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Basketball Gods

My older brother had biceps and calf muscles like halved apples tucked under his skin, he had a great jump shot that required nothing of him other than a tiny hop and a flick of his wrists, and the gap between his two front teeth – the one that everyone in my family had, that you could wedge two nickels into and still have room – grew close enough together between fourth and fifth grade that when school started up again, none of the kids in his class remembered that they used to tease him about it. I followed him around (and did my best to walk and talk like him), but Danny always said that he wished he were more like me. I was a quick learner, and had skipped kindergarten and second grade. At that rate, he said, I’d be done with school before him.

By the time I was eleven and my brother was fourteen, he had quit treating me like a little brother and more like a peer. If we did something knuckleheaded together and one of us got hurt or broke something, our mother would look at me, a full foot shorter than my brother, and ask if I had properly thought the situation through beforehand.

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