The Breaking Point

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Originally written August 24th 2014.

By Adolfo Gomez M.

It had been approximately five and a half hours, and the match was still tied. The two players had changed the ping pong ball at least seven times; these were breaking constantly because of the intense rallies they were engaging in, like the one with 28 shots that had just finished. The score, in the style of a tennis Grand Slam, was 74-74, with two sets for each player. The decisive set was still underway, and although both players had all of their muscles aching and their pores were almost running out of sweat, they would still fight hard to reach every fast ball and to defend every hard volley coming their way.

Anthony, the tall guy, was not going to give up easily. He was soaking, his legs hurt, his wrist was about to give up and his hand was still firmly and miraculously holding onto the racket. Every time a point was scored, he would take a look at his watch; he knew it had been a long time, but he was determined on finishing soon. He had to finish quickly. Too much time had already been invested in the epic draw. It was time to seal the victory, but it was proving to be easier said than done.

Not far from the ping pong table there was a black marble platform that worked as a very fancy complement of the room. Over its surface there were the two adversaries’ backpacks. Anthony had taken a pause. He was breathing heavily, as he gazed at his own backpack.

“Giving up already, huh?”

The voice of his adversary sounded as arrogant as usual, but in a funny way due to the obvious exhaustion evidenced in that phrase. It was almost as he was trying to convince himself of being superior, but they both knew how evenly matched (and tired) they were.

“I’m just… um….I have a bot….. a bottle of water…. I wanna have a sip.”

Anthony slowly walked towards the marble platform to look for the bottle. As he walked, he looked down because he could barely hold his head up; but this was good enough to avoid making eye contact with his bitter rival. There was no competitive respect whatsoever. He just wanted to rise victorious. He had to. It was undoubtedly necessary.

“I don’t need no water……. you see I’m…. I’m gonna be the…. I told ya I’d beat ya…..”  said the rival.

The sweaty tall man grabbed his backpack without letting go of the racket. It turned out to be a tricky task just to open the backpack to take out his bottle of water. His thirst was making him desperate, and he was still unsuccessful. Suddenly, during one especially abrupt tug, his arms gave away. The backpack fell on the ground, and its content spread all over the floor: his jacket, his documents, his car keys, his bottle of water… even the racket had abandoned his sore right hand. He could feel the heat as he blushed of embarrassment, and his opponent’s laughter immediately followed it. Anthony fell on his knees and started picking his items up. He took a look at his watch again. He was running out of time, and he hated it.

While his adversary sat on the floor to laugh and to try to catch his exhausted breath, Anthony looked at the last items he had to pick up: his school notebook and his mechanical pencil. He first picked up the latter, and he made sure it had not fallen apart. He felt relieved to find out it was in one piece, and he felt satisfied because his precautions had protected it. Anthony gently placed his dear pencil in the safest pocket of his backpack. Next, he picked up his notebook. It was open in a page where a note with green letter and doodles was neatly written.

Hi! I hope you have a nice day today. Don’t worry too much about your problems at work. I know you can overcome all of that. Now, go kick some ass!

Love ya babe


Anthony smiled, vigorously closed his notebook and kept it in his back pack. He opened his bottle of water, had two sips and poured some of it on his head. Then he left the bottle on the marble table and picked up the racket from the floor.

“Ok, you had enough time to laugh. Now it’s my turn.”

His adversary dried his laughter tears, got up and stood on the other side of the table.

“Yeah, what…. whatever you say…. You’ll see who….. who’s who…”

Anthony’s opponent was next to serve. His service and shots were fast as usual, but they seemed somehow less powerful now. Anthony was defending quicker and better, and every bounce looked clearer and easier to shoot back to the other side of the table. The rally was consistent, with each of the players alternating swiftly between net and baseline shots, fast and slow, with or without spin. On the shot number 31 of the rally, Anthony volleyed the ball to the right corner of the other side, and his opponent barely answered, leaving the ball slowly travelling through the air. Anthony grazed the ball with the racket, making it bounce over the net. The ball then bounced softly on the border of the other side of the table, and then one more time, out of his opponent’s reach. Point scored. He took a look at his watch. Almost no time left. One point left to go.

His adversary waited for Anthony to serve. His laughter had disappeared completely, and there was not even a hint of a smile. He seemed stressed and even worried, and the tall player could feel it. Anthony threw the ball into the air, made his serve, and then it happened: his opponent made an excessively abrupt motion, and the racket flew away from his hand. Both of the players looked as the ball, almost in slow motion, bounced gently on the baseline and then fell from the table without any opposing force. It had been the easier point of the match. 76-74. Game, set and match for Anthony. His opponent grabbed his wrist in pain and lay on the floor.

“Look… now I’m smiling…. and I can still lift my arms…. to celebrate…. it hurts though….”, said Anthony.

He took a look at his watch again. He was really late, and he had to leave. He grabbed his backpack and his bottle of water, and got close to his defeated rival, extending his hand.

“Alright…. You know how it is…. ”

“You’re not even….. helping me to….. stand up….”

Anthony’s opponent put his left hand in his right pocket with great difficulty, and took U$100 out of it. He barely extended his arm to give Anthony the money.

“You…. Lucky bastard…..”

“You….. sore loser…..”

Anthony grabbed the money and helped his rival getting up. Both shook hands, and Anthony gave his opponent his bottle of water.

“What the hell…. was written on…. that notebook?...”

“My victory. Lulu will now receive the best birthday present ever... and I owe it all to you.”

“Shut up. You’re late for the first time ever….. Go, man… I’ll see you tomorrow….”

Anthony started running to get to his car. His opponent stayed near his side of the ping pong table until his legs gave away and he blacked out. At the parking lot, Anthony ended up blacking out too, almost 10 meters away from reaching his car.

Submitted: December 22, 2014

© Copyright 2021 AGomezM. All rights reserved.

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