The prompt for today’s flash fiction comes from The Write Practice, by Joe Bunting. I was supposed to write about–well, I won’t tell you exactly what or reading the story would be extra-boring–while not looking at what I was writing. Limit: 15 minutes. I threw a journal over the top of my laptop so I couldn’t see. (When I was done, I fixed the typos for you.) That means today’s short is not only flash fiction, it is impromptu flash fiction. Enjoy.
The bench was harder than I remembered it being, before. The grooves in the aluminum-like metal stood out to me, ran horizontal along the skin of my thighs and when I lifted them up on my toes, I traced the grooves in the skin with the tips of my fingers. It was probably not the thing to be doing at that moment, but it was distracting, for a minute or two, restful. Then the ticking of the clock–the kind of clock in a cage–caught my attention and in the moment after the moment in which I realized it was so quiet in the locker room I could hear the sound of a clock ticking, my stomach swooped downward toward my trainers. My stomach was ahead of my mind, by a millisecond. Then my mind joined my stomach, in that place where butterflies and nausea flitted across the basketball court along with squeaking sneakers and a waterfall of voices.
I didn’t have time to be thinking about waterfalls, or butterflies, or the neat, mathematical lines running across my muscular thighs where yes, even my thighs were soft enough to permit an expansion when I sat down. I used to think that fully toned legs wouldn’t allow for the squash outward of the sitting position. I was wrong. It was only in magazines that women had stick-like thighs when they reposed. Only after airbrushing. Only by tricks and teases. But before my mind could wander–oh, the relief!–to the Facebook article I had read last night about a girl who sent her photo to various fashion experts asking for a a Photoshop makeover and the eerie results, I stood up. Again, my body was a millisecond before my mind. I noticed in slight lag, that my body had swooped up, and didn’t wait to take a single breath before giving my locker a luck punch and pivoting toward the door, toward the clock in the cage, toward the stadium and the waterfall of voices.
One step, two step, Three. I counted when I was nervous, the way I did math upon waking from a stressful sleep. I couldn’t imagine the counting or the math semi-dreams helped, since in my right mind, I hated math. All except for the math of the game. The inertia of my body toward another player’s body, versus the elasticity of my muscles, versus the calcification of her bones. The height of a bounce relative to the inflation pressure of the ball. That intrigued me because it made me even better, took me even deeper into my affair with the game, into the experience of the game. All the time. Every place. Every inch of my slim, powerful body. Not powerful enough. There were moments of weakness, there were times when I buckled to a pain or a mindgame. When I lost the only battle that really mattered; the one about playing perfect within and of myself. This perfection was elusive. This perfection was, unattainable? We’d see. We’d see if I could beat it out of me, string it out of all that practice, that education, the repetition, the sweat and grunting and moaning and pushing and shoving. We’d see tonight, or we’d never.