Daniel knocked on my office door over the weekend and asked if I wanted to throw the football around for a bit. I was neck deep in paperwork; yes, I very much wanted to throw the football around. It looked like a nice day outside. The snow was gone and the sun was out. I have to admit I had some doubts after we discovered the back door was frozen shut, but by then we were committed. I had borrowed Meka’s hat from NIU and was dressed up in coat and long gloves.
“Where’s the football?” I asked. Daniel shrugged, never a good sign. We flipped the light on in the garage to take a look around. I cleaned up enough of the garage to wedge the car in over the winter, but there was still a lot of stuff to stumble over and examine. I could feel my body heat being sucked out through the soles of my shoes. We couldn’t find it anywhere.
“Maybe it’s in the car,” Daniel said. I opened up the garage door and a gust of wind whipped in and swirled around my legs. I popped the trunk and rummaged through the detritus of winter: snow shovel, blanket, several snow brushes. No football. Daniel was jumping up and down on the driveway, trying to stay warm. I looked around in the truck, but it wasn’t in there either.
We were getting downright shivery by this point. The sun was dipping down below the houses across the street. I don’t know if there was much actual difference in temperature, but it sure felt colder in the shadows. Daniel thought of one last place it might be. We have a sandbox in the backyard. It doesn’t have any sand anymore, but it tends to fill up with stuff that we’re too lazy to walk back around the house. We walked around back, the wind magnified between the houses bringing tears to our eyes. Daniel pried off the lid of the sandbox.
“There it is!” he said. I walked over to my customary side of the backyard to await the opening throw. Daniel stood in the sandbox a long moment.
I asked, “Are you going to get it?” Daniel looked up at me.
“I can’t,” he said. The football was adhered to the bottom of the sandbox by a thin layer of ice. My hands slipped off as I tried to pick it up. I ended up kicking at it with a numbed foot until it finally came free. Daniel ran over to his side by the fence, ready to go.
The football was almost completely deflated. On the plus side, I could grip it while wearing my gloves. I flipped it through the air towards Daniel who made a catch with his elbows (his hands were jammed in his pockets). He threw it back. It smacked into me with a wet sighing sound. At least the ball didn’t bounce away; it just lay there like a dead fish in my arms.
“It kind of looks like a tongue when you throw it,” said Daniel, sticking his out just long enough to demonstrate. I had to agree. It wasn’t pretty. We played catch for a few more minutes before we went back indoors under the excuse of the setting sun.