B y D a w n A n o n y m o u s
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I cautiously approached the entrance to the boy's locker room, a discreet wooden door tucked away into one side of the small lobby, off of which branched both gymnasiums, the locker rooms, and a swimming center. This was my first day, and the dean had vehemently suggested that I treat it at as any other day, and that I would be squared away with books and such at a later date. I had managed to get through the majority of the day rather well, avoiding most of my new fellow student body. During lunch I had discovered a small table conveniently tucked away from the rest of the cafeteria. At first I was unsure if it had any regular occupants, and I had my suspicious about a goth girl walking dejectedly away soon after I made the table my home for the lunch period.
The wooden door was much heavier than I had expected, and required a conscious effort on my part to force it open, which I was finally able to do. Immediately my senses were assaulted with something all to familiar to a majority of high school students â€" the byproducts of athleticism. Articles of clothing and shoes were strewn about rows of lockers, with a hot, stale air barely circulating throughout the room, only serving to accent the strong smell of sweat and dirt that would be perpetually present, even through the cleaning attempts that would occur over the coming summer. The coaches, or â€śphysical education teachersâ€ť office was the door immediately to the right of the entrance, so I walked over to it and knocked.
â€śCome in.â€ť A rough voice commanded of me, so I did just that. â€śYes?â€ť Asked the large man sitting behind a small, spartan metal desk. By him being a large man, I don't mean muscular.
â€śI'm a new student, and I â€" uh â€" was told I needed a locker assignment?â€ť
â€śRight. Follow me.â€ť
After the immense struggle of getting up from behind his undersized desk, he lead me through the rows of lockers to #304, located in the corner of the room, with only half the number of lockers in the row as compared to the ones not against a wall. Much better than I would have thought, although I assumed most of the druggies had chosen this as their hideout during changing times.
â€śJust put your shorts and shirts and shoes and crap in here, so you don't have to take it home everyday,â€ť Fat man explained, apparently wanting to make sure there was no confusion as to why I would need a gym locker in the first place.
â€śThank you,â€ť I replied, â€śWhat's the combination for it, again?â€ť
He seemed to get red in the face, then walked off to his office to get an index card with the appropriate number. When he returned, he stammered out the code, still embarrassed, and asked me which of the choices I wanted to have as my first activity. The options were: outdoor ball games, swimming, or indoor volleyball. My face lit up at the mention of volleyball, which I excitedly agreed to. It was basically the only coordination sport I was any good at. Fat man went on to tell me which gym it was in, but said I didn't need to get changed as it was my first day.
Walking out of the locker room, I took a deep breath of fresh air, thankful for the escape from the stuffy confines of the abyss. As I walked up to one of the doors labeled â€śGym A,â€ť I heard the unmistakable noise of squeaking shoes and shouts, as well as the sound of large balls being hit. I was in the right place. Smiling, I pushed open the door and walked into the gym for my first day of physical education at a new school.
The first thing I became aware of was that the class was nearly all of the male species, which surprised me. At my old school, volleyball had been exclusively played by girls. Although law required equal opportunity for both genders, we didn't have a male team because no one wanted to play. Besides me, but I was much too timid to try and start a team. So, I played club for a year, having to travel all across the state. Now here I was, in a quaint New England town, in the gym of my new school, about to kick some ass at volleyball.
Walking up to the only adult in the room, it took her until I was standing right in front of her to take notice of the new arrival. She looked, quite frankly, menacing. But not necessarily in a bad way, but just someone who always gets their way, and will play tough, but have the right intentions.
â€śWho are you?â€ť She asked me, getting right to the point.
â€śUh, I'm Jamie, a new student.â€ť
She studied me under an intense gaze, before I finally became too scared and looked away. Then she continued, â€śHave you ever played volleyball before?â€ť
â€śOnly club, back home in Pennsylvania.â€ť
â€śAlright, then just join whatever team you'd like.â€ť
I studied the room more closely this time, trying to decide which team I would be least likely to make want to beat me up. In the far corner, opposite of where I was currently standing, was a game with a three girls and three guys playing against two girls, one of them looking very butch in basketball shorts, and a few guys. I walked over to the team of five, hoping to not be rejected on my first day.
â€śHey,â€ť butch girl said, being the first to take notice of me. â€śDo you need a team?â€ť
â€śSure,â€ť I responded, happy that she had been the one to give an invitation.
