Being the new kid is never fun. Being the new kid and getting challenged on the basketball court by a scrawny tomboy is horrible. Especially after she beat me by about twenty to one. I lost count.
The day started off decent. Girls swooned over me, and the guys accepted me into their tribe. Some guys from the Varsity basketball team even invited me to sit with them at lunch.
A little fan club of giggly cheerleader-types followed me to the gym after school where I just wanted to be left alone with my ball and an empty court. That lasted about two minutes.
“You’re in my spot.”
I had my back to the door, so I hadn’t heard her sneak up behind me. I palmed my ball and turned slowly to look down at her only to realize she was almost as tall as me. I didn’t like that.
“Did you hear me?” Her long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail swished to the side when she tilted her head and raised her eyebrows.
“I heard you.” I bounced my ball between my legs and palmed it with my other hand behind my back. “I didn’t see a sign at the gym door that said ‘reserved’.”
“You must be the hot new guy all the girls are fawning over, so I’ll offer you some slack. If you’ll kindly move to the other side of the court, we’ll get along just fine.”
Hot? Did she think I was hot? Or was she just observing that all the other girls thought I was hot? Not that she stood a chance with me when five knock-outs in short skirts sat ten feet away hoping I’d turn and smile at them. Tempting, but I focused on the snarky kid in long basketball shorts and a faded Pistons t-shirt.
“What if I don’t?”
“Then I’ll have to spot you two to make it fair.”
“I don’t play basketball with girls,” I said.
“Do I look like a girl to you? I barely have enough boobs to fill a sports bra.”
I fought… hard… to keep my eyes locked with hers. There was no way I was falling into that trap. I finally squeezed my eyes shut and spoke through clenched teeth. “There is no correct answer to that question.”
“Quit being a baby.”
I felt a basketball smack me in the stomach and flinched, opening my eyes and doubling over.
“I’ll spot you four.” She knocked the basketball out of my hand and dribbled around me, taking three steps for a layup and had the ball in the hoop before I could turn all the way around. I swear if she’d been a few inches taller she would have dunked.
I was speechless.
“Check.” She bounce-passed the ball to me, expecting me to take my turn.
I bounced it back to her and reminded her, “I don’t play basketball with girls.”
“Your loss.” She dribbled over to the three-point line and casually lobbed the ball toward the net where it echoed a tell-tale swoosh as it fell through the hoop. “No, seriously. It will be your loss if you don’t pick up the slack because now I’m up five to four.”
I ground my hands into fists as I stomped over to retrieve the ball then bounce-passed it to her. I almost growled the word, “Check.”