Little Black Rock

December 29, 2010
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It’s raining. It’s raining, and we’re standing on the sidewalk after soccer practice. We’re still wearing our uniforms, the banana yellow jerseys and muddied shorts that say “Southwood” on them, and the soccer cleats. The rain makes little streams of dirt run down our legs. And we’re waiting.

It’s going to be ten minutes before the next bus comes and already the rain is pouring down harder than ever. I’m so wet I might as well be swimming. It’s cold and wish I hadn’t forgotten my jacket at home. Ryan is wearing his; he never forgets.

I cough. Although I try to hold it back, lock it away in a little box inside my chest, it comes out anyways—loud and obnoxious. I’m so embarrassed that I stare awkwardly at the curb. I hope Ryan didn’t notice. He does notice, though, and reaches out his arm, his hand still in his jacket pocket. I stare at him.

“Come on,” he says.

I start to stammer. “I’m okay, really—”

He doesn’t budge. “Coach’s gonna kill you if you get sick.”

I give in and step under his jacket. He wraps his arm around me. Neither of says another word, but words aren’t needed. Together we stand like that in the rain.

I’ve never felt my heart pound so furiously.

In that moment, everything felt so simple. It didn’t matter if the boys picked on me for being the smallest on the team. Or that I didn’t really like soccer, but had only joined because Ryan insisted that I try out with him. It didn’t matter that the bossy lawyer with the perfect comb-over hair was going to be at the house when I get home, finalizing the divorce papers so that my dad can live with his new family in Palm Beach.

None of that mattered because Ryan had let me stand underneath his jacket. I think how amazing it is that he let me be his friend. Ryan, the perfect athlete, the one that everyone liked. He had only been on the team for half a year and already they were talking about making him the captain next season.

Maybe it was fate, or probably just plain chance, that Ryan was my next-door neighbor when we moved here in the summer of my second grade. He had knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to play ball, and I said no, that I’d rather go collect rocks, so we went around rock collecting until the sun went down and Mom made me come inside. I’ll always remember that day because Ryan had found a cool, shiny black rock that looked like glass. I had really liked it, so Ryan let me keep it and take it home with me.

As we’re standing there in the rain, I can’t help but think of that piece of rock. It’s still sitting on top of my drawer after all this time, a little chunk of glass. It looks like nothing special, except when the light catches on the surface, it kind of ripples and when I look at it, I feel lost within its depths, kind of like I’m looking down into an endless well, about to fall off the edge.

That’s a little bit like how I feel now, like I’m about to fall off the edge of the world. It’s a scary feeling, because it means that I’ll have to come crashing back into reality, eventually. But for the moment, I’m content, waiting in the rain with Ryan, feeling weightless.

Feeling like I can fly.





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