‘In the Air’ by Colin Barrett


From Fifty-Two Stories:

Sunday. Glanbeigh Stephanites boys’ under-sixteen football training. Morning rain, the parish turf soft underfoot, brown water puddling in the rutted goalmouths. It’s May, but a cold Atlantic gale heaves in over the galvanized roof of the north stand, making a noise like continuously ripping fabric. On the touchline, Coach consults his waterproof wristwatch, exhorts the boys to keep the pace up.

Reserve keeper Danny Tansey sends the ball high and hard into the air. At the apex of its flight, the ball seems to lag for a moment in the grey sky. The boys look up. They watch the ball float and revolve wobblingly in place. Coach blows briny drops of rain from his lips and exhorts the boys to wait for the drop.

Thirty yards down field, Trevor Devlin frantically waves a gloved hand in the air and shouts “Coach! Coach!”

Coach looks down the line.

He’s about to say, What is it?

But then he sees.

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