Short Story - Job on Love: Part 2
Here's the second and final part of that sad, sad short story I started last week. Let me know what you thought about this writing experiment.
“I’m sorry for what you are feeling, Job. That can’t be easy,” I finally reply after some time.
“Is that all you have to say, Mike? Really?” His tone and folded arms tell me where he now points all the frustration he’s feeling.
“What do you think I’m going to tell you?” I retrieve the ball and dribble it slowly behind my back and between my legs, mostly to spark muscle memory long forgotten.
“I don’t know,” Job says, shoving his hands in his pocket with a grimace of concentration. “Probably that I’m being too sensitive about it, and that I should just let it go. That I’m playing the world’s tiniest violin. That I should be patient because there’s a person out there for me, and I just need to be ready for that opportunity.”
“This hypothetical me sounds rather wise,” I say with a smile. “Or perhaps a bit cliché. Still, let me ask you a question, Job. Can you blame happy people for being happy?”
At that, he let out a little laugh. “I suppose not, but why do they have to share that happiness in a weaponized form?”
“That’s what people do. They like to spread their happiness to others, and in a way, other people share in it vicariously. It’s the unflagging spring eternal that allows love and joy to be spread. Except when it comes to an unblessed few, I assume. You being the forefront of that group.
In no way am I trying to say that you aren’t justified in feeling the way you do, but this is how most people react. When they are sad, they want to watch something happy to make them feel better.” I take a free throw shot and for the first time tonight, it’s a swish.
“I guess I’m not most people then, Mike,” he says as he retrieves the ball and passes it to me.
“Amen to that, Job,” I say with a grin, hoping to inject a little levity into the mood. “But what can you do? You can’t make people go against the nature that is the normal experience. What’s going to matter is your response. So what if their Facebook posts heighten the insecurity you feel. You cannot let that get you down for long. That is an obstacle you have to overcome. Something you have to struggle through.” The next ten-footer I take clanks off the rim, and Job takes the rebound out to the circle for his own shot.
“You make it sound so easy, Mike. It’s not,” he says as he takes a fifteen-foot jump shot and buries it. I throw a hard chest pass that hits him in the hands. Another shot, and another make. “It truly feels like a kick to the chest.”
“You might not be able to avoid that hurt, but you can certainly avoid what comes afterwards. The frustration, anger and helplessness. Those are obstacles that demand you give up or become complacent. That pain defines you right now, but it doesn’t have to always define. Instead, let it be the impetus to something greater … motivation for forward action. The circumstances are the circumstances. That doesn’t mean you have to let them rule you.”
“That sounds like a ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ speech, Mike.”
“I suppose it does, but this is the truth of the matter. Everything happens for a reason. Every good thing, every bad thing has the opportunity to make you stronger, not weaker. That choice is yours. That challenge is yours. Don’t let Facebook defeat you. Don’t let Valentine’s Day be your master. You be their master.”
Job takes a three point shot and banks it in. I give a groan to mark my displeasure at the sloppy shot. “You are not beaten, by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, knocked down or pushed around, but not defeated, Job. This is just a speed bump,” I tell him as I feed him the ball for another shot that swishes perfectly.
Job gives me a reluctant smile, but it’s a smile that I feel good about. Perhaps I did not change his mind, but there’s hope in his eyes. That’s all I want to see right now.
“I can’t magically cast a spell and make you any happier about Valentine’s Day, but Job, you fight. You fight and fight and fight and fight. You hear me, Job? Fight.” I extend my fist even though it’s not really a gesture I totally like or approve of, but he gives me a fist bump. I take it as a social contract that he will not let loneliness or despair prevail. Or that Valentine’s Day will conquer him.
“I promise, Mike,” he says. “But you have to make a promise to me as well.”
“Oh, what’s that?”
“We are about to go one-on-one again, and I want to see you fight,” Job says with a chuckle.
“You bet.” I check the ball to him. "Take your best shot."