"Did you see that shot I made with my left hand?"
"I think so," she said uncertainly, looking to my father for support.
He nodded that he had seen it.
My mother made a familiar lip-smacking sound, which always signaled that she had something on her mind that couldn't be restrained. I was all too eager to hear. "Do you always stoop so much when you're playing?" she asked.
I opened my mouth in disbelief.
"It's just that I don't think it's terribly good for your posture."
My father laughed, though he stopped abruptly to finger his swollen cheek. Down below, the ball was bouncing again. I told my mother I'd give her the signal for the clock, then galloped down the stairs.
In the second half the score tightened, and in the heat of battle my field of vision narrowed. I whipped a pass, cut around a pick, shuffled left, raced right, circled back to the left, panting all the while. Sweat dripped down my forehead, burning my eyes. I bent over, hands on knees, sucking in air. Someone on my team went up for a shot and missed, and I fought for the rebound. The ball was tipped, then tipped again. I snatched it with two hands and went back strong for the deuce.
Loose as a scarecrow, I skipped backward up the court, arms extended to slap five, forgetting to look up to the balcony. Forgetting, in that moment, everything but the game.