-© Dan Gowell
It didn't phase him when his mother grounded him. He had his ways of sneaking out of the house. The wary police that remained protected in their air conditioned cars couldn't see the shadows of Jared even past their powdered doughnuts and coffee breaks.
Sports nowadays were more expensive. Rubber was bound to melt in the extreeme heat so sports companys made money off of their new durability and young athelete's need for their sports. The basketball Jared bought had cost him well over the ammount it took to buy a nice house. He lived for the game. He would die for the game. The sun couldn't do anything as far as he was concerned.
The ball was back as pitch with faint lines encircling it. It was cool to the touch. When it bounced, a high pitched bop echoed from within it's cortex. It became brighter at night when the stars came out. The stars glowed a faint blue. He doesn't remember when they were ever white or any other color.
As he stumbled out of his bedroom window again, he fumbled with the white gun he always stuck in his pocket, and craddled the ball close to his chest.
-© Emily Rhodes
Making his way around the back of his apartment building Jared realized he'd forgotten the sunscreen. He looked down at his arms, tanned and tough with freckles specking the skin. He could handle it. Nature couldn't overcome his need or his determination. Running down the alleys, trying his best to stay out of the sun for too long, he came to the court, his church, his home. Jogging across the street he waved up to Ms. Taylor who would sometimes bring him lemonade when the sun was not too bad. Ms. Taylor's son had been Jared's best friend while growing up, but had died in a tragic car accident two weeks before he had graduated. No one had ever really determined the cause of the accident, but the fiery inferno had caused Christian to be virtually creamated. Looking down at the necklace around his neck, Jared was reminded painfully of his best friends sarcastic attitude about Jared's basketball obsession. The necklace was a gift from Christian's mom, he had worn it every day of highschool until the day of the accident. It was Jared's talisman now, his shield against the people who doubted he would be recruited by colleges around the country in two years. Everytime Jared touched the cross on the necklace he felt like someone was watching over him.
Beginning to stretch Jared felt his body fall into a rythm. After 8 years of playing basketball on this court, the stretches and preparation for his drills had became routine, if not mechanical. To everyone else he was in a world of him own on the court, undeniably ignoring anyone who attempted to call out to him from surrounding windows or passing cars. To him, he WAS in a different world, a world with blue skies, green grass, and a sun that didn't annihilate everything on the planet.
-© Dan Gowell
He began by doing a few simple layups, and then circled the court by dribbling. He had made up his own special routine over the years that became a second nature to him, like breathing and eating. This was his life and his passion. The black ball pounding on the pavement and his heart beating in his chest became one. The air around him was thick with heat and the sweat on his body soaked his clothes. It left a trail on the court only to evaporate seconds later like a magic trick. Jared had become immune to the near dizzy spells that had passed him in his earlier days. He always remembered to keep hydrated. The small pack on his back was red and had a small tube that strung intself into his chest. The compressed water was enough to last him well enough into the day.
There was going to be a eclipse soon. Everyone would be out to witness it with their thick sunglasses. Jared kept his eyes on only one thing: the ball.
The sun was starting the cast a faint shadow and a few doors nearby opened. Some faces appeared in windows with their makeshift boxes, poked with small holes and lifted towards the violet sky. Several children pressed their faces against the glass only to get their noses burnt, and scoldings from parents. Lights were turned off. Music and noise were interrupted with silence- all but the thuds from Jared and his game.
-© Emily Rhodes