Slam Dunk

Terrell isn't acting like his usual self, and his friend Shauquan isn't quite sure why.
Shaquan, Terrell, and Ricky have been friends for years.

Thump. Thump. Swish. Terrell hardly ever missed a shot on the court, and today he was really on. His eyes had a sharp focus, like he was an animal on a hunt, and there was a regular rhythm to his shots. Even though it was cold outside, sweat beaded on his forehead as he dribbled the ball across the court and shot again. Swish. Another three-pointer.

I slapped his hand as I walked by, wishing I had his talent. Even though I practiced more, I was no match for Terrell. Luckily, today we were on the same team.

I was surprised when someone passed me the ball. I dribbled, took a few steps, and saw that Terrell was suddenly wide open. He’s fast! I passed to him. He moved quick, duckin’ and dodgin’ everyone in his path, and I headed down court with him, just in case he needed to pass again. Kids were swarming around Terrell, but he didn’t seem to notice. All of a sudden, the swarm was near me, too, and there was a tangle of arms and legs and sneakers squeaking on pavement. Terrell’s hands were still on the ball, and I saw his eyes just as he body-checked, pivoted, and jammed his elbow into Ricky’s side. Hard. On purpose.

Ricky yelled and doubled over in pain, fighting tears. Terrell just stood there, dribbling the ball and staring hard at Ricky. Like he wanted a fight. I didn’t want to take on Terrell. We’ve been friends a long time, but I’ve known Ricky even longer, since first grade. We always had each other’s back.

I yelled, louder than I wanted, “He didn’t do nuthin’!” Terrell looked at me, and I almost thought I saw tears in his eyes, too. But he threw the ball without even looking, and it swooshed through the basket as he stormed off the court. I was lookin’ tight.

I was still thinking about it when I got home. That’s when my mom told me. Terrell’s grandma died yesterday.