Almanac Fiction – Daz Cooper Chapter 2: Back to school

I don’t ever want to feel
Like I did that day

==

– Cooper?

– Cooper?

Daz feels a nudge from beside him. He’s asleep. No he’s not. He must have nodded off.

– Cooper? Are you planning on answering any time soon, Darren?

 

Has he dribbled? He’s in form assembly. Diva next to him stifles a laugh; nudges him again. Daz looks around. Smirks all around. It’s alright. He’s alright.

Daz smirks now himself; nods to Mr Collins.

 

– Here.

– Good morning, Cooper. And welcome to Thursday.

 

More stifled laughter erupts surreptitiously from his back row. School has been back just a week, yet seats have been normalised, territory claimed. The pattern of the year has been set. It feels like the pattern of the year has been set. He’s in the back row. But he could do with some more sleep.

Mr Collins is reading through the Daily Bulletin. Meetings for Rock Eisteddfod, for guitar lessons. Daz is listening. Another meeting for intermediate footy. At recess, room 14. Eyes flit about the back row. Everyone is listening now.

Nods of acknowledgement. Barely perceptible in raises of eyebrows, in cocks of heads.

 

Mr Collins more loudly.

– Room 14 with me. And we’ll see what sort of a rabble we have to work with this year. Hey? Get a look at the raw materials.

 

Footy. Already. It’s still cricket season.

Daz knows he will go along.

==

 

Recess.

– Coming to the footy meeting, Daz?

 

It’s Jacko. And Stone, Cliffy, Pete. Empty their hands of books, of school work. Close their lockers.

– S’pose.

 

Daz knows to feign indifference. It’s not on to appear keen, to show any passion. To reveal a desire is to risk vulnerability.

Room 14 is packed when they arrive. There’s laughter; boys arranged in clique pecking order. Someone has farted.

– What do your parents feed you, McKenzie? Says Mr Collins.

 

It’s rank.

– Alright, alright. We’re all here in our recess break so let’s make this snappy.

 

Forms are handed around, interest declared, signed for. Trainings are to commence in a few weeks. And there’s a pre-season camp floated.

– Where to, Collo?

 

– Well it won’t be Paris, Nifty. You won’t need a passport, I can assure you. We’re still working through the details. Any questions? No? Good. Now get out of my sight. Go. Go.

 

Every member of the clique of highest social standing laugh. Daz smiles, himself. And they all leave Room 14; the makings of a footy team.

==

 

It’s lunchtime. Locker doors crash open; crash closed. People move. Jostle. There’s a whiff of perfume about.

– China! Get me a sausage roll!

– I’m not going to the canteen!

– Me too!

– I said I’m not going!

 

The girls stand back. Wait for the feeding frenzy to abate. Most. Some are amongst it.

– Watch out, Little Boy.

Sonya is in there.

– Haven’t you people heard of deodorant?

 

Thommo pulls a taped tennis ball from his bag.

– Thommo! Give it here, give it here.

– Alright. Don’t you lose it.

– Carn!

 

Daz organises his key, reaches over to the padlock. Unlocking one-handed is a tricky manoeuvre even under ideal conditions.

And now he’s bumped off course. Knocked off course by a bump from Jools. She’s stood up and knocked his outstretched arm. He’s standing there with an arm draped over her shoulder. Jools.

She’s in another league. And maybe even top of that league. It’s not right that he stands here like this. In this position. She is brilliant.

Jools looks him in the eye, picks up his arm and places it innocuously aside. Maintaining eye contact throughout. And then she winks.

==

 

Is she watching?

Daz is in stonking form with the bat. He’s coming off a season-high 41 in the second game back after Christmas. He’s got a new pull shot.

But where is Jools?

 

These guys aren’t much chop with the ball, even if it is hooping around. Daz could bat all lunchtime here. He imagines a crowd slowly building during the innings.

– Look, he’s still batting.

– Amazing.

 

He imagines Jools there among them, winking. He imagines his infatuation from the beach. Confidence and possibility now coursing through him, Daz resolves to contact her. To contact her.

– Why have I left it so long?

 

Stone approaches his delivery stride.

– Tonight. I’ll do it tonight. She is magnificent. Where is Jools?

 

– Got ‘im.

– Tell your story walking, Cooper.

 

He’s clean bowled.

 

==
Take me to the place I love
Take me all the way

==
Chapter 1: Summer dreams

Chapter 3: Swimming sports
Chapter 4: Cricket training, dreaming
Chapter 5: Hip and shoulder
Chapter 6: Rivers of suggestion

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Leave a Comment

*