(Papa’s in the house Putting Gravitas on a Lo Carb Diet, our mission statement)
Literati! We are a culture judged by our peers primarily by our sexual orientations, but secondarily by our unwavering devotion to the national pass, punt, or kick time: football. I understand that recently there was a gladiatorial match between two rivals and that bodies and feelings were hurt all around.
Apparently Stefanie Allison heard about this, too.
Here is her first entry into A Dozen Roses from a Single Thorn: A Valentine’s Day Love Story.
Hail Mary Pass
by Stefanie Allison
Oh my GOD, this shirt is ITCHY!
I scratched through the material; what was this thing made of? Wool and bad sports decisions?
Pitiful game it was, I thought to myself. But at least Peyton Manning has a bright future working for Papa John’s.
Before I had a chance to knock on the door, I was facing her father.
“M-Mr. Browning,” I said. “I just wanted to see Maribel.” He looked me up and down.
“Fan of the Broncos, are you?” he asked.
“…I’ve been known to dabble.”
Yeah. The closest I’ve come to liking the Broncos was just laughing at their performance on Sunday.
The car door slammed as the clock inside chimed five. I think her father could see my pulse pounding harder as her footsteps approached the door—which would be easy, seeing how my skin is thinner than his hair.
The back of my neck tingled when Maribel stood behind me.
“The one and only,” I said. Maribel quietly sniffled, and I fought to keep myself from taking her in my arms.
“I thought you had to work late tonight,” she said softly. I could feel the tears bubbling in her eyes.
“I switched shifts with someone.”
She reached out and touched my Broncos shirt, tracing the name “Manning”. I wonder what my face looks like when I’m simultaneously being touched by the woman I’ve been dreaming about for months while her father is contemplating breaking each of my fingers.
“Daddy, can I talk to him alone?” His teeth clenched, and I could see my head in his molars.
“Please?” she said. I dared to smile in front of him, hearing her eyelashes bat at him.
“…Five minutes. Then you better be gone, boy.”
Maribel gently touched my arm and turned me around to face her. I could see the pink streaks streaming down her face and I just wanted to soothe them away.
“And I thought you were a total Seahawks fangirl.” It was my turn to chuckle.
“But it was only a rumor,” I said. “Steelers, all the way, baby.” Maribel smiled for the first time in days.
“But Nigel, why?”
My stomach tied me into a tighter knot, not letting me escape.
“After Kevin broke up with you,” I said, “I tried to hold you and tell you it was ok. But you wouldn’t. And when I asked you why, you said you were afraid of messing up my uniform shirt.” I tugged on the sleeve. “The closest clothing store was that sport’s shop, and this shirt was the only one I had enough for. I bought this so you could cry on me. If you don’t want to, that’s fine. But if means anything, I’m here.” I closed my eyes, believing my heart had just fumbled in its biggest game.
But the feel of her in my arms at last and of her tears soaking through my shirt eased the itchiness.