Authors: Wilson James
Tags: #girl, #adventure, #travel, #family drama, #middle school, #family, #young adult, #teens, #courage, #seattle, #tenacity, #teen, #swimming, #sports, #bullying, #girlfriend, #real estate, #public speaking, #pool, #washington state, #family business, #loss of father, #single mother, #bellingham, #spokane, #snoqualmie pass, #sibling support, #support and nurturing, #wilson james, #bully victim, #family values, #new family, #sports stories, #loss of mother, #girlfriend experience, #family and relationships, #sports and life, #award nominee, #family roles, #family loyalty, #family support, #family dynamic, #family bonds, #family realtionships, #sports coaching, #playing the son card, #family love
PLAYING THE ‘SON’ CARD:
A BOY FINDS HIS WAY TO A NEW
by Wilson James
At age 9, Troy Evanson lost his
father in an accident. Ever since then, he’s been steadily losing
confidence in himself and his ability to make his way in the world.
He’s stopped doing all the extra things he did with his Dad and
he’s just barely hanging on. The kids at his school have started to
pick on him, and Troy has become the victim of bullies. He hates
school, and he hates being around people. Any kind of socializing
has become torture.
Now, at age 12, he has a one-time
chance to change his life and start new. Will he meet the
challenge, or will remain the victim he has become? Will he be able
to pull himself together and become the man that his Dad was trying
to help him be, or will he forever be the lost little boy
whose life ended when his father died?
Find out if this is the uplifting
story we all hope for. Find out what choices Troy makes in PLAYING
THE ‘SON’ CARD.
SECOND SMASHWORDS EDITION
© Wilson James 2011
Smashwords Edition, License
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Cover Photo Credit: Wilson
Work of Fiction
This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places and incidents either are the product of the
author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance
to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, public
or private places, events or locales is entirely
This book is dedicated to those who
are trying to find the courage to attempt something new and to
those who have met the challenge and succeeded. This
It was to be a move across the
state, but it became much more than that. With my widowed mother, I
was going to move from Spokane to Bellingham, and I had real hopes
that this move would give me a chance to really start fresh, and
escape the loner life that I’d come to live back home.
I was twelve that
spring, heading for the end of 8
grade, and the move was to be
two weeks before the end of school. With our plans, I was going to
miss a graduation ceremony from my middle school and a school
dance, and I was really happy about missing both.
Like most things in my life after
the death of my father in an accident when I was nine, activities
that involved socializing were real torture for me.
For some reason, I’d become a bit of
an outcast in the last two or three years. I had no real friends at
school, and only a couple of neighbor boys that I had played less
and less with. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, only that I
felt different, and that drastically affected my self-confidence. I
guess my peers could see that, and I increasingly became the object
of teasing and a bit of outright physical roughness in the
playground and during gym class.
I didn’t really know how to deal
with the bullying, except to try and avoid contact with the worst
of the bullies as much as possible. I kept my head down, and just
did what I had to do at school. I got there as late as I could in
the morning, and left as quickly as I could at the end of each
Of course I could not escape the
unwanted attention completely. The teasing and increasingly
aggressive behavior towards me was getting worse. The words were
bad enough, and I found I reacted in spite of my firm resolution to
tough it out. The hateful and humiliating words were always spoken
out of earshot of any teacher or adult, so it was impossible to
report anything, particularly as I knew they’d all gang up to call
me a liar.
I found it much more difficult to
put up with the physical aggression towards me. I found doors
‘accidentally’ slammed in my face, and I got tripped in the
hallways, or on the stairs. When we were in gym class, lots of bad
shots with balls ended up hitting me somehow, and the labels of
clumsy and uncoordinated seemed to follow me in spite of the fact I
knew the other boys were setting me up for falls.
When my father was alive things were
different. He’d taken me lots of places and did lots of things with
me. He’d started taking me to the pool when I was a baby, and by
the time I was four, I could swim a couple lengths of the pool
without stopping. By age five, I had started learning some
springboard diving, and knew all of the swimming strokes, including
My father continually praised my
efforts at trying things, and told me that I was really advanced
for my age. He told me that I had a really muscular body for a
young kid, and when I look at photos of me at the pool or at the
lake at age five, I see that he was right.
I started school a year early,
thanks to my father. He knew I was smart, and had helped me learn
to read and do basic math even before I was five. He knew I needed
more of a challenge, so he convinced my mother that they should
start me in first grade in the fall just before I turned
With a December birthday, I would
have been younger than most of my peers anyway, but now I was quite
a bit younger. As far as the school was concerned, my father
‘fudged’ the year of my birth, so they didn’t know.
