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One Last Drive

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Short Story: One Last Drive

Anyone that ever said being injured was more physical than anything, was a liar and probably never had a record season in their entire career. I was on my way into school, to meet with the guidance counselor. No one had seen me in person since it happened...my recovery was done at home, at the rehab center, and all of my work was sent home from teachers. I was a nervous wreck, but I had to soldier on and enter the school once more. I went from being Miles Donovan, star running back...to Miles Donovan, the guy with the messed up knee. Moment of truth...showtime again, Miles. People were staring, I could feel it. Once I stepped into the school, I kept my head down, avoiding eye contact or conversation with anyone. I just wanted to get to the guidance counselor's office and get this stuff straight. What possible reason would she have to meet with me? This just better be good...everyone is looking at me, and for once in my life...I hate it. Before I knew it, I was at her door.
“Ah, Miles. Please come in.” She opened the door to the office and smiled.“Sorry to seem forward, but it's been quite some time since we last spoke...I want you to tell me what happened.” She gave me that look...the look that said; I'm here for you, you can talk to me. I almost didn't want to believe it.
“Tell you what happened with what?” I played dumb...I knew what it was about, but I wanted to make sure.
“Your leg, I heard you had an injury a little while ago...wanted to know the story behind it. Your coach was concerned about you, along with your mother. They asked me to speak with you about some things.” She explained as she pulled out papers from her desk.
“So do you want the long version or the short version?” I asked, slightly miffed...but I tried not to show it on my face.
“I want your version...length isn't an issue, and I understand if you don't want to go into detail.” She gave me that friendly nod like most teachers do after giving you an assignment.
“Alright...here goes. 2 months ago, we were in the last game of the season and had a good lead. 2 minutes left and we had the ball. Coach wanted me to run the ball down the middle and keep the clock running out. I did what he said, but when I got tackled...I had one guy trying to get me down and another came and wrapped up my legs. Felt awkward, but I didn't think anything of it. I tried getting back up after the whistle...but couldn't. When I tried to stand up, I felt a ridiculous pain in my knee and fell back onto the field. From then, all I remember is the trainers looking at me and then I remember waking up at the hospital...that's the best I got.”
“Ok, that's fine. If you don't mind, do you remember the injury you sustained?” She didn't look up from her papers.
“Y-yeah...a torn meniscus and two torn ligaments, along with some damage to my cartilage. Everything around my knee was swollen and bruised.” I lowered my head as I remembered hearing the doctor tell me what happened...how I almost broke into tears. I feared it was about to happen again.
“Ok...thank you for telling me. But now, I need to ask. What are your contingency plans for college if football doesn't work out?” She finally looked up and gave me a concerned face.
“What do you mean if it doesn't work out?” I got upset. Now I knew what this was about...she didn't think I could still play football.
“I mean...just that. If you get injured again, and it is a possibility considering you've dealt with it once. What do you plan on going to college for, and is it career oriented? Even as a football player, you need an academic plan and a major.” Mrs. Lurie looked at me, anticipating my answer.
“Sports medicine or management, I guess.” I huffed...what did this have to do with anything? I'm a junior...it's not like I have to make up my mind now, right?
“Why do you guess? Is that really what you want to do?” She inquired.
“Well...no. But it's where my parents told me the money was if I wasn't going to play football.” I answered truthfully...if I wasn't playing, they wanted me to at least be in the industry.
“Ah, but it's not all about the money...Miles. What do you want to do? What do you like to do?” She really stretched the last part.
“I dunno...I mean, I like drawing. It's not like I can make a living off of that though...I draw like buildings and landscapes. You know, stuff I see around town.” Once again, it was my honest answer.
“Why don't you think you can make a living off of that? Have you researched positions where drawing buildings and landscapes could be important?” She gave me that look again...awaiting my answer.
“Well no...my parents always had me in sports. I mean, I told them I wanted to be an artist...but then they always told me about how many artists don't make it. How they often have to struggle for years before seeing a real paycheck and that their work is few and far between. How art was only lucrative if I was really good or really lucky...” I looked down at the floor. The memories of those nights at the dinner table were coming back...how dad always talked about so and so getting an academic scholarship to some school. Mom telling me how artists don't make enough unless they get good work right off the bat, which is almost never.
“Did you parents tell you about how lucky you might have to be for football? Not everyone that plays in college goes to the NFL...and not everyone that goes to the NFL stays there and makes a living from it. It's not guaranteed, Miles and neither is art...but almost nothing is. You have to make the best of your opportunities or make your own.” She stood up and walked over to a cabinet in her office, throwing the papers from her desk in a folder.
“No...they told me sports was more of a sure thing, and art was good for a hobby.” I guess I just kind of believed them...you can only hear something so many times if it's not true, right?
“Alright...I don't mean to offend here, but take what happened to your knee...did football seem like a sure thing then?” She walked to my chair and placed her hands on my shoulder.
