When we got home my mom helped me up the long flight of stairs and up to my room. She was on automatic, as if she was fluidly doing what a mother was meant to do.
“Ok. Sit here honey. You need a shower. Let me help you. Wait here. I’ll get the water on and a towel. Wait here.”
She quickly returned, moving frantically, yet efficiently. “You know I worry with the hockey and you out there with those bigger boys. How about golf Daniel? I think you would like that. No? Here, let me get your shoes. Ok. Ok. Now your shirt. Goodness child! I’m not feeding you enough! So skinny Daniel. You need to eat more. I worry you don’t eat enough.”
Then she reached for the zipper on my jeans. I swatted her hand away “MOM!”
“What? What? What is it?”
She looked down and saw the guard I put up around my private area. “Oh Jesus. You…you boys and your privacy. It’s nothing I haven’t seen a thousand times my dear, but if you must…”
“Just…just, can you help me to the bathroom mom? I can take care of the rest.”
“Yes. Yes, of course.”
She helped me limp to the bathroom and I shut the door behind her with a “thanks mom.”
Sure as shit, the second I had myself stripped down, and was just about to pull the curtain back and step in, she opened the door again, walked in, and said “let me know when your done. I will help you into bed.”
“Good god. Calm down Daniel” was her response, rolling eyes and all, smiling at my extreme shyness.
When I got myself dried off and clothed, she came back in to help me back to my bedroom. I laid down and she propped my foot up on some pillows and placed an ice pack over it.
“I will bring you by the clinic tomorrow before school. We’ll have it looked at. Ok? Here is two ibuprofen. This will help too. Take these and rest. Call down if you need anything Daniel. Just rest now. Don’t get up unless you absolutely have to.”
It was all of 9:00 and she was expecting me to go bed. Not going to happen. I stared at the ceiling for what felt like an hour. I glanced over at my clock and saw it was 9:15. This was going to be a long, boring night.
I grabbed my phone and texted Kayla:
“You want a ride to school tomorrow?”
“I got hurt at hockey tonight. My mom is bringing me to the doc tomorrow morning.”
“OMG! What happened?”
“Fucking Derek. Slashed my foot really bad.”
“He’s such a dick.”
I know right. I got him back. Knocked him hard. I challenged him to a fight too.”
“LOL! U R A animal!”
“Yup. That or crazy. I’m just so sick of his shit.”
“I feel ya.”
“Yeah? How do I feel?”
“Your fault btw…”
“LOL! What time you leaving. I will take a ride fo sho I mean if it’s cool.”
“Yeah. I’ll txt you in the morning when I know what time. K?”
I set my phone down and smiled. I wondered if all girls are as cool as Kayla is? For some reason I doubted it. I’ve never really hung out with a girl before her, but she just seems different than how they are. Different in a very cool way. It’s like she knows who she is and don’t give a damn what anybody else thinks of her. She wears what she wants to wear. She is confident and has a kind of ‘I dare you’ swagger. Nobody is going to go up to her and say she looks weird or dumb or anything. Sometimes I wish I had some of her qualities myself. I don’t spend my time trying to impress anybody, but I do worry about being accepted. I will never be a popular kid. Not that I want to be. But I don’t want to worry about being singled out either. Picked on or worse.
I mean with hockey. I am aware that I am a very good player, but I don’t look for popularity or an ego boost from it. I know a lot of kids would eat that up, and want everyone to know how awesome they are. I don’t want to be referred to as ‘that kid that’s really good at hockey.’ I think there’s a lot more to me than that.
I decided to see if I could use the power of music to put myself to sleep. I loaded up some ambient soundscapes and closed my eyes. Before long, I was asleep.
I didn’t have the best night of sleep, as my throbbing foot kept waking me up. When it came time to get up and ready for school, I was not feeling at all refreshed.
We picked up Kayla, and headed for the hills. Kayla and my mom talked nonstop the entire trip, like two long lost friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. With them gabbing, I was able to zone out and relax.
We dropped Kayla and drove over to the clinic.
“I do love that Kayla” my mom said, out of nowhere. “She’s spunky.”
“Spunky. She’s got spirit. Fire.”
“Why so glum Daniel?”
“I’m just tired. My foot kept me awake most of the night.”
“Oh honey. We’ll get you fixed up. You’ll see.”
We got to the clinic and after the long wait, a nurse ran me through the usual measurements.
“Stand on this scale honey. Ok. 78 pounds. Ok, now I’m going to lift this up here. Ok. Stand up straight. That’s good. Ok. 4 feet and 10 inches.”
‘Hell yeah!’ I thought to myself. I grew an inch in the last month. However, I would have happily traded that inch for an inch somewhere else…if you know what I mean.
The doc came in and pushed, pulled, and prodded. He sent me for an x-ray and determined that I had an acute metatarsal fracture. So I was fitted with a soft cast, set up with a pair of crutches, and told to be very immobile for the next 4 to 8 weeks. Thanks a lot Derek.
I made it back to school by lunch time and swung my way over to Mark and Kayla. They were both sincerely apologetic for my current situation. They both offered to help me in any way possible. I have awesome friends.
We spent most of our time throwing around ideas of how to pay Derek back for crippling me. As we sat there sharing these ridiculous ideas, and laughing and having so much fun, I kind of let my mind wander. I pictured myself as a silent observer. Watching three carefree friends goofing off, with not a care in the world. When I dug a little deeper, looking into myself, I saw my distress and struggles. I had to ask, am I alone with these problems within this group? Could Kayla and Mark have similar wars being waged in their heads? Were they wearing carefully crafted masks like I was? Is Kayla really okay with her and my stagnation? Or was she dying inside for me to accept her more intimate offerings? Was Mark’s occasional touch and general kindness anything more than what it seemed? Was his invitation for a sleepover anything more than two friends hanging out? He hasn’t been around long enough for me to speculate. As much as I dream of it being more, would I have a clue what to do? And where does that leave Kayla in all of this.
A part of me wishes I was normal. I could have an incredible girlfriend in Kayla, and a great friend in Mark. I hope tomorrow night can offer me some clarity, but I imagine it will just add to my frustration and aching heart.