You can't see more than five feet ahead. Feels like the worst it's ever been, but you've said that before and you'll say it again. The cold feels colder, the dark feels darker. You're angry and you make that known, on the message boards, the comment threads, the call-in shows. Anyone who will listen, whether they're actually listening or not. You want changes. Your thoughts turn to the drastic. Your misery is unique, your misery is unprecedented. You can't see more than five feet ahead. You can see even less behind. There's a glow, but it can't cut through the fog. The glow is muted, the world itself a cataract. The lights of that old familiar diner. Reliable, unremarkable. You can't quite see it but you'll always know it's there.
* * *
You can't see more than five feet in front of you. All you see is the ball. You see the hardwood, the gloss long since worn off by the footfalls of a thousand shabby soles. You hear the squeaks of today's soles on those trodden boards, you hear the voices of every single person in the crowd around you. The voices aren't the formless drone that you imagined in the driveways of youth. The voices are sharp, distinct shapes. The voices don't want you to forget where you are, but you have to. You can't - you must not - see more than five feet in front of you. All that matters is this, right now.
- - -
It will end. This will end. The seasons always change.
The wind will blow out the fog. One graceful shot can lift it away and you remember what the sky looks like, you can remember how the air is supposed to feel. You've felt it before and you'll feel it again.
* * *
You might get lucky. A block might fall into place that will make another block fall into place that will make another block fall into place that will make you fall into place and you might wonder, how did you get here, but you can't or else you won't be here any more. You can't see more than five feet ahead.
- - -
You've traded it in, just for tonight. You've traded in the smell of our cars and our factories for the smell of spilt beer and overcooked hot dogs.
* * *
More blocks fall into place. Two awkward landings, a call that could have gone either way. Now it's on you and no one else. You can't see more than five feet ahead. You can't see the faces of the 19,000, you can't see the logos all around, you can't see the King, the man who owns every board of glossy, well kept hardwood he steps on with his brand-new sneakers. You can hear the murmur, the one you heard in the driveways of your youth. But all you can see is the ball, and the hoop.