It was then, as they picked him up from the frozen ground, that I realized I had lost all feeling for Jeremy.
“Jeremy! Jeremy! Hey! Are you okay?”, his teammates were fearful and they looked helpless as the trainer rushed to Jer’s side. Ten minutes ago they’d looked somewhat invincible to me, dull, but invincible. Like rocks. I didn’t rush over to the sideline, hop over the rope, and deplete the air supply around him like I’d seen countless girlfriends do before me. My nose is cold, and I need to get to Slayer’s after party…
The town is dead, as it always is on Friday nights. If football were a respiratory system, this place would have the purest lungs. But as the legacy dies, time will swallow this map dot; almost half of the population will come to their senses and leave.
“Just like the one winged dove…”, I can’t help but sing on my way home. Call me heartless, but I love Stevie Nicks. Driving toward Market street, I feel no remorse for leaving early and Lord Calvert rolling around under my passenger’s seat. A guilt squad will undoubtedly attend Slayer’s party, so I’m taking myself to my grandfather’s cabin. Twenty long miles away from here, thirty short minutes.
We spent plenty of summers up here in Benton and I had seen Pop reach for the key when he and I came up here to fish eight years ago. I almost fell off of the make shift ledge attempting to retrieve it. Safely inside, grabbing a flannel shirt, and starting the water, I found a cocktail set underneath the sink. Cracking open my bottle, and slipping into a bath isn’t what I woke up expecting this morning; and I’m too tipsy to worry about what they’ll say to me on Monday at school.
I could be on an Olympic team, if making grilled cheese sandwiches was a category. Carelessly buttering the bread, carefully placing the cheese to make a perfect sandwich as opposed to a mess in a pan.
“Babe” never appealed to me much, if ever. And when Dick published Babe: The Gallant Pig, it only pushed my dislike beyond any sort of enjoyment. Jeremy was in my room, tolerating the Fonz and playing with the pins on his letterman jacket. It has happened a dozen times, but this relationship was fun before it was a relationship…
“You are the most beautiful girl to have graced the presence of Montour county, and you serve grilled cheese with such elegance. I may have to marry you.” Jeremy was about that, and I admired his way with children. Most guys, shit scared me and I would’ve ran to Summerhill, never to return but with Jer I didn’t mind so much. In fact, I saw that with him… during the honeymoon stage.
We’d been doing this since June, and football season was almost gone with scarce to show for it. I would never tell him that, of course, but all of this hometown glory never made much sense to me.
“You said a Sprite, right?” I suppose I’d ask twice, urging a change in the wind that was Jeremy Marsh.
“What else you got?”, he asked, surprisingly, curious.
“We have …”, opening the refrigerator “RC, Kool-Aid, Tang, Milk, and some OJ.” I purposely didn’t say Sprite, maybe he’d forget.
“No Sprite?”, Jeremy sounding oddly distraught.
“Yes sweetheart, we’ve got Sprite.”, who knew I had a soothing, motherly tone.
“Sprite.”, he said it with such an assurance I knew I couldn’t sway him.
Sock skiing down the hall to the kitchen, a shrill noise begins sounding in my living room.
“Domino’s pizza. Pick up or delivery?”, my God I’m funny.
“Um… hello?”, Val sounding totally perplexed.
“Hey, Val.” this girl is a complete airhead, if I don’t ask now this will turn into a forty five minute gossip session. “What’s happening girl?”
“I thought I heard Domino’s pizza? Anyway, Todd is in my shower and I thought who better to call when you don’t know what to do with a naked guy.” Val spoke too casually as she called me an undercover nympho.
Clearing up any confusion, I get horizontal. I’ve been boinking since my sophomore year, but my mental check list gets deeper as I age; ‘Tom Cruise’s twin brother, if you squint and tilt …” isn’t as impressive as it used to be.
“Best advice I can give you is to get in there with him, and then…” as I start instructing her I think of Jer, and how I’m stringing him along. Not only that, but I’m supposed to be making a grilled cheese and…
“Babe! Grab me a Sprite, will ya?” Jeremy’s voice sounds impatient.