...I'm taking a break from touting The Fall & South of Charm this week in order to gear up for my son's tournament on the ball court. Big game on Saturday vs. my alma mater, and a game on Sunday afternoon that will make or break our season.
Therefore, in honor of his upcoming competition, I'm re-posting "Game Day," a short that I penned a year ago, stealing a few minutes that I shared with my son just prior to tip off.
(Blogger has a tendency to misbehave when I republish past stories, so let's keep our fingers crossed ;)
...Saturday afternoon. On the road. Game day.
Despite the sun's distant grin, the recent freeze has resulted in an ice-packed layer of crust holding firm to our corner of the world. But the roads are clear, the traffic steady, the car's heater keeping the frost at bay.
Aside from the purr of tires, the world has offered us a moment of peace.
Glancing into the rear view mirror, I spot my son in the back seat, head tilted, eyes focused on the passing scenery. But yet, not really.
His gaze seems to follow a row of naked elms as we cruise by, but if I were to ask him which one stood the tallest, he could offer me no more than a shrug. For while his eyes are aimed at the snow-covered landscape, his thoughts rest elsewhere.
Afterall, its game day.
I continue to watch him, an eleven year old now, a dusty blond, still wiry as a twig, but gifted with a burst that can't be taught. A set of thin fingers drum upon his thigh, as if feigning the play of an imaginary instrument. And if studied closely, one may catch the movement of his lips...thinking through the plays, the various scenarios he will surely face in less than an hour, when he steps onto the court.
I study his focus, the flush of his cheeks, and smile to the passing traffic, remembering my days in the game, so long ago.
The intensity of game day, of sweaty palms and twitching muscles. Pent up excitement, and those bursts of adrenaline. The magical sound of a leather ball slipping unscathed through an iron hoop. Swish!
Such fun that was, those days of competition. And yet, more than two decades later, the real fun is about to begin...
We pull into the parking lot. The engine settles to a hum. I twist around in my seat. "It's time, Son. You ready?"
A pair of eyes, green like the sea, lift their gaze from the pair of scuffed Reebok's on the floor, and offer me a twinkle.
"Let's do this."