Odds, Life is Just a Game of Chance
By J.C. Delfino III
There are a million things I wish I could say. It doesn’t matter though, nothing I say or do will change her mind. I see that clearly now. She is a hero. I can’t change that.
I watch as she walks away, she is boarding a large plane, walking down the tunnel with her back to me, will she turn around and wave one last time? I hope for it, but I dread it. I am sure she could see the tears from there.
She pauses, shuffles her bag to her other shoulder, turns and smiles. No wave, no blown kiss good-bye, no “I will miss you.”or “I love you” whispered on her lips. Just a smile. A smile to die for, a smile to live for.
“She is beautiful.” My father’s voice calls out to me from somewhere behind me.
“Yes she is.”
She turns and disappears into the heart of the plane.
I don’t move for a long time, long after the plane is gone and the tarmac around me is barren except for my father and me.
“You ready to go son?” He says at long last.
“Yes.” I grab the wheels of my chair and turn slowly to the left. The gloves I wear on my hands hide the sweat, the nervousness, the fear.
“It’s just four years.”
A fricken eternity.
The ride home is quiet, Dad understands me, almost as good as she does. He isn’t pushing. He never does. He quietly supports like an old oak tree, never faltering, always there, no matter what.
I wonder how I will sleep tonight.
Dad pulls into the drive way, parking my van next to his car. I unlock the belts from the chair and move into the cargo hold. She always hated that phrase. I ride onto the platform and the ramp descends in front of me. Dad is waiting below.
“Who would’ve thought?”
Hard to tell what Dad was meaning. I assumed as he watched me go down the ramp, that he was reflecting he never thought I would be in a chair. I never did, she never did.
I can’t help but remember that day, because it was the first day I realized she really meant “For better or for worse.” She knelt down on the pavement, my head in her lap, wiping blood from my face. She knew then didn’t she? I just knew I was in the arms of an angel. And I remember him, so scared, pacing around, and his cell phone molded into the side of his face. Good thing he had it that day, or I wouldn’t be here today.
“Damn Government” My father whispered under his breath. He didn’t mean for me to hear it but I did. I agreed.
We passed the trophy case. With the pictures, the metals, and the statues. The runners. She never lost the beauty of high school; she has been and always will be beautiful.
Dad wheels me in to the dining room, and up to the table, where the modified table awaits me, he rolls my legs under it and I place my arms down on top of it.
“What are we having?” He asks, walking around to the side to look me in the face. He squats down, it’s a nice gesture but he is my dad, I really don’t mind looking up to him. He deserves it.
“Whatever.” I am not really hungry, but he would bring food anyway, sit down at the table and not leave until I have cleaned my plate. That has never changed. I don’t know what his worry is I don’t even have a dog any more.
“She’s going to enjoy running again.” It stings, thoughts of her running, or maybe just thoughts of her. He doesn’t mean for it to bite but it does.
I picture her running in front of me; she always had a nice troche, really. I always enjoyed watching her run, just behind her, off to the left. I loved that long hair, in a ponytail swinging wildly to the right and to the left. She always wore a ponytail when she ran. I always loved it.
I don’t know why people have to talk on their phones so much.
“She being stationed in Ft. Bragg?” My father put in.
“Yes at least for a while, then she is going to Iran.” Iran, couldn’t be Iwalk.
“Who would’ve thought?” My father replies and shakes his head.
It’s not like winning the lottery, better, or worse odds.
I never liked odds, but I would bet on her, she never lost, I couldn’t ever catch her. Nobody could when she put her mind to it. She always was a half block ahead of me, sometimes more. When I hit the ground she was almost a block ahead, she didn’t see it or hear it. She just ran away.
“Not since ‘Nam,” my father states, it’s true too, and common history, “and never women.”
“Yeah and only two percent now, it really was against the odds.”
I was laying there on the ground, coughing up blood, a car wheel resting squarely on my waist. I glanced up and over to where she was, sprinting toward me faster than I had ever seen her run before.
“Yeah, but to draft a woman.” My father stated shaking his head in disbelief.
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