’s not exactly true – it is the people, the atmosphere even, that makes me feel so at home, so accepted.
The sight before me is incredible, a sea of red and white sprawled below, people from all walks of life united around this spirit; the spirit of Ereny. An air of excitement and anticipation bounces around the stadium, a murmur of chatter creating a familiar environment. Vague smells of burgers and chips, being served downstairs, behind the counters, waft up to the stands, swirling around me, but I don’t really mind. Most people wouldn’t even notice, but I do. Every detail of this place, this incredible place, makes my heart soar, up towards the open stretch of sky like a beautiful, darting swallow, because this is where I truly belong.
The people. They are my family, and I am theirs. Looking around, I see strangers, stood side by side, shoulder to shoulder, united by this passion, this love that is centred deep in our hearts. That normally-moody teenager, over there, laughs at some joke the misunderstood, old man just told her. Oh, and that lovely couple, Andrew and Rose, have brought little Charlie, who smiles out from under his mop of curls. Barely even five years old, but he already understands; he is already a part of us. We are the changing face of the Ereny Wanderers, and yet we are forever the same, fiercely loyal, generation after generation. I can’t take in the details of every face, but one person catches my eye, effortlessly catching my gaze prisoner.
Suddenly, I become more aware of how smooth my football shirt is, the cool fabric so familiar against my skin. I can feel my heart beating, somewhat softly, against the silky material. Less than two metres away, he stands, tall and strangely beautiful, like a stallion, intriguing and mesmerizing. A hint of boyhood lingers across his sharp features, but the dark line of stubble tracing the outline of his jaw suggests otherwise. He is so unique, but I don’t know why. There is just something about him that means I can’t look away. Long, sweeping hair is dark against his caramel skin, but it is his face that’s so beautiful. Every feature seems perfectly suited, shaped to fit his personality, even the thin scar which curves around his left eye. He looks strangely fragile, his well-fitted clothes exaggerating his skinniness, as they cling to his thin frame. I can see conflict in his eyes, dark fighting a ring of light; he is complicated, I can tell. But I like complicated.
A younger girl beams up at him, chattering away. It is only now that I listen - really listen - that I notice that the words directed at the mystery boy are not English; it is a tongue which I don’t immediately recognise, quick and musical. Dark hair falls softly down her back, like ringlets of ebony smoke, and bright eyes shine as she talks, and I can tell she will grow to be a heart-breaker, although this child must be no more than seven years old. The aura around her is completely different to the striking young man beside her. Persistently, she tugs at the corner of his t-shirt, before he lifts her up, with surprising ease, despite his slim frame. The girl had bunched his t-shirt up, slightly, just enough to reveal a small, beautiful swallow, the ink black against his smooth, tanned skin. Casting a quick glance over in my direction, he smiles, a hint of arrogance twitching at the corner of his lips, and his voice is that of any rich boy, honeyed and proud, with each word well-spoken as they rolled off his tongue. It is not what I expected. He doesn’t look the posh type – the well-groomed choir-boy nowhere in sight. The tattoo, a simple sketch, no bigger than a fifty-pence piece, is enough to banish this idea, from my mind. No, this young man is not just one of the rich kids – He is different.
Pain. A searing hot pain shoots up my foot, and I curse under my breath. Spilt coffee. Staring at my shoes, the dark stain smiles up at me. A sudden urge to laugh dances in my throat. I’m not sure why. Now, I know for certain that this theatre of dreams is my home; this is where I want to be forever.