The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy, 7.

The day passed in a blur of color. Jamie closed his eyes, holding on to specific images as they flashed through his mind.

Waking up covered in sweat… again.

The cold metal against his skin as he traced yet another bracelet of blood over his wrist.

Finding one of his devil jerseys crumpled into a ball on the floor next to his bed, torn in several places.

The eerie silence of the house that morning.

Finding a business card in his jeans pocket with the words Junior Division Metropolitan League embossed on it.

The pain that made him cry out as he sunk the razor blade farther into his arm than he ever had before.

“Name?”

“Jamie Daniels”

“School?”

“St. Dominic’s Academy”

“Coach O’dell sent you?”

“Yes.”

“And you’re seventeen?”

“In April.”

“Take this pass, kindly do not lose it, return it to me after your tryout. The locker room is down this hallway and to the left.”

“Huh.” What am I doing here? I’m not a hockey player anymore.

Jamie was lacing up his skates when someone tapped him on the shoulder. He looked up into the surprised face of his former coach. He found himself feeling just as shocked as O’dell looked. “What are you doing here?”

“You’ve been out of it for too long, Daniels. As of last week, I no longer work for St. Dominic’s.”

“You don’t coach the devils anymore?”

“The devils moved up to Varsity this year, I wasn’t coaching them anyway. I was still working with the new JV team, but I got offered a better position. I miss the team, but this is closer to home. I can be with my family more now.”

“The devils… moved up to Varsity?”

Jamie stood in the middle of the ice, first line, right wing. His man, the person he was supposed to be blocking, stood less than three feet away from him. A time-out had been called; one of the younger guys trying out had smashed into the wall. His arm was now hanging at his side in a rather awkward position. But Jamie barely registered that someone had been hurt. His attention had been fixated on one thing since the moment he stepped onto the ice: number twenty-three, of the opposing side.

Number twenty three had straight black hair, slightly mussed; grey-blue eyes, and was built just like Jamie. Thin, not skinny. Toned, not muscular. An inch or two shorter than himself, and a couple of years younger. Jamie wasn’t sure why he was even at the rink to begin with, but muscle memory was at least taking over for his lack of true heart. Until he caught sight of the name on the back of this kid’s jersey. Davidson.

Davidson.

The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy, 6.

A victory party, celebrating the JV team’s triumphant win over the varsity. Pulsating music, flashing lights, lots of alcohol. Devils and parents alike are in attendance. Takes place at teammate Adam Kelsing’s house.

Jamie stumbles drunkenly into the basement of his best friends’ home. His fellow devils are there, all equally drunk, laughing and having a good time. His coordination isn’t great; as he goes to turn into another room he smashes into the door. He hears light laughter behind him. He turns around. His girlfriend of almost four years is standing there, giggles erupting from behind the hands that are covering her mouth. He smiles, and loses almost all traces of his previous mindset. Gently putting his hands on her hips, just below her waist, he pulls her close and whispers in her ear.

“What are you laughing at, huh?”

“You.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you, silly boy.”

Jamie smiled even wider, “Thanks to you, I’m no longer a little boy.”

“Sshh! My parents…” Kayleigh’s voice trailed off as she turned her head to search the room for her mom and dad. “…Are not down here.”

“No, they’re not.”

“The team is.”

“Huh. So they are. Hadn’t noticed.”

“How could you not notice your own teammates all around you?”

“I’m with you. There’s nothing else to notice.” faint blush tinged Kayleigh’s cheeks. She really did love him. Always had. And I always will, she thought, as Jamie led the way upstairs.

Several hours later. Jamie and John are driving home in a black Jeep Cherokee. It’s snowing. Black ice covers the road.

“Are you proud of yourself?”

Jamie turned from the window. A mixture of disappointment and curiosity came over his face.

“What?”

“You were caught with your girlfriend in your best friend’s house and his parents walked in on you!”

“Yeah,” he whispered. He didn’t want to talk right now. All he could think about was what Kayliegh had said to him while they waited for their parents to stop apologizing to Mr. and Mrs. Kelsing. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. It’s like they said, we are just kids. Maybe we should take some time apart.” Jamie hadn’t been able to think straight since that moment.

“You’re sorry! What the hell were you thinking?” His stepfather’s voice brought him back to the present.

“What does it matter? We apologized, to both Adam and his parents. What more do you want me to say?,” Jamie felt his temper rising as each word spewed from his mouth.

“Don’t you understand? If you keep this up you’re going to end up exactly like your mother.”

“What?”

“She got pregnant at fifteen. Come on, Jamie, you know that. Do you want to end up like that?”

“I thought you loved my mother.”

“I do love your mother, but I wish she hadn’t been put into the situation she was in. I wish she hadn’t gotten pregnant by that jackass. He screwed her, and 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 realized quietly.

Before John can respond, the jeep skids on some unseen ice and slams into the guardrail.

Jamie rolls over in bed. He’s dreaming. In his sleep, he raises both arms over his head as if protected himself, then drops them down on the bed.

“No,” he whispers.

The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy, 5.

Samantha.

