Second-String Dreams

Wish logon

It’s graduation time. What does the future hold.
I ain’t good enough for anything beyond the second-string backcourt. No college scouts ever glanced my way. But you know what? I did get a school letter—a worn-out, faded thing—for my beat-up jacket. It’s a badge of honor, a reminder that I exist in this world, even if it’s on the fringes.

My bedroom door creaks as I push it back into place. Praise be the Lord. I had to fix it. Now, with the door shut, I can retreat into my sanctuary. The one place where I can drown out the chaos—the relentless crying of my little sister, Cirenna, and the constant drone of the front room TV. Charlie Parker’s saxophone wails through the speakers, and for a moment, I’m transported far away from this cramped apartment.

The dark streak down my wall, like an inked scar, stretches longer with each rain. I’ve stopped wondering what caused it. Maybe it’s a metaphor for our lives—slowly seeping in, staining everything. I flick off the light switch. Darkness envelops me. There’s nothing I want to see out there. Lying here, cocooned in shadows, I can pretend the outside world doesn’t exist. Ms. Arnold, with her mindfulness mantras, would probably disapprove. But right now, I’d rather look at Jonita’s face—the curve of her cheek, the wild curls framing her eyes. She’s the only brightness in this dim existence.

Graduation looms, and reality knocks on my door. Full-time work at Dickson’s awaits me. I’ve got to help out. Ever since my old man disappeared, we’ve been sliding downhill. But I’ll be a steady worker, a reliable presence. We’ll scrape by, survive. Maybe even thrive. This apartment, with its peeling wallpaper and flickering lightbulbs, will be our fortress. Forever. I pray to the heavens, “Dear Lord, don’t let me wish for what I can’t have.” But deep down, I know—I’m already yearning for more than this second-string life.

Wish logo. By Josef Stenson – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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