Monday, March 16, 2009

An Afternoon at the Courts

I'd been down to the basketball courts just once before. My sister Tara plays ball there regularly, but that time I went, just to hang out and see what it's like you know, she was out of town for a state championship game. She's out of town often, see. She plays both basketball and baseball for her school, and this year she's gonna make All-State. She's always going out of town for games. So I went just once, cos I know if she caught me there, she'd belt me so hard I wouldn't be able to sit for a month. I didn't tell any of my brothers either, especially not Doug, cos he'd snitch on me for sure. There's always one in every family.

Timo goes though, pretty regularly. He goes he says, to flirt with the girls. It's a scene there, he says. If you wanna get with girls, he says, that's the best place to go.

Timo and I haven't been hanging out long. The last and only time I'd gone before hadn't been with him but with Andy and that was a coupla years ago. Andy and I don't speak no more. It's been a month maybe, not since I started hanging with Timo. I dunno why. It just is. Andy's too uptight anyway. He'd wanted to leave after hanging outside the fence for a few minutes. Not even inside. He said it wasn't right for nice boys like us to be hanging there. We'd been best friends since like forever, and now senior year in high school, a few months away from grad, it's all changed.

Last time I passed him at school he didn't even look at me.

Anyway, Timo told me to go with him, this weekend. "Your sister's out of town, for what, a week? We'll just go hang out, just be cool. No one's gonna even remember you were there." Tara'd been invited by a few colleges out east to check out their athletics programs.

Oh yeah, one thing about Timo, he doesn't give a shit about most things, but he's one that you'd call a jersey chaser. Some boys go for football players, some soccer players, some baseball players. Timo, he's into basketballers. I think he thinks my sister has a chance of making it after college, which she does, which Andy said is the reason he's hanging out with me at all, which was the last thing he said to me couple of weeks ago. So I told him what I thought he could do to himself.

Thing is, I wanted to say no to Timo. I wanted to say there'd be hell to pay if my sister found out, or Doug, which would amount to the same thing. Or Mother. But I said yes, because I didn't want Timo to think I wasn't cool. Timo's one of the cool boys.

So there we were, Saturday afternoon. It's not like it's a dangerous place or anything. The girls in the neighborhood who play ball hang there. And they got their little boyfriends there. And boys who want to just watch them play ball and flirt with the girls hang out there. Like Timo says, it's a scene. Just that the boys aren't what you'd call the good sort. So that's why Tara'd belt me something fierce if she saw me there. That's what sisters do though, keep their brothers in line, but it's all bullshit anyway. I mean, I know she's getting regularly with at least a couple of boys from my school, not to mention Jake her regular boyfriend. And who knows what she gets up to when she's out nights and weekends. She doesn't even have a curfew. It's like what Ms. Purdue said in class, about how you couldn't have the government, you know, give preference to one religion over another because it'd be like a double standard? Nobody ever calls this a double standard though, how girls get to do whatever they want and boys have to act a certain way. They just say that's the way it is.

One good thing, I didn't recognize any of the girls there as friends of Tara's.

There are rules about the place, just like anywhere. You don't have to be told, you learn just by looking. Gotta learn by looking almost with anything. They never teach the useful stuff in class.

So there are these wooden benches on one side, and you can only sit there if you're one of the girls' boyfriends or whatever. The girls play ball and chill out on the benches with their boys. The rest of the boys hang out by the fences, which is where Timo and I were. A couple of girls were standing around shooting when we got there but the rest of them were just sitting and joking loudly, boyfriends in their laps. Some of the boys on the benches gave us dirty looks. Timo just grinned. "Don't worry about the looks, it's just what happens," he muttered to me. We walked past groups of boys standing against the chain-link fence, chatting among themselves. A few of the boys said hey to him, but most of them ignored us. He picked a spot and we stood there and watched the girls a bit.

I guess you'd have figured that out by now but the girls who shoot hoops here are a certain type, you know, tall and athletic. I mean, my sister's six foot five and she's still growing, and Mother is taller than she is, but that's different. If I could do what I wanted, I'd come here to watch these girls play too.

The two girls who were shooting had stopped and were walking over to the benches and they glanced at Timo and one of them said something to the other, under her breath, and the other one just laughed. A couple of boys jumped into their laps when they sat down.

Timo started telling me this story about this party he was at last weekend. I guess I wasn't paying attention cos this girl Melissa Yeager had just came in the gate across the way. You probably heard of her if you're a college basketball fan. I mean she's still a freshwoman, but she already plays Varsity, and ESPN talks about her all the time. They say she's the next big thing, that she's gonna be a star in the NBA. She graduated from the same school my sister goes to and I remember when I went with my sister to watch a few of the games that Melissa had played in and there were reporters and tv crews from everywhere.

My sister's school is known for producing athletic superstars. People say my sister is gonna be the next Melissa Yeager.

I think by then Timo had stopped talking and had his eyes glued on her. She'd gone over to the benches where the other girls were and traded some high-fives and was getting some ribbing for being all famous and shit now. "Where are the ESPN cameras?" one of them shouted, laughing.

"Know who that is?" Timo asked me.


