It was a steady late-winter rain, so nothing as fortuitous as lightning was going to come along and cause the adults to cancel the match. We were doomed to two endless halves of pushing the ball through wet puddles with soggy blades of rotten dead grass creeping into our shoes.
I never was too good at soccer. My philosophy was that if the ball came into my area, I should kick the piss out of it toward the direction that contained the least amount of enemy players. Dribbling was something the bottom of my shorts was already doing quite well.
I don't remember how the game ended up, suffice to say it was probably a tie. After the game, parents picked up their kids armed with dry towels, Hi-C, and mix 105.1: best of the 70s, 80s, and today. My parents worked late so I had become comfortable with the two mile walk home. I had to go back into the school to get my backpack, so I decided to stop in for a quick shower, as that was my best chance to get warm.
It was a small school and the showers only had two nozzles. Already using one was a kid from a grade below me named Matthew. He was hunched over, letting the water drain down his back, still in his soccer uniform. I turned on the other nozzle and revved up the heat, not bothering to take off my clothes since that was apparently the pre-established norm. After a little while, Matthew noticed my presence.
"I probably have blades of grass in my butt crack." I said.
"I can't believe we played the whole game. The field was like a lake." he replied. I agreed. One kid had tried to kick the ball and the damn thing had just spun in the water.
"I think your necklace fell off." I told him. There was a necklace trying to flow down the drain at his feet, but it was held off by a corroded metal drain.
"Oh, yeah, thanks." he said, bending down to pick it up. I noticed it was one of those necklaces that kids used to make with letters as beads, so that they could write 'Matthew' or 'Precious' or 'BFF' or 'Fart' and wear it around their neck. I never saw one with 'Fart' but that's what I would have put on one if I ever was forced to do arts and crafts.
"What's that say on there?" I asked. The necklace read 'BOOMPH.'
"It says BOOMPH." Matthew replied. I awaited a clearly evident explanation, but after listening to the tinkling water flow for a few awkward seconds, I solicited a response.
"What does that mean?" I turned my water off and wrung out my socks.
"That's the sound it's gonna make when the rapture comes. When Jesus comes back and takes everyone up to heaven." Matthew told me. I put my socks back on.
"Yeah?" I could come up with nothing better.
"Yeah, like, poof, you're gone." he explained. That was an eerie thought for me. I didn't really want Jesus to come back and take us up to heaven, where we would live in houses made of roses and eat apples all day, or whatever heaven was. My current life was okay.
"Did you buy that?" I asked.
"No, we made them in youth group." he answered, turning off his faucet. I walked over and stooped under the hand dryers, trying to dry my back enough to not get my backpack soaking wet.
"You should come to our youth group." Matthew told me. I thought about this, turning around to push the button for one more drying cycle.
"Do you do things besides making necklaces?" I asked.
"Yeah, we do praise and worship." he told me.
"You know, when Jesus comes back, you won't be able to wear your necklace anymore." I said. I wondered if in heaven they made necklaces that said something else for whatever came after heaven.
"Yeah, that's okay. We'll be with God then." Matthew said.
"Oh." My dryer shut off. I picked up my backpack and headed out of the bathroom. Matthew was behind me as I left, and I saw his mother's minivan waiting in the first parking spot outside the front door of the school. It wasn't raining anymore, and the streetlights were starting to kick on.
Matthew went over and hopped into the backseat, and they drove past me on the way out of the parking lot. Maybe I should have made a necklace that said 'Vroom', I thought, the sound it makes when I get in your car after you offer me a ride to my house, asshole. I turned right at Fiske Boulevard and started the walk.
The street was steaming and little rivers of water were slowly making their way into the storm drains. From there the drainage would wash out into the St. Johns. The streetlights were making orange cones that moved slowly left to right with the motion of the billowing steam. Just for a minute there was a break in traffic so that there wasn't a car in sight in either direction.
Jesus probably isn't coming back anytime soon, I thought. He couldn't even come up with a bolt of lightning.