It is the only light in the hospital room, a solitary column of soft dim light that falls over Coach’s sleeping face. A mesh of tubes and wires connect what is left of him to the world. On the wall above the bed hang the high school football jerseys of George Miles, Pete Hump, Russ Watts, Nick and Dave Granger. A state championship football trophy sits on a small table. Beside the table, an autographed life-size cardboard cutout of Dale Earnhardt smiles down on Coach. At the foot of the bed George and Billy Jean stand shoulder to shoulder.
The door opens. An old nurse with the face of a man enters. “Time’s up,” she says. The nurse places a hand on Billy Jean, a hand on George. “He’s deep in the woods, children,” she says.
George jams his hands into his back pockets. Billy Jean rests her head against his chest.
“Time,” the nurse says.
George fists away his tears. Billy Jean whispers into Coach’s ear. She kisses his cheek.
His arms levitate. He whispers, “B.B.?”
Billy Jean can hardly speak. “No, Coach,” she says. “Not B.B.” She kisses his cheek a second time and his arms descend to rest at his side.