Tennis

My dad insisted that I go play tennis with him. He told me he would come by to look for me at three. I looked for sports attire all morning. I put on some knee-high socks and my shorts for sleeping. I went to my sister’s room, who weighs 180 pounds and has enormous t-shirts from flea markets with interesting slogans. Some have political propaganda from the nineties and come in unexpected fluorescent colours. I selected one with Bardahl Brake Oil.

The match was at the house of one of my dad’s friends, the owner of a bank, who walks with him to Lujan every year. He had a cement court at the back of a huge garden surrounded by blue hydrangeas. We started to hit some balls around and it was hard for me to catch up. It’s been a while since you’ve played, he told me. He asked me about my friends and things. You seem well.

My dad returned some strong hits, I ran from one side of the court to the other and I went to find them, jogging to the back of the court. I started to get flustered and he stayed calm. Let’s start a little slower, I asked him.

How is the job going? He asked. I told him that my boss is a baby filled with rage and that I cannot get through to him. My dad offered to call him. Do you want me to talk to him? Set.

I’m going to leave your mother, and he served from the top. I returned the serve and asked him what he was talking about. We continued playing and he went on giving short explanations with each hit. I’m going to separate from her, it’s decided, she doesn’t spend time with me, I don’t interest her, she lost energy, she is not my partner.

I hit the net and went up to look for the ball. I took advantage of the situation to breathe. I help myself up on the net and asked him: mom agrees? We talked yesterday. She wants the house. I need a companion. If it’s not going to be her, it’ll need to be someone else.

My father uses casual scenarios to bring up important news. When I was fifteen I was taking leaves out of the pool and he came up and told me that he knew I wasn’t having sex but confided that it was the age to start. Years late, a psychologist argued: your father is over-adapted.

After the game, I asked him to drop me off at the botanical garden. I walked by the glistening paths and I sat down on a sunny bench. I thought about different messages to send my mother but I was afraid that she would give me more details.

A boy in a white shirt came up and made a timid presentation. He was studying reflexology and asked if he could massage my feet for practice. I told him that I just came from playing tennis and had sweaty feet but he didn’t care. I took off my shoes and socks and lied down on the bench. The boy squat down on the other side and started to press down on my feet, every now and then he asked me what I felt and marked it down in a notebook.

The masseuse took photos of my feet and I asked him to please not show my face. When he finished I started walking again and bought a carton of grapefruit juice that I drank in small sips, struggling to lift it.

I got home, put the juice in the fridge, I closed the door hard so it would stop making noise, and the juice fell over inside.

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