The Sidelined Wife(10)

By: Jennifer Peel

So, I loved football. But what else? A silly memory popped in my head of me riding my bike with my brothers down to the lake in Michigan where we vacationed each summer while I was growing up. Reed popped in my head—he had been there too. Reed and Peter were inseparable when they were younger and Reed happened to spend a lot of time at our house. I had forgotten he went on vacation to the lake house with us. He and Peter were pests. The little fiends would take my bras and string them up outside. Once they rigged my room with those firecrackers that popped when you opened a door. They put them everywhere, including my dresser drawers. The worst thing, though, was when they put a load of dead fish in my bed. I almost killed them. Ma too. I think Reed was a bad influence on our saintly Peter. Not that he was completely to blame, but Peter only ever acted devious around Reed. I wondered now that they were adults if he would have the same influence. And what kind of influence would he be on the boys on his team?

It was weird to think that bratty kid was now teaching the rising generation. Reed mentioned he was the new Algebra II and Trigonometry teacher at the school. I admit I was shocked. Not sure why. I mean, I hadn’t seen the kid in years and Peter obviously grew up. Why wouldn’t I think that Reed would too? I must be getting old. Ugh! More bad news. Now I’m single and old. Worse, I’m becoming one of those women that look at people and go, “I remember when I babysat you; look how you grew up.” And I was referring to him as a kid. I was going to turn into my mother. I loved Ma, but that wasn’t going to do.

I took a deep breath and focused back on the things I liked to do. I think I left off at riding a bike and enjoying the outdoors. Maybe I would get a bike or go to the lake. Or both. Why limit myself? Too bad Cody had two-a-day practices until school started. Leaving town wasn’t an option. Part of me wished we could leave town period, but the custody agreement said I had to stay in state until Cody graduated from high school. Not sure why. I had a feeling Neil wouldn’t try and see Cody even though he was supposed to get him every other weekend. Neil said he wouldn’t force Cody to come, and Cody was already refusing. But I wanted Neil to try. His blasé attitude only proved to Cody that he didn’t care about him.

I shook my head. I couldn’t even think about what I liked to do without my thoughts being interrupted by Neil. Neil was no longer in my equation. I needed to memorize this new formula as soon as possible.

The light was now creeping into my room through the cracks between the curtains. Which reminded me, I was going to go curtain shopping and get rid of the dark, light-reducing panels all over the home. In fact, I was starting now. I jumped out of bed and, with gusto, ripped down the charcoal gray panels that covered the large window in our room—I mean, my room. The neighbors behind me, if they were looking, probably thought I was crazy, standing there in my pajamas pulling down curtains, not even caring that they were ripping.

I stood there and soaked up the morning sun. I could do this. Samantha Decker would live. Not only live, but thrive. First, though, breakfast. I made Cody a protein packed breakfast sandwich and a berry blast protein shake before he left for practice. I don’t know how people with several boys afforded their food bill. Keeping one boy fed cost a fortune. And he never seemed to be full, especially when he was burning so many calories during practice.

Cody seemed to be in a better mood as we sat together on the sectional in the family room and ate. Maybe like me, having the divorce finalized gave him permission to start moving on. The coffee table had taken the place of the dining room table. I think since Neil moved out, the smaller table was less depressing. It was one less reminder that we weren’t a whole family anymore. This was Cody’s and my thing.

“So you really knew Coach when he was a kid?” Cody spoke while inhaling his food. It was shocking. He didn’t normally start conversations.

I grinned, like a real one, thinking about that scrawny kid and troublemaker. “Yep. He spent a lot of time at our house. He was kind of a brat.”

Cody laughed. I missed that sound. And somehow it was deeper than I remembered. When did he grow up? And was that stubble above his lip?