The Lost Boy

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

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.