A Not-Very-Linebackery Think to Do
When he got home from school that afternoon, he went straight to his room and dug the paper out of his pocket. He unfolded it, hoping somehow that it didn’t say what he’d written.
He stared at the two words he’d written.
May as well get it over with, he thought. “I love you Emilio Garcia,” he yelled into his pillow.
The words felt ridiculous. Jack was a linebacker, for God’s sake. And that was not a very linebackery thing to say. Whatever, he thought, This project is DONE.
Jack spent a happy evening on his phone.
But the Great Whatever wasn’t done with him.
When he woke up the next morning the first word out of his mouth was, “Sorry, Great Whatever.”
He felt like …
What did he feel like?
Like he was in the middle of a game and there was a play to the opposite side of the field and had stopped running before the running back was completely tackled.
Even if he knew someone else would make the tackle, Jack never stopped running until the whistle blew. It wasn’t … it wasn’t excellent.
Yet he’d stopped running for the tackle with the Emilio project. He needed to go bigger. Get someone to listen.
“Fine,” he said aloud. “Do-overs.”
When he got home from school Wednesday afternoon, he went straight to his room, cleared his throat and shouted, “I love you Emilio Garcia.”
The words didn’t taste so mediciney. He decided he could think of Emilio like he was a teammate. It’s cool to love a teammate.
He fell asleep wondering what position Emilio would play. He looked small. Maybe a defensive back.
Jack woke up Thursday morning feeling like less of a broken wheel. He still wasn’t ready to show his paper to Keisha, though he kept it in his front jeans pocket each day. An amulet.
He felt less wobbly, but still not quite smooth. So Thursday afternoon he stopped in his front yard, took a deep breath, and shouted, “I love you Emilio Garcia.”
Almost, he thought.
On Friday afternoon he shouted it three times. It felt pretty great, actually. Now he was thinking of Emilio like he was a brother. It’s cool to love a brother.
The problem was that nobody had heard him.