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May 28, 2024


Steve Gergley

Just before my thirty-first birthday, I got a job as a gym teacher at my local high school. It was 1999. All the kids kept talking about the Yankees and the Mets and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. We played dodgeball on rainy days when we couldn't go outside. I coached modified basketball for some extra money in the winter and then switched over to outdoor track in the spring. I felt exhausted and sore all the time and my stomach was a roiling mess every day, but I didn’t worry about that too much. It was a good job. For the first time in my adult life I was enjoying myself at work, so that’s all that mattered to me.

In my third period class there was a sophomore named Terry who said he was from the future. Most of the kids liked Terry and joked with him about his supposed journey through time, but this one kid, a senior named Matt Kent, was a huge dick about it. Kent was the best starting pitcher our school had ever seen, and he always talked about making it to the majors. One day when he was giving Terry shit and asking him how far in the future he’d come from, Terry said, far enough to have seen the ditch you end up in. To that Kent only laughed, but later he must’ve reported to the vice principal what Terry had said, because the school expelled Terry the next week for making a violent threat toward another student.

On his last day at school, I let Terry hangout in my office and stay in P.E. the whole time. It was raining. We played dodgeball. At the end of the day Terry asked me if I wanted to know what was going to happen to me in the future.

I think I’m good for now, Terry, thanks, I said, with an encouraging nod and a fatherly thump on his shoulder. But maybe you can tell me next year, when you come back to school.

Okay, sure, I guess that’s fine, coach, Terry said, looking at me with a sad smile. I just thought you’d want to know now, since you're not going to be here by the time I get back.