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Word Count: 493
He stood at the edge of the court toeing the line that separatedeverything he had known and everything he had to learn The crowd buzzedaround him red jerseys whooping in circles cheering and chanting withthe crowd while white jerseys like the one clinging to his torsowalked stiffly from their chairs to the locker room heads down andchins pressed against their chestsHe stood at the edge of the court alone A small child in a red jerseyhanging down to his knees barreled by him skimming the end of hisshorts where his number was ironed in He looked up from floor andtraced the lines of the court with his eyes Baseline foul line backto baseline half court baseline again furthest foul line baselinebaseline baseline - one suicide He could see where his feet had beenwhere his sweat had made the floor slick where he bled in his sophomoreyear after an elbow to the forehead He traced the outer lines lapafter lap after all the time he missed the easiest layups He traced thepaint three seconds boy No more than three seconds Get out get outget out and the arc of the sweet spot dont shoot unless youre sureboy Dont shoot unless its there and the groove in the floor that hisfeet knew better than his eyesHe stood at the edge of the court and his knee twitched his bodyjerking forward quickly He pulled back unable to take the final stepback in bounds His fingers twisted in the white and gold of his jerseyand he exhaled slowly through his nose the noise lost in the roar ofthe victors and the sighs of the defeated The buzzer had quieted longbefore but it rang in his ears - the sound of a death so crushing hecould feel the ache in his heart and knees and the back of his headHe stood at the edge of the court and kept his eyes on the paintedfloor memorizing the mascot deeply etched in
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