The Lost Boy, 14.

Jamie continued to look up at his old friend, a sad smile on his face. “You found me.” He whispered.

“I’ll always find you.”

The two men sat in the sand, the wind ruffling their hair.

“Put it out.” Danny said, gesturing towards Jamie’s cigarette. “My mom’ll throw a fit if I come home smelling like that.”

Jamie took another quick pull and then obliged, putting his cigarette out in the sand.

“How did you know I’d be here?”

“You always come here when you’re upset.”

“How’d you know I was upset?”

Danny bit his lip, hesitant about his answer. “O’dell told me.”

Jamie breathed deeply, but didn’t say anything.

“He’s worried about you. We all are.”

“There’s nothing to worry about.”

“Really?” Danny asked in surprise. “Last time I checked there was plenty to worry about.”

“Danny..”

“No, please, listen to me.” He stopped, checking to see if his friend would interrupt. When he didn’t, Danny continued.

“I’ve known you since the sandbox Jamie, you can’t hide from me the way you do others.” He paused again, waiting, but Jamie continued to stare straight ahead.

“What happened that night? With Kayleigh? What was so bad?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“I bet you haven’t talked about it with anyone. Come on, help me understand.”

Jamie leaned all the way back so that he was lying on his back in the sand. He stared straight up, his eyes reflecting the stars in the night sky.

“We had sex.”

“I know.”

“You know?”

“Well, yeah. We kind of all do. The whole parents yelling thing tipped us off.”

“She told me she needed a break right after.”

Danny lay down next to him, not saying a word. He didn’t want to interrupt now that his friend was finally talking.

“She called me a few weeks later. She was four weeks late.”

Danny sucked in his breath, and held it. Questions exploded inside his head, but he stayed quiet. He hadn’t known this.

“She was pregnant. John was right. I would – I did get her pregnant. He was right.”

“Kayleigh.. she doesn’t look pregnant. She.. would have had the baby by now though. Right?” Danny questioned softly.

“She isn’t anymore.” Jamie rolled onto his side, facing the swing set he had played on as child. He could almost hear the spirit of his unborn child laughing on it.

“I told my mom about it. She cried a lot, and told my stepdad. They weren’t happy.”

“I wouldn’t think so.” Danny whispered.

“You know, that night John told me that I’d wind up like my mom; too young, uneducated, and alone. He was right, wasn’t he? I am alone. The only difference between me and her is that Kayleigh killed our baby.”

“Don’t say that, Jamie.”

“She did, Danny. She didn’t want a child. She wanted a career in hockey, and she’s going to get one. She’s damn good.”

“So are you.”

Jamie smirked, but didn’t answer; his thoughts still lingering on the baby. “Were you really high at practice?” Danny asked tentatively.

“No.”

“But O’dell said-

“I wasn’t.”

“You trusted me up until this point Jamie, why are you lying to me now?”

Jamie was on his feet, feeling his temper rise.

Danny was on his heels. “Talk to me.”

He turned around, eyes flashing. “Listen to me. I wasn’t on anything. I took some painkillers earlier in the day because I couldn’t walk. My brother was jumping on my bed while I was in it and landed on my knee. I wouldn’t have been able to practice if I didn’t take anything. But I wasn’t high.” He turned back around, and started to make his way home.

Danny blinked into the night. He hadn’t been expecting that. “I’m going to have a lot of apologizing to do,” he said to no one in particular.

The Lost Boy, 13.

The loud screech of the telephone rang throughout the house. As usual, it was set to HIGH. With so many people living under one roof, it needed to be. Screams and shouts came from children and adults alike as they all scrambled for it at once.

Like animals, Jamie thought to himself, as he slipped quietly out the door. Pulling his coat tightly around him, he ducked into the darkness and followed a path up the street. He did not need the light of the moon to know where he was going; his feet took him there automatically. Shivering slightly, he quickened his pace.

