Full Pads

Dirt and sweat cling. The smell of destroyed grass and hot salty watery air encompass everything.

It’s Wednesday.

It’s Spring.

It’s fucking Gulf Coast Florida.

The offense breaks with a loud simultaneous clap of eleven pairs of hands.

The sixteen year old lines up as a defensive tackle. He lowers himself into a familiar four point stance. His knuckles press into the sandy ground . His muscles are taut and ready.  

Just six month ago he was much bigger. From 220 he has shrunk down to 180. From a 275 pound bench press to he hasn’t even tried in over four months. If he thinks about it he can still feel the tingle of nerve damage racing down his left arm.

The quarterback, a boy who will be a senior this coming Fall yells, “set,” and with his left foot sends the wideout in motion.

The defensive tackle adjusts to a three point stance tucking his left arm up under his chest. It feels vunerable. He feels vunerable.

Go.

And he does. The guard and tackle gap splits for him like butter. His powerful legs driving hard into the dirt. He’s free of both blockers or they missed their assignment, neither matters because there is the ball carrier. A Costa Rican kid name Henry Diaz. He aims with his shoulders. Wraps and drives. The clash of plastic and helmet is loud. They both go down.

Five yard loss.

Henry stands and throws the ball against the defensive tackles helmet, angry. 

The hit stung. 

It felt good in that way pain can sometimes feel good.

With his ears ringing the tackle smiles.
Maybe a broken arm is something he can recover from after all.

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Author: Bryan Aiello

I call NYC home and wish the subway went everywhere and Times Square didn't suck. I saw John Turturro once. Maybe it was him. He was wearing a yellow shirt and smiled at me like he knew I knew. I am an Army vet who writes. I like characters who want more then they deserve. I like genre fiction. I love space. I love paladins. One day I might write a paladin in space story. Just you wait. The university of South Florida spit me out with a degree in creative writing and I find myself questioning the sanity of going to a school that advertises a fake beach on its brochure ever since. I intuit grammar. I Got married in 2012 We had twins in 2015. I do a lot of cooking and dog walking and ranting about the unfairness of sentience. You can follow me on Twitter: @bryaiello Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/BryanAiello My Subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Voyage_of_Roadkill/ My Reddit profile: https://www.reddit.com/user/Voyage_of_Roadkill/ Like my work? Become a patron at: https://www.patreon.com/BryanAiello

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