(Originally published 4/20/2011)

Sandy focused as the silver ball arced around the top, abruptly stopped, then reflected sideways. She held her breath. This was the path her best games started. Repeated pops and bounces, the flicker of lights didn’t pull her attention – she was all about where it was headed. Left flipper. Left flipper. Anytime now. Her hand was ready but she knew the machine so well she waited. Timing was everything. Come to mama baby. She snapped the handle, felt the satisfying thump as she caught the ball perfectly, watched it sail into the forest of bumpers, heard the repeated ding of the bells signifying she was well on her way to another replay.

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