Tania Hershman

The Most New Sport

When there is a New Sport they find the players to fit: Elongated for basketball; sleek for swimming; flexibly jointed for golf. Put the elongated, the sleek and the flexibly jointed in a room, at an awards ceremony, say, and the elongated will not be able to bend to hear what the sleek are saying, while the flexibly jointed raid the buffet table from many novel angles.

**

But this Most New Sport is confusing. The inventors, the ones with imaginations ranging wild and heads for rules, constructs, gaming, are not in agreement over who is the Ideal Player. This Most New Sport needs stretching, but also shrinking, speed and slowness, cunning, selfishness, and a team-like spirit. Keep one eye on the ball while gripping a bat-like, racket-like, swinging it, skipping, shuffling.

“Too complicated!” wails the child of one of the inventors, rubbing bruises where the newly designed part-rubber, part-felt ball hit knees, stomach, right ear. The child sniffles off. The inventors look at each other, mouths lemoned. They are overwhelmed by pressure to do this. They do not sleep at night, dreaming of their Most New Sport.

After the child has gone, to relax they have a quick game. As they run, crawl, whack, slide, tap and saunter, all their stress grows wings.

“We love this,” they say to each other, knowing, knowing, knowing that what they have invented would change everything. Everything.

They have money men (and one woman) who were “mightily impressed” when they watched the two inventors play. They reached for their devices and swiftly turned out a tiny part of their electronic pockets into the inventors’ bank account.

“Get it out there,” they instructed. “Get it into parks and onto courts, spark up our youth. We need a new way to . . .” At this the money men—and woman—looked at one another, and each inventor felt again like the child in the playground, the one no one invited to join in. Each inventor thought, “This time, I am the game,” but the child inside shuddered.

**

A year later, and the inventors must admit they just can’t do it. No one else can play their New Sport. No one else can take on even a few of the rules, the must-dos and the can’t-dos. They have traveled everywhere, cajoled all sorts and types and heights, widths and flexibilities, but they have failed.

It seems only they can play it.

So they play and play, each winning, losing, winning, and eventually, all thoughts of money men and woman, of bringing their New Sport to the world, to parks and courts, all ideas of fame and immense fortunes, fade and vanish. They just play on and on.

“We love this,” they say to one another, as they run, crawl, whack, slide, tap and saunter, grinning, the young inventors playing the Most New Sport designed just for two.

~~

Tania Hershman was born in London, moved to Jerusalem in her twenties, and now lives in Bristol, England. She has two story collections that include flash fictions, and a poetry chapbook forthcoming in 2016. Tania is founder and curator of ShortStops.info and is researching a PhD in creative writing. www.taniahershman.com