He nodded. I glanced at the other boys. A few were gawking at her but most were all sorta talking amongst themselves and throwing little glances at her and the girls.

Melissa had flipped her tank top off. She'd taken one of the basketballs lying around the bench and was bouncing it idly while continuing to shoot shit with the girls, then she said, "Back in a sec, ladies," and sauntered over in our direction, dribbling the basketball casually. She winked and grinned at a few of the boys she sauntered past. "Hey Mel," they all said, dreamily, almost in unison.

"Hey boy," she said as she got closer. She was looking at Timo. Her tone of voice made it as if she'd known him a while.

"Hey Mel," he said. He sounded weird. "How's college?"

"It's... pretty cool." She was standing right over us now, basketball tucked under one arm. God, she was huge. She was quite a bit bigger than my sister, bigger than Mother, and until then both of them were the tallest women I'd ever stood next to. And at nineteen, she had a few years of growing left to go yet. "You heard I was coming back for the weekend huh?"

"Yeah." Timo hadn't told me anything about that. She reached down with one massive hand and caressed Timo's face. He kissed her fingers. "I missed you," he said. She smiled.

She nodded her chin at me. "Who's your friend?" she asked. She kept her hand on his face, but she looked me up and down with her large dark eyes. Some girls have a way of looking at you like they just stripped you naked. This was one of those looks. I shrank back, the chain link pushing into my back, and looked down. Looks like those can scare the shit out of a boy, make you feel all chewed up inside, but sometimes, you get thrilled more than scared. A chill ran down my spine. This was definitely one of those times. I felt my face get hot.

"He's Tara Connelly's brother," he said. "He's cool." I guess if Timo said it, it must be true.

"Tara's brother huh?" She was smirking a bit. "She know you're here?" She'd stopped stroking Timo's face and rested her hand on the fence high above us.

"Ya," I blurted out. I looked up. She raised her eyebrows. "Um, I mean, no." I bit my lip.

Timo started laughing. I felt so ridiculous I started laughing too.

"You're cute," she said. Which made me laugh harder, for some reason.

"Hey Yeager!" one of the girls yelled out. They'd gotten up off the benches and were fanning out across the court. "Quit chatting up the boys and let's see if you can show us what you learnt in college!" There were loud guffaws and jeers from the rest of the girls. One of them drove the net, sailed through the air and dunked loudly. More guffaws. I'd seen my sister do far better though, and she was at least a coupla years younger than these girls. And Melissa, she was obviously in a different class, even if you didn't know nothing about basketball.

"I already taught your brothers last night Ash, you can go ask them," she yelled back. The girls whooped and hollered. Timo laughed, so I laughed too. And then Melissa turned back to us and said to Timo, "I'm heading down to the beach later. Beth is throwing a beach party. Come with." She was stroking his face again.

"Okay yeah." Timo kissed her fingers.

"See if your friend can come too," she said, and she winked at me and chuckled. Then she turned and walked back to the court, my heart pounding with each crack of the basketball on the concrete floor.


  1. It had been a while since your last post. I was starting to go into Trinket999 withdrawal!

    It seems you made up for lost time by giving us one of the tallest women you could find, though. Melissa may be the tallest these boys have stood next to, but I think she'd meet her match in the girl from "A Question of Scale." The again, maybe it's all a question of scale; that is, the scale of the boys in each picture. If Tara and her mother are exceptionally tall, Tara's brother is probably tall too (well, if you can ever call a boy tall), which would make Melissa seem shorter than she really is.

  2. Hi! Thank you for commenting.

    Melissa is about the same height as the girl in "A Question of Scale" but the two boys are maybe an inch or two taller than the other two. Tara's brother isn't exceptionally tall for a boy though. In my world, research has strongly indicated that the height of male offspring is strongly correlated to the height of the father, while the height of female offspring is correlated to the mother.

  3. As for it being a while, I still can't decide what took longer. Cloning in all that chain-link fence (I had to actually make her taller in relation to her environment too), or writing the relatively short accompanying story. I don't know how you writers do it, honestly.

  4. I should say that you did very well with the story. Even though I expected there to be a picture in this entry, I didn't just scroll down and look at that first. Your stories, even the ones considerably shorter than this, are a great complement to your collages. If their inclusion means I'll wait a little longer between entries, then hey, I'll wait a little longer.

  5. I just look at the images, man. Screw all that writing!

    Hahah! I'm kidding, and I have to say that if you are not a writer, you are doing a great job of passing yourself as one. That was a very entertaining story! As anonymous said, it's worth waiting for updates if you are going to treat us to these collage / story combos.

    As an older sister to a fair number of brothers, I smiled as I read, picturing myself in Tara's shoes as to her level of protectiveness concerning her little sibling. You've really done a wonderful job of setting up the collage, and I have to say I would rather write than clone, especially what looks like suicide-inducing chain-link labor. Seriously... I see it and there's a scream of sympathy going off in my head. :)

    Excellent collage, and great story, trinket. Thank you for this update!

  6. Well thanks y'all! I haven't written anything creatively since back in my teens. I'm glad you guys liked my efforts and thanks for the encouragement. That will make me want to hack away at my keyboard some more.