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In My Head - The Move
CONTRAST - A line, shape, color or value that differs from those which are dominant in the work.
TRAVELING - A moving violation. When the player moves with the ball in hand without dribbling, passing or shooting.
In My Head
Sometimes I wonder what it’s like in my head when it happens. Doctors say it’s like a short circuit in the brain. A wire gets overloaded and shorts out, and everything shuts down. This always reminds me that I can’t buy new circuits for my brain; not a pleasant thought.
I read online somewhere that it’s like a room full of mousetraps. Throw a ping pong ball in, and they all go off like a huge chain reaction. That makes me wonder, who throws the ping pong balls? And who sets the mousetraps back up afterwards? And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of a bunch of mousetraps in my head. Mice and Swiss cheese, not my idea of a good time.
This is what I believe. I have a gym in my head. All the people—the players, the coaches, even the spectators—they’re all neurons in my brain. Ever been to a live game? You know that moment when something huge happens out on the floor, and the spectators can’t help but leap to their feet. Say the game is tied, and your team just committed a turnover with ten seconds left on the clock. You’d be going wild, right?
When it happens, that’s what I imagine going on in my head.
I read the sign and breathe a sigh of relief; we’re almost there. I’m so ready to get out of this car. Six hours behind the wheel is a real claustrophobic nightmare. After three hours all I could think about was how I’m breathing in this stale air, and the space inside this car’s seriously shrinking.
“This is our exit, Logan.” Dad’s voice sounds gravelly coming through the wireless radio.
“Finally,” I say under my breath as I follow Dad’s red Toyota and Mom’s white Mazda up the exit ramp, and we slow to a crawl as we merge into gridlock.
The first thing I do is roll my window down.
The second thing I do is check my brother in the passenger seat. His black hair is a mess of loose shaggy curls, and his tawny skin looks a bit washed out. As far as I can tell, he’s dead to the world. The thought makes me watch for the slow rise and fall of his chest. He’s not dead; of course he’s just sleeping.
My eyes wander out Kaden’s window and land on the ocean coast. I take in the sandy beaches and breaking waves. A couple chicks in bikinis catch my eye, and I let myself stare. It’s noon on a school day, and there are still hot babes on the beach. I could get used to this.
“How’s Kaden?” That was Mom’s voice from the wireless.
I grab the wireless from the cup holder. “He’s still sleeping,” I say. He must be really wiped out, which doesn’t surprise me. It was really bad this morning.
Kaden will need to get up soon anyway, so I might as well show him the beach. I reach over and squeeze his shoulder. He inhales and jerks awake. “Whadisit,” he mumbles, still half asleep.
“We’re almost there. Check out the beach.” I point across him and out his window, just as we coast to a complete stop at a traffic light.
Kaden squeezes his eyes shut, not even bothering to look. That’s when I realize he probably doesn’t remember leaving Oregon.
“I’m sorry,” I say. He rolls his eyes. I lean over and put my elbow on his reclined seat. “I know this is hard . . . Moving sucks, I get that, but maybe it’s not as bad as you think. Look out that window and then try to tell me you’re not at least a little bit excited to be a single guy living in California. I know I’m excited to be single for a change.”
Kaden’s face softens. He props himself up on his elbow and looks out the window. “I hate to break it to you, Logan . . .” He looks over and shakes his head. “This isn’t a change for you. You’re always single.”
The tension in my shoulders releases. “The change is that I’m excited about it this time,” I say, and Kaden actually scoffs at me, which is practically like laughing for him. Finally, I can breathe easy. “Mind if I turn on the music?” I ask.
Kaden shrugs; I push the pause button on the CD player. “The Unforgiven III” blares from the speakers. I drum my hands on the steering wheel and follow Mom through the intersection.
“Dude,” Kaden says. “Metallica. Not the best thing for my head right now.”
“Shoot, I’m sorry.” I turn the volume down to a whisper. “Want some ibuprofen?” I lean over to open the glove compartment with one hand on the wheel. The car swerves.
“Whoa, let me get it.” Kaden nudges my hand back and grabs the meds himself.
We make our way through a few traffic lights, and my stomach starts to growl. I pick up the wireless again. “Hey Mom, are we gonna eat?”
