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"Late First Rounder," short story excerpt

Wednesday 3/9/22

Mark decided to take Patricia to the lake because he figured it would be a sympathetic spot to do a break up and if he had to kill her because she gave him a hard time he could sink her body in the water and no one would ever find it. One less problem to deal with. He had to clear his plate of distractions. Raise that focus. Had a real chance to be All-American this year and the first guard picked in the draft. A dream come true, even if he’d only dreamed it for a few years. Kiper was saying late first rounder. Huge chunk of change. And anyway the guys told him he was crazy being with one girl who wasn’t even that hot anyway and didn't go to the same school when he should be out there Roto-Rootering some pussy.


The sun had gone down as they stood on the bank, with just enough light left at the edge of the sky that Mark could see the rocks at his feet. The first time they'd been to this beach was when they started dating junior year of high school and he said that he'd show her how far he could throw one of those rocks. Must have been forty yards. He wanted to impress her so much. She was smarter than everybody. Going to be a doctor, which was something a lot of people said and it was BS, but it wasn't going to be with Patricia.


"I hate to do this to you," he figured he'd start, because this wouldn’t make for a swell Thanksgiving weekend for Patricia. Poor kid. Then he'd add that the time had come, and time and tide wait for no man, which coach said a ton. If she hit him in the chest and screamed because she was so upset he'd just hit her back and if it got out of hand there was the water and he wouldn't miss a beat anywhere else.


She moved close to him and took his hand before he spoke. Threaded her fingers through his, like she did that time he thought he was good enough to start freshman year and was redshirted instead.


"Fucking bullshit," he had told her, so angry that he could cry. He hadn’t known anger could work that way. The school was lucky that he even signed with them given all of the offers he had.


Her voice was as soft as the sand between the rocks and down closer to the water.

"Mark, it's not working," she said. "With the football. We want different things."


He wasn't expecting that. The football was going great. He had more pancake blocks than anyone in the nation. They'd mentioned him eight times on College GameDay. If a guard could have gotten the Heisman, it’d have been him.


"I can be a first round pick," he told her again, stupefied, not understanding how she could have forgotten. Was she joking? Had one of the guys put her up to it? Who the fuck was talking to her? This was supposed to be everything to them, their entire future, their entire lives. He was hurt and confused. He’d been confused a lot lately. More than ever. More every day, it felt like. But the pressure was intense. They were #6 in the country. If a couple breaks went their way, they could even make the Playoff. Then it was just a matter of everyone playing their best game on the same Saturday like coach said and the right bounce at the right time. Complementary football and focus. You make your own luck.