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by Jake Doyle

To my father, for teaching me the game of hockey. To his brother Jason, whom I never had the privilege to meet. To my mother and brother. And, of course, to the boys.

Look at our breath rise in the crisp, cold air. Look at the moon reflecting off the black ice. Look at the snowflakes melt into the ice. Look at that ice, there’s something about it. It’s bumpy, with an occasional crack. It’s not anything like man-made ice—it lets you know where you are, let’s you feel the bumps and cracks transfer from your blades to your shoes to your feet. Listen to the sounds—the sweet, sweet, mellifluous sounds of our skates gliding, slicing and cutting as they draw abstract art in that rough, frozen pond. Listen to the sounds of our wooden sticks—with snow on the blades and tape dangling from the shaft from hours and hours of use—echo off the woods to the north as they slap against the ice, the puck, or other sticks. Watch the way we all have our signature way of shooting and passing and skating. Watch the way a game can go from serious and intense to laughs and jokes in a matter of seconds. Or watch Andy Potter skate that Saturday morning in early January, when his blades did more dragging than slicing, almost like the wind was the only thing pushing him along, and you would know, from that day on, that playing pond hockey would never be the same.

That first day of pond hockey. Joy is a feeling that comes to mind. Not Christmas joy, not Easter joy, not Thanksgiving joy, rather, the first-day-I-met-my-brother joy. We wait and wait and wait, staring at the little thermometer hanging from the homemade bird feeder west of the pond. Is it under thirty-two? we’ll ask. It’s a bucket full of memories that we reminisce about on those beaches or around those bonfires during the summer months. You must think we’re crazy! How could anyone enjoy such a horrid time of the year over such a sun-filled, beach-living season? How could anyone think about memories from winter while sitting around a bonfire wearing shorts and flip-flops and tank tops?

Well, maybe we are crazy, for waking up at the crack of dawn to shovel the snow off a freshly frozen pond in the middle of December. Maybe we are crazy for playing till two, three in the morning just when our toes are on the edge of frostbitten and we have no choice but to stop. Maybe we are crazy because we don’t wear shin guards or elbow pads or helmets. Logan Campbell will agree. He crushed his left elbow and tore his ACL in the same day on the pond. Nicholas Pano will tell you we’re crazy and he’ll smile as he says it. He’ll tell you we’re crazy because four years ago all ten of us rushed him to the hospital in Andy Potter’s dark green Jeep as blood painted his brown hair after his skull crashed into the January ice.

But maybe it’s the only time of the year we get to do that one thing that we think about every time someone brings up the dreaded, frigid Michigan winter. Pond hockey.

That first pond hockey game means we all get to sit on the cold ice and feel our asses becoming wet as we lace up our ice skates, and someone always yells, Nothin’ like lacin’ up the ol’ skates for the first time of the year, eh! We all start using our Canadian accents and add eh on the end of everything. We all cram ourselves into Andy Potter’s Jeep and head downtown to Jerry’s Hockey Shop to buy five or six fresh rolls of hockey tape. It means we all tape our wooden sticks in Caden’s basement with big smiles on our face as we pass around a crappy, loose joint Kurt rolled and talk about girls like Joslyn Bloom or Haley Forhn. We finally get to pull out our shoeboxes from the tops of our closets or underneath our beds with POND HOCKEY scribbled on the front of them that contain our lucky jerseys or lucky hats or lucky socks.

Kurt Gattison, the kid who sings in a band called Chum, wears his dad’s old Manistee High School jersey that smells worse every year. It has a hole in each armpit and a hole on the left elbow. Or Wiley, Nicholas Pano’s older brother, who wears his first ever hockey jersey, the North Michigan Little Lions, number 4, which also smells like sweat and ass. Elijah McCloud, the kid from Alaska, doesn’t wear socks under his skates. He says he’s never had a blister in his life. He says the only time he ever did wear socks he broke his foot. Caden wears his dead girlfriend’s pink hat. She and her mom hit a patch of black ice on the Hunkly River Bridge three years ago and went soaring into the Hunkly River upside down.

I met Caden on my second organized hockey team, the Michigan Sharpshooters. I was seven years old and didn’t know a single person in that cold locker room, besides my dad. We talked about our love for the Red Wings, how we watched every game with our dads. I can remember Caden pulling out an autographed Gordie Howe card with its stubbed edges, the black autograph beneath Gordie’s right skate, the tattered, old Red Wings jersey, and GORDIE HOWE—MR. HOCKEY across the top.

