It’s Poem in Your Pocket Day at school. To celebrate, the school librarian roams the halls and randomly picks kids to win Barnes and Noble gift cards if they have a poem in their pocket. At breakfast, all the boys scribble poems on scraps of paper and fold them into teeny, tiny squares before tucking them into the darkest corner of their pockets.
"Remember," I say. "Not everyone can win."
"I will," F. answers. He's hatching a plan. What can I say? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
“I’m going to pretend to go the bathroom and that’s when she’ll see me,” he explains.
“Does she always tag people coming out of the bathroom?” I ask.
“No,” he answers.
I don’t ask the obvious follow-up. I've learned I don't need to. If there’s one thing about F. it’s this. By sheer luck or determination, his plans usually works out. (He coined the phrase "F. wins!" months before Charlie Sheen started ranting about winning.")
That’s why I’m not surprised at four o’clock when he flies off the bus waving a B & N gift card above his head.
“I won!!!” he yells and dances his way into the house to get a snack. Of course you did, I think.
A. looks less excited. “Did you not win?” I ask.
He shakes his head. “I did,” he says.
“He won an eraser,” I. fills in the blanks.
“That’s great! Do you want to show it to me?”
A. shakes his head again. “I don’t have it anymore.”
“Oh,” I say.
“I gave it to someone who wanted it,” he says. His eyes begin to water and his mouth sags into a frown.
“You gave you prize away? That was really, really nice.”
“Yeah, I guess,” he says just as the tears begin to fall. “But now I don’t have it!”