Short Story: Balling

He was lying on the bed of a suite on the 23rd story of a five-star hotel in Manhattan. Far beneath him, the cars and busses rolled past hurried workers and slow-footed tourists. The buzz of the city that never sleeps filled the air of this clear night. The stars however, remained outshined by the bright lights of the man-made monuments of engineering New York City was home to.

She was sitting on the large mahogany desk and sipping on a glass of bourbon. The desk was an impressive piece dating back to the 19th century and rumored to have belonged to Governor Grover Cleveland before his ascend to the presidency. But even the most devout admirer of antique furniture wouldn’t have been able to avert his eyes from the lady lounging on it.

He opened his eyes just enough to make out her silhouette, attempting to figure out if she was indeed real or just a piece of his vivid imagination, ready to disappear into thin air in an instant. His imagination had always been at hand to play games with his mind and at this particular moment of time, he was dreading to discover that all had been but a dream.

She was staring at her glass as if it contained the answer to the all-important question of the meaning of life. And to her, maybe it did. She took another careful and measured swig of bourbon. She pushed a wisp of a long, blonde hair behind her ears before looking up and staring at the replica of an Andy Warhol painting above the bed.

He closed his eyes again and dozed off. This time, he was sure he was dreaming.

The sun was shining down on him and the voices of excited teenagers, playing children and concerned mothers was ringing in his ears. Central Park was filled as was to be expected on a beautiful Summer day. He was lying on the freshly-cut grass on one of the lawns with two elderly men sitting on a blanket nearby listening to the radio broadcast of the Yankees game (they were leading by two runs with one inning to go). And there she was.

She was shooting free throws on one of the nearby courts, hitting them with passable accuracy. Next to the hoop was a speaker blasting a playlist playing the Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Phoenix and Jay-Z. Her focus however, seemed to be completely taken by getting the ball into the hoop. She kept her eyes on the rim, kept her elbows straight and then released the ball towards her goal in a perfect arc. After every shot she made, a faint smile appeared on her face. When she missed, a look of despair and dejection appeared on her face.

At first, he just glanced over after hearing the rhythmic bouncing of the ball on concrete. But then, when everything else in the park failed to capture his attention, he couldn’t help but continue to watch the stunning girl so fully absorbed by practicing her free throws. He tried to work up enough courage to go and talk to her, wondering which words would have the effect he wished for. Just as he got up to walk over, the sound of laughter pulled him out of his dream and back to reality.

She was still sitting on the desk, but this time she was smiling and giggling. Dawn had reached New York City, with the first rays of sunshine illuminating the hotel room. With the morning, a different kind of mood had taken hold of the woman. The glass of bourbon had been replaced with a little black notebook, which she was reading intently and with the same focus she had shown on the basketball court.

He opened his eyes fully and took a moment to get used to the sunlight filling the room. He stared at the girl in front of him and a smile appeared on his face. The last night now seemed like a distant memory destined to float away in due time.

She finally noticed his awakening. A final laugh escaped her throat. She leaned back and looked at him in silence. As so often, she didn’t know what she wanted to say. Instead, she grabbed the tiny black notebook and began to jot down something. The strokes of her pen flew over the paper.

He watched her start writing and closed his eyes again. The more often he opened his eyes and saw she wasn’t gone, the more he was convinced that she wasn’t gone. He slowly counted to ten and then opened them again, focusing at the desk.

She wasn’t there. Nothing but emptiness was to be found where she had been sitting. However, the tiny black book had been thrown onto the bed. Frantically, he flipped through the pages, skimming through the back-and-forth banter of their early courtship until he reached the last page of the book. His eyes devoured the content of her writing.

He sighed. After pulling on his clothes, he took a moment to gaze upon the city where dreams came to come true or die.

He opened the closet, grabbed the basketball hidden inside and turned around.  With a hint of hopefulness in his voice he said:  “Are we leaving?”

Behind him, she looked at him with her bright, blue eyes peering into his, and smiled.


 

That’s it for today. I’m always looking for feedback, so please hit me up on Twitter or in the comments section!

Sincerely yours,

Albert

 

 

 

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