Basketball Season

A basketball whooshes by my face so I shuffle my feet quick like I know what to do–but I miss the ball again. Whoosh, pass, rubber on asphalt, and I still haven’t touched the ball once. Big brother lands a slap on my shoulder but he slaps hands with all the older kids. Ball back in play, but the puttering of a car twists my neck around fast so big Derek stops dribbling to watch me and laughs. My left shoe grabs my eyes by the laces and the ball slams into my back. “Your brother’s a twerp,” Derek says, sending shivers through my bent elbows with an outstretched finger and they all laugh with curled hands over mouths. Now waves of mismatched jerseys bend up and down with the laughter and I think of running inside but I know they’ll call me a crybaby so I stick to one spot with my face wrenching itself from the inside. “Whatsamattah?” D-wreck jeers, and the tears just start wringing themselves from my twisted face and I don’t know where to hide or to be and when I look to my brother he stops for just a second then laughs and points like the rest while the bottoms of my shoes melt and glue me to the craggy asphalt of the one-hoop basketball court on Main.

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