Trying for the Win





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Trying for the Win


The idle of car engines can fill the air like ink on days like today. Days when summer is just another word for hot, humid is just another word for wet, happy is just another word for still.


I am chasing tennis balls in white shorts. My hair has turned to curls and they hang right over my right eye, blocking my view of the slicing green ball and the way it almost goes out of bounds, it almost doesn’t count but it bounces about two centimeters from the fat white line and I’ve lost this set.


In college, tennis was for rich people and I didn’t know what love –

love meant. I only knew how to drink the bubbles in the beer to make it look like I was chugging and letting the alcohol slide down my throat like the frat boys did. I knew how to make a professor think I was having a life crisis when I would miss class too many times. (During those classes, I was usually stoned and laying in the back of Andy’s red pick up truck with a forty ounce of Old English sturdy between my legs and a Camel Wide hanging out of my mouth to the side).


I’ve lied for no reason; I’ve laid in countless cars and pick up trucks and on several fields of grass surrounded only by people and a stage and so many drugs I could have named them all by using the normal order of the alphabet; I’ve used people for things that I wanted like sex or pot or HBO on Sunday nights. I’ve watched as the people got farther away and the flashing red and blue lights were on top of me and the bench where they would cuff my ankle to the leg got closer than the first row in a movie theatre, slowly, torturously. Me, lifting my head and craning it back to see the big scene, to forget the black ink of my fingerprints.


Non-violent crimes are the ones that make us feel violent and I wonder sometimes if I would have hit one of the cops if I hadn’t  been so drunk, so sloppy, so full of vodka and peace.


I chase the green ball. It’s the final set. I see the return so clearly that I think maybe my eyes have corrected themselves over the last hour. My curls are pushed behind my ears and suddenly, I want to play this game, I want to be this person, I don’t care about ink and drinking and milking the cops for more than one phone call and talking my professor into a third extension on an inky day in late, late Indian Summer.


The inner web of the racket pops the ball with a certain kind of  click and I see it land about three centimeters inside the line. The man on the other side of the net drips sweat onto his sneakers and finally, I can smile. I’m chugging the water in the Poland Spring bottle, and I’m pouring some over my head, dripping the cool liquid onto that spot between my breasts that always seems to soak itself before Game 2. In my own waterfall, my racket has clattered to the ground, loud and clanging on the green, concrete court.