Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Red-Haired Girl


Across the soccer field on which little girls roam and soccer balls flurry, I watch four high-school boys play basketball in the cage. They shout and show off for all the girls we boys imagine are ready to sit in worship of us and our skills. The boy in the grey shirt busts a killer crossover and rises high to take the shot. It should be enough that the kid in the red hat is falling down, that his ankles are so totally broken, but the shooter is imagining a red-haired girl who smiles and blinks her eyes at him from the sidelines. He can see her and the crowd gathered to see him play. And the distraction is enough. His shot goes awry. The crowd groans. His buddies, even the one picking himself up from the deck, laugh and the game goes on. He sneaks a quick look for the red-haired girl. If she were there she’d already be looking elsewhere, smiling at something else. She probably wasn’t even looking at him in the first place. And he remembers now that she’s not even real. He looks across the soccer field, past the little girls now circled around their coach. Behind them he sees the man in a chair, writing in his notebook, about a red-haired girl he used to know, and the kid wonders how this guy looks so familiar.