Free Throw!

Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes. Here is what I came up with. I hope you like it.

Cyril stood at the free throw line. His cheek still smarted from the elbow to the face that earned Lincoln High a foul. The score was tied 51-51.

Cyril looked at the floor. Then he looked up the backboard.

The crowded chanted “Cy-ril! Cy-ril!” They stomped their feet on the wooden bleachers. The noise was deafening.

He thought of all the times the older kids had made fun of his complicated orthodonture and his corrective shoes. The teased him relentlessly about his stainless steel buttock brace. They never understood his insistence on wearing faux-medieval tights and knee-high suede boots to class. His repeated attempts to legally change his name to “Robert Heinlein” alienated him from his peers. His public espousal of fascism, complete with homemade armbands and impenetrable pamphlets, attracted few friends; those it did attract tended to be older, angrier men who still lived with their parents.

Now, at the free throw line, it was all up to him.

Cyril dribbled the ball, once.


He lobbed the orange sphere towards the rim.

It missed completely, flying over the backboard and lodging in the steel reinforcement that held the heating system in place.

”Godammit, Cyril,” someone in the crowd shouted with undisguised hatred!

The fans stampeded off the bleachers and chased Cyril out of the gymnasium.

He arrived home, 15 minutes later, bloody and out of breath, his glasses shattered and his ribs broken.

His father stood in the living room next to a dry erase board; he held a long wooden pointer. The Objectivist Discussion Group was still underway.

“Cyril,” his father piped, “did you win?”

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