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“Keller, get down from there, you damn fool.” That voice has me stuttering in my climb on the ladder. It’s also when I feel the ladder wobble beneath me, my foot sliding as well. It happens in a flash. One minute I’m fine, and the next minute, the header is completely off my shoulder, pulling me back. The only smart thing I do is let that heavy fucker drop. The crunching of a bone tells me I’m screwed, and when I close my eyes, my legs give out from the pain, knocking me to my knees.

“Keller, son, stay with me. Don’t you pass out on me.” It’s my dad’s voice.

“I’m fine. Might need to get me to the hospital, though. Heard something crunch,” I say through gritted teeth.

“Well, I’m not sure what you were thinking when you had a whole crew here and you go off half-cocked. What doesn’t hurt, and how can I help you get up?”

“The other arm is fine. Pretty sure my left side is fucked.” I watch as my dad moves around to my other shoulder and pushes under my armpit, taking most of my weight, somehow remaining rock steady while doing so.

“Yeah, I figure a visit to the hospital is in order, and if you tell me it’s no big deal, that arm hanging limply is telling me otherwise.”

“Do me a favor and wait until we’re actually at the hospital before you call in reinforcements.” If not, the whole Hart family will show up before we even get there.

“Might not be able to do that, seeing as Tanner is the one who called me to come out and check on you. Not to mention how Leena was biting her thumbnail, worried about you. I figure there’s something going on, and knowing you, you won’t say a word until you’re ready. So, I’ll leave it at that, but I’m going to have to call Tanner and get the paperwork started on this little mishap.” Shit, add this to the pile of shit that I keep fucking up.

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” We make our way to the truck. The guys are already working on the header with more than one person. The passenger door to Dad’s truck is open, and Matt the foreman stands there waiting.

“I’ll get it all squared away. Take care, bud,” is what he says as I climb into the passenger side.

“Thanks. If you could have one of the others drive my truck to my house, I’d appreciate it. The keys are in the cupholder,” I tell him.

“You got it. Take care of yourself.” He closes the door. I tip my head back, close my eyes, and breathe through the pain that’s setting in.

“Well, hell, boy, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I bet you broke your collarbone. Looks like Deke’s did when he was playing high school football and was tackled the wrong way, you know when he had his head up his own ass about that girl,” Dad says as he climbs in, starts the truck, and we move off the construction site.

“Son of a bitch,” I respond, knowing how long he was out for that season, which means I’m out of work in the manual labor department. It seems karma is showing her head a fuck of a lot faster than I’ve ever seen before.

“You can say that again.” We don’t say another word until he pulls into the emergency room drop-off. I wave him off when he asks if I need help walking in. There’s no way I’d ask that, anyhow. Plus, I’m sure he’s busy calling the hounds and the whole hospital will be flooded with family, something I’m not looking forward to.



“Hi, Nana!” Jace yells excitedly. Today, he isn’t the last to leave, he’s the first, and his grandmother is the first parent here for pickup.

“Hi, my most handsome grandson,” she replies, bending down to kiss his forehead.

“Nana, I’m your only grandson. Of course I’m the most handsome,” he replies.

“Well, there is that.” She winks at me. I reply with a small laugh.

“Dad said Uncle Asa was picking me up,” he questions.

“There’s been a change of plans. Looks like you’re stuck with your old Nana today. I can still take you to the toy store. Someone mentioned to me that a certain little boy is looking at a telescope.” Mrs. Hart gives me another winks.

“Yay! Bye, Miss. M, have a great day!” He waves at me.

“Have fun, Jace. Make sure you let me know what you find if you get your telescope all set up tonight.” Other parents are slowly making their way down the hall towards my door, so I know the next few minutes will keep my mind preoccupied once again. It will be after everyone is gone, when I’m straightening up the classroom, that thoughts will creep into my mind about how this morning went.