Jamie sat in the overstuffed armchair in the living room, absentmindedly picking the stuffing out of one of the holes. Coach O’dell sat on the couch across from him, staring him right in the face. It was O’dell who had called last night, informing his parents that he had walked out of practice. Jamie was still fuming from the confusion he had caused.
“In the kitchen, now.”
Jamie cringed at the tone his step father used, knowing he was in deep. He didn’t have to question what was wrong, he already knew. He slipped quietly into a chair, his eyes never looking up from the floor. Trying to keep his temper in check, he squeeze his eyes shut, and took a deep breath.
“I want to know what’s going on. Why did Coach O’dell call this house tonight?”
“If he called, then I bet you already know why.”
John stepped around the table, and sat down next to the boy. “I want to hear it from you.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say that will be any different than what O’dell said. I left practice before it was over. That’s it.”
“He said you weren’t focused. You were spastic. He said you seemed like you were on something.”
“Then why would he think that?”
“I don’t know.”
John knew in his heart that Jamie hadn’t been on anything, but curiosity was getting the better of him. “There had to be a reason for O’dell to think that. ‘I don’t know’ doesn’t answer my question.”
Jamie felt defeated. He didn’t know what else to say. “I took something in the morning. For my leg, it was bothering me. But I wasn’t high.”
John remained silent.
“You know, if nobody’s going to believe me then I’m not going to waste my time trying to change their mind.” He got up, and walked up the stairs to his room, intent on sleeping away this mess he was in.
“Danny called me last night.”
Jamie looked up, looking directly into O’dell’s eyes. “So?”
“He told me about the conversation the two of you had last night.”
“Come on, Jamie. I’m trying to apologize here.”
“Why should I not be difficult? You certainly had no problem being so at practice yesterday.” Jamie shot back.
“I’m sorry I jumped to conclusions. I want to make this work. We need you on the team, but things can’t keep on the way they are. We need to work through this. Please.”
“I need you to trust me. I wouldn’t mess with myself that way. You know that.”
“Does that mean I’m forgiven?”
“I guess.” Jamie responded quietly.
“Can I ask you one more thing?”
He looked up, wondering what O’dell wanted now. He nodded, indicating his response. O’dell reached over, gripped Jamie’s arm in his hand, and pushed the sleeve up.
“How long have you been cutting?”
Jamie stared down at the scars, some of them newer than he’d like them to be.