The Lost Boy, 12.

Jamie woke up to someone pouncing on top of his sleeping form. He rolled over, and pulled his legs up to his chest. He heard someone jump again, and opened one eye in time to see his little brother come down on his left side.

“Stop it.”

He jumped again, landing on his left leg.

“You little – !”

The sounds of running feet echoed the scream, and the seven year old tore down the stairs, screeching to a halt in front of his mother.

“What’s the matter, baby?”

“I didn’t do nothing, he just yelled, and..”

“I did not!” Came Jamie’s cry from upstairs. “Tell the truth, you little brat.”

He slammed his bedroom door shut, and limped over to his bed. Wincing, he reached down, and pulled up a box that was hidden beneath the box spring. His nimble fingers worked quickly, untying the string that held the lid to the base.

“Jamie!”

His head jerked up quickly at the sound of his name being called, and he moved swiftly towards the door. Reaching out, he twisted the lock until it caught, ensuring him privacy until he was ready to face his mother.

Sitting down again, the pain in his leg pulsating even more from his sudden movement, he picked the box up again. Lifting its lid off, he shuffled through the randomness that had accumulated inside until he found what he was looking for.

His fingertips grazed something smooth, hard, and plastic. He picked up the bottle, and stared at it. He unscrewed the cap, and shook two tablets into the palm of his hand. He hadn’t taken these pills in a long time.

Absentmindedly rubbing his knee, he brought his hand to his mouth and swallowed. Ignoring the pounding on his door, he lay down, allowing himself to fall asleep again.

xxx

“Daniels!”

“I’m talking to you!”

Jamie continued walking, banging his way out of the locker room. He made a beeline for the parking lot, and almost made it to the other side of the street when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m talking to you. Where the hell do you get off walking away from me like that? I’m your coach, damn it.”

Shrugging him off, “Leave me alone!”

“You show at practice completely out of it, how else am I supposed to talk to you?”

Jamie turned to face Coach O’dell, his eyes flashing.

“I’m not!”

“You’re certainly were acting like it.”

“I don’t care if don’t you believe me.”

“You haven’t given me a reason to believe otherwise.”

Jamie shook his head, turned to face the street, and continued his way home.

The Lost Boy, 11.

It was cold outside. Strong winds blew through St. Paul. It was January now. The crisp, clean air held the tang of a freshly lit cigarette, and he was enjoying it. His left knee ached a bit, but he knew it was just sore from the weather. The cold air made the muscles tighten; more so now since the accident.

Once again sitting in his beloved spot on the dock, Jamie took a moment to reflect. His life had been turned inside out and upside down in recent months, and he still was not sure how to take it in. He leaned back, out of the wind, and remembered.

Waking up in St. Mary’s Hospital had been scary. What was more terrifying was the fact that he had woken up alone. His parents were not there. They weren’t there, technically. Samantha was with her husband, down the hall in his room, gathered with the children they had produced together. John had a concussion; his skull bruised from making contact with the windshield. Jamie had been knocked unconscious and was thought to be asleep. All he could think about was that his mother was not there.

He barely remembered being thrown from the car. He didn’t remember the cracking of his left leg, just below his knee, as he hit the ground.  He didn’t remember the cold; how very cold it had been. Or the unseen ice. The only memory from that night that he held in his heart was the conversation that had proceeded the crash.

“I thought you loved my mother.”

“I do, but I wish she hadn’t been put into the situation she was in.”

“Meaning?”

“I wish she hadn’t gotten pregnant by that jackass. He screwed her, then screwed her over. And she got landed with a baby and no one to help care for it.

“You wish she’d never had me.” Jamie said quietly.

It had been uncomfortable using crutches. It was, however, easier, and much more freeing, than the wheelchair. The weeks of physical rehab were paying off; his leg becoming stronger with each session. Samantha had come to pick him up, and she was obviously in a hurry. Tapping her foot, and shooting him furtive glances, he made his way over to her, as quickly as his crutches would allow. Figures, he thought, she wants to get home to him and the rugrats.