When we scored our first goal together, it happened so perfectly it was as if we had been playing on the same team for years. We were in our first game together, and Caden caught a hold of the puck, he and I raced down the ice, two on two. Caden was on the left side of the ice, I on the right. I cut to the middle of the ice and he dropped me a beautiful backhand pass and I stroked the puck right pass the goalie.

The first day of pond hockey means more than just playing hockey on the pond. It means we skip school. It means hot chocolate with marshmallows. It means we all pile back into Andy’s dark green Jeep and go down to Lucky’s Party Store and wait for Harry the Bum to buy beer for us. It means the beer’s colder, because we can bury it in nature’s cooler. And it tastes better as it fills our lightweight stomachs. There isn’t a coach barking at you to run the play right. We just play. It means no more zebras blowing their whistles and sticking us in penalty boxes. It means we have the ice as long as we want. It means we get to pass to who we want to pass to or shoot when we want to. It means the nicknames start being used full-time. Some original, some just copped from our favorite hockey players.

We use the good old names probably invented by some drunk Yooper, like Plug, Duster, Bender, Dangler, Goon, Tender, etcetera. But I’m talking about the names like Stevie Y, Hull, and The Great One. Or names like Bobby Orr or Gordie Howe. Or how we add skie onto the end of everyone’s name, like Nickskie or Cadeskie or Vinskie. Four years back Bobbie Small scored under the lights—not that this was the only time, because he always scores, this time was just different. Bobbie had us shouting Eh! left and right. We felt like we had a crowd of Canucks cheering us on. Bobbie’s quicker than anyone we’ve ever seen on the ice. His full-ride scholarship from Coach Markem up in the U.P. shows that. He went slicing around, skating circles around guys like Kurt and Andy, if we had a painted goal line he would have been going straight down the thing, and he got a pass from Wiley and without looking at the net his hands and legs did the rest for him. He scores and you can see it in his eyes, as it’s all happening, that he’s surprised he scored without thought, and then he does a Bobby Orr dive over top of our goalie Vinnie Holmgren. Ever since then Bobbie Small is Bobbie Orr—only when he scores, though.

Caden is Cader, Elijah is Alaska—but we say it like ‘Laska! Logan Campbell is Tomato Soup—thanks to his flaming red hair and last name. Vinnie Holmgren is Rook, because he joined us only three years ago. Vinnie plays goalie on the pond, the only one who does and you’ve got to give him credit for that. Andy Potter is Andy Topper whenever he scores one top shelf, ever since his first goal—which took him five years into his hockey career to get. It was a top-shelfer, a beauty. Andy Topper with a laser going top of the net, eh! we’ll yell. He’s also Andy the Virgin to our entire class from Manistee High, but he doesn’t know that.

We call Kurt Playboy. He’s a real pretty boy, to be honest. So was his dad, from what my dad told me, but still, those Gattison’s can shoot the piss right out of a puck. When we were real young, just starting to skate out on the pond, I remember Kurt telling us how he stole something from his dad and we were all going to just love it. Kurt showed us our first ever Playboy, which he said he found under his dad’s bed. Our virgin eyes lit up when we first saw Lisa Welch’s tan lines. We all stood there leaning forward into the magazine, jaws dropped. We didn’t know what else to say but Look at them boobies, eh. And we all laughed and laughed and laughed. We’d all stand in awe and slowly say Liiiisssaaaa Weellllchhh, Ohhh Liiisa, how I love you. Boy, did we hold on to that magazine for as long as possible. Caden’s mom found it one night while we were all sleeping. She woke us up, screaming, You idiots! What is this? Every time we’d all get to drinking and feeling a little rubbery one of us would pull out that September 1980 issue with Rita Lee on the cover. Usually Logan or Andy would always have it in their hands and we’d all be laughing our innocent laughs, as we’d stare at Lisa Welch’s glorious centerfold.