I stepped into the middle-back position, or â€ś6â€ť, as the team had been playing three up at the net, and two in back-row, but had split in the back row to make room for me. This position required a lot of defense, but I was confident and made even more so by the fact that this was only gym volleyball. The other team, I learned, most definitely treated it as such. One of their girls sent a free ball back to our side after we served, which meant they hadn't been able to hit it over, and it went directly to me. I bumped it up to the middle-front player, who was acting as our setter and the second, more girly girl, who then set it to her left, where butch girl spiked it down on the other side, hitting one of their poor players. On the head.
A whistle blew in the background, and the gym teacher lady rushed over to our court. She took a quick assessment of the situation, then beckoned over butch girl, where they talked quietly for a moment.
â€śRyan,â€ť she finally said to one of the guys on the other team, â€śtake Samantha to the nurse.â€ť He quickly scurried off, supporting the poor girl on his shoulder. â€śYou,â€ť she continued, pointing at me, â€śCome here.â€ť
â€śYes, m-ma'am?â€ť I stuttered, wondering if I was in trouble for something. I walked over, where she introduced me formally to butch girl, who's name I learned was Kylie.
â€śYou're going to practice with Kylie, so your fit enough to play in the spring for the boy's team.â€ť I was insulted â€" fit? I wasn't fit? I had been working out and running for the whole summer and the beginning of the fall. She seemed to notice my offense, and said, â€śIt takes a lot to get on our team.â€ť She left it at that, and I didn't ask for any more of an explanation.
I returned to the game, this time I was in front row and the opposing team was playing with one of ours, so it was five on five. The girl who was our current setter gave me a rather messy and wide set, but I managed to tip it over and get it just on the line. I felt a few claps on the back, and turned around smiling. I saw the coach standing there, watching our game, smiling as well.
After gym class I had lunch period. The butch girl, Kylie, came up to me outside of the locker rooms and asked if I wanted to sit with her. I gladly accepted. I was unsure about how popular she was, but judging from the behavior of the other people in gym towards her seemed to label her as being fairly far up the social ladder. She led me to the cafeteria, and we got in line to buy our lunches. â€śLunchâ€ť wound up being a sad affair, just a pile of whole grain pasta and a pitiful role of bread on the side. I looked at it with a disgusted expression on my face.
â€śDon't worry,â€ť Kylie said, laughing, â€śThe snack bar makes up for it.â€ť
After we had both gotten an ice cream from said snack bar, she led me back to a table filled with a surprisingly even number of girls and boys.
Walking up to one of the girls, an attractive cheerleader type, she stated, â€śThis is my girlfriend, Rebbecca.â€ť I was surprised, to say the least. The table looked to be filled with jocks and their respective cheerleaders, and I didn't know someone could be so open. But, I was happy for them. I smiled widely and took the last remaining seat next to Kylie. Suddenly, everyone at the table was staring at me. I become very self-conscious.
â€śSo, I take it you just transferred here?â€ť Asked Rebbecca.
I nodded in response and added, â€śI'm Jamie. And, I'm only a sophomore.â€ť I looked around at the group, they all seemed older, and I was intimidated.
â€śDon't worry, we won't bite unless you ask us to,â€ť Kylie whispered loudly, making me extremely uncomfortable, however it seemed to be hilarious to everyone else. â€śWe're all seniors,â€ť she added, as if it was an afterthought. â€śSo, this here group is the Cool Association of Greystone High. We're the most accepting bunch here, and we're all awesome, and surprisingly beautiful as well. That,â€ť she said, motioning to a rather rowdy table next to us, â€śIs the typical jock-feast. All you can eat.â€ť
The whole table seemed to be standing up, throwing food, yelling, inflicting pain upon each other, whatever it seemed to take to assert themselves as men. A majority of them were wearing bright red jerseys, with a number and a name, obviously marking them as on the football team. A few slutty cheerleaders were also there; they seemed to be after all of them, though, unlike this table where everyone seemed to be paired off. This, I decided, looking at the people I was sitting with, was a good group to befriend.
â€śWho's that?â€ť I asked, noticing that one of the footballers, as muscular and masculine as the rest, yet who stood at as a form of classical beauty, unmatched by the brutes he was surrounded with. I really hadn't meant to ask it out loud, I just blurted it.