“Mom?” he asked.

“Just let’s go.”

The wailing of the wind brought Jamie back to the present. Glancing at his watch, he wondered how long he had been sitting there, lost in thought. He shook his head, and flicked the burned down stub of his cigarette onto the ice. Shivering slightly, he made his way up the stairs and into the house, heading towards the bathroom. He hadn’t brought anything sharp to his skin intentionally for two weeks, but that was washed away as he turned the overhead light in the bathroom on.

The Lost Boy, 10.

Jamie pulled his jersey over his head and hung it up in his locker. Young men were all around, being loud in the way teenage boys are. Laughter echoed off the walls, yet he remained silent. Jamie was never one to willingly make conversation with anyone, and he wasn’t about to start now. These were his teammates, and nothing else.

Farther down the row of lockers was number twenty three, Jamie realized. He hadn’t forgotten that Dan made it through; he just hadn’t resigned himself to the fact yet. He had seen his brother two other times, and both had been on the ice. He played well, Jamie had to admit that, but he still wished he wasn’t there. It was going to take a lot of effort to accept his position on the team.

“Want a ride?”

Jamie looked up from the book he was looking at, finding himself face to face with the Jeep he almost walked into. His stepdad’s face peered from the drivers’ side window.

“I’m on my way home from work; I thought we’d ride together.”

Jamie sighed, and gripped the door handle. He sat down, and pulled the seat belt tightly around him. He wore it religiously ever since the accident. “Thank you,” he said quietly.

John looked at the boy, now a young man, and then turned to face the front window. He pulled cautiously into traffic.

xxx

“Why did you come for me?”

John looked up, surprised; he hadn’t heard anyone come down the stone steps. “What?”

“After practice, why did you come for me?”

“Why do you ask?”

Jamie shrugged.

“Honestly?”

“Yeah.”

“I was curious. I wanted to know how it went. I didn’t think you had an interest in hockey anymore.”

Jamie continued to look at him in silence.

“When O’dell called asking for permission, and later telling me that you were actually playing, I almost fell over. I wasn’t expecting you to play again.”

“Did you not think I’d be any good?”

“You know that’s not what I thought.”

“Then why else would you be surprised?”

“You stopped playing. I really didn’t think you’d play again after…”
Jamie waited a couple of beats. He’d known this was coming. They’d avoided it for too long.

“You didn’t think I’d play again after my surgery. You thought I’d be too messed up for that.”

“I did.”

Jamie sighed, and sat down next to John. “I didn’t think I would, either.”

“Jay, I never really apologized for that night- ”

“Don’t. I don’t want to get into it.”

“We should, though. A lot happened that night that I’m not proud of; a lot has happened since then that I’m not proud of. Everything’s changed. I want to make things better.”

Jamie thought about that. “Why did Stanley move in with us? And his kids?”

“He’s my brother. He was having trouble, and I wanted to help him out. I didn’t think they would be here this long.”

“He doesn’t like me much.”

John chose not to answer, continuing to stare out at the frozen water.

“It went well.”

John looked up, then. “What?”

“Practice. It went well.”

He smiled. “Tell me more.”

The Lost Boy, 9.

Two weeks later. North London, England.

Alan Davidson stepped into his office and immediately paged his secretary telling her to hold all his calls for the rest of the afternoon. He had just been informed that a second round of tryouts for the Metropolitan League had been held that afternoon, and his son, Daniel, had made it through. He would be playing hockey in the United States, in a state called Minnesota. He felt flush at the thought. Minnesota. There were so many memories there.

His first time in another country; alone.

His first time experiencing another culture.

His first big break-working for the Daniels Group, a prestigious law firm.

His first love.

His first born.

He was undeniably stuck on the last two. Samantha Daniels had been beautiful. She was also his former partners’ only daughter. His teenage daughter. It wasn’t a good mix. He had been immediately drawn to her; her long blonde hair almost an aphrodisiac in itself. He had loved her tenderly, if not illicitly, but loved her nonetheless. He still missed her, after all these years.