He’s been so quiet lately. And moody. He snaps at everyone, even his little brothers. He just hasn’t been right since the accident, since he found out about Alan. No, stop that. He’s always known about his father, the hockey… Jacob. Well, no, that’s not entirely true. You never wanted Jamie to know Alan played when he was younger. Always afraid that would turn the boy off the sport. And look, it has. But he had been okay with it; at least he seemed to be. He never said anything about it. Never even brought it up after the car crash. How did things get so messed up?

John.

Great, you’ve really fucked it up now. If Jamie didn’t hate you before, he’s really going to now. Why’d you have to go and try to rehash everything? Hockey? Kaleigh? Those topics have been off-limits for months now. He doesn’t even look me in the eye anymore. Or anyone, for that matter. He doesn’t want to talk to you, plain and simple. What happened that night will never be forgiven, never.

…And I deserve never to be forgiven.

Jamie. 

I’ve spent the past twelve months being ignored by everyone in my family, everything I’ve done has gone completely unnoticed. Why does it suddenly matter that I’m not a devil anymore, that I’m not involved in school? It’s not like I’m on scholarship like everyone else. Things that were important but.. they just aren’t anymore. Why can’t they understand that? As for hockey… I don’t know. Should I try out for the league? Should I not? Does it really matter? It’s just a game, after all. No. It’s not just a game. Not to me. It never was. Hockey was always something that connected me to him. A common bond. But he plays, too. I can’t compete with him.

The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy, 4.

Jamie sat on the dock with his knees pulled up to his chest. It wasn’t exactly a fetal position, but it was close enough. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

He was staring at his left arm, which was covered with small cuts. Most were scabbed over, but a few had turned a nasty shade of green and continued to ooze. They were infected. He didn’t need to be a doctor to figure that out. Pulling down his sweatshirt sleeve, he looked out across the water, at the family playing together on the other side. Granted, it was too far away to see perfectly, but Jamie was still able to tell that they were having fun. His family used to be like that. They used to have fun together. He closed his eyes, remembering…

“Watch me daddy, watch me,’ squealed a six year old Jamie as he raced across the frozen lake after the hockey puck. “Are you watching?”

“Of course I am,” laughed John, raising the video camera to his face, “You’ve got your first game tomorrow, kid, and I want to make sure this thing works.”

“Daddy, watch this.” Jamie glided over to the goal posts, took aim, and slammed the puck right into the net. “I did it, daddy, daddy, I did it!”

The boy had talent, there was no use in denying that fact. Just like Alan. God, he could be great. But Samantha doesn’t want him to know his real dad played hockey. Jeez. Real dad. Why am I so stuck on that? He forced a smile, “That’s right, kiddo, you did it.”

An oddly wet feeling on his arm brought Jamie back. He had been absentmindedly picking the scabs on his arm and they were bleeding again. His sweatshirt was staining red. Red. St. Dominic colors. New devils colors. Where had that come from? He wasn’t a devil anymore. He had quit playing last year, after the accident. After… after everything was different.

Making his way to the bathroom for fresh wrappings, Jamie reflected on the day’s events. Nothing happened much anymore, at least not to him, but today had been different. Today had been insane.

A note had been left for him in homeroom that morning. From Coach O’dell. Jamie almost laughed out loud. A note for him? From Coach O’dell? He hadn’t been to see his former coach in months, not since he left the team. What would he want with him?

“The Junior Division Metropolitan League. You’re good, Daniels. You always were. Principal Charleston is willing to give you another chance. So am I. The question is, are you?” O’dell had that way of speaking to you terms of black and white. There was no inbetween.

“The Metropolitan league,” Jamie echoed. It wasn’t a question. It was a statement. The metro league only accepted exceptional hockey players. They were the elite, no one was better. What on earth would they want with him?

“What would they want with me?”

O’dell held a business card out to Jamie. On it was an address and telephone number. He took it. “I’ve already given them your name. Tryouts are on Saturday morning. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. But they have your name down in case you do show up.”

Jamie reached into the medicine cabinet and took out a pair of baby scissors. The kind his other used to cut his bangs with when he was little. Back when..

A thin line of blood now traced the underside of his wrist. It tingled a little bit, and at the same time it was numbing. He pressed a dingy washcloth to the cut, and then to some older ones.

The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy, 3.

beep beep Beep Beep Beep BEEEEEP

The alarm grew progressively louder as Jamie lay in bed, willing himself to fall back to sleep.

BEEEEEEEP

“Oh, come on,” he whispered. He slammed his fist over the OFF button and let himself fall out of bed. “I get orders even from you.”

Jamie picked himself up off the floor and pulled on a t-shirt. Vaguely registering that it smelled, he stumbled into the bathroom completely unaware of his younger half siblings playing tug of war with one of his old team jerseys.

The mirror was fogged when he entered the bathroom. He was the last person to use it this morning, again. Any thoughts he had been entertaining of a hot shower quickly left his mind. He leaned close to the mirror as he brushed his teeth, letting the cold-as-ice feeling press against his forehead. It felt good. He rinsed, and reached up for a brush, avoiding the face staring back at him. Jamie never looked at himself if he could help it. He didn’t like his reflection. It reminded him of someone he didn’t want to think about.