Thirteen years old, maybe fourteen, we started getting real interested in the little girls sitting in the front rows of the classrooms—the boys sat in the back, shooting spit wads. Our balls started dropping, our voices started squeaking—especially Andy’s. Even some of us started growing facial hair. Hair down there was something we all prided ourselves on. The first time one of us experimented it was Caden with a girl named Jessie. We call her The Biter now. We had a few girls over after a night on the pond and Caden snuck off up to his room, we all saw him though, and geez did we get excited. Though it may have just been Caden, we all felt like it was us too. Next thing you know, in the midst of all of us showing off to the other girls downstairs playing with our hockey sticks, Caden came sprinting down the stairs with nothing on but his Led Zepplin T-shirt and sweaty white tube socks, screaming, She tried to bite me! She tried biting my dick off! And we all stood there reluctant to believe what he was saying, but still some part of us did want to believe it behind our growing smiles. And then Logan says to him, She git a nice bite of ya, eh? And we all laughed and laughed. Caden stood there with so much fear in his eyes you would have thought a grizzly bear was chasing him. He was pulling his Zepplin T-shirt down to cover himself and had his jockey stick in the opposite hand. The girl we call The Biter came walking down to get her friends to leave and Caden flinched at her every move, gripping his hockey stick. They left and we just laughed and laughed, and Caden began to find it a bit funny and said, She, he took a quick gasp, she said she wanted a piece of me…for life…eh. And we laughed and laughed so hard some of us were rolling on the floor.

Maybe we love the pond so much because it gives a hope. Hopeful that whatever else is happening in our lives, we always have the beauty of the pond to turn to. When the Pano brothers’ dad died in a drunk driving disaster—Wiley was ten, Nicholas was six—they knew the pond would screw a smile on their faces and give them even the smallest ounce of hope. Or when Bobbie Small witnessed his dad kicking the hell out of his mom in their trailer of a home, he knew he had the pond to lose himself in. Or Caden and me, as we battled through years and years of our parents’ divorces, we knew we had the pond to give us hope and take us back to the days when we slid our fragile three-year old bodies around the pond with our dads as they taught us the good old hockey game. Or when Nicholas Pano slipped through the pond, like a scuba diver, during the pond hockey-less winter, we knew we always had next year to play. We knew that when Andy Potter told us he had leukemia, the only thing he wanted to do was put on his ragged hockey gloves, pick up his Sherwood stick, and play pond hockey the rest of the day.

It was a Saturday morning. We were all hung-over from the night before from a bottle of cheap vodka and a case of beer. Andy hadn’t been with us the day before, but he didn’t say why. I didn’t think much of it, neither did the guys, we just wanted to play. We got on the pond a bit earlier than a normal morning after a night of drinking. Andy said he just wanted to play hockey after we told him we needed a few minutes to wake up, but he insisted, so we did. It was an eerie feeling. Andy didn’t say much. It wasn’t normal considering the amount of talking he did the day we met. Technically we met at birth, two doors down, howling, weeping, Andy premature and I was just a normal eight-pound newborn. Really, I remember meeting him in Miss Noteboom’s first grade class as I sat next to him, and Miss Noteboom shook her flabby arms as she told us, in her raspy, cigarette voice, Now you two, introduce each other and talk about your families

He talked and talked, about his dad who played for the Yankees and how his mom was in New York at the moment, giving me only seconds to chime in and tell him all about how my dad taught me how to play hockey three months ago. But I liked hearing about such a lustrous life, so I introduced him to the game of hockey, then to the pond, then eventually to Caden.

He was taking the game too seriously that morning, shooting slap-shots as hard as he could. A straight face with tired eyes. He wasn’t joking or speaking with his usual Canadian accent—which he loved to use more than any of us. I don’t remember the sun being out. It was just a cloudy, gray morning. Not any colder than normal, but it felt colder. It could have been the fact that I wasn’t playing as hard as I usually would. I almost felt like if I did I would piss off Andy.

I remember I said to Andy as we laced up our skates, Drank about thirty beers last night there. And Caden said, Oh yaaaa, shoulda been here, eh, we needed your help. And Andy just gave us a quick grin.

We lay on the ice, taking a break after playing for a few. Our pores seeped beer and our heads pounded. We didn’t get up. Andy stood there with his stick in front of him, leaning his body into it, staring down at the black ice.

I’ve got something to tell you guys, Andy said.

We stared at him. I glanced away when he looked at me

I’ve got leukemia, he told us as he stared back into the ice below him. It felt like Bob Probert had just punched me. Molasses covered my legs, concrete filled my veins.

Woh, was all I could say to myself. No one said a thing for five minutes and we all just lay there. Andy started skating around, tapping his stick against the ice, his head down, and then he stopped and shot a slap shot as hard as I’ve ever seen him shoot. He didn’t even look to see if the puck went in the net. We all gazed at him and the array of massive trees behind him.

You mean…like cancer? Nicholas finally said.

