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Waiting for the Sun
I hurt, man. I ache inside out. But I don’t care I just want to be with them. I just want to be part of that burgundy blur rocketing to the net. I just want to be there for it all: the breezy wins, the brutal defeats. I am sick of my dribbles echoing into emptiness; I want them to set the beat of the skidding, pivoting, shouting, and breathing. CIRCLE IN!
I tingle with anticipation. The ball feels too big, too light. But it feels good just to hold it again. I like the way the way it fills my palm. I jump up and let my wrist snap, too much. It thuds a good inches up too high. I jog back in line.
My hands tremble. Then it hits me there’s a chance and for a second I float on that thought, let it buoy me up. Air rushes by and ends with squeaks from rubber soles. A bounce pass. The bumpy rubber surface is back resting on my fingertips. I push hard, jump up. I want to stop time here and just suspend in mid air. I’d realign myself, hook my locked arm and pull my knee in, like the others. But I’m weak. The ball flies up and wedges itself in between the rim and the board and stays there for a second. The whistle blows. Suicides.
It’s a gut- gnawing feeling, pumping my legs to the line, then back, to the line, and then back again. I can see the red spotting my skin, my dark brown bangs glued to my forehead. But there is a chance.
My head feels light, too light. TAKE IT! CHECK! BEHIND! Words cloud me, I feel lost and hesitant; I pass it overhead. I dart for everything, I don’t let a moment surpass me but all my shots bounce back and no more passes come to me without a “BACK!” Maybe coach will let me slide into junior varsity; maybe they won’t have enough players, just maybe. The whistle blows. 5 TO 2.
My heart pounds hard in my head. Just let me through; I can improve. But it’s over. We wait at the net… and wait. We grab the orange balls and shoot. PLACE YOUR FEET. They’re right; it makes all the difference. JUMP STRAIGHT UP. DON’T GO ALL BALLERINA. That helps a lot too. Their heads are turned towards me, thinking, scrutinizing. They help a lot. And I wish I could rewind the hour and do it all over again.
Water clears my throat. We start talking. I like ‘em. I connect with them; the way they walk and think. Their voices reverberate clean and definite, like their form, so neat. I jump into their conversation. I like the flavor of their talk, its tough but they sing their bubbly personalities underneath. I get them. I want this. I leave them, though to meander through school… solo.
I submerge into doubt. THANK YOU FOR COMING. It sounded so forced. Something he said for himself, not real.
It’s like I just tripped and decided to lay there for awhile. I see a green neon “just don’t think about it” blaring into my brain but I turn away from it and stay confined. There’s still a chance. I wish. I should’ve tried earlier. If only I hadn’t been so shy. If only Dad didn’t say “you’re short, Rebecca” so bluntly. I might’ve tried out before when it was an automatic in. I won’t tell them I tried out; they will just micro-analyze.
My head is racing. Even the freshmen owned me. I walked out there feeling and thinking big, strong. I had the walk down, intimidating and smooth. But my exterior melted at the whistle. I could let this go if I could stop thinking about how I liked being with them. How I finally felt I connected. They helped me, too. They cared.
My calves feel limp. They said there will be another tryout, because not a lot of people showed. God, it felt like scarlet jerseys had littered the courts. A week is probably all I got. Maybe I can squeeze in a few lessons. The way she looked at me from her clipboard when I muttered GOING INTO TWELFTH I could practically hear her thought: not a chance. Maybe no one really cares, just pities. They see me and think how pathetic. But I know I’ll bounce back. I’ll turn my head toward the sky and pick myself up.
The sun looks orange and soft like a basketball. Maybe that’s why I love the sun. I want to see it rise tomorrow at 4am fresh and new, like there had been no tryout or yesterday or anytime before.