Nate watched as his old man shakily lifted his last glass to his mouth. He moaned and the glass shattered to the ground into a million glittering pieces. Nate didn’t even bother tonight. He just sighed and studied the old mans potbelly and the empty whisky bottles shining in the dim glow of the kerosene lamp.
He left the doorway as he did every night and went to his mothers bedside.
She rolled over to face him, her eyes taking in the revolver slumped in his right hand.
You could see the passionate love for her son gleaming in her eyes along with shear exhaustion and loneliness.
“He’s out.” Nate mouthed. She nodded and blew him a kiss. He didn’t dare move until she was asleep.
The dog outside snored deep into the night as Nate studied the yellow fading bruise on his right leg. He longed to pick up the football again, feel the leather soft in his hands, as he let go for a flying kick. He sat there wishing that injury wasn’t enough to take him off the field. It was his one escape.
As he slipped under the covers of his small bed he could feel his body thank him. He has been running on two hours of sleep for the past 2 days and it was clear how badly it had affected him.
The morning sun filled his room giving him the signal to wake up. Nate never had the time to take in the little things anymore. A few years ago the sunlight filling his room would have been enough to stop him dead in his tracks, make him dig for his Polaroid, to write and fill a page with endless description. But now he ignored it as he thought of the mess in the kitchen and his mother, burdens he knew a child like him should be oblivious to.
His old man was gone and Nate could clearly picture the tinny crashing out across the surf carrying him away for the day and he was thankful.
After breakfast he took his mother out to do her weekly shop, it was like football was to Nate, her only escape. As she made vague small talk with other women from the town Nate went out the back of the supermarket to shoot at cans on the fence with his slingshot.
He thought of his old man and the powerful hate that filled Nate and haunted his every move. He thought of the familiar sight of mottled purples, yellows and greens, colours that should never feed across skin as regularly as they did for him and his mother.
He watched each day as his mother looked at his old man with utter passion and love as he walked through the flywire door each night. But he was long gone, into another world, which neither of them would ever understand.
“Real men don’t cry.” Nate ran over the words his father had told him sternly when he was just 7. He could remember his bone sticking out from his lower leg and how much he wanted to feel the tears running down his face as he felt his old man’s hands underneath him, carrying him to the car.
Now things had changed. Nate felt those tears running down his face every night, for all that he and his mother had lost, for all the love, for what could have been, for the pain he felt the day he broke his leg. Nate would push his fingers deep into his skin at night under his bedside lamp to prove that it wasn’t just his old man that could cause the pain, that Nate could take it from more than one person.
His friends called him “damaged goods”. His mother called him a saint.