I Knew Him Well – Alex S. French

The football flicked away and fluttered gently into young Eamon’s breadbasket-bowled arms. He delighted to have found such athleticism in his own tiny, sticky hands and charged forward with what he assumed was the prize and pride of coming into his own. Rick stepped to the young attacker and scooped him up by the waist, gently bouncing Eamon as both ball and laughter spilled out alike.

Eamon wriggled farther up and center until his arms clasped tight around Rick’s neck. It caused no pain, no loss of breath, and the childish strength of grip and friction allowed Eamon’s legs to dangle freely down Rick’s back as Rick swayed around the lawn in feigned befuddlement as to where the rascal had run. Eamon giggled and peered over his daft carriage’s shoulder.

“You’re bleeding.”

Indeed, he seemed to be splattered with the still-crimson stuff. Patches of it on his shirt and the right pocket of his jeans. As if the mini-est of murders had just occurred.

“It’s your hand, silly,” Eamon guided, with the same declarative wisdom that allows a child to inform women of their pregnancies.

“So I am.”

He turned just in time to see Eamon’s mother, Trudy, running up to them, her bubble of socialization pricked by the softest mention of danger or bodily fluid. She plucked Eamon away and ushered him off to play with a friend’s daughter, Felicia, another younger boy already at her side. Eamon wrinkled his nose but dutifully hopped to the corner of the yard where Felicia demonstrated how to properly clank upon an oversized set of knock-off Legos, somewhere between instrumentalist and engineer. Rick hadn’t even noticed the kiddo over there. He could barely keep up with all the people producing litters nowadays.

“Oh, Rick. It’s covered the football, too.” Trudy culled the wounded pigskin from the ground and carted it upon a paper towel stretcher away and into the house. There went that bit of fun.

Rick looked down at the webbing of his right hand that weakly burbled blood from the surprising jag the can had made in the collision of being caught. He mused at the miracle of organisms that this cut should heal itself within a week. His little platelets and cells and mitochondria and whatever else would build the skyscrapers of skin back up good as new. He wouldn’t even have to think about it. A pin of flesh in payment for not walking all the way back for a beer. A welcome tradeoff, all things considered. The future would probably get more expensive.

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