His thoughts drifted to the aftermath of his rash actions, and their repercussions. Samantha had bore him a son; a little boy that had her golden hair, but his greenish gold eyes. It couldn’t be denied that the boy was his son, the paternity test had yielded the truth. The result was Alan returning to England in shame, hoping to keep the boy a secret.

What am I going to do? He thought.

He knew all about Jamie; knew because Samantha’s mother never let a year go by without shipping a box full of pictures and letters explaining all about the boy. Spiteful woman, he often thought. Alan’s mind often wandered to the deepest part of his brain, where he kept the secret of his son tucked away. He looks like me. He has my smile. He plays hockey.

Hockey. That was going to be a problem one day, Alan was sure of it. He knew his son had talent, he watched from afar as Jamie went through the motions of peewee games, the Junior Divisional Championships, and playing for St. Dominic’s. Jamie’s grandmother had sent him his yearly box a few months in advance this year; he had received it yesterday and it contained documentation that the boy had been placed on the Metropolitan team.

With Daniel.

This was going to be interesting.

The Lost Boy, 8.

It was snowing. The world seemed at peace. Today had, in actuality, not been so bad. He had skated for the fun of it on the pond earlier in the day and he had enjoyed it. Later afternoon he had received a phone call from the Metropolitan League. He had made it past the first set of tryouts. The next round would be held the following weekend.

I’ve still got it, he thought to himself.

Jamie stood in the kitchen, making himself a sandwich. Skating had left him hungry for food for the first time in months. As he sat down, his stepfather walked into the kitchen. He pulled the chair opposite Jamie’s away from the table and sat down. He sat quietly, finishing his sandwich, then picked up his plate and rinsed it in the sink. As he walked into the hallway a hand gripped his arm.

“Wait.”

Jamie turned slowly, unfamiliar with the tone of his stepfather’s voice. “What?”

“I want to talk to you?” It was a question, rather than a statement.

Jamie looked into John’s face, searching for traces of anger. He found none. But he did find emotion; it reflected the same expressions in his own eyes. “Okay.”

xxx

The two men sat together on the dock, their breath rising in plumes around their mouths. Neither had said anything for several minutes. Jamie reached into his sweatshirt pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. He didn’t often smoke, and usually kept his habit hidden, but didn’t care at the moment. This was one of the times specially reserved for nicotine.

John stared at his stepson while he lit a cigarette, but didn’t say anything. He hadn’t known that Jamie was a smoker, but kept his surprise to himself. He didn’t want to rock the boat any more than he had to.

“How did your tryouts go?,” he asked gently.

Jamie looked up in surprise, not knowing that John knew he was playing again. Possibly playing again. “How did you know about that?”

John smiled shyly, “Coach O’dell told me.”

Jamie looked out over the water, taking the new information in. “When did you talk to O’dell?”

“We’ve always talked on and off. He called when you quit the ducks. Actually, I received several phone calls about that one. From O’dell, Principal Charleston, your grandparents.” He paused. “Danny.”

Jamie was silent for a moment. “Why do they all care so much?,” he asked himself quietly.

“Why wouldn’t they?”

Jamie looked up quickly, not realizing he said anything out loud.

He looks so sad, John thought. He didn’t do anything to deserve this. “More people than you realize care about you, Jamie.”

Jamie stood up, taking one last draw of his smoke and threw the butt into the water. Turning, he faced John and looked into his eyes. “What do you want from me?,” he sighed.

“I want to re-get to know you; we haven’t talked in so long.”

“You stopped talking to me.”

John stood there in disbelief. All he had wanted to do for months is have a conversation with his stepson, but Jamie had been so cold. How did this get so confused?

“Jay,” said John, “I didn’t stop talking to you. I wanted to give you some space. What I said.. I, you must have been so angry.”

“I was… now I just don’t know what to think.”