We did other things like going for
bike rides, canoeing, sailing, or skating in the winter. He got me
going early on the computer, too, and taught me things around the
house and some basic care and maintenance.
My mother was nice, too, but it was
my father who was the real driving force in my life. After his
death, she was dealing with her own grief. Between that and her
work, she had little time for me beyond the basic care. As a
result, I stopped doing all the extra activity. I went to school,
and came home to an empty house. I often had to fix my own supper
and look after myself if my mother was staying late at
Sometimes she even had to travel for
work, and I was home on my own for up to three days. I managed
okay, as far as looking after things and getting to school and
stuff. I still got good grades and did well academically, but the
spark was missing from my life.
As I headed towards puberty, I
started to feel even more different and alone. I was as tall as
many of my peers, but I was skinny and underdeveloped. I seemed to
have less interest in their preferred topics for conversations:
sports, girls and sex. That made we wonder a lot about myself. With
the increasing lack of confidence brought about by the absence of
my father, I was not a very happy kid.
So, when my mother approached me
about moving to a new city, I was quite ready to make a break from
my miserable life, and think about starting fresh.
It was in January
of my 8
grade year when she first talked to me about moving. It was a
Saturday morning, and I was in the kitchen making french toast for
breakfast when she came into the kitchen. She thanked me for making
breakfast, and set about getting her coffee.
I could tell she was excited and
happy about something, and I figured she’d tell me soon enough. I
was just pleased to see her looking so happy, and whatever it was
had to be good.
I served our breakfast, and sat down
across the table from her. I said straight out what I
“You look happy about something,
“Well, yes, I am, Troy. I hope
you’ll think it’s good news, too... or at least that you’re okay
She told me she had an opportunity
to take a transfer and a promotion at work, and she was excited
about it. In fact, it the first thing that she’d been really
excited about since my father’s death.
She told me that it was something
that she’d been hoping for and working towards, but it was coming
earlier than expected.
“This is such a great chance for me,
Troy, and I really need to do it. I have been working very hard
with the hope that they might see my potential. I really hope
you’re okay with this.”
Mom was working as a real estate
agent, and had done very well. They were going to open an office in
Bellingham and they wanted her to run it. From the way she talked,
it appeared that she’d already accepted, and I was fine with that.
She had been angling for a transfer to an office out on the coast,
but when they offered her a transfer and a promotion at the same
time, it was just too good to pass up.
For her, it was not just about the
job. It was a chance to go live in the same city as her best friend
from college, and near the support that she could get there. Her
life had been pretty quiet socially, and I knew she still really
missed my dad.
I surprised her by agreeing that it
was a great opportunity for her, and I was behind her all the way
There were a couple of other things
that we worked out, such as her needing to get out to the new
office as soon as she could. That meant within two weeks, or even a
week if she could manage it.
We talked about the option of us
moving right away, but there was the issue of selling out present
house, and the smaller issue of moving in the middle of a school
After a bit of discussion, and a lot
of convincing on my part, we agreed that she would go the next
week, and I would stay behind on my own. I assured her that I was
mature enough to handle everything.
“After all,” I
said, “I’m in 8
grade, with kids who are 13 and 14, and kids that
age can handle things on their own. Besides, I’ve been pretty much
looking after myself for three years after school and when you’ve
been away. It will be just like that.”
She nodded her understanding as I
went on to explain that I could make sure the house was in perfect
shape for showing and would also do the necessary clean up and
pre-packing to move.
“I feel guilty about leaving you
like this, Troy, and for leaving you on your own so much, but,
well, I just...” Her voice trailed off as she thought of
I knew that she still had a lot of
difficulty with that, and still had not come to terms with his
“I know, Mom, and I understand.
Don’t worry. This move will be good for you, and I will look after
things here with no problem.”
She responded by giving me a hug.
“Thanks, Troy. I love you.”
With that, the move to a new life
Mom was gone within a week, before
the end of January. As planned, I stayed behind and got to work. By
the end of February, I’d done some repair work and basic clean up
around the house, and it was ready to go on the market.
I still had some other projects to
do, like repairing the concrete back steps and deck, and then doing
a lot of painting, but those would need to wait a bit for better
weather. Mom had talked about re-building the back fence as well,
so I wanted to do that.
I could handle the work. I’d learned
from watching and helping Dad a few years previously, and now I was
getting big enough to actually to most of this work on my own.
Still only 12 and beanpole thin, at least I was getting taller and
now stood just under 5’4” even if I was still an underdeveloped 95
As I got to work on the projects
around the house after school and on weekends, I frequently thought
about my Dad, and hoped that he would be proud of my skills and new
abilities, if only he could see me.