Wednesday, June 18, 2014

First Word: Charmaine Pauls: Football

Round white with honeycomb black… a contrast that screams, “I don’t fit!” Opposites are supposed to attract. Like black on white. Logic. Yet, it makes no sense to him why he is here at all.
            He’s sitting in his seat, a paper cup of beer in his hand, and cheering for a sport he has no understanding of. His friends stand and shout, a fist in the air, an angry curse, a happy whoop. Everyone’s up, so he gets to his feet, too. Someone elbows him in the ribs and he spills his beer. The stadium closes in on him. He shouldn’t have come.
            A slap on the head. “Will you look at that!?”
            Who is the man next to him? Does he even know him? He has to. He drove here with him, in his car. He sits down slowly, and is surrounded by a sea of denim, bouncing and roaring. Quiet descends like a blanket of mist. Spectators turn to each other, their attention away from the field. The animated talking continues. He is unable to connect himself to the crowd. He tries, focuses, looks at the field… His fingers tighten on the cup of cheap booze. The wave comes. Everyone stands, except for him. The crowd sits again. He jumps up, an orange beacon in the blue ocean.
He doesn’t know his name. Nothing has meaning. He climbs over knees, knocks over cartons of junk food.
            “Dan! Dan!”
            He wants to get away from the calling, the faces, the voices, but arms hold him back, words make him stumble. He breaks free on the metal stairs and tumbles to the exit, his hands exploring the walls, pushing, pushing, until he gets to the gate and falls out into the street. Empty, empty. He shoves his hands into his pockets and ducks his head. He walks down the street, the sounds of his steps alone at last.

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