“Not right now, no,” Mom says.
Dang it, I’m starving! “Hey Kade. My stomach is trying to eat itself. I think there’s still chips and jerky in the back. Can you . . . ?”
Kaden pivots and kneels in his seat to search the back seat, swaying a little as I step on the gas and follow Mom’s car through another green light. “I don’t see anything,” Kaden says, and he sits back down. Then he points out the window and says, “McDonald’s!”
“Let’s hit the drive-thru, come on.” Kaden nudges my arm.
“We’ll get left behind.”
“So? You said you were hungry.” He grabs the steering wheel and jerks it playfully.
“Okay, okay,” I say with a laugh. Kaden lets go and grabs my digital watch from the cup holder, and I turn off the road to get behind three cars in the drive-thru. “Wow, lucky us. Check out this line.”
Kaden stares down at my watch. “It’s San Francisco. There’s another McDonald’s right across the street.”
I snort. “Technically, we’re in Berkeley. You know, we’re in the same time zone; you don’t have to reset my watch.”
“Technically we’re in Berkeley,” he says, doing a pretty good impersonation of me. “You and your logic,” he teases.
“You and your wonky explanations,” I joke back.
The wireless radio blares with Mom’s voice: “Logan! Where did you go?”
Kaden snorts and holds up my digital. The stopwatch is ticking away. 00:00:16 “It only took her fifteen seconds to realize we weren’t behind her.”
“Logan?!” Mom’s voice crackles as she yells through the wireless radio.
I let out a sigh and pick up the wireless. “Yeah, I’m here.”
“Well, where did you go?” she demands.
“The McDonald’s drive-thru.”
“Logan! What did I just tell you? We don’t have time for this.”
Kaden nudges my arm. “Here, let me.” He takes the wireless from me. “Mom?”
“Oh, hi sweetie.” Mom’s voice automatically shifts from the outraged tone she was using with me to a soothing croon.
“I’m hungry. We’re already in the line; just let us grab something quick, okay?”
“You’re going to get lost . . .”
“We’re already lost,” Kaden says, but he wasn’t holding the button down. “Mom, I’m hungry,” Kaden repeats into the wireless.
“Oh, of course you can grab something quick,” Mom says. Typical. I want food and Mom says to wait, but if Kaden says he’s hungry, Mom gives in just like that.
“Sheri,” Dad says. “You go back to the McDonald’s for them, and I’ll stick with the movers. Say boys? Why don’t you pick up something for all of us?”
“Okay, Dad,” Kaden says, and he sets the wireless radio down. I pull up to the speaker and ask Kaden what he wants.
“I’m not hungry.”
When are you ever hungry anymore? “Kade, you haven’t had anything to eat all day. Your stomach is empty. You are hungry, you just don’t know it . . . Now what do you want?”
Kaden sighs heavily and gazes at the menu. “I dunno, an ice cream cone?”
“Not without some actual real food too. How about some french fries at least?”
“If you say so,” Kaden says.
I put in our order and pull forward. “Thanks, Kade,” I say.
Kaden leans back in his reclined seat with his hands behind his head. He smirks at the ceiling. “No prob,” he says. “I’m glad I could help you out for a change.”
It takes a second for me to realize what he means—he talked Mom into letting us go through the drive-thru. He lied about being hungry, so that I didn’t have to wait to eat.
But that’s not why I said thanks. I didn’t even think about how Kaden talked to Mom for me. He tried to blow it off like it didn’t matter, but he almost smiled about it. Something as small as that, and it practically made his day.
My stomach aches from more than just the hunger. For a change, he said. I didn’t even know he wanted to help me, and apparently it really gets to him. I help him out so much, and he’s trying to make it even, like he thinks he owes me. But there just aren’t that many things he can do for me, and they all pale in comparison to everything I do for him.
Who knows, though? So much is changing because of the move. Maybe this can change too. Maybe somehow we really can be even.
In My Head on Amazon
- In My Head: A Novel (Volume 1): A. C. Sutliff: 9781477626603: Amazon.com: Books
In My Head: A Novel (Volume 1) [A. C. Sutliff] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Teenage baller Kaden Hastings has a fit when his family moves to California. He can handle the new medical diagnosis that slowly eats away at his life