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Maybe he was a football player. He stood on the sideline the entire season even though he was half an hour early for every practice. He thought that nobody noticed him, but they were always watching him out of the corners of their eyes, just waiting to see what he would do next. He understood the game in a way that was intriguing to watch. You could see the connections going off in his mind. After every practice, he went to a burger joint with the quarterback to fix the flaws in the plays. Despite his understanding of the game, his red jersey never got the chance to slide across the field and be covered in grass stains. He was scrawny compared to his teammates. He couldn't even dream of out running or tackling a 250 pound guy.
Perhaps his mom and him were so close that it made all of the abandoned children cringe. On Saturdays, they went hunting for garage sales and tried to buy the cheapest yet most useful items they could find. Last week he bought a record player. His mom said that it seems outdated by twenty years, but he was old school and she knew that. In fact, that was one of her favorite qualities about him. He was raised in a very nurturing and safe home. A lot of his friends envied him for that because their families were broken or dysfunctional. He learned to ignore the snarky comments and smile instead. Gosh. He had a smile that could save anyone.
Like any person, he probably wasn’t perfect. He had flaws. He has regrets that will follow him around for the rest of his life. When he was in second grade, he saw a boy his same age that was walking oddly. He laughed at him, not realizing that the boy had a disability. His sister yelled at him and looked at him with disgust. He tried to laugh it off because he was surrounded by friends, but no amount of laughter or tears or repentance will ever make what he did okay. Some things simply can’t be fixed. In his early teenage years, he hadn’t made any monumental mistakes, but surley they will take place sometime.
What if gloomy days were his favorite. He liked how the gray clouds blended in with the backdrop of the never ending sky. The trees were barren with all of their leaves gone, but for some reason it was just as beautiful as the red and green ones glistening in the summer heat. The smell of fresh air was reviving in such a unique way. He believed that long walks and the feeling of being in nature was the best thing for the soul. He was quite poetic. Often times he would find himself lost in the colors and that mesmerizing smile would come upon his face.
Bombs Away. Maybe that’s what his grandpa called his favorite game. His sister and him would hide behind a short wall in the brick-covered patio while his grandpa threw the ball gently over the wall. Whoever got hit first, lost. He often looks back on his childhood and all that comes to mind are comforting memories. When he was younger, he would get mad and between his bed and a giant green bean bag in his room. His dad didn’t have to think about where he was hiding, he knew to look there every time. His dad would bribe him to come out by talking him to the small ice cream shop down the street from the house. Even when he was a little boy, he had the same, all consuming smile.
Until I took it away from him.
I didn’t see him. I swear. It was so dark that I could barely see the road ahead of me. When he flew across the street on his bike, I thought he was an animal. Maybe a deer. The noise was different than anything I have ever heard. It was the sound of bones breaking.
I ran out of the car. His body isn’t supposed to move like that. I see crimson escaping from his mouth. He’s lifeless.
Then his eyes glance up and meet mine.
I kneel next to him. I fumble for my phone, but my hands are shaking so much that I can’t find it.
“I… I’m going to call for help.” I say.
He struggles to keep breathing.
“Don’t.” He forces out.
“They’ll help you.” They have to. This kid can’t die here. He’s too young. Sixteen? Seventeen? His life hasn’t even started. He shakes his head. He smiles.
“It’s okay.” The way he said it was so pure. And his smile. Gosh, his smile could save anyone. Perhaps the only person that he couldn’t save was himself.
His soul left his eyes.
Who is he? Does he go to school? Is he a jock or a bookworm? Are his parents kind hearted people? Will they ever be able to recover from his tragic death? Does he have any siblings? What was his childhood like?
I don’t even know his name.