All of the beaches that surrounded the lake were public. This one was no exception; all of St. Paul had access to it. But it was only visited sporadically. Some people did not like to venture through the thick brush that hid its entrance, some didn’t know that it existed at all.

The Devils knew of its existence. They were, in fact, Crystal Beach’s only visitors for as long as they could remember. Coach O’dell had brought them there as children, when they were still learning the basics of hockey, to practice. It was quiet, secluded, and the water frozen enough to support their weight as they flew across the ice.

After their win against the Falcons, their peewee nemesis, they moved onto real skating rinks, and California, to play in the Junior Divisional Championships. After that, it was St. Dominic’s stadium rink. Gone were the days where Crystal Beach was a playing ground, a teaching ground. Jamie missed those days.

Sitting on one of the rusted swings that scattered the beach, Jamie took in his surroundings. The beach hadn’t changed much since his last visit. The water was frozen, the sand was white, and the abandoned swing set that he had played on with the Devils was still rusty. The garbage cans they used as goal posts were still standing underneath the willow tree – exactly where they were left after their final practice.

Scattered trash had blown from the outside street. He got up from the swing, the chains complaining loudly as he removed his weight from the pad. Reaching down to pick up the litter, Jamie could almost hear the ghostly whispers from his past.

“Hey, that almost hit me!”

“It’s supposed to hit you – you’re the goalie!”

“I don’t want to be goalie anymore!”

Jamie chuckled to himself, recalling how ridiculous he and his friends used to be.

“It’s amazing how time had changed us all,” He said quietly, still hunched over the debris.

“It’s amazing how time has changed you.”

Jamie jerked his head up, surprised at the intrusion. He looked up to see his former teammate, Danny Masters, staring down at him.

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.

and so, 0.6.

“Where are you going to stay?” George Reagan asked his foster son. The quiet anger hadn’t left his voice but years on the job and raising children of his own had him well versed in controlling his temper. That morning while looking for change, he realized all the spare cash they kept in the coffee can in the kitchen was gone. It didn’t take long for him to realize a few other things were missing and, living with only one son these days, who the culprit was. Finding the stash took even less time.

Putting an old backpack down onto the bed, Christopher started throwing things in haphazardly. “I don’t know. Not here.”

“You have nowhere to go.”

“I guess that’s not your problem anymore, right? Eighteen’s long since passed.”

“That doesn’t matter to me. What you’re doing now matters to me. When did you fall off?”

“It doesn’t matter to you or it didn’t matter to her?” Chris sneered. He hadn’t mentioned his foster mother since she died, and doing so he knew he had struck a nerve. It was never a secret in the Reagan house that his fostering was something Mrs. Reagan wanted and everyone else obliged. He threw his wallet into the bag and zipped it up. Mr. Reagan stared at the boy as he crossed the room.

“Let him go.” Davy said from the doorway.

Christopher, half inside his coat, looked back at him.

“He’s faded now anyway. You’re wasting your breath.”

xxx

Mr. Reagan stood looking out the kitchen windows, snow coating the backyard in a thick blanket of white. It lit up the night to the point where he hadn’t needed a light to come down the stairs, and was heavy enough to keep him upstate despite not planning to spend the night. He sighed contentedly, thinking of the day.

Christopher stamped his feet on the ground and looked up, his breath rising in the cold winter air. He looked at his foster father, his eyes full of worry and fear and faintly, hope. So different from the emptiness that was there last time they met.

“Dana calls every now and then, Davy texts sometimes. But we don’t talk about anything really. I wanted to see you. I just wanted you to know. Um. That I’m okay, I guess.”

“That you’re not dead in a ditch.”

“No.”

“You’re sober.”

“I am.”

“And you’re a father.”

“I am. And a husband.”

Mr. Reagan nodded at the boy. He smiled at him, “Good.”

“I’m sorry.” Shrugging, Chris clarified, “For everything.”

xxx

“I am incredibly proud of the man you have become,” Mr. Reagan whispered as he hugged his foster son to his chest. Pulling away but still gripping Christopher’s shoulders, he said more clearly, “Don’t forget that.”

