Iâ€™m late to the game. The basketball court is gloomy, almost dark. Youâ€™re already there, alone, slunk against the wall on the top row of a worn set of wooden bleachers, a beer bottle in your hand even though itâ€™s a school game.
I sit with my kids at the far end of the bleachers and keep my eyes on the court. The space between us is empty. You and I feel each otherâ€™s presence but donâ€™t acknowledge it.
Itâ€™s warm and Iâ€™m squirmy, unfocused. You get up to leave before the game ends, come over, and take two of my fingers with your bottle hand. You could be sharing your beer but youâ€™re not; the bottle is a decoy. You look at my fingers â€“ index and middle, with a potent mix of joy, concern, and regret. Itâ€™s an intense look, but then it passes, replaced by a grin at the kids. You leave me holding your beer.