Underthrow, 7

Travis recalled earlier pool parties from middle-school summer days, when smaller groups of true friends really swam in the pool, trying to dunk each other underwater or contorting into UFO shapes off the diving board. Miles always invited Travis, but lately the sprawling Harris home held the friends Miles had made in the college-prep courses Travis never wanted to take. Travis could drink and enjoy himself fine with anyone, but those old memories lingered better than the hangovers.

“I thought we could play football on Saturday,” Travis replied. He could hear Vin humming along to the salsa music.

“After last time, Trav?” Miles filled a cup with lemonade from the soda fountain. “You should’ve played basketball with us this summer, man.  Everyone thinks you banned yourself in shame.”

“Mark’s supposed to heal up okay, right?” Travis asked. Mark Stetson still had his football scholarship, but he had been on crutches since July. He had ordered from Subway a few weeks back, but never spoke or looked above the floor while Travis made his sandwich. Whether that meant Mark was embarrassed by his injury, exhausted by rehab, or furious at Travis, Travis couldn’t know. He assumed the latter.

Miles shrugged and jammed a straw into his drink. “He’ll redshirt,” Miles said, which meant the team would sideline Mark for his freshman year and let him recover, but that didn’t really answer Travis’s question. Miles loved to dodge awkwardness. Anything to accelerate toward the next joke.

“Basketball’s lame, anyway,” Travis said, trying to sound casual. “Let’s play football.”

“Pool party,” Miles said. “Last sunny day etcetera. We can throw footballs whenever.”

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