Roy Luck awoke in his hospitable bed at approximately 12:14 P.M to the sound of the medical staff frantically moving in and out of his room. Well he wasn’t really awake, more like observing; at least that’s what he thought. His eyes were open and he wasn’t responding. The nurses asked if he could hear them and the doctors shined lights in his eyes and the words “not responding” were said more times than he could count. Roy was confused more than anything. He was awake and he understood the situation as his doctor reached for a syringe probably filled with some pain killer. But for some reason even he didn’t know, he didn’t feel like communicating. No, not communicating, but interacting. Giving signs of wellness or understanding seemed beneath him at the moment. All he could focus on was the white ceiling. Not the nurses listening to the commands of the doctors, or the slow rise in panic overcoming the interns, just the ceilings. He looked. And looked. And looked some more. What was nearly 20 seconds seemed like 2 years, but it didn’t bother him. Nothing did anymore. Not since they emitted him a few hours ago, or had it been days? He didn’t know anymore but it wasn’t important. What was important was the sole thought swirling in his mind that formed: “Say something”.
Roy’s mind raced and raced, but it was as if he ran out of things to say, or he didn’t know what to say. He felt like he was back in his Tenth Grade biology class where he tried to ask his lab partner, Amy Lofner, to the winter formal and chocked only spilling out a jumble of words that made no sense. But of course, this was not biology; this was the moment of truth. It was that moment in movies where the patient miraculously gets up and the doctors exclaim how it’s a medical miracle and everything’s okay. It was that moment where the book reaches its peak and just before you think the character will die - bam! They rise. Roy didn’t feel much like rising as he felt the cold steel of a needle enter his arm; actually he felt more like sinking. Sinking deep down into the depths of some place where he could just rest and wait. Wait for that moment where he would eventually come up and join the rest of the world once more. Where he wasn’t chained to this bed that he had been in for what seemed like an eternity or listen to the nurses babble on about Doctor Stamer who had “obviously been working out.” He was simply sick of the everyday people he interacted with and wished they would go, go far away so he could be alone for once. Then it hit him. Like a hit from a linebacker or a lacrosse ball to his gut he knew what to say: “Okay.” That simple tiny, insignificant word that held so much value to him, that meant - no, that he knew, everything would be fine. So he did and then, nothing. Blank like the white ceilings he stared at for so long that he wasn’t sure if he was staring at the white ceiling or he was in heaven (or hell for that matter). He received no response and everything became a blur, no longer white, but a blur which seemed in that very moment to have its own color and the moment culminated to darkness and nothing more.
Roy blinked a few times and found himself to be cold and feeling a sense of loneliness like no other. He felt like he was back in his high school gym beneath the weight of the squat rack that his football coach made him tirelessly work under. But this weight was different than the weights in a gym. It was a weight on the mind where he felt pressed. That feeling like he was late for the most important moments in his life and he couldn’t find or make time to engage in all of them. He didn’t feel like his life was flashing before his eyes, but everything that he could’ve done seemed to move before him, like a slideshow of old pictures. He felt his high school graduation, his college acceptance, his first job interview, the moment in which he met his wife, the birth of his first child, his children’s growth and then his retirement. His old age weighed on him the most. It crept in on him like the chill of a summer night and he felt this weight most of all. He felt as if he was looking back on everything he didn’t accomplish. He saw the college scholarship he could’ve received if he worked harder, the life he could’ve given his family and, most of all, how he failed all those who ever supported him. All those that put their trust, faith, time, money, and efforts into the creation of his being, he had failed, and he felt all their disappointments in that one immense weight.
Roy thought about his life, or his upcoming life, for a long time. He questioned every step and detail of his life and what steps he was about to take. Roy kept hearing the words of his football coach, “It’s the little things fellas, the little things.” So Roy sat for what must’ve been a lifetime and thought about the weight he carried and what it all meant. As he went through each moment in his life the weight felt suddenly less and less heavy. He came down to the last thing that rested on his shoulders and pressed against him so his breathing was strained: his people. His people who continuously gave to him so he could succeed. He pondered on these people and thought of his expectations and he thought of how he saw his life. He quietly thought, “I don’t want to be an old man filled with regret.” He said it once more, with feeling, and knew what had to be done. He racked his weight and stood up. Chest full, head up and proud he took a step and climbed. Climbed each and every step that lay before him and suddenly the darkness was not so dark. Lighter and lighter it became as he ascended the depths that was Roy Luck and did what he had never done. He rose. He rose up from the lowest of lows and bottoms of bottoms and spoke once more as he had before that day at Bull’s Bridge. That fateful day where he set in motion a chain of events where he would encounter the very thing that had been waiting for him since the day he was born - himself. He knew now what he felt at his bottom and it was himself and all the pressure he brought with him. Roy Luck felt his dreams, his achievements and failures and did the one thing he had been destined to do. Rise.
When Roy awoke, he knew he would never be the same. The doctors said that after he had hit his head, he had suffered a major concussion and had cranial swelling that resulted from internal bleeding. He was told he was lucky he had been alive. If the paramedics hadn’t arrived any sooner he probably would be dead. Roy knew what happened at Bull’s Bridge that day but never really wished to talk about it. He felt that day was a personal experience that was for him and him alone. He did something no man had done and that was to face his greatest opponent - himself. When he ventured to his bottom he knew things would change. He knew he had done something greater than any play in football, greater than any paper he wrote and greater than anything else he would do. He was given an opportunity unique to any person. Roy was able to see his upcoming life and take from it what he could to better himself now. So four months later, when Roy Luck looked in the mirror of his dad’s bathroom and felt the scar on the back of his head, he said one thing: “Okay.”