Eric’s class is on a field trip to the coal gasification plant in this scene.
Finally, we’re back outside at the side of the plant where the trucks tip their loads of coal into the processing area. Our chirpy guide is saying, “There’s a picnic area along the shore of the Eagle River where you will have your bag lunches, and Mr. Asplunth, the plant foreman, will come out while you’re eating and answer any of your questions.”
Shit. I look over at Will, whose face has hardened again. The prickly feeling intensifies and, instinctively, my muscles tense, ready. Miss Chirpy continues now with an even bigger smile on her face. “I understand that one of you is Will Asplunth, the foremen’s son? Will, would you like to come inside and visit with your dad?” She looks at us happily, searching for Will.
All the students turn to look for Will as well. Standing beside me, he says through clenched teeth, “No, thanks. I’m going to eat on the bus.” He turns abruptly and starts jogging across the unloading area toward the parking lot.
No! Stop! It explodes into my brain and before I can think I’m lunging towards Will and grabbing him by the arm; yanking him back towards me. I sense more than see out of the corner of my eye, the dump truck coming fast around the corner barreling towards us. I’ve pulled him so hard that his momentum brings him crashing into me and we hit the ground, scraping and bruising ourselves on the asphalt and landing in a tangle of arms and legs. The dump truck, going much slower now, makes a wide turn around our group and passes harmlessly by where Will and I lay on the ground.
“What the hell? Will says, angrily, shoving me away from him and clambering to his feet. “What was that for? I can’t believe you actually threw me to the ground.”
“That dump truck, I though it was going to hit you,” I stammer out. I knew it was going to hit him and I just reacted. But it didn’t even come close.
“What are you, like Superman or something?” he says sarcastically. “It was nowhere near me.”
“I’m sorry. I though it was. I guess i was wrong.” I can’t believe this. I was trying to save him from getting hit by a truck and I’m apologizing. I feel like a complete idiot. The entire class is staring at Will and me. He’s glaring down at me, and I’m still on the ground, blood dripping onto the asphalt from where the skin is scraped off my arm.
Will takes a deep breath and lets out a whoosh of air. “It’s cool man. Sorry for yelling at you.” He extends his hand towards me to help me up. “Just don’t pull that shit on me again, okay?” He gives a half-hearted laugh.
Mr. Ogle comes over to see if we’re okay and find out what’s going on. Then our guide takes the class over to the grassy area by the river for lunch and goes off in search of a first aid kit. I sit down in the shade under a tree, and Renee comes over to sit beside me. She puts her hand on my wrist below a spot on my arm where most of the skin is scraped off.
“Are you okay?” she asks, her eyes wide with concern. “What happened?” What did just happen? My goalkeeper instincts kicked in when I though Will was in danger, but how did I know that? The truck didn’t come anywhere near him. I had an uneasy feeling all day, and then the sudden flash of danger! Had I been wrong?
“I don’t know. I guess I thought the dump truck was going to hit Will and I pulled him out of the way. I didn’t think, I just reacted.” I lean my head back against the tree.
“Why did you think it was going to hit him?” It’s a reasonable question, but do I have a reasonable answer? If anyone would believe me, it would be Renee, so I decide to tell her the truth.
“It just flashed into my head when he started to jog across the parking lot. I didn’t even see the truck at first. I just knew he was in danger.” I shake my head and shrug. “But I guess I was wrong.”
“Maybe,” she says. “Or maybe you really did save him.”