By Robert J. Wiersema

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I didn’t mean to, but I couldn’t …” He glanced at Arian, then back at his mother. ” The captain listened to him, his face set in a dark scowl that broke, surprisingly, into a smile. ” The question stopped him. ” The captain took a satchel from one of the men. He tossed the bag as if it weighed nothing, but it landed on the table in front of Matthias with a heavy smack. ” “That is none of my concern. There are clothes in there. Boots. ” Matthias glanced at his mother; she seemed as puzzled as he.

This isn’t about you. This is about David. It’s his birthday. And you couldn’t even be bothered—” “Right,” I said, leaning forward to set my wineglass on the coffee table and pick up the book. ” I stood up. “It’s probably not worth getting into it all again. ” “Chris,” she said to my back as I turned out of the room, but I didn’t respond. I walked through the house and out the back door. I navigated the narrow path in the spill of light from the kitchen window and unlocked the door in the back of the garage.

It’s the same old stuff,” she said dismissively. ” I could feel myself deflating. ” “I mean, seriously, Chris. You couldn’t even be bothered to come to his ballgame? ” “I—” “And that book. It’s like you don’t even know him. ” She was so quick with the question, I knew that she had been waiting to use it. And I couldn’t answer. ” She shook her head and looked away. “He’s his coach, Chris. Coach Sterling. David talks about him every day. ” I leaned forward on the couch. ” “Really? Then why didn’t you get him what he wanted for his birthday?

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