Sleep came easier, that night, but was full of the nightmares again. He hadn’t had them in years, hadn’t thought about the accident, or anything about it, or before it, in so long. The therapist had advised him to put it behind him, and use it as a reminder that life was short, and he should experience as much as he could, learn to better himself, and never take things for granted. So far, in his short decade and a half on the earth, he imagined he was doing all right with that.
But the nightmares made him feel like a kid of little more than five.
He woke up, mouth thick with sleep, a scream choking his throat, unable to be voiced, one hand clutching the sheets, one hand reaching out into nothing, reaching so hard, his shoulder hurt.
A shower, breakfast, and shoving onward to classes and trying to get things done had done nothing to clear his head. He couldn’t think, during class, and more than once, he was called on, and asked to stop daydreaming. Even James noticed, and kept hissing his name as a warning to try and keep him from getting in trouble. Detentions would keep him from being able to go out this weekend.
“Pete!” James hissed. “What the fuck’s the matter with you? That’s the second kick you’ve blown,” his friend snapped, during PE.
“Bad night’s sleep,” Peter said, looking sheepish, and casting a telling look at his friend as they ran back up the length of the court, sneakers squeaking on the heavily polished floor as the other team’s goalie set up a long kick.
James immediately looked like he regretted asking, and blushed. “Sorry, dude. Keep your head down, or Coach’ll keep us late to run agility. I just wanna get through this period. We’re having tacos for lunch, and I’m fucking starved. Here it comes.”
Peter’s head snapped up, and he looked at James with burning eyes, half-bewildered, half-disbelieving. “What did you say?”
“PETE LOOK OUT!” James yelped, but it was far too late.
The soccer ball clocked the young boy in the head, and dropped him to the gymnasium floor.
Coach immediately ran over, sent everyone else off to the showers, and knelt down to slap the boy’s cheek, trying to rouse him. “Kingsley! Kingsley — Peter! Son, wake up. Can you hear me?”
“Hurts. Can we stop now? I’ll wrap the taco,” the boy mumbled.
“Just what we need. A G. D. Concussion,” Coach growled, moving to help him to his feet and then barked to James, “Lovett! Get Kingsley to the nurse. I’ll call ahead. Can you walk, Kingsley?”
“Is it time? Is it time yet?” he wondered, looking around with unfocused eyes.
“Move it, Lovett,” Coach snapped.
“Yessir,” James said. “C’mon, Pete. C’mon — this way. Can you even see? Shit, did, your nose is bleeding. I told you to keep your head down.”