The Way the Ball Bounces
Dylan raced up the apartment stairs to the box waiting by the front door.
What is it? asked his friend Max.
My birthday gift from Dad, replied Dylan as he tore at the cardboard. "I don't see holes in it for air. It's not the puppy that I wanted."
Wow! Max cried. "A Wilson basketball! You lucky dog!"
Dylan wasn't as thrilled as Max. He slumped down on the concrete steps.
Max left for home, and Dylan picked up the ball and scraps of cardboard. Holding his homework under his chin, he pulled the door open and stepped into the empty apartment.
Dylan had been alone a lot since his parents got divorced. He and his mom had moved to the city, and she was working two jobs. His only contact with his dad was on the telephone.
Dylan's new school was large. Being shy, he hadn't made any friends besides Max. Why had Dad sent the basketball? Although Dylan played basketball at this last school, he didn't plan on playing here. There were too many kids. He would never make the team.
If Dad had gotten him a dog, Dylan wouldn't be so lonely. He would always have a friend to play with.
Dylan sulked through dinner and the rest of the evening. His mother thought the ball was a great gift and reminded him to call his dad to thank him.
The next morning, Dylan waited until after Dad would have left for work to call him.
Hi Dad, Dylan said to his dad's machine. "Thanks for the ball." Then he hung up and went outside to meet Max.
Hey, Dylan, said Max. "How are you and that ball getting along? Can you dunk it yet?" Max laughed at his own joke.
Dylan glared at Max. "I didn't want a dumb ball!" he shouted. "Don't you see? I don't have a brother or sister like you to play with. I just wanted a dog."
Wow, said Max. "You must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed today. You can have my brother and sister. I'd gladly take your basketball any day."
Afraid of what he might say, Dylan stuffed his hands in his pockets and didn't speak the rest of the way to school.
Dylan's mood wasn't any better after school, but he was relieved to see Max waiting for him. He was afraid he might have offended him. At home, there was a message on the telephone. Dylan pushed the button to listen to it.
放学后，迪伦的心情一点儿也没有好转，但看到马克斯在等他， 他感到很宽慰，因为他原本还担心自己早上惹马克斯生气了。回家 后，电话里有一条留言。迪伦按下播放键听。
Hi Sport , said his dad, "you didn't sound very thrilled with the basketball. You and I used to watch the Bulls on TV all the time. There's concrete all over the city to bounce the ball on and a court in every park. Give it a try. Love you!"
Dylan felt worse than before. That night he tried to watch a ball game, but it wasn't the same without Dad. He shut off the TV and went to bed.
The next day, Dylan stopped at the park on the way home from school to watch a basketball game. Some of the players were from his school. Soon, one of the players had to go home. The three players left on the court headed for the sidelines to gather their belongings.
I can take his place, Dylan called out.
The other players stopped and turned to him. Dylan had no idea where his sudden confidence came from. Before anyone could reply, he dropped his books, shed his jacket, and was on the court. They played until the sun started to set.
Joey, one of Dylan's teammates, tossed him the ball. "You're new here, right?" she asked Dylan. "You play a good game. You should try out for the boys basketball team at school."
Thanks. Maybe I will, replied Dylan.
They all made plans the next night, and then Dylan started home. He was going to bring his basketball to school with him from now on. First, he'd have to call his father again and thank him properly.