This year, for #NaNoWriMo, I watched the Kansas City Chiefs (my favorite football team) post something about their inactive players on Facebook, and was inspired by the people who commented on the post. I wanted to sum up their emotions and feelings, so I wrote this novel. I call it "The Sand Cassel"
The Sand Cassel:
The tide rolled in as he walked along the shore. Why did it have to be this way? He held the football in his hands and felt the laces between his fingers. He always felt strongest when the waters were rushing in. What did the tides have to do with his grip? Can the moon be as important to your circadian rhythms as practice, muscle memory, love, fear, hate, and anxiety? Or is the reminder that you don't control anything enough to give you just a little more of an illusion?
This walk was too long, just like all the other walks he had taken. One side of the field, to the other. One side of the Country to another. One place in the huddle to another. One false start to another. A loss can get to a man. You can answer any question under the shield of victory, but the magnifying glass of defeat will never protect you from the wolves. And the wolves were circling with a ferocity that was enough to make this long walk feel like a run. A run away from everything.
"Matt, it's time to go to the stadium." called Jamaal as the sun set on the horizon.
The setting sun is a hackneyed metaphor for the end, he thought. But maybe hackneyed was better than anything else he could give. Hackneyed won't give up two defensive touchdowns in two minutes. Hackneyed might be consecutive three-and-outs, but that's an improvement upon the current tides.
The drive was the worst part. It's so easy to drive in a car, on the street, up to the freeway, off the ramp, into the parking lot. The word drive meant more than that though. Everyone thought it was so easy, Just give the ball to Jamaal and get out of the way. Just throw the ball to Dwayne, and get out of the way. Just get out of the way. He was a quarterback whose job was to get out of the way. To stay out of the way.
His grip on the steering wheel seemed tighter. Like the gravity from a heavenly body was helping his concentration. Like tonight was the night he was going to put it all together. But the cosmos are fickle and fleeting, and he should have known better.
They say that knowing is half the battle. He knew, oh how he knew. He knew that half the battle wasn't nearly enough. He'd been in battles before, never from the beginning, always on the sidelines. He looked good in a clipboard and a hat. His silhouette was perfection on the grass. If you were picking a team on a playground, you would have picked that silhouette too. But as the shadows during the day are fleeting, so was the skill that he so desperately needed to perform. The grip was gone as he walked out the tunnel. Just like that. Like it had never been there in the first place.
How do you throw if you cannot grip? How do you run if you cannot walk? How do you love if everything you know has been taken from you, like the whims of a petulant child? He had given up on trying to understand, preferring an approach that put the responsibility for his failures in the seemingly random nature of the universe. The coin toss was random, that much was known, but as luck would have it, that didn't go his way either.
Have you ever watched a football bounce? If you drop it one time, you will never be able to predict where it will end up. There's a reason why it ends up where it does, but try to calculate that in your head, and you will slowly realize that you weren't put here on this earth to make decisions that fast. That had to be it. It was unnatural. This whole game was a blight upon what is right, and the natural order of things was irrevocably in disrepair because of it.