May 24, 2010
By , Benton, AR
From the open window next to him the cool night wind brushed his straight brown hair into his face. He blinked his pale blue eyes, finally roused from his tortured reminiscence. Jeremy looked at the green numbers of his alarm clock, midnight, the supposed witching hour and he was still in the same position he’d been in since that afternoon, a loose hockey jersey his father had given him draping him in his favorite teams’ colors. He sighed, lost in thought he hadn’t felt the stiffness in his muscles from sitting criss-cross on his bed all day, or the numbness in his feet. There, in the comfort of his messy room, his well-used pile of books on a shelf in the corner, video games, and hockey supplies strewn throughout, he’d been able to ignore the laughter of his little brothers.
“Two years ago today,” he thought, examining the square moon lit hands in front of him. “Two years today and no one seems to care.” It had been an agonizing time. He’d quit the hockey team a few months ago; he just couldn’t handle the crowd without him there. But no one else seemed to realize or remember, like it hadn’t affected them at all.
He’d retreated to the relative sanctuary of his room earlier, unable to stomach the happiness of his little brothers and his mom. It wasn’t the boys’ fault of course. His little brothers, Bobby and Eric they were both five and exactly alike, except that Eric had a crooked nose. They were both too young to remember, he couldn’t hold it against them. But his Mom…she didn’t even seem to remember that two years ago her husband had died. A tear splashed on his upturned palm, shining opaque silver. How had she gotten past it so easy? How could she forget and be absolutely happy while he couldn’t even seem to forget?
Jeremy squeezed his eyes shut, grabbing fistfuls of his dark hair, trying to force back memories that rose unbidden to consciousness.
* * *
Balancing a hockey puck on his stick, Jeremy stood outside the rink of his most recent victory. A huge grin split his face in two, and he couldn’t seem to help a gleeful cackle every time he remembered the look on the goalie’s face as his shot had soared past his mitt. It had been priceless.
Standing in the sun outside of the blue rink the heat seemed to be rebounding from the concrete of the almost empty parking lot. In his jeans and Blazer’s jersey he’d started to sweat after the cool of the ice. He was waiting for this dad, who’d gone to congratulate the coach. Before he’d been tackled by his ecstatic teammates after he’d scored the winning goal he’d seen him in the stands. Identifiable by his bright orange hair and 6’5 frame, he’d been jumping up and down like a jack rabbit, shaking people around him, and screaming like it was an Olympic win. That was his dad, always the enthusiast.
Jeremy started jugging the puck, “Where is he?” he thought, “We’re going to be late for diner! Mom will kill us if we’re late again!” The doors to the rink opened and he turned expectantly.
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t the champ!” his father crowed, huge equipment bag slung over one shoulder. Jeremy grinned and his father mussed his hair, “C’mon, we’re going to be late! I definitely don’t want what happened last time to happen again!”
Jeremy grimaced, “ Definitely!” Hitching the stick over his shoulder they raced each other to the ancient black Ford his father drove at the back of the parking lot. Long legs won out, “ No fair!” he called, laughing. “Your taller!”
“No fair my butt!” his dad yelled ahead of him, “ You already won something today! It’s my turn!” Reaching the truck Jeremy’s dad slug the bag in the back and hopped into the cab.
Jeremy wasn’t far behind, stick making a clank in the bed of the truck. Jumping into the tiny cab and slamming the door he grinned. “You’d better hurry.”
His dad started the truck and pulled out. “ Thanks for the reminder. You played a great game today, even Howie thought so.”
“Really?” He was shocked, Howie, as his coach was fondly called, was hard to impress.
“Yeah, really.” His dad said, rolling his eyes.
Laughing Jeremy ranked the radio to full blast, and started singing at the top of his lungs. His dad shook his head and weaved through the increasing traffic. It wasn’t long though before they were both singing, beating out the beat of the loud music. Ten minutes from home they pulled up to a red light, diner was in five minutes but he didn’t care. He was having a blast.
His dad grinned at him then winced at the clock. “We’re gonna be eaten alive!” he yelled over the music.
“Maybe not if we claim we’re going to do the dishes!”
His dad laughed and started through the changing light. An earth-shattering shriek of tires was all the warning they had. Heads whipping around they saw a huge red pickup headed straight for them. He didn’t even have time to panic. The impacted twisted metal and shattered glass. His dad shouted something as Jeremy went flying. Everything turned black.
* * *
Two years and Jeremy still couldn’t believe how quickly it had happened, he’d been there and then he was just gone. He just didn’t understand how someone could forget the man so easily. How had they gotten past it? Giving a sharp tug to his hair and dashing the tears from his eyes he looked out the window. He wondered it he would ever get an answer.

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