Someone might have found it earlier. Might have prevented a lot of grief. One year before, he was playing 'maul ball,' where the object of the game is to tackle whomever has the ball. The concussion sent him to the emergency room and got him the skull x-ray. There it had been, waiting for a brilliant catch by some genius radiologist who never was.
But one year later, it demanded attention. On a hot summer night, the boy and his friend put on a play for the parents. After the boy slept under an air conditioner's frigid wind that night, the morning's earache seemed natural.
But the earache did not go away. It bored into his head. It grew worse over weeks and months. Soon, the right side of his nose could not breathe. It bled. Infection? Allergy? Try this pill. Or that. This pill did nothing. That pill caused a rash. Neither made it better.
Running laps, breathing hard, the boy felt something flopping in and out of his throat. The awkward young history teacher saw him falter. The teacher had probably been compelled to coach 6th grade football. His voice cracked as he yelled at the boy to try harder.
The parents were not long out of medical training. They could imagine. The dread grew. What is wrong with the boy? The only. The one child.