Every day at the crack of dawn Owen went for his morning run donning his OU baseball cap. He always mowed the lawn every Sunday right after his run. The man who had rented the house to us had left a manual lawn mower. I was a late a riser. I made breakfast for both of us.
“You’r a good cook. Where’d you learn how to cook?” asked Owen one day.
“I’m a good observer. I used to hang around the kitchen when mom cooked and picked up a few things.”
“Did you play any sports in school?”
“Not really. My dad enrolled me in little league. I got hit by a fast ball on my face once when batting and never went back.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.
“Dad didn’t like that. He thought it was embarrassing. He also wanted me to learn using his tools to fix stuff around the house. I didn’t do that either. You can say I’m physically challenged.”
I hoped I didn’t disappoint Owen by projecting an image of a bookworm and not an athlete or something. Owen told stories of his being in a soccer team and an umpire in little league. He said his uncle gave him some guitar lessons and then he practiced himself.
One afternoon, after I returned from my Engineering lab, I didn’t notice Owen in the living room, where he usually sat reading a sports magazine or doing his homework. I knocked on his bedroom door. He was inside, lying on his bed with his face toward the ceiling.
“Are you OK?” I asked.
“Yeah. I probably sprained my back. It’ll go away.”
“You sure? Want me to get you something?”
“No. I get this pain after a run sometimes. It’ll go away.”
I left him to rest. I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift. I worried what would happen if Owen had to go the infirmary and needed someone to drive him there. We could have taken a taxi if it came to that.
After an hour Owen came out of his room, stretched his back and said he was feeling fine. I was relieved.