Search

"Late for the Game," short story excerpt

Tuesday 7/13/21

“Jesus Christ, what won’t you do?” this kid asks his girlfriend.


There’s a big football game that night which is going out on national TV, and everyone else is at the stadium, but they’re in his dorm room where he’d been waiting for her. She’s finally back.

“With who?” she says.


He’s exasperated and some form of broken, and tempted to say, “With barnyard fucking squirrels,” but instead answers as he believes he must.


“With other guys.”


He can feel the words as if they were rust water, dripping out of mouth and compromising the quality of his lips, possibly carrying away some skin.


“You told me you wanted us to be free to express who we each are. You know this is a part of me. You know this is one way I grow.”


He’d wanted to be with her so much. He thought, okay, ride this out, bite the vibratory bullet, so to speak, in time this shit with all of the hookups will stop, it’s college, people are supposed to be wild, you might look back on it later when you’re thirty-two and married to her and she’s the best mom…”


“You need two guys at once? How does that even work? Where were they at the end?”


“I’m just being honest with you. We agreed: no secrets, right? It was an experience.”


“I mean, did they time it, or was one done a lot earlier and he just stuck around and waited until the other was done? Was there a watching component?”


“You sound crazy.”


She thinks he’s a jealous little bitch sometimes. Not that she’d tell him that. It’s sweet, too. Protective. Harmless, probably. “We’re missing the game.”


“Is that why you came back now? So if there was no game it’d be like, ‘ding ding ding, round two!’”

“There were two rounds.”


He wanted to think she was joking, though she’d have to be heartless to joke that way right then. And he wouldn’t love someone heartless. That’d be dumb. He wasn’t an idiot. In fact, he was pretty certain his friends thought of him as the smart one.


“I just want us to be together,” he said. “Just us. Just the two of us.”


“Right now?” she asked. “I should shower first then.”


“No.”


He tried to make a single word sound like a million of them layered on top of each other, but the word came out softly. Too softly. “Not like that,” he added.


She considers pointing out that they can still make it to the game for the second half. After all, they have the number three ranked team in the country. But this isn’t moving along. It’s taking forever.


“It’s not love with them,” she says. “Not like with us.”