“I won’t. Be safe. We’ll see you soon.” With one last look at the boy and his little family, he got into his car and backed out of the drive, careful of the ice.

Snapping the front door shut and locking it against the cold evening, Christopher allowed himself to smile as he moved to his daughters room to check on her. There was always a little tension between himself and his foster father, especially after Amelia died and he started using again, but their first meeting since Chris got clean again went well.

He ran his fingers through Reagan’s curls as she slept, amazed at how much bigger she looked. She was more toddler than baby now, and it was happening much too fast.

“Daddy?”

“Shh. Go back to sleep.”

“I see you.”

“I see you too, Reagan. I love you.”

 

“How are you doing?” Kelly asked him later, as they moved around the kitchen putting things away.

Chris looked over his shoulder at her, “I’m alright,” he nodded. Knowing exactly what she was angling for, “I’m glad he’s not still mad.”

“George was never mad at you. He just wanted you to be better. And you are.”

“I know,” he said quietly. “I think a lot about the last time I saw him. I was awful.”

“You weren’t you. He understands.”

“I was a disaster, Kel.” Pausing to sink into a chair, Chris folded his arms across his chest and stretched his legs out. Tilting his head back, “I hate that I think about it so often but I’m glad I do too. You and Reagan, you two are why I stay clean, but remembering the lying and stealing I did – from such good people? That reminds me why I can’t go back to it, even a little.”

Kelly looked right into his eyes. “Christopher, if you ever touch anything even a little again, I will take our daughter and not come back.”

“I know.” Reaching his hand out, he pulled her to his lap and kissed her. “Kel?”

“Hmm?”

“My dad called me. Like, my real one.”

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.

and so, 0.5.

Scarecrows lined the pathway of the Beckett house and glowing pumpkins were in the windows. Orange garbage bags with painted on faces sat at the curb, filled with fallen leaves. They had put a plastic punch bowl outside, filled it with candy, and left a note that said Take One.

It was Halloween night. Kelly sat on her dresser with Christopher pressed against her. Black streamers and dark lighting, they were behind a locked door while the party went on below them. They had been alone together for awhile, ignoring their friends; kissing, cupping faces and exploring hands.

And talking. Kelly was surprised how much Chris spoke when they were intimate. How much he opened up when he was at his most vulnerable. She loved this side of him.

Christopher tensed, hard, breathing deeply. He tasted her and wanted her and he couldn’t catch his breath.

“Are you sure?,” he breathed.

Kelly pushed against his chest, her lips brushing his, “Shhh. Yes.” She reached down to undo his jeans, sighing against his mouth. “Let me show you what I want.” Then, searching out his eyes, “You’re trembling.”

Chris looked up, lips quirking into a ghost of a smile. “I’m okay.” He bent closer to her and lifted her off the hard wood and onto the bed. Rolling the condom up his length, he then steadied himself on top of her. “I want this. With you. I’m glad it’s you,” he said nervously, leaning down.

xxx

Christopher walked slowly over the crunching leaves that littered the grass he had raked earlier that day. He would have to do it again tomorrow. Checking his phone and seeing he had ten minutes until curfew, he felt around in his jacket for a cigarette. It was surprising to have that ten minutes, since he had stayed to help Kelly clean up after their friends had left.

“Hey.”

He looked up and saw the oldest Reagan son on the front steps of the house. Sighing inwardly at the loss of a hit of nicotine as well as having to endure Davy, he stepped around him and nodded in his direction as he made to go inside. “Hi,” he said softly.

“Now I know there’s no Reagan alive who wants to head inside before curfew.”

Faltering at the door, Chris turned around. “I’m not a Reagan.”

“You’re as good as. Come sit with me. You’ve got a few.”

Sitting down, Chris looked up expectantly. “Yeah?”

