Chapter 1 MARNEY THE STAR
The roar of the crowd was the last thing Marney heard before it happened. She got hit. Hard.
One year ago, my sister, Marney, was the star athlete of her entire school, maybe even in the entire universe. She’s always been the star of my universe.
Marney played basketball and she did it with so much life that even people who were completely uninterested in basketball went to the games to see her play. She was voted Most Valuable Player in her Freshman, Sophomore and Junior year of High School. Now in her Senior year, the stakes are higher because of that one fateful game.
It was a very tight game. At the end of each quarter, one side trailed, then they’d come back and the other side trailed. At fourth quarter with mere seconds to go, the game was tied 48-48. The Dragons were fired up and getting ready to knock us, the Diamondbacks, right out of our skins!
I heard Marney call out, “We’re the home team. We can’t go down without a fight!”
The team jumped into action, like she’d breathed life back into them. She has a way with people and a way of igniting their spirit of involvement and enthusiasm even if she’s not that great of a wordsmith. They follow her and I think they’d follow her to the end of the universe.
The referee blew the whistle to signal the last timeout was up. It was time for the Diamondbacks to strike or to fall.
Instinctively, I knew Marney couldn’t lose. She wouldn’t let that happen.
As the clock began its final countdown, the spectators began to shout.
Marney ran down the court with such speed and agility, I think people on the benches thought they were watching a precision dance. She dribbled the ball left and right like a boxer dodging a punch.
“Four! Three!” the fans mimicked the clock.
With nimble steps, she avoided a steal, and passed to a teammate.
Steadfast and nowhere to go but up, Marney flew like Supergirl up to the net when her teammate threw the ball back to her.
She slam dunked it. Buzz.
The sound of the buzzer competed with the cheers of the wild crowd and all the while Marney’s world went in slow motion. Once the ball was sunk, no one noticed the player who, surely by accident, changed Marney’s life for good.
Marney had been hit. A girl on the opposing team had run into her as she dropped down from her flying dunk. Marney flew backwards toward the gazers and photographers court side. As Marney came crashing down a snap in her back quelled every other commotion. The crowd’s cheers were muffled by a common gasp. When the opposing player got up off her, Marney didn’t get up. She couldn’t get up.
Later, the doctor said she was lucky; that if the crowd sitting court side hadn’t broken her fall, she would’ve received a more severe spinal injury, losing the use of everything from her neck down instead of just her legs.
Marney has been wheelchair bound since that day. It was the day that, for some miraculous reason, changed Marney’s life but it never changed her attitude.
She still plays basketball. She’s not a Diamondback anymore, she’s a Challenger and she plays wheelchair basketball. It’s different, harder, I think, but she still knocks them dead. It’s like she never stopped even though it seemed her life did. She also wants to attend a big university.
She may have to go out of state so she can go somewhere where they have a girl’s wheelchair basketball team. I think there are only seven of those in the United States and Canada. But, I’d be devastated if she left home. I know life doesn’t revolve around me. But we have to stay Best Sisters Forever. Can we do that if she’s away? I’ve heard long distance relationships don’t last. Where am I going to get my sisterly advice from if she’s gone?
I remember she told me that because of what happened to her, I had no excuse for failing.
“I’m failing because I’m bored and lazy. I’m not stupid.” I told her.
Marney pulled a book out of her back pocket and read something to me.
“You like to read?” I mocked her.
She’s still more of a jock than a scholar. But, she had a point.
“Shut up, Squirt. This is important.”
She pointed to the book.
“It’s from an important man in history. Winston Churchill. He says, ‘Never, never, never, never give up.’”
I learned that day, without her telling me, that it wasn’t just life she wasn’t giving up on. I learned she would never give up her legs.
“You shouldn’t give up either, Squirt.”
I felt a lecture coming on.
“If you’re bored, you need to talk to the school counselors again to give you classes that you’re interested in, that you’re excited about, something that you can learn.”
When had Marney grown up anyway?
“I’m a seven year old, in the seventh grade, Marney! Don’t you think they know I’m a genius and need something to stimulate my mind?”
She threw the book at me. She’s not all grown up yet.
“You know what I mean. Do something.”
She held her hand out. I picked the book up from the floor and handed it to her.
She began to roll away and then said, “You’re such a brain. But when do you use it?”