Today, something snapped. His eyes locked on the ones staring back at him. They were green. Green flecked with gold. His father’s eyes. Smash. Shards of glass went flying in all directions.

Blood streamed down his hand. It swelled, and turned purple. And he didn’t even flinch. He felt no pain. He felt relieved. As though all the hurt and distrust and pent-up emotions he had been experiencing left his body with the blood. Blood vessels were popping out of his skin, which had become transparent. Without thinking, he thrust his hand under the still running faucet, and let the water mix with his blood.

“Get your lazy ass the hell out already!”

The gruff screech brought Jamie back to reality. Shit, he thought. It was his uncle. The one who refused to accept the fact that Jamie was a relative. He quickly wrapped his hand in gauze and left the bathroom.

Once safely locked inside his bedroom and away from the cold stare of Stanley’s eyes, Jamie unwrapped his hand and examined it. It was still swollen and purple, but no longer see-through. The cuts were crusting over and tender to the touch. He re-dressed it, and then dressed himself. He could already tell that it was going to be a long day.

The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy, 2.

Jamie walked slowly down the stairs of the multi-level deck in his backyard. His parents were wealthy. No. His grandparents were wealthy. He would not deny them that. After all, they were the ones who now paid for him to attend St. Dominic’s. Since he now sans scholarship. But he never flaunted their wealth, and most people would never guess.

The house he grew up in was huge. It belonged to his mother’s parents; it had been their vacation home before he was born. A log cabin nestled against a backdrop of mountains and a frozen lake. It really was a beautiful site. From the outside.

Inside, it was slightly more chaotic. The once perfectly polished hardwood floors were now caked with dirt and dust. His mother had simply not taken care of the place. It was hard, he knew, to keep up. There was too much going on in their home. Family pictures made an attempt at covering the holes punched in the walls. Nothing was in the same place twice. None of the appliances were updated. His home looked as though a hurricane had gone through, but that was its general state. He was used to it.

Jamie continued down the stairs until he came to his favorite spot on the grounds. The dock stretched out a few yards over the water. He sat down and let his legs dangle over the edge. From above, nothing could be seen but darkness. He was hidden. Invisible. But from Jamie’s corner of the world, he could see clear across the water.

It was cold down by the water. He continually rubbed his hands together to keep warm. But he didn’t mind. He was away from everything – and everyone.

It was now close to midnight, and Jamie still refused to go inside. Inside was where his mother was. And his father. Not his father. John may have been daddy to the many young children that dismantled the house on a daily basis, but he was not Jamie Daniels’ father. He had been born a bastard and he was alright with admitting that. He wasn’t alright, however, with talking – or even thinking about his real father. Still, try as he might to suppress them, his thoughts often drifted across the Atlantic to the small island where the man resided.

Alan Jacob Davidson. He had been partners with Jamie’s maternal grandfather in the insurance business a number of years ago, before his mother became pregnant. It wasn’t an affair, and it wasn’t a one night stand. It was an accident, plain and simple. Both his parents had been too drunk to remember any of the details clearly, but Samantha was adamant that Alan was the father. Nothing could change her mind.

And nothing would have to. A paternity test was done immediately following Jamie’s birth. Fearing his partner’s wrath more than anything else, Alan fled the country to return to his native land. Picking up bits of information over the years, Jamie had learned that his father had married, and his trophy wife had bore him a second son. Christened with his father’s middle name, Jacob Davidson was something of junior hockey legend in England. Apparently, he to had inherited his father’s talent.

Jamie stood up and stretched, glancing lazily at his watch. It was two o’clock in the morning. He had been sitting on the dock for several hours now, lost in thought. With a habit born of much practice, he pushed all thoughts of his father from his mind as he made his way up the stone steps and into the house.

The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy, 1.

Click.

The sound of his key catching in the lock could barely be heard. As he slowly pushed open the door, he caught the last few bars of a cereal commercial blaring from the aging television set. Children were screaming all around him. The stereo was playing at an indecent volume. His parents were arguing. His youngest nephew was crying.

Jamie Daniels felt as though a pillow had been pressed over his face. He couldn’t breathe in his own home. There were just too many people.

The worn out rubber of the soles of his sneakers squeaked as they thudded across the dirty floor. A year ago, that alone would have signaled his arrival. But now it took more than slight noises to make his presence known.

Jamie crossed to the kitchen and escaped out the back door. No one noticed him. He was invisible.

The air was crisp and clean. Steam rose from his mouth with each breath. He breathed deeply. He smelled snow. Minnesota would have its first December snow that night.

Perfect skating conditions were no longer amorphous; the pond would remain frozen from now until spring.

A small smile tugged at his lips. He had always loved this time of year. All of his best memories had happened when it snowed. His best birthday. His first kiss. The first time he ever touched the ice.

But none of that meant anything to him anymore. Not even hockey. What once had given him nothing but pleasure now caused his heart to ache. And nothing – and no one – could make it stop.