“What kind of- No, no it didn't seem like a sure thing. I didn't know if I was going to play again, let alone make it to the NFL. I didn't even know if I'd play in college...the first week, I didn't even know if I'd walk right again. If there's a point, I hope you get to it.” I was...completely heated. What was she driving at?
“Alright, alright...don't get upset, like I said. I didn't want to offend. I'll get to the point though...even though you may not see art as a career, or lucrative. I have an assignment for you...since it's the morning time, you could probably finish this today.” She walked over to her desk and started writing on a notepad.
“What's the assignment?” I sighed.
“Rather simple. I want you to draw the school's building to scale, front and rear, the whole 9 yards. No pun intended. Don't use any photos, just your own eyes. Try and finish it before the end of the day...I'll give you a pass to sit outside and work.”
“That's it?” I asked. It seemed too simple of an assignment...I mean, I was a pretty good artist. Not to toot my own horn, but my stuff was always in the school showcases...whenever I submitted something or I did it for art class credit.
“That's it. Bring it to me before the day is over, and we'll talk about it tomorrow. Here's a sketchbook.”
She handed one to me, it was really nice...like the one the pros use. Or well...the ones that wanted to be pros.
“Alright...” I tucked the sketchbook under my arm and grabbed my backpack. She stopped me before I headed out the door, and placed her hand on my shoulder again.
“Oh, and Miles...do your best. I know you have it in you.” She gave me another smile and then sent me off. Had it in me was an understatement...I was going to knock this one out of the park.
I got started on the assignment a little after I left Mrs. Lurie's office after getting some supplies from the art room. Pencils and colored pencils to add some life to it, and a sharpener. I had the assignment done by lunch, but decided to hold on to it. I would color it after I ate...just to really make it stick. Knows I have it in me? She didn't know who she was dealing with...I was a monster on the field and a maestro on paper. Around 2PM, a period left before last bell...I sent the assignment in. She took it, nodded her head, and then told me I did a great job...and that she'd see me tomorrow. She was probably trying to hide the fact that I blew her assignment out of the water. Part of me still wondered what she wanted to prove...guess I'd find that out tomorrow.
The next morning, I walked over to Mrs. Lurie's door and knocked, awaiting an answer.
“Come in, door's open!” I heard her voice on the other side.
I walked in and stopped. It was Mrs. Lurie and some other guy...dressed in a suit, looked pretty important. Probably some sort of social worker or here to talk to me about some art school.
“Ah, here he is. Man of the hour...I've got someone for you to meet.” She motioned to the man in the suit, who approached me and extended his hand.
“Jonathan Weston, pleased to meet you. Miles, right?” He asked me.
“Oh, yes...good to meet you.” I returned the gesture.
Mrs. Lurie grabbed the folder from my assignment and laid it on the desk.
“Miles, Mr. Weston is here from Weston Construction Solutions, ever hear of it?” She smiled at me again. I was starting to get used to it.
“I think so...you construct buildings like the ones downtown, right?”
“Right on the money, Miles...but we do more than just construct them. We design and develop them as well. Mrs. Lurie here showed me the sketch of the school you did. Ever think about being an architect?”
“Well, no. I thought I was just, you know...drawing pictures. Little stuff...buildings, parks...”
“That's exactly what an architect does...they design buildings and places, draw them out. Concepts, blueprints, building plans, so on and so on...that sound like something you'd be interested in?”
“It does, but do you mean as like...a career? My parents told me art was never a lot of money, and not guaranteed money. They said sports held the big bucks.”
“I do mean it as a career, Miles. Sports and art go hand in hand...those statues and paintings at the stadiums are art. And the stadium itself is art...just a functional piece of art. Architects are artists, and well...I don't mean to brag...but I'm doing alright for myself if money is a concern. You ever design a building of your own?”
“Can't say that I have, why?”
“Well Miles, I'll get straight to the point. My company has an internship program for young and budding artists like yourself. We show them how to design a building from the ground up, how to draw up blueprints, and things like that. We'd like you to be in that internship...now it's competitive, but from meeting you face to face, and seeing your work first hand...I've got no doubt in my mind that you'd be a great fit. Interested?” He asked me, his eyebrows raised with the last word.
I looked at Mrs. Lurie and she just smiled and nodded in my direction, awaiting my answer. This was too much...that little assignment of hers was about to land me an internship. I wouldn't even need my knee to do it.
“Oh wow...definitely. Uhh, thank you sir. This is great!” I was floored, I hastily shook his hand and sat straight up in my chair.
“Perfect! We do hands-on work, college scholarships and programs, work study, the whole thing. I hear you're into football too, Miles. We're working with a potential client and talking about designing a stadium for them. If you're serious about this internship...we can have you check out some of the meetings and if it's a go, have you study the development of it. Sound good?
“Sounds like a dream come true, sir.” I was flabbergasted...but in a good way. I felt amazing. He handed me a business card, and told me to call and leave a message tonight after talking it over with my folks. He left and I sat in the office, staring at the card...this was really happening. Mrs. Lurie walked over to me again.
“So Miles...what did you think?” She was grinning from ear to ear. “Still think there's only money in sports?” I just looked up, trying to take it all in.
“Not at all, Mrs. Lurie...not at all.” I couldn't believe it...I didn't ruin my only shot at a career or college. One option wasn't in stone, and I got another. I couldn't wait to get home and tell my folks. Miles Donovan, star...architect. Now that had a ring to it.



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