After Agassi’s Open
“Please let this be over.” “I don’t want it to be over.” That’s what I whispered that day and night like thousands of times before. You told me about your posters of me in your rooms of adolescence. You kept touching your long dark hair of youth. Time to walk out into the tunnel. I had showered three times. I had lain on the floor and wept. I had accepted the cortisone shot in the back. Neither of us have big serves like Sampras, so the points will be physical. I am prepared for the end if it comes.
I remember winning the first two sets. Meaningless, now. Meaningless, then. You became desperate, took risks. You won the next set before I raced out to a 4-0 lead in the fourth. Why did I take my foot off your throat? Or did you push it away? Both, always, both. Both, always, both in an endless tug of war. No way I want go five sets. No way I should or could. That 4-4 game in the final, fifth set seemed the longest of my career. I seized up in the back, the cortisone wearing off. Worse, much worse, you had cramps taking over your legs. Why describe how each knife was turned for 8 deuces of agony. The elation of having an advantage. The despair of losing an advantage. Both our minds plotting while watching our bodies give out.
After the match, I tell Darren I can’t breathe. They put me on a table. Darren says “stretch, stretch, release. Stretch, stretch release.” You get deposited on the table next to me. You groan as they massage your cramps. You finally say leave, leave me alone. We smile at each other. The replays are on television. We watch and hold hands for a while. Later I wrote it down in words.* I read it again, begin to cry.
*This writing based on Agassi’s chapter account of his match with Marcos Baghdatis in his autobiography Open, perhaps the best of all tennis autobiographies. It was the last match he won in his career.
Artist Bio (from website): My name is Quwatha Valentine. I was born on Valentine’s Day in Winston-Salem, NC. I am a graduate of the University of North Carolina with a major in math and minor in physics with art as my elective subject. I am a retired Software Engineer living in beautiful Sun City Summerlin, Las Vegas, NV. I arrived here via VA, TX and CA. I worked for NASA’s space program for 10 years and later for Litton Data Systems in the defense industry as a software engineer.
I have studied many different painting techniques using different mediums, being self-taught through many books, video tapes and DVDs. Since retirement in 1999 I have resumed my painting full time. I have taken workshops and seminars from prominent portrait artists, learning the techniques of the Old Masters. I love painting landscapes, seascapes and portraits, with portraits being my first love. I have done many commissioned portraits and other commissioned work.
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