No one responded. Gradually, we all started playing with a puck in our little worlds, silent. And finally Caden skated steadily over to him and engulfed Andy into his arms and they stood there squeezing each other harder than I’ve ever seen anyone hug. We just stood there, watching. I wondered if this would be the first time I would see Andy cry. I wondered if this would be the first time I hugged Andy. His head angled over top of Caden’s shoulder, looking toward the sky, his eyes clenched shut, which looked painful, and his skin beet-red. He took quick gulps to suck in the tears that never showed. The wind stopped. The trees didn’t clap against each other. No birds chirped. No sticks tapped the ice. No skates cut through the ice. All you could see was his bright red face and hear him sucking in the extra snot. One by one, our sticks clicked against the ice as we dropped them to skate over to Andy. I remember Andy’s face drowning into my tattered, numberless Red Wings jersey that I always wore for pond hockey, which was over top of a sweatshirt. It was a foreign feeling, hugging Andy. It was like an empty hug. I had never noticed all the weight he had been losing. Not only the fact that he was becoming skin and bones, but Andy himself was empty. He was so empty that he couldn’t even cry. He couldn’t even squeeze me, he must have used it all up on Caden. All I could stare at was the dirty white of the hockey netting behind Andy. We went back to playing for the rest of the night.

It was the best night of hockey we ever played. One of those full moon nights without wind. It snowed those fat, sparkling flakes. Slowly they came down and one of us occasionally stopped after scoring a goal and let a flake melt on our tongues. Andy went back to Canadian accent. All we did was play hockey. All we needed to talk and think about was pass, shoot and score. The snow fell through the light of the spotlights. It fell onto our sticks, skates and hats, and melted into the ice.


We took Andy’s Jeep that morning to the hospital down in Detroit. Just Andy, Caden, and me quietly drove, listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Andy told Caden and me that his parents weren’t coming because they had work. They ran some big business in clothing. It was his first chemotherapy treatment. We chewed on our fingernails the whole way down, spitting them out the driver window, since the passenger window didn’t go down. We tried killing the nerves and fear by jamming-out to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Lithium” and “Black” and “Highway to Hell,” and one to really test our vocals, like “Welcome to the Jungle”. Andy played the air bass-guitar, Caden the drums, I played the air guitar, and we sang the song at the top of our lungs.

We just wanted it all to be over. We just wanted to go back to that night on the pond—any night, honestly. We walked through the bright white hallways of that hospital breathing in the horrid smell of canned hospital food and sour disinfectants. Between the sights of old people sucking in artificial air and those awful smells, we couldn’t really relax. A real nice lady directed us to a separate wing of the hospital, almost like a separate world. It didn’t smell funky like the last wing, the rooms weren’t made of curtains, but instead they were made of walls, with real doors. The walls were painted a light brown and the lighting was dimmer, warmer.

No, no, they can’t come in here while you’re in here, the doctor in the long white coat said to us. He wore a brown suede collared shirt and black pants—both too small on him and huge sweat stains in his arm pits—under the coat. His hair was brown with shades of gray. It was thin and needed to be cleaned and cut. He looked preoccupied by something as he spoke to us while his eyes wondered through the wall behind us, never focusing too much on either of us. 

Andy looked at us, unsure of what to say. He looked empty. I felt empty.

Sir, you don’t understand— Caden said as the doctor cut him off.

Family only.

This, Andy clenched his eyebrows and his cheeks raised, is my god damn family, he said to the doctor, whispering god damn.

The doctor leaned forward and poked his head out the door and swiveled his head left to right like a drug deal was about to take place. He let us in the room filled with about eight leather chairs that reclined, soft lighting, the same brown painted walls, a wood floor, and short, green plants scattered. Andy gave us a look of relief and tried to smile. I suppose we were expecting a room with a bunch of shiny, sharp utensils and plastic chairs and white walls and bright lights hanging from the ceiling. Two old men reclined in their leather chairs, talking to each other.

We sat there in silence for some time, not sure what to do. We chewed on our fingers and glanced at each other then back towards the floor.

Damn, you’d think we were in the Wings locker room, eh, Andy said to us.

