The Scholarship

January 23, 2009
By Mitchell King, Essex, CT

“So are you going to A.J.’s party tonight?” Chris had been talking about this party all week. Everyone had. The entire school knew the rumors about A.J.’s parties. His parents left for their vacation house in Vermont every other weekend, leaving him home alone in their mansion of a house. Around adults A.J. was polite and relatively quiet, but once he got around his friends and maybe a little alcohol, he turned into an animal. His house parties were legendary. He had no neighbors within a mile or so because his family owned the entire ranch up by Enderson. This way, no one could here anything that went during his wild nights. Tonight’s party was going to be one of the best yet, because it was an open invite. Anyone could come.
I took out my phone and stood up my history book on my desk so Mr. Crawford couldn’t see that I was texting in class. “Yeah, I’ll be there for sure, c u tonight. And r u driving or am I?” I hit send. One minute later my pocket buzzed and a loud ring went off in the almost silent classroom. “You gotta be kidding me.” I thought. I must’ve accidentally taken my phone off vibrate when I sent that last message. “Here we go.” Crawford had put down the white board marker and was making his way toward my desk, which was ideally situated in the back left corner of the room. “So, Mr. Lacosse…” he said with a deeply sarcastic tone, “Does the fact that you are the starting quarterback of the football team, give you the right to text during my class, while the rest of your classmates are actually trying to learn something?” “No Sir,” I replied trying to act as respectfully as possible. “Then perhaps it’s that you were voted this year’s prom king, that gives you the privilege?” He was staring at me. Angry, but not fuming, he seemed more disappointed than anything. “No sir,” I repeated. “Well then...” He started to stroll back up to the front of the room. “I suggest you put your cell phone away, or turn it off rather, and try to participate. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn a thing or two… for once.” Everyone in the class started laughing, even Crawford got a kick out of his own attempt at humor. I slunk down in my seat, and put my phone in my pocket. “No detention?” I thought. “No office referral, no write up?” It was strange, for something like this at least I would get a detention, but for some reason Mr. Crawford had decided he would rather try and humiliate me than punish me by the books. I would’ve continued to wonder however my train of thought was interrupted by the bell.
Coach Holly had asked me to see him after school. He said that he ahs something to talk to me about. As I walked across the school to his office I briefly replayed this past season in my head. Our team was great to begin with, and we were projected to win the state championship after only three weeks of pre-season. The headlines of every major newspaper in Ohio read “Lacosse will lead the Barons to an OISA championship!” Thinking about this makes me smile. Everyone had such high expectations for me coming into this year, and it feels great to know that I didn’t let anyone down. And with schools like Florida, UCLA, South Carolina, and Ohio State trying to recruit me, it’s easy to feel proud.
As I reach Coach Holly’s office I forced myself to break out of my memory trance. I knock on the door. “Hey Mark, come on in.” He sounded like he had god news. “Well, first of all I want to congratulate you.” “On what coach?” “I just heard from the OISA today, you’re officially an All-American, congratulations” I was speechless. My teammates were always telling me I was going to get it, but I never dreamed it would actually happen, especially not my senior year in high school. “Wow coach…” was all I could manage. “But that’s not even the real reason I asked you to come in this afternoon,” he told me. “I just received a letter from Ohio State. Now, I know you’ve been talking to them recently, and about a month ago they were really asking about you, and I gave them some of your game film to review… Mark?” I looked up at him. “They want to offer you a full scholarship!” I was numb. I could feel my heart pounding in slow motion, and I lost my breath. I couldn’t believe what my coach had just told me. “Congratulations,” he repeated, “You deserve it.” “Coach, I- I can’t believe this.” “It’s not hard to believe Mark, you’re a helluva football player. You worked hard and people noticed. But I know all this.” He laughed, and handed me the formal letter. “Go home and tell your parents, I’ll see you tomorrow.” I reached over to shake his hand, but he hugged me instead. “Thank you coach.” “No, Mark, thank yourself.”
I could barely focus on the road during the drive home. I parked the car and walked into my house acting really nonchalant. The conversation with my parents went as usual with the same old “how are you” and “how was your day”…Until I broke the news to them. My mom screamed and hugged me, nearly knocking me to the floor, and my father stood back and just looked at me with a huge, prideful smile on his face. I was about to explain everything to them when my phone vibrated in my pocket. I figured I could give my parents the details later, so I opened my phone and went up to my room.
It was a massage from Chris; “Yo man, can you give me a ride, I wanna get there early to help A.J. with some stuff.” “Ya sure I’ll pick you up in 30 minutes,” I reply” “And dude, can you grab some beer on your way up to get me? We don’t have much left after last time.” As he said this I thought for a second about tonight, I was so pumped about what I just found out that I didn’t even want to drink. But I dismissed the thought. “Ya sure, Ill stop at Spirit’s before I pick you up, cya.”
I grabbed my keys off of the nightstand and went downstairs to tell my parents that I’d be out. “Mom!” I called through the hallway; “I’m sleeping over at Chris’ tonight!” I think she was in the kitchen. “Ok Honey!” “Are you taking you’re car?” she was still yelling because she didn’t see me come into the kitchen. “Oh, sorry.” She said smiling. “Please be careful if you go home late, you know I don’t like you driving at night.” “Alright mom,” I said. She did this every time I left the house. “Ok Honey, be safe…and remember, your father and I are very proud of you.” She kissed me on the cheek before I left.