“You gonna tell me about what you got up to tonight? Ma and dad might already be in bed, but ol’ Davy remembers the ways of teenage boys well.”

“What?”

Nodding to the Beckett house, “No cops had to show up, that’s good.”

“Why would the cops come? The music wasn’t that loud. Nothing was out of control.” ‘Party’ was only used in the loosest of terms.

“No nonsense I gotta tell the parents about?” He sniffed obviously, “You did a good job of cleaning any scents off you.”

“Do you want to breathalyze me?” Chris snapped. He reddened, realizing he had maybe gone too far. Breathing deeply, he looked up again. “What do you really want? Don’t you have kids of your own to harass?”

“In bed already. Sugar comas. Lindsay and I took them around for candy earlier.”

“Tell me about the blonde,” Davy smirked. “You did have that well satisfied look on your face walking over here.”

“I don’t – ”

“It’s good, you know. Spend time with a girl, especially one like the Beckett girl. Her head’s on straight, which is far from what I can say about you most of the time – ”

“Are you congratulating me or talking shit?”

Davy stopped, staring at the kid. “She’s good for you. I know you. Don’t screw it up.”

“Davy. You don’t know anything about me.” Christopher deadpanned. He stood up, brushed off his jeans, and went inside.

Shutting the front door, he leaned his head back against it. The hallway clock chimed midnight. Time to turn back into a pumpkin.

xxx

Christopher was pulling on a clean pair of pajama bottoms to sleep in when his bedroom door slammed open.

“You know, Chris – ”

He couldn’t help flinching as his brother bulldozed his way into the room. Startled, his vision started tunneling before he remembered to breathe. “Don’t you knock?!”

“You’re going to wake up ma and dad, quit yelling.”

Blinking hard, “I’m not?”

“Christopher. You’re shaking. And white like paper. What’s going on?”

“Nothing, you just scared me, barreling in here like that. What’s wrong with you?”

Davy turned and walked out without answering. Chris sank onto the bed, his heart still pounding. He listened to the sound of his own breathing for a few minutes. “Get a grip,” he said to himself. “It’s just Davy being an asshole.”

“I am frequently an asshole but in this moment, I’d like you to reserve judgement. Here.” Davy shoved a cup of hot chocolate in his hands. “Drink it.”

Breathing in the scent, Chris wrapped his hands around the mug, savoring its warmth. He stared down at it, trying to figure out why it smelled vaguely like cinnamon. “You didn’t spike this, did you?”

Lips in a thin line, Davy rolled his eyes hard at his brother. “No. Drink.”

“Why am I drinking hot chocolate?” He took a small sip.

“You don’t like tea and you don’t need caffeine this late. And chocolate’s good for shock. Your color’s better already.”

“I.. ”

“I know. Stop. Keep breathing and drink.” He placed a hand on Chris’ back. “It’s okay. I wasn’t thinking.”

“About what?”

“That barging into your room like that would do this to you. You don’t have to say anything. I know it put you back there. I am an asshole, I’m sorry.”

Christopher slowly looked back at his mug, and drank some more so he wouldn’t have to say anything. He kept it up until the chocolate was finished. “I don’t mean to be such a mess,” he whispered.

“There are things in your past that most of us don’t have. I didn’t realize how easily you could get sent back there.” Davy looked at the teenager.

“How’d you know?”

“Believe it or not I am an adult and a father. And a big brother. And I didn’t need the physical reactions, I could see it in your eyes.”

Chris cleared his throat. Placing the mug on the nightstand, he stared out the window. “What were you coming in here to say? Before, uh, this.”

“I was going to say things that were out of line and unnecessary. Don’t worry about it.”

Christopher turned to look at him. “I like her. She doesn’t deserve to be talked about the way you started to. And I haven’t touched a drink in four months.” He could see Davy doing the math, calculating how long he had been here as Drunk Chris versus Sober Chris.

Davy looked at him. “Good. Try to sleep, kid.”

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.”

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.