The three of us each grinned a bit, thinking of what it would be like to be in that locker room. It made me remember all those times us three spent in the locker rooms before practice and games when we were younger. The first time Andy and Caden met each other was in a locker room, when we all played together for the first time. Andy had on brand-new gloves, a brand-new Sherwood stick, and his skates were sharpened perfectly. I remember Caden giving me a funny look as he sat in-between Andy and me looking at Andy’s brand-new equipment. I couldn’t help but laugh. He gave me that same look the first time he went over to Andy’s house with its underground pool, Atari, and leather couches. Andy’s dad had a record set that Caden and me drooled over the older we got. In the living room there were pictures of his dad pitching, in all different uniforms, a clean, neat television set, and big, black speakers above us in each corner.

The doctor rolled out a tower on wheels with tubes dangling from it and big calculator-looking thing on it.

One of the old men said, First timer?

First timer, Andy assured him.

Well, me and Hank here are looking forward to getting to know you, son. You’ll hang in there, just try and laugh, the old man said.

Andy just bobbed his head up and down.

I think we’d rather be on the pond, I said.

Oh yaaa, Caden said.

The pond? The other old man, Hank, said.

Pond hockey. Hockey on the pond, I said.

Always wanted to play ice hockey, if I must say, the old man said.

Never too late, eh, Andy said, grinning afterward.

The two old men talked to us the rest of the time we were there. Hank was stumpy with a baldhead and white hair hanging over top of his ears. He had liver spots across his shiny baldhead. Roland wasn’t tall, but he was taller then Hank. He was bald too, but didn’t have barely as much hair as Hank did, just a small amount scattered.

For hours they talked about World War II and how they both were fighter pilots. They told us stories that sounded like they’d told them a hundred times. But they got real into them, almost acting them out as much as their bodies let them. They were like two actors doing improvisation. They sat in those reclined chairs acting as if they were flying the planes side by side. They re-enacted a dogfight that they had with the enemy, who they called, the god-damned Japs. They grabbed hold of the imaginary joysticks, Hank’s hands shaking from his tremors. And then they went off twisting their aching bodies and twisting their imaginary planes left to right. Hank stopped to tell us that, At this moment I thought I was done for as there were two god-damned Japs in front of me, but Roland dropped altitude then came from behind me and took out the Jap plane to the right’s left wing, and then we both took care of the one of the left. Yea, then you come home, and get cancer…War’s no fun. War’s no fun, boys.

We talked to them about hockey, and told them all about the pond and the boys back at home. They told us about their time at Yale University and how Hank played halfback and Roland played receiver on what they called the best football team Yale had ever seen.

Over time we met more and more people, but Hank and Roland were our guys. At one point Caden and me even sat in those leather chairs for the patients. We heard stories about husbands and wives. We heard stories about children and always saw pictures. We met people who played hockey, too. On a frigid cold Veterans Day, Hank and Roland both wore navy blue blazers with a tie and their beige muffin-looking caps with brown leather brims and a gold Air Force medal in the middle of the crease between the top of the hat and the bottom. They both brought their dark brown leather aviator helmets that day with the massive goggles still on them. The leather was faded and scratched, the goggles were scratched also and had their initials engraved on the side from a knife. Andy put one on, goggles and all.

Hey, that’d be perfect for your pond hockey games, Andy, Hank said.

Caden and me couldn’t help but laugh a little, and Andy said, Ah, don’t listen to ‘em, Hank, it’d be perfect. Goggles, too, in that cold wind.


Roland started getting bad. His wife, Betty, would have to roll him in from the car to the room in a cheap wheelchair. His eyes were sucked into his face. A dark purple shade formed around his eyes, which looked drained. His soft smile rose slowly. He started talking less and less. He did more staring at the wall or the floor. We did more talking and story-telling. Hank wasn’t experiencing what Roland was, but he was talking less and less, too, and always asking Roland what he thought of something us four were talking about. I can remember the moment Roland gave Andy his Air Medal.

Where’s Roland? Andy asked Hank.

Uhh, ya know, I’m not sure. Probably just taking a while with Betty. Or maybe they stopped to grab something from the lunch thing down there, Hank said. Yea that’s probably what he’s doing. How was your guys’ night?

Andy jumped in, Oh it was a great night, Hank! The ice was real smooth from that rain the other night.

Yeah it was, Caden said.

Hank just smiled. Roland rolled in on his wheel chair. How’s everybody? he said.

Good, we responded.

Betty helped Roland into his chair. You guys have a detour on the way? Hank asked.

Yeah, yeah, just a little detour, Roland said. Betty gave us a smile without showing her teeth. How was hockey, boys?

Perfect, we said.

Minutes passed without anyone saying anything; all that was heard was the family on the other side of the room talking to their little boy in a leather chair.

