It’s a late fall afternoon with the scent of burning leaves hanging in the crisp, cool air. There’s a ten-year-old boy in the backyard practicing kicking a football. Twenty yards away is the goalpost made from one-by-fours he and his father built together in the garage.
The boy sets the brown leather football on the orange rubber tee and concentrates, picturing the ball spinning through the middle of the uprights just like his dad had taught him. It takes a moment, but soon the visualization is complete, and he is ready.
He steps back, takes a breath, and lets it out, centering himself. Then he steps forward counting one, two, three.
Suddenly he stops and skids on the grass. In his mind’s eye, he sees his father’s smiling face. He remembers when the two of them built the goalposts. They’d spent a weekend in August a few months ago on the project. He smiles at the memory of them working together: measuring and sawing the wood; screwing the pieces together; laughing at the occasional joke his dad told. What good times those were.
Why did you have to leave?
Rattled now, concentration broken, the boy bends to his task. More than ever he wants to become the place kicker on the team. With little fanfare, he steps forward and kicks the football. It sails straight on through the goalposts. Just like it was supposed to do. Success!
Excited he turns to tell his father, but, of course, the man is not there. It’s then that the painful reality strikes the boy, sinking deep. His dad is gone. Still. After these past few weeks, he still has not returned. More to the point, the boy knows deep down in his heart his father is never coming back. No matter how much he wishes he would. He can’t explain how he knows that for a fact, he just does.
The boy retrieves the football and holds it in his hand. The leather is warmed by the sun and feels good to the touch The day is calm. Overhead a flock of geese is winging its way south for the winter. The boy tosses the football up once and catches it. He looks at the goalpost and thinks of his father and building it together. He misses him so much. He smiles momentarily at the wistful memory of him and his dad completing the project, taking the goalposts out to the backyard, and setting them in the ground. His dad had turned to him and said, “You do good work, son.”
His eyes well up with tears at the memory. He wipes them away, promising himself not to cry.
He walks back and carefully sets the football on the tee and prepares to kick again. Practice makes perfect. That’s what his dad always told him. Who knows, maybe his father is out there somewhere watching.
He steadies himself and concentrates. Then he takes a step forward and kicks the ball and watches as it sails through the uprights again. It’s a perfect kick. He smiles and looks around.
About the author
Jim lives in a small town in Minnesota. He loves to write! His stories and poems have appeared in nearly 500 online and print publications. To learn more and to see all of his work, check out his blog at: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com.
Did you enjoy the story? Would you like to shout us a coffee? Half of what you pay goes to the writers and half towards supporting the project (web site maintenance, preparing the next Best of book etc.)