â€śThat's Edward Blake. A senior. Quarterback, straight-A, president, and whatever the fuck else you can tack on to that good ol' resume,â€ť Kylie responded to my accidental inquiry. â€śHis family's richer than JK Rowling, and he's already been invited â€" yes, that's right, invited â€" to every ivy league school. He is the definition of a wet dream. For you, maybe, but dudes aren't my style.â€ť'
I looked at her, shocked. I didn't think I gave off any gay vibes. â€śI don't know what you mean.â€ť I retorted, looking away childishly.
â€śHey, I didn't mean to upset you,â€ť She said, wiggling her eyebrows in an entirely obscene fashion. I rolled my eyes, then nodded to confirm what she said.
Looking over at the table of meat-heads, Edward was now suspiciously staring at us. Or, should I say, me. I think. Suddenly, a loud blaring high-pitched noise interrupted my daydreams. I looked up at the heavens â€" or, the ceiling â€" wondering where it was coming from.
â€śThey turn the bell's volume up inside the caf', since people normally can't hear it!â€ť Kylie practically screamed into my ear. Thank you for adding to the noise, deary.
My last block of the day was my only elective besides gym, a painting class. The teacher, a rather old woman, who meets virtually every stereotype of a grandmother. Mrs. Tate had wild white hair, never seeming to be under control. She had a kind, wrinkled face, and a voice that spoke with what can be described as nothing other than that of a grandmother talking to her grandchildren, complimenting them on every action they take. Normally, of course, I didn't observe these things in anyone, especially in conscious thought. However, I was trying to distract myself from the person sitting next to me. Who, you may ask? Edward, Edward Blake. Shaken, not stirred. Thank you for the clichĂ© â€" jock sits next to a loser in a class that makes him seem sensitive.
The first thing I noticed when he had sat next to me? His scent. How odd is that? It smelled like a kind of natural cologne, an absolutely intoxicating one. It was masculine, but at the same time gentle, and yet not overpowering at all. For some reason, as I inhaled this scent, I knew it was him before even looking. My suspicions were confirmed as I stole a solitary glance at him. Even though that glance lasted less than a second, I swear, he was already looking at me. His gaze was intense, as if he was concentrating excruciatingly hard. On me. When curiosity again overwhelmed any common sense, I took a second glance at him. This time, however, he was looking away at nothing in particular, with a completely bored expression upon his flawless face. For some reason, I took this as a kind of rejection. I felt like crying, after seeing that someone wasn't looking at me. It was, without a doubt, pitiful. That's when I chose to distract myself with looking at the teacher, who had only went around the room talking to people, not addressing the class once.
I didn't think that they were in the middle of a project, because everyone's canvas around me was blank, and placed upon their desks instead of on stands. And no one had any supplies. Finally, Mrs. Tate went to the front of the room and cleared her throat. Rather loudly, I might add.
â€śToday, class, is the day you choose your destiny. At least, for the next semester,â€ť She added, laughing. â€śI have here -â€ť At this point she held up a small cardboard box with an open top â€ś- subjects. And you're each going to take one. Keep in mind, whatever you choose is yours. You can not trade it, change it, or choose another. You are, in other words, stuck with it.â€ť She spoke the last words slowly, as if to emphasize on their importance.
She began to walk around the room, giving each student a chance to take a small piece of paper, then she moved on after she looked at their reactions. For the most part, the class seemed happy with their subjects. When she got to Edward, the only reaction I saw was a small narrowing of the eyes, as if he was unhappy with his selection. Next, she came to me, and smiled as she held out the box. I raised my hand into it, and circled it around to make sure what I was getting was completely random. There was a single word on it, written neatly in ink.
â€śPainâ€ť? That was supposed to be my destiny for the next semester? I really, really did not like the sound of that. And, more importantly, how was I supposed to express this in a painting?
â€śAlright class,â€ť Mrs. Tate started, staring at me as she did, â€śYou know where the supplies are. Get started. And, Mr. Stonewall, no planning. Just, paint.â€ť The kid let out a pitiful moan â€" he was a classic nerd; over sized glasses and all. The whole class got up, seemingly to get their supplies, and I followed suit. I followed Edward as the class migrated to a set of wooden cabinets placed against the far wall, near the door. I quickly realized I would be last to get them, as I hadn't asserted myself to the front, so I stood back and waited. To my immense surprise, Edward came back and handed me a full set of water colors, several different paintbrushes, and a cup of water with a towel.
â€śBut...â€ť I started, unsure of what to say, â€śUh, where's your own?â€ť He just walked back into the mob, seemingly gliding through them, and shortly returned with his own set of painting supplies before walking back to his seat without a word, or a glance back at me.