Betty, will you help me into my wheelchair? Roland asked.

He guided himself into the chair with the help of Betty again. He flashed a bent finger toward Andy. As Betty rolled him over toward Andy and me, he shuffled in his pocket.

Andy, I’ve got something for you, he said, slowly fiddling in his pocket. He pulled out a small, gold medal hanging from a blue and maize cover over the pin.

This right here is awarded to any pilot from the Air Force who has distinguished themselves by great achievement while in a dogfight. I think you deserve this one, he said to Andy.

Andy gazed at him with a small smile. Ahhh, get outta here, Rol, you can’t give that to me.

No, no, no, take it. I want you to have it.

I can’t. Andy took it from Roland and rubbed his thumb on the eagle engraved in it. No, no, give it to Hank, he deserves it more, Rol, Andy said.

He’s got his own, Roland said.

That’s right, I do, Hank said.

Is this from that fight with the Japs you told us about not too long ago? The one with Hank? Andy asked him.

Yeah, that’s it right there, Roland said.

Well, Jesus, thanks a ton there, eh, Rol.

He handed it to me to look at and I rubbed it just as he had, then I handed it to Caden to look at. A piece of history. I don’t think I had ever held something so lustrous as this. It was sort of like that Gordie Howe card Caden had first showed me when we met.

Roland died three days later.

It was a surreal moment—Roland dying—not only for Andy but for us, too. Hank sat there the rest of the time in the chemo room and didn’t say much anymore, just smiled at us as we talked. 

We gave a hockey stick to Hank, a few days after Roland passed, with all nine of our names autographed on the blade. It was the closest we ever felt to being professional hockey players. Hank teared up when we gave it to him saying, Thankya, thankya so much, boys. We told him how we would teach him to play. We joked with him about how his slap shot would be faster than all of ours. He smiled, finally. We told him all about the sounds and sights. About how awesome it is to play in the middle of the night under the spotlights in the trees. We told him how the birds watch us play. We told him about how the snow melts into the ice and how when someone stops snow sprays into the air then disappears. We told him how fresh the air was, how you could sit on the ice instead of these chairs and feel it soak into your pants. We told him we could give him an old jersey. Even though he had heard it all multiple times before, his face lit up, trying to smile, water in his eyes, holding onto the stick with both hands.

It had been a full year of chemotherapy with on and off responses. Andy would finally find out if the chemotherapy would be helping. At once we’d think it was working, the next it wasn’t. We went eight months without pond hockey through it all. He wasn’t looking good by any means. His head always hidden behind that Red Wings beanie. His skin was becoming yellow and eyes sunk into his head a bit. He wasn’t as bad as Roland ever looked from the cancer, or Hank. He didn’t look like Andy though, but you could tell he still tried to act like Andy. We had two long sessions in that room we first thought could have been an old Red Wings locker room. Each four months apiece, the others were at home with pills. The sight of seeing Andy being stuck with a needle in his spine every time we went there would finally come to end.

It was early December. Manistee was beginning to get real cold, but not so much in the southern part of the state. We listened to an afternoon Red Wings game on the radio the entire drive.

Well, here goes nothing, eh, Andy said after we sat in the parking lot for a few minutes.

Caden and I didn’t respond. We didn’t go in. We said we were going to stay and listen to the game. I sat there like an icicle hanging from a roof. At any minute I felt I would fall and give up and let out a bucket full of tears. I retraced every single moment I could remember with Andy on the ice. In and out the visions came and went, but in the end, all I could really see was a split-second from that night after Andy told us about his leukemia, the one with the big snowflakes. It was just a split-second of Andy with his stick raised in the air, those big snowflakes coming down, landing in his hair and on his shoulders and gloves, he had the biggest smile on his face. And then, bam, just like that, gone. Maybe that’s all that my mind wanted to remember at that moment.

Almost an hour later Andy came back and sat in the driver’s seat. He stared at the windshield. Caden and I just sat and looked at him, prepared to hear anything. Andy drove off. Caden and me sat there stiff as statues glancing at each other and Andy. I was afraid to make any eye contact.

Let’s go skate, eh? Andy said. He cracked a small smile without opening his mouth.



Jake Doyle is an undergraduate student at Western Michigan University and is from Flint, Michigan. Along with writing and reading, he spends his time studying existentialist philosophy, bowling, playing or watching hockey, and listening to good music. Every Monday morning he co-hosts a commercial-free radio show on WIDR-Kalamazoo.