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Hiding From The World This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   THUMP!! The sound of the ball echoes through the dusty gym bringing sounds, smells and sights to life. It is a venerable gym with a past. Nowadays, it is dusty and dark, a poor copy of what it was in its glory years. As I walk in, I see an old elevated track circumscribing the gym near the rafters. I go up to investigate and it creaks everywhere I step on it, especially near the outer edges. Then I look down onto the court. Sal, the janitor, has let me in after hours, as he always does when I ask. I come here when life has not been going too well for me. The cavernous gym offers itself as a shelter from the outside world. The glass blackboards are dirty and the floor coated with a thin layer of dust. Yet somehow it charms me and invites me to come closer and envelop me in its mystique and tradition. In this age of spotless arenas with cheerleaders and mascots, this gym satisfies me because it is a place that is separate and calm. The authenticity and sincerity of the gym cannot be found in a flashy sports stadium. Near the foul line there is a dead spot that emits a hollow clank when I bounce the ball on it. I know that great players once bounced the ball here in the closing moments of a tight game. Once I bounce the ball on the floor, I hear the squeaking of sneakers from years past. I hear the coach screaming for defense, the fans imploring for wins, and players gasping out of effort. All of these sounds are embedded in the bleachers, the rafters, and the floor.

This gym has isolated me from the rest of the world. The smell of mold and neglected gym apparatus fills my nostrils, but the moment I bounce the ball and hear its echoing throughout the hallowed gym, the mystique comes alive and there, in front of me, is my phantom defender, drenched in sweat. The three rows of bleachers are suddenly filled with delirious spectators screaming my name. Although the fans scream and shout, they are well-behaved. I smell hot cocoa sold by vendors and a hint of buttered popcorn. I notice the arrival of another fan when I feel the rushing winter cold attack my bare legs. The elevated track is adorned with posters and banners. The dusty floor seems secure under my sneakers as I dribble through my legs trying to shake my foe. The dirty blackboard suddenly becomes clean, and the rim has lost its rust, making itself a target for my game-winning shot. Will I make this shot? Why, that is up to me and my fantasies. SWISSHH!! n




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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