Dedicated to John
Ten days, ten pairs of socks. My soccer shoes. TenT-shirts. My state team shirt. Oh, how proud I am of this shirt. "DougBrooks of the Massachusetts team beats out the Italian defense with his lightningfootwork and scores the game winner on the Italian home turf! He's a hero! Histeammates carry him off ..."
"Dougie, are you packed?"called the boy's mother, interrupting his daydreaming.
Doug dropped thesocks, shoes and shirts in his duffel and continued to pack. "Almost,Mom," he called.
* * *
Last year Doug Brooks had tried out forthe Massachusetts State Select team, along with 100 other kids. Doug was one oftwenty picked. Now, since the team had had a successful season, they had beeninvited to play in an international tournament in Italy. The coach thought itwould be a great experience, and most parents agreed. Needless to say, the kidsloved the idea.
And now they were really going. He paced the living room,checking the clock to see if it was time to leave for theairport.
Finally, it was 8: 00 p.m. and time to go. Doug was quiet withanticipation of the adventure ahead.
The drive was uneventful untilsuddenly the car lurched to the left, and they heard the steady thumping soundindicative of a flat tire. Luckily they were in a town and presumable there wouldbe a gas station somewhere nearby.
Once they had the tire fixed, it wasalmost ten o'clock. Risking a speeding ticket, Doug's father drove 75 miles perhour until they reached Boston. He cursed the traffic, and by then Doug wasworried, too. The time was 10: 15 and the flight was due to leave at 10:30.
Finally they reached Logan Airport. They screached into a parkingplace, grabbed Doug's bag, and ran for the terminal.
"Where's Flight603 boarding?" Doug's father askedhopefully. The time was 10:33.
"Gate 23, and hurry."
After checking Doug's baggage,they sprinted towards Gate 23 across the terminal. It was 10: 38 p.m. when Doughugged his father and rushed down the ramp to board the plane. But as he wentdown the ramp, he saw the plane's door snap shut. He had missed the flight! Dougthrew himself on the door, pounding on it, screaming, "Let me in! Openup!" Tears rolled down his face as he walked up the ramp to hisfather.
Wordlessly, they collected Doug's baggage and went to the car.Neither spoke on the way home and immediately Doug fell asleep. He slept deeplyand restfully.
Suddenly Doug woke, feeling strange. He couldn't think whyhe had awakened. The car was cruising smoothly on the highway. He felt as ifsomething had happened, but he couldn't pinpoint what. He also thought it funnythat he woke up so suddenly out of a deep sleep, with no obvious cause. Lookingat the clock, he saw that it read 11: 46 p.m. Still uneasy, he lay back down,without falling asleep.
After Doug and his father told his mother aboutthe awful night, Doug went to his bedroom and cried. Finally, in a daze, hebrushed his teeth and fell into bed, after flipping on his radio.
As Dougslept, the radio station turned from music to news.
"In the nationtoday ... An update on that crash, Flight 603, which departed from Logan earliertonight. Radio operators lost contact with the plane, showing signs of enginefailure, around 11: 45 p.m. It is believed that the plane went down somewhere inthe Atlantic ...
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.