Before I picked up Chris I went to Spirit’s, the local liquor store, and picked up two 30’s for A.J. As soon as I pulled into Chris’ driveway he was halfway out to the car. His mom was standing at the door and they were yelling to each other. “I want you back by twelve!” she called “Yeah, Yeah! Ok see ya, I’ll be back Mom don’t worry!” He got in the car and I laughed at him. “She’s got you on a short leash man,” I said still laughing. “Shut up dude,” he retorted and punched me in the shoulder. “Just drive.” When we got to A.J.’s it was around seven o’clock, and a ton of people were already there. Cars overflowed the circular driveway, and you could see the clusters of people through the light in the windows. It got dark really early seeing as it was mid-December, and all the Christmas decorations were up around the house. It looked really nice. I parked near the entrance gate and Chris and I walked up to the front door Where A.J. greeted us in purple bath robe, arms wide open, and a cigar in his mouth, obviously wasted. “Welcome Ladies!” He shouted, and showed us in. It hadn’t taken him more than an hour to get completely drunk, but that’s exactly the kind of person A.J. was around anyone but his family and teachers. The music seemed louder than usual, and there were so many people crammed together that it was hard to move from one side of a room to another. “Hey Man listen!” Chris was trying to tell me something over the roar of the music. “I think Kelly is here tonight. You should definitely go for it!” I played it cool, but inside I was burning up. Kelly Reiche was the hottest girl in our class, and maybe in the entire school. And rumor had it that she liked me. “Just the thought of being at the same party as her made me weak.” I figured maybe I could sum up the nerves to talk to her after a few more drinks.
The night went on and after a few hours I’d had so much to drink I didn’t even feel like myself. People were starting to leave and it was almost 12:30. I hadn’t seen much of Kelly throughout the night, but right before she left she came over to me. My plan hadn’t worked at all. Even though I was drunk my hands were still sweating like crazy when she talked to me. “Hey Mark,” she said in this extremely seductive tone. “I didn’t see you very much tonight.” The way she was talking to me was like she was trying to get my attention. She didn’t even need to try. I probably looked like an Idiot, standing there and not saying anything. “Oh, uh- I know… I mean, I saw you a coupl a’ times, but ya, I shoulda said Hi, but you uh- looked kinda busy and I-“ She put her finger on my lips. “Just take this” She said, and wrote her number on my hand. “You can call me if you want to,” and she kissed my cheek. “I’ll be at my house.” “Thanks” I said, as she turned to leave. I wanted to die. There was the most gorgeous thing ever to walk into Central High, writing her phone number on my hand, and all my sorry a** could think of was “thanks”. I was trying to see her walk away through the mob of people when Chris grabbed my shoulder. “Dude! It’s almost 1:00” He looked frantic. “I was supposed to be home at freakin 12! My mom is going to kill me!”
“C’mon you’re sleeping over at my house right?” I thought for a second. “Actually, I was thinking of just crashing here tonight, I mean I might as well right. “No, no!.. C’mon dude you can’t let me face her alone, plus, you always get us out of this stuff please! Your parents think you’re staying over at my house anyway don’t they?” He was really freaking out, and obviously wasted. “Alright, alright, calm down man I’ll come with you.” “Oh my god, thank you. Ok, lets go, I gotta hurry.” I tried to say goodbye to A.J. but he was passed out on the couch.
We practically ran down the driveway and got in the car. “You drive,” he told me. “Nooo way dude. I’m way too drunk to drive.” “Alright fine.” He said, “I just gotta get home.” We got in the car, and it took Chris about 2 minutes to even get the key in the ignition. He finally got the car started and floored it in reverse nearly hitting the gate. He was doing about 50 down the back road, swerving recklessly and disregarding the yellow lines completely. I wasn’t even paying attention. My eyes were fixated on the numbers 213-5676, drawn in pen on my hand. Once we hit the highway, Chris cranked it up to 80. The speed limit was 55. The highway out of Enderson was outlined by flatland, and bordered by telephone, poles. No guardrails. My Toyota was in no shape to be doing 80 miles an hour. Chris was practically driving on the other side of the road when I looked up. I saw a light in the distance but couldn’t exactly tell what it was. Whatever it was, it was coming fast. I looked over at Chris, and his head was starting to fall towards the steering wheel. The light came closer and closer, until I could see the entire truck speeding toward us. It all happened in what seemed like a second. I grabbed the wheel from Chris’ hands and jerked it to the right, missing the truck by nearly half an inch. It bumped us on the left side and Chris woke up only to slam on what he thought was the brakes, but was actually the gas pedal. The car sped out of control, swerving, and tilting wildly. And then everything was dark. I opened my eyes, and immediately vomited. I felt so dizzy, and my head hurt like nothing I’d ever felt before. My vision was blurry, but I could make out the crumpled mess that was my new Toyota Camry. I was upside down. Something felt extremely hot, and I realized the hood was on fire. I tried to move but couldn’t; feel my legs. I struggled turn my head to the side, where I saw Chris. My best friend since kindergarten, my teammate for 10 years, lay with half of his body still in the in the car, and half sticking out of the shattered, jagged windshield, now lined with blood. I knew without guessing that he was dead. I drifted in and out of consciousness, dazed, and in intolerable pain. There was a faint humming in the sky, and a blinding light shone down upon the crash scene. I could hear sirens approaching in the distance. The fire from the hood had spread to the ground and there was something burning; piece of paper maybe. I squinted to read what it said. To Mr. Mark C. Lacosse, From: The University of Ohio State. I watched as the flames devoured the envelope, showing no mercy for what I had worked my entire life to achieve. I cried as the rest of my life fell to ashes.

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