BORN LAME by Nicholas Garton
The basketball rolls by me spinning wildly. Two boys my age rush past me like a blur, racing to chase it down.
“Get out of the way” they shout at me as I try to move my legs out of the way. I am sitting on the edge of the court with my back against a wall watching some kids from my school take on a few older guys at a health club. I guess I have nothing better to do on a Monday night.
“Move! Get the fuck off the court” someone else shouts my way. I scrunch up so no part of me is left inside the lines of play on the court.
“Retard” one of the boys says to the other. Said it low like I wasn’t supposed to hear but I know he meant for me to. I flinch but look at the floor.
None of them are any good. No talent at all. They act like they’re some real prospects but they didn’t even make the Junior Varsity. I would have made it. Hell, I’d be on the Varsity. I’d be out on the court right now if I could. I’d be up, over, and round these guys any way I wanted. All 6’5” of me. I’m so tall and lanky. Couldn’t do nothing with me.
I do my best to hide my lame hand underneath my shirt. Maybe if they don’t see it they’ll stop making fun of it.
“Why is his hand like that” I overheard a little kid ask. One of the older guys (who knows me) explained how I had a stroke when I was born. That’s why my hand is like that. That’s why I act so weird. That’s why I can’t be part of their game. I hear it all; my whole life story told so matter-of-factly in front of my face as if I’m not even there. Like they don’t notice me. I can feel my cheeks flush red.
My phone buzzes. Dad’s on his way to pick me up. I stand up to go put my regular clothes back on. Don’t know why I bother dressing to play. Sometimes a friend of mine shows up to play with me. Dad never wants to.
I can hear the ball bouncing and sneakers squeaking behind me as I leave. I can hear the shouts and laughter that I am not part of. No one sees me leaving and no one realizes I’m not there anymore.
No one notices at all.
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