Preparing for his first match of the regional wrestling tournament, Phil sat again on the mat to stretch his leg muscles. He felt tighter than normal, and his stomach was a bit jumpy. He wondered for a moment if it was because of the wild match he'd had with Dan King in the finals of the District tournament last week. Perhaps it was tension from wrestling in the Regional tournament for the first time. Then he smiled a little, as he supposed that it could have something to do with the fact that his opponent in the tournament's first round was the defending state champion in their weight class.
“This time, it’s gonna be different.”
The words fell out of his mouth as he awakened from an immediately forgotten dream. He spoke again. “What the hell does that mean?”
He rolled right and stretched his legs, turned, and set his feet on the hardwood floor. Awake felt like the end of a long race, this morning. Body and spirit, he felt drained of energy and light. A tender knot in his left calf complained as he rose from bed. He crossed the room, removed socks and underwear from a top drawer of his battle-scarred dresser, reached into the doorless and dingy closet, and pulled the light chain. Again, he muttered to himself, “Hmm. One pair of pants, two shirts. Must be laundry day”