Excerpt: 'The Manny'

"Stop. Kathryn. Please. Who cares?"

"Hello? Like you, the obsessive list keeper, wouldn't want to know?" Kathryn smiled. "Next time you're at Sherrie's house for a birthday party, sneak into the kitchen and go to the desk next to the phone. There's a bound color-coded house manual that she had Roger's secretary type up. Instructions for everything–I mean every single thing you could imagine."

"Like what?"

"I thought you weren't interested."

"Okay, maybe I am a little."

"Timetables for the overlapping staff: first shift, six a.m. to two p.m., second, nine to five, and third, four to midnight. Schedules for the pets, for the dogs' walkers and groomers. Directives on which of the children's clothes should be folded or hung. How to organize their mittens and scarves for fall, for winter dress, for winter sports. Where to hang all the princess costumes in the walk-in cedar closet once they're ironed–yes, you heard me–after they are ironed.Which china for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and season: seashells for summer, leaves for Thanksgiving, wreaths for the Christmas holidays. I can't even remember half of it." Kathryn pressed on."It's priceless."

"You know what's even sicker?" I added. "I'd want to get cozy under my sheets with a mug of hot tea and read every goddamn word of that insane manual before bedtime."

Thirty minutes later,the game was going strong. Suddenly Wilmington scored and the crowd jumped to their feet and roared. I stepped on top of the bleacher to get a better look, almost falling onto Barbara Fisher. Then Wilmington stole the ball again from St. Henry's. My Dylan, in sync with them for once, wildly trying to block the ball while his opponents threw the ball back and forth around the key.

Time was running out before halftime. Wilmington was up one point. One of their players made a bold move to score again, but the ball bounced off the rim.They grabbed the ball and tried again.This time, the ball bounced off the bottom corner of the backboard at a hundred miles an hour. Right at Dylan. Miraculously he caught it, and was completely stunned. Looking petrified, he surveyed the distance to his basket on the other side of the court, miles and miles to go before he scored.Then came an opening between two opposing guards and Dylan sprinted.The crowd cheered him on. I looked at the timer ... :07, :06, :05,:04.We all counted the seconds before the buzzer rang. Dylan was directly under the basket. Oh please, God; scoring this shot would rock his world.

The shot was clear. He looked at me. He looked at his teammates rushing toward him. He looked back at the basket. "Shoot, Dylan, shoot!!!" they screamed.

"C'mon, baby. C'mon, baby. Right up there, you can do it." I dug my nails into Kathryn's arm. Dylan took the ball, grasped it in both his arms like a baby, and fell to the floor sobbing. He just could not shoot.The halftime buzzer honked. Silence on the court. All eyes on my little mess of a boy.

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