Underthrow, 20

After the throw, after everything, Travis runs as if to outrun failure, approaching his fallen friend with mounting dread, but he stops at the last moment.  The wrong sound reaches his ears: not the horrible constant scream of Mark Stetson, but a stuttering laugh.

“Oh my leg,” Miles wails, “oh my leg, oh Travis you went and broke another leg!” He convulses and guffaws and clutches his knee, contorted halfway into the fetal position. No one else laughs; the boy who was chasing Miles throws up his hands and calls him a jerk.

Violence jams Travis’s brain. His eyelids sting like whiplashes. He knows he will not see Miles Harris again for a very long time, the way he will not see Sarah Teague for a very long time. I just wanted a good memory, Travis thought. I just wanted to keep things here another moment. But Miles won’t remember, and I don’t think he’d care either way; no one will remember, everyone made escape plans without me, was I the only one who loved this place?

Travis dives to the ground. His heart shatters in his chest. He pins Miles to the mud with his knees and throws a fist at Miles’s teeth to stop their chattering. “You were my friend,” says the fist, “you were my friend,” but Travis just screeches incoherence. His fist misses teeth, hits a cheek instead; heat and pain explode under his knuckles.

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