The referee blew his whistle. "Foul! Two shots!" he shouted. The crowd cheered but that was the last thing on Michelle's mind. She wanted to run to him and check if he was okay. From her standpoint, his fall was bad. He winced as he stood up to take his free throws.
Errole took a deep breath before letting the ball slide off his fingers. The ball rebounded off the ring and all the players clamored to catch it. The clock started back up as the players pushed into position under the basket. Errole ran forward and got under the ring and just as the ball started to fall, he jumped up and caught it with both hands. The crowd grew wild as he landed with both feet but he simply sprang back up to take a shot. The ball left his hands as the crowd shouted prayers for the ball to go in.
The buzzer rang as Errole landed. His left foot came in contact with the floor and his knee buckled. As the crowed cheered for their victory, their ace fell to the ground clutching his ankle. No one noticed him fall until Michelle, who was watching him the whole time, ran through the cheering crowd towards Errole in panic.
The coach beamed as he watched his team celebrate their victory. They’re going to the finals after 25 years. As he scanned the crowd looking for Michelle, he noticed her running. Following her worried gaze, he saw Errole just as she reached him. He pushed his way through the other players as the team noticed what was going on. The whole team crowded towards him as Michelle cradled his head on her lap. His anguished whimper muted by the voices of his teammates and Michelle’s worried cries.
“It was a simple shot! How can you miss such an easy shot?! They’re called ‘free throws’ for a reason!” Michelle heard indignant shouts as she approached the infirmary.
“I sprained my ankle. And besides, we won the game.” Errole’s voice sounded annoyed. Michelle stood in front of the door, her hand on the knob, trying to decide whether to go in or not.
“Two measly points! Do you think the scouts will draft you for winning the semi-finals with just a two point lead?!” the other man shouted. Michelle finally recognized Mr. Shepard’s voice.
“If you’re so great, then why don’t you play the darn game yourself?!” Errole countered.
Michelle cringed when she heard a resounding slap followed by the sound of breaking glass. She could just picture what was going on behind the door. William Shepard may be considered a peace-keeper in his line of work, but when it comes to keeping peace in his own domestic life, let’s just say he shouldn’t quit his day job.
“You do not have right to talk back to me. While you are living under my roof, you will follow my rules and do as I say. Do you understand me?” Mr. Shepard’s voice was ice cold as he rebuked his only son. Michelle did not hear Errole’s response. She did, however, hear the distinct sound of footsteps approaching the door. She jumped back just as Mr. Shepard roughly pulled the door open. He glared at her before he strode off towards the exit. She frowned at his retreating form before entering the infirmary to find Errole glaring out the window, the pieces of shattered glass on the floor.
Michelle saw Errole sigh as she approached him. “What’s up, Ace?” she said, smiling as she sat on the bed next to the his.
“Hi, Elle. Glad you could make it to my pity party.” Errole said as he tried to make himself more comfortable in the lumpy bed.
“I don’t think champions have the right to throw pity parties.”
“We aren’t champions yet.”
“But you will be.”
“What makes you so sure? My own dad thinks I’m useless. I can’t even make a darn free throw.”
“You and I both know that you can make 50 free throws with your eyes closed.” she huffed. “That stupid totem pole should have gotten kicked out of the game for what he did. If he didn’t push you, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt. Besides, what kind of loser would stoop to injuring the other team’s captain just for a game?!” she said vehemently, pummeled the pillow in anger.
Errole smiled at her attempt to show contempt over what happened. He knew she hated basketball, or any sport for that matter, with a passion. It was nice to see her so furious about what happened.
Errole got up from his bed and waddled over to Michelle. He sat next to her and pulled the pillow away saying, “This pillow might make a complaint. You’re physically assaulting an innocent bystander, Elle.”
“It isn’t innocent! That pillow happens to be a witness in a crime and I’m beating him up for a confession!”
Errole’s eyebrows furrowed as he looked as his best friend. “What do you mean?” he asks.
Michelle raises her hand and touches Errole’s cheek. “I heard your argument with your dad. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.” She confesed.
“I would be more shocked if you didn’t hear us. My dad isn’t really known for being discreet about his disgust of me.”
“Still.” Michelle sighed, “He shouldn’t have done that. Hit you and stuff.” She let her hand drop to her lap as her gaze wandered around the room.
“Come on, Elle! He does that all the time. It’s nothing new.”
Michelle continued to stare out the window, deep in thought. She did not like the idea of Errole’s dad hitting him like that. She felt Errole’s hand around her shoulders as he pulled her close. “No crying, Elle.” he told her. She noticed that tears have indeed started falling from her eyes.
“I’m fine.” She said, pulling away from him.
He gently held her chin and made her face him. “You’re not fine. But I’m sure you will be. We’ll celebrate tonight. Are you game?” He said grinning.
“Do I have a choice?”
Errole pinched both her cheeks before saying “Nope!”