"Come on! Throw the ball!" I leaned around the kid trying to block me, stretching my arms out so Nathan would have a clear shot.
Nathan hesitated for a moment, then looked toward the basketball hoop. I knew what he was going to do, he was going try and make a basket.
“Here!” I yelled again. There was no way Nathan was going to make it. Caleb was taller than him and would easily knock it down and probably even steal it then get the point himself.
Nathan took the shot, Caleb stole the ball, got a point and the game was over. We had lost.
“Way to work as a team,” the other kid laughed as he jogged to the side of the concrete slab that we used as our court and took a swig of water from his water bottle that had been leaning against Caleb’s garage.
Trying to hold in my impatience, I sat down in the shade and wiped the sweat off my face with the edge of my t-shirt.
“I could have made it,” Nathan mumbled as he sat down next to me. “The wind was blowing the wrong way.”
I glared at him and scooted over a few inches. “I could have made it from where I was standing. You should have thrown it to me. That’s what teamwork is all about.”
Nathan looked at me for the first time since sitting down and frowned, “Are you mad at me?” His eyebrows rose a half-an-inch, making his glasses wiggle.
“We lost the game.” I wanted to add that it was his fault, but I figured he caught my drift.
“Yeah, but it was a game. Nothing important.”
That did it. Standing up I stalked over to my bike and threw my leg over the seat. “See ya later, guys!” I tried to keep my voice light so they wouldn’t know how upset I was. Just a game. Nathan’s words echoed in my brain, keeping time with my feet as I peddled down the road.
“How did-” Olivia’s cheerful greeting as I rode up to our back porch stopped when she saw the look on my face. “Did you get in a fight?” Her eyes grew wide.
I snorted. “No.” I put my kickstand out and parked my bike.
“Oh. You lost?”
“Yeah. I was on Nathan’s team again.” Olivia knew what that meant. It sometimes seemed like I had gotten twice my share of competitiveness and Nathan had missed out on his share altogether.
“Sorry, Alex. You still got the opportunity to practice though, right?”
I gave her a half-smile, she was trying to make me feel better. “Yeah. Coach would be happy.”
“What was it he always said? Always remember to practice two things every day: Ball and a good attitude.” Olivia deepened her voice when she said it, trying to imitate Coach’s voice and make me laugh.
“Oh!” I snapped my fingers. “Attitude! My attitude stunk.” Even though it was Nathan who had messed up and made us lose, that didn’t give me a right to have a bad attitude. I should have congratulated the other team and at least thanked Nathan for playing with me.
Jumping back on my bike I felt some of my tiredness fading away.
“What’s going on?” Olivia asked.
“Just going to thank the guys for playing with me. After all, a game is a game, no matter who wins.”