There was a time when it all flowed, when his whole body exploded into each stroke and the sound of his racquet smacking the ball shattered the air like a thunderclap. There was a time when guys couldn’t get a shot past him, when he flicked everything back. The hummingbird, they called him, because of the way he hovered around the court, his quick feet barely skimming the ground. He played tennis in a trance then, his brain out of the equation—no agonizing over strategy, whether to go up the middle, down the line, or cross-court; flat or with topspin or slice. It all just flowed, the right shot materializing at the right time.
Vicente R. Viray holds an MFA in fiction from the University of San Francisco. His writing has appeared in California Northern, Chelsea Station, Educe, The Greensboro Review, and other places. He lives in San Francisco with his partner Paul. "Terra Firma" is part of a longer story cycle that features Ryan as its main character. The first story in that cycle can be read here.