Gary and I had a tentative romance of hand holding and kisses. Gary played football. We hung out and slowly, like a leak in a gallon of milk, the news of Gary and I seeped out into the school. Ellie was "hanging out" with Gary. I was a part of something. I didn't know that he would give me an air of legitimacy. I was a football player's girlfriend. Like it or not, I had responsibilities.
Gary wanted me to go to one of his football games. Friends went to the games. I was missing and it was felt. I finally agreed to escape on a Saturday and go to one of his games. I had to get ready so I got to the game a little late. I wasn't sure where to sit or what to do, luckily, I saw Tracy there. She was able to tell me what was going on in the game once I got there. I remember it clearly. I followed his number. He played offense. He was a running back... Maybe. I was never really good at football. Well, there I am watching Gary play. I am pretty sure he knew I was there. I'm pretty loud.
On one play, he ran with the quarterback. There was a fumble. I saw as player after player fell upon one player. Gary was taller than me but he was a slight guy. I watched in horror as they all fell upon him. I then watched in even more horror as one by one they peeled off of each other. On the bottom of this mountain was Gary, laying on the bottom. I never told him about the fear that encapsulated me as I watched his motionless body laying there on the field. I held hands with Tracy and I hope that it wasn't just teenage angst and drama that had me with tears brimming on the corners of my darkly eyelined eyes. When they called for the medic, I admit now, nearly forty years later that I was close to hyperventilating.
Do you see what happens? In games? They bring the medic out and in the camera, you can see the player get treated. I didn't have the benefit of a camera. I only saw the grown up huddling around him. I breathed a little deeper when I saw him make the effort to get up. They wanted to put him on a stretcher. He refused. That's when I knew for sure that he knew I was there. It took two people to help him off. He limped off the field with minimal assistance. They were going to take him to the emergency room. I wouldn't see him. I saw him when he waved to me slightly. I don't know who won the game and truly I didn't care. It was a groin injury. I can't imagine the pain it took for him to insist on walking the length of the field because I was there. Maybe there was a little love there. The season was over for Gary. He walked with a cane for a while. After the game I took a picture of us. I think it is the only picture of us together. Gary, my hero.