Jamie, do you even realise what is happening here? Do you have any idea what it cost your mom in kind for you to be here? Know this son, if you don't take advantage of this opportunity, you will regret it for the rest of your life, said the coach.
I walked out of his office into the locker room. I picked a ball and tried to juggle it for a bit, but I couldn't do anything meaningful. It felt strange and pointless to try, much like an inflexible guy trying ballet for the first time.
As the kickoff time drew closer, the noise from the crowd began to pick up. I imagined myself in the middle and on the receiving end of all that. As I daydreamed, my mind would betray me again as it slid back to that day. I will never forget it.
I had just gotten home from the game against Devon High. Furious that he had missed my eighteenth game in a row, I was burning with fury. As I walked through the door, mum was there to welcome me. "How was your game, sweety? She asked. I threw my bag on the floor and headed straight for my room, ignoring her. After having freshened up, I was ready to pick a fight with him. I set out for his study. As I made my way past the living, mom dashed after me. Now that I think about it, I might have sensed/seen the worry and fear in her eyes.
One kick to the door and it flew open; a perk of an athletic body, and there he was reading away. He only lifted his head for a second, glanced at me and just continued reading. " You do know you are a jerk, right? Like you are seriously fucked up? What's so hard about getting your ass off that chair and coming to watch your son play?" I said. After what seemed like hours, he simply packed up his book and stood up. Then he looked me straight in the eyes and scoffed, "my son?". That was the last time I saw him and that was the last thing he said to me, as he walked out the front door never to return.
In the days and months that followed, I started to blame myself. 'If I had just kept my tempers in check, I would still have him, 'I wasn't polite enough, if I was less entitled' and so on. Even now, the scars are still there. I still catch myself going to the cafe across James' office complex, watching him and thinking about what could have been.
In the last game I played before today, centre-back Benjamin Thorne of Devon High had foiled everything I tried, and their goalkeeper had been superb. (Thinking about it now, I don't know that he foiled me. If James had shown up to watch me that day, I would have bested Thorne. Thorne was simply the foil that James used to foil me that day). From what I heard of them, they had gotten better in the time since then. The best players had already gotten scholarships to the best colleges. This match was the last chance for anyone in the teams who hadn't been picked yet, to prove themselves.
As we got out of the dugout into the field, the lighting and the noise were disorienting for me. My chest began to tighten, and I was gasping for air, with strength seeping from my legs, and my head spinning. I opened my eyes, and there I was in a white room, on a bed, with all the little beeping machines around me. Only when I had collected myself a bit did I notice mummy was right there on the bed with me, my hands in hers.
Image Source: www.unsplash.com
That was it for me. I had let her down, I had let the coach down. I don't know what they were thinking anyways, thinking I could do this after so long. My only ticket to college had gone down the drain. I was later discharged. On arriving home, I went to my room to wallow in my misery. I took the pill bottle from underneath my pillow but it was empty. I needed to draw from my emergency stash. As I was ransacking my luggage, an envelope fell out. It was the envelope James had sent six months after the incident in his study.
I picked it up. I concluded it was about time I got that closure. 'What's the worst that could happen, I thought. Every good thing in my life had been foiled by one thing or the other, in one way or the other, so fuck it, I said. As I read, my jaws dropped, eyes wide open, eyes welling with tears, because it all made sense now, all had become clear. I couldn't help wondering why the incident in the study didn't happen sooner, and why did he stay that long but I guess not having an answer was a sort of punishment for me.