WE WERE too high to feel our faces; clowning around behind a burnt-down hardware store, on basketball courts, fault-lined and weedy. Ash still stippled the air. We could catch it on our tongues.
We heard Raj before we saw him—heard his Mustang’s throaty grind—he looked different than he did on TV, playing point guard for the Spurs. He looked softer, like he wasn’t fully inflated.
“Can I?” He nodded at the ball hooked under D’s arm. His voice was soft, too.
We didn’t answer right away, all of us stood studying him instead. His long chin and girly hair. The great nose that seemed to weigh him down as he bowed his head and glanced away.
Once, we knew, he’d lived here.
Once he’d been one of us.
We made every shot, when we talk about it now. H-O, we told Raj. H-O-R. The ball was a planet we could throw around. The air felt thick enough to climb. We laugh about it, because that night we switched places with Raj. Because while he was shooting hoops in the rusty jangle of empty hours, we were careening along the interstate, five hundred horsepower carrying us towards heaven.
Allegra Hyde serves as prose editor for Hayden's Ferry Review. She curates similes at www.allegrahyde.com.