The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy, 15.

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.”

“I wasn’t.”

“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.

xxx

“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.”

“And?”

“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.

The Lost Boy

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

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

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.