by Joe Gehret

“I’m not doing it.”

“Oh, c’mon, Charlie Brown, it’s simple. I’ll hold the ball and you run up and kick it.”

“No way. You’ll just pull the ball away at the last second.”

“No, I won’t, Charlie Brown.”

“You always do. You do it every time. Every time you tell me that it will be different. Every time I go to run and kick the football and you pull it away at the last second. I’m not doing it. You’re just going to do it again. You’ll pull the ball and pass another major tax c—”


“—And I’ll fall flat on my back and embarrass myself. I’m not doing it.”

“You don’t understand, Charlie Brown. I would have held the ball for you but I couldn’t. Every time you fall on your back means the next time might be the first time you kick the ball. Every failure makes the prospect of success just that much more tantalizing!”

“I can’t do it anymore, Lucy, I just can’t stand the humiliation anymore.”

“Oh, Charlie Brown, you have to. If you don’t do it now, are you sure that you’ll ever get another chance? I might never hold the ball ever again and you’ll never kick it. This could be your last opportunity, Charlie Brown.”

“Oh, all right.”

Charlie Brown walked back, giving himself a long run up. “She’s pulled it away before. She’s going to pull it away now. It’s obvious! But how could I live with myself if I knew I gave up my last opportunity?” He paused to prepare for the charge, resigned to the inevitable.

He burst forward. 

It could have been the sun in her eyes. Maybe she was distracted by a leaf or a bird. Maybe she meant to hold it a fraction of a second longer than usual, and failed to pull the ball away in time. Maybe she forgot.

Charlie Brown didn’t feel his foot collide with the football. It took him a moment, almost infinitely prolonged, to recognize that it was flying, perfectly straight and with a fine loft, through the air. It dawned on him that he was not prostrate on the grass, that Lucy had held it in place even to the end. Even so, he could not believe it. He might never believe it.

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