Former high school classmates Ally and EJ began volunteering at the Football Snack Shack early in their kids' high school Freshman year. For EJ, it was a trade-off so he could watch his son Mark play basketball without worrying about manning the snack table during hoop games while Ally never lost her school spirit and she was happy to help out as an alumni member even though her daughter Nancy wasn't interested in sports.
EJ played all three major sports in high school and he was a pretty good athlete, still remembered more than twenty years after his last catch, shot, and at bat. Ally was an enthusiastic cheerleader and booster who never missed a game during her high school days. The two knew each other in high school and they were friendly ,but they never dated. EJ went to college where he met and married Helen who became a nurse at Blue County Medical Center while EJ went to work for his father in the family's propane business.
Ally married her high school sweetheart Danny but the marriage ended after ten years and she now lived with her boyfriend Kyle, a CPA who didn't know the first thing about sports. Ally worked as a florist at Fontaine's Family Grocery Store.
EJ and Ally volunteered side by side for four years in the football snack shack, serving as co-chairs senior year which involved handling the schedules, supply ordering, and publicity that required extra administrative volunteer time together They made a good team and when the final home game of their kid's senior season ended, both parents realized that their football volunteering days had come to a sudden end.
The last home game of the season was on a Friday night and the football snack shack crew returned on Saturday afternoon to clean out and winterize the shack. The process only took a few hours but Ally and EJ were both hesitant to leave when the project was completed, both lingering on the field long after everybody else left remembering glory days long forgotten and the approaching finale of their own kids' high school careers.
"The field looks pretty beat up," Ally observed, looking at the ripped up and cleated turf.
"It will grow back," EJ said. "Always does."
"I'm going to miss this," Ally sighed.
"Me too," EJ admitted, sucking in his breath. "Giving it up the first time was hard enough."
She smiled in a way EJ found almost seductive as she kicked at some of the clumps of grass beneath their feet. "I had fun working with you."
"You've been great," EJ grinned, for some reason feeling like he was in high school again as they stood in the middle of the field. He wanted to hold her hand and pretend they were dating.
"It doesn't get any better than this," Ally said, sucking in her breath as she bit the inside of her lip. Her eyes watered at the realization that her time in the football snack shack was over for good but, even more depressing, her fun times with EJ were coming to an end too. Working the football snack shack these four seasons was the most fun she'd had in years.
Ally continued to examine the field and the bleachers with her hands on her hips. "Are you going to miss me?" she asked, not exactly looking at him.
"We'll probably see each other around," he encouraged. "It's a small town. Aren't you going to come to the basketball games?"
"I suppose," she shrugged. "But you're not alone at those games."
She was referring to his wife of course who attended all the basketball games with EJ to watch their son play.
"No, I'm not," he said.
"Yeah," she sighed. "Basketball isn't as fun as this.' "
"I suppose not," EJ agreed. "But it's great watching Mark play."
"You should be proud of him," Ally smiled.
"I am," EJ replied.
Ally's breath caught in her throat slightly as she realized this was the end of their unique special friendship as football parents.
"Ally," EJ said tentatively.
"What?" She asked hopefully.
"Nothing," he sighed.
"You sure?" She asked. "You can tell me what you're thinking." She tilted her head and squinted at him quizzically. "Or how you're feeling."
"Feeling about what?" EJ played dumb.
"I'm happy to invite you to trust my confidence," Ally let him know.
EJ sucked in his breath. "Sometimes I fear we may have gotten to know each other a little too well."
"Oh, don't be ridiculous," she said. "We're friends. We understand each other."
EJ sighed and walked to the players' bench on the sidelines, taking a seat on the pine. Ally joined him, pulling her knees up and wrapping her arms around them as she glanced at him.
"We haven't done anything wrong, EJ," she told him.
"I wonder if our significant others would agree," he said..
"They don't like football," Ally reminded him.
"Football season is over," EJ pointed out.
"I know," she sighed.
"So, is this it then?" EJ asked.
"It doesn't have to be," Ally said, her voice quivering. "We can still be... friends."
"I'd like that," EJ smiled.
"Okay, then" Ally said with fake enthusiasm, pushing him by the shoulder causing him to sway like a willow tree in the wind.
"It was a good season," EJ remarked.
"It was a good four years," Ally smiled.
There was a long silence between them.
"Well, I should get going," Ally finally said, standing and brushing off her backside, though there was no reason to.
EJ couldn't help but observe her actions, taking a peak at her firm rear through her tight jeans. Even at forty, she still had a great figure. EJ stood and walked her to the empty parking lot where their two cars were the only vehicles in sight.
"I had fun doing this," Ally said.
"I did too," EJ said.
They stopped walking when they reached her car and Ally made it a point to make eye contact with him. "You take care," she said.
"You too," EJ encouraged bravely.
"'Bye." The emotion in her voice betrayed her.
"You have my e-mail," EJ said, though he wasn't sure why he felt it was necessary to remind her of that fact..
"And you have my text number."
He nodded as he watched her climb into the car.
"Sheesh!" she said, shaking her head in fake pity. "We really are pathetic." But she was smiling.
EJ forced a laugh and watched as she drove away. When the car disappeared out of the lot, he glanced around the school campus remembering when he played football here. Now all that was ending for the second time.