“Come on ladies! Get moving!”
Selena gasped for air, her lungs on fire, and not in a good way. But she pushed harder, running as she her legs would move. She felt a stitch pull on the side of her waist…and she pushed harder. Sweat dripped down her forehead, trickled between her shoulder blades…and she tried even harder to move faster.
High school gym class was possibly the most miserable and humiliating hour of her life.
There were two girls behind her and she vowed that she wasn’t going to let them get ahead of her. Not this time! Gym class was bad enough on a regular day, but it was always worse when the gym teachers wanted to torture the class by ordering everyone in class to run around the track.
The temperatures today were creeping up into the nineties while the track’s asphalt had to closer to one thousand degrees. Selena’s gym shirt stuck uncomfortably against her back as the sweat continued to increase. She had history class next, and it was never a joy to go from gym to history feeling all sweaty and smelly. Adding to her discomfort, it was an advanced history class. Being sticky made for a difficult time concentrating.
“We can do it,” her friend, Laura announced, gasping for air right beside her.
“We can!” Selena declared, sounding more confident than she felt. She ignored the burning of her lungs and pushed harder, not looking to the left or right. Most of the other kids from their class had already finished the assigned run and were heading into the locker rooms. The faster students had time to shower.
The gym teacher blew her whistle, drawing everyone’s focus and derision right back to the students still trying to complete the run. “Come on ladies! You’re slowing down!”
Selena and Laura looked at each other, both of them feeling as if they might throw up.
“Don’t stop,” Selena encouraged. “We’re almost there!”
Laura and Selena pushed just a little harder, getting over the finish line barely ahead of the other two students. Finally! But even as they finished, the gym teacher was already walking towards the locker room as well.
“Why did we finish this stupid run?” Laura asked, both of them bent at the waist as they tried to inhale precious oxygen. “Ms. Locke wouldn’t even know if we’d stopped.”
Selena looked over towards the pathway from the track to the building. “I have no idea. But I just had a wonderful thought.”
“Seriously?” Laura whispered because she didn’t have the energy for anything more vocal. “What’s that?”
“We have only six more weeks before we won’t ever have to take a gym class again,” Selena said, still gasping for breath as she squinted through the sunshine up towards the building. A shower would feel lovely right about now. But there was absolutely no chance she’d ever get naked in front of some of those girls. The perfect girls. The ones with the slim figured where nothing jiggled or rubbed. Selena hated those girls!
Laura’s eyes squinted slightly, her brain barely functioning because her lungs needed oxygen more than her brain. Priorities. But eventually, Selena’s point came to her. College! No gym class in college!” she explained.
Oh, happy thoughts! “That sounds…like nirvana,” Selena agreed.
They both glanced at their watches at the same time. “We’d better hurry,” Laura announced.
Both of them stood up and headed into the building. They had seven minutes to get into the locker room, change clothes and get to their next class. Not a whole lot of time, but doable, they knew from past experience.
“Summer is right around the corner,” Laura sighed.
“Yeah, summer and bathing suit season,” Selena groaned.
“Why?” Laura teased, pulling open the door to the locker room. “Why do you have to hurt me so?”
Both of them laughed, shaking their heads as they walked into the locker room which was mostly empty now. That didn’t bother them in the least, because it allowed them to change into their school clothes without the line of cheerleaders primping at the mirrors, getting their hair “just right” and twisting around to ensure that their butts looked “good” in their designer jeans.
Three minutes later, clothes still sticking to their bodies but both ladies ignored the uncomfortable sensation, they walked out of the locker room, rushing down the long hallway towards the academic area of the school.
“Some day, I’m going to be skinny,” Selena vowed as they worked their way through the throngs of other students. “I’m going to be skinny and I’m never, ever going to run again!”
Sprinting down the field, Reid didn’t see the basketball so much as he could “feel” it in the air, coming towards him. Sure enough, as soon as he turned his head, he caught the football in the crook of his arm, feeling the rush of success. But before he could celebrate, he turned and…ran full out down the rest of the field. Once again, he could feel the air as the other players raced after him. With a bit more effort, he dug deep and found an extra bit of energy and put all of it into his feet, running as fast as the wind…running faster…feeling other players dive for him…and missing. Faster still…another woosh, another player down. His teammates were doing everything they could to clear a path to the end zone.
Ten more steps and…
“Touch down!” the referee screemed, lifting his arms into the air. Reid slowed his feet, but his heart continued to pound, harder and faster as he tried to suck air into his lungs. They burned, but it felt good. Really good! Walking back to the sidelines, making room for the kicker to take over, he felt the other players knock him slightly one way or the other in congratulations, but he could barely feel the knocks or even the turf under his feet. The endorphins were singing through his body after that sprint and he felt no pain. Just the endorphin rush that gave him a natural high as well as the exheration of success.
“Good job!” his coach called out, nodding a moment before he lifted his clipboard, preparing his team for the next play.
“Show off,” Brant, Reid’s younger brother teased, knocking a padded shoulder into Reid’s.
Reid rolled his eyes. “You’re the one who threw me the ball!” Reid was the star receiver on the team, having moved over to that role when Brant came onto the varsity team.
“Yeah, but you’re the prima donna who took it odwn the field.”
Reid laughed. “You’re just jealous because Debbie Logan is watching me.”
Brant looked over at the cheerleader, then back at his brother with a cringe. “You can have her. She’s wearing that thick, gross lip gloss that looks like it is going to slide down her face.”
Reid shuddered in disgust. “I hate that kind of lip gloss. Why do women wear it?” He took the water bottle offered by the caddy. “I think women look better in that lipstick that doesn’t come off. What’s that called?”
Brant nodded. “I don’t know the name of it, but I like that stuff too. Much more fun to kiss a woman when she has that stuff on than the lip gloss.”
As the kicker strutted onto the field, Reid and Brant leanaed against the fence, debating the pros and cons of makeup.
Their sister bounced from the bleachers to where they were standing against the fence line, her eyes bright with excitement. “Are you going to teach me to do that?” she asked, a bit breathless from both hope and exertion.
“Giselle, you’re not supposed to be down here.”
Giselle shrugged. “Mack’s down here. Why can’t I?”
Both brothers looked for their younger brother. Sure enough, he was on the sidelines, talking to one of the freshman cheerleaders. With a sigh, Reid and Brant accepted that they weren’t getting rid of their annoying little sister. “Question for you,” Reid said and tilted his head slightly towards the girl with the sloppy lip gloss. “You wouldn’t wear something like that, would you?”
Giselle turned and looked at the girl, then back up at her brothers. “No way! I want a guy to kiss me and I’ve heard both of you complain about that stuff.” With a cheeky grin, she shot out of arm’s reach just in time, but took a moment to turn around and laugh at their inability to torture her for her answer.
“She’s going to have to pay for that,” Reid commented, watching as Giselle ran up the bleachers to sit with her friends.
Brant laughed and turned back to the field. “Good luck with that.”
Reid’s eyes narrowed. As the oldest of his siblings, he felt the need to protect them all, without showing that he loved them and wanted to protect them. It was a difficult balance.
Brant’s eyebrows lifted. “Don’t tell me that you’re afraid of our bratty little sister!”
Reid rolled his eyes, but the coach called for the offense to get back on the field. “Just throw me the ball,” he ordered his brother.
Both teenagers rushed out onto the field, once again, bringing their team to victory.
During the post-game parties, Reid stood back, watching the women as he stood with his back against the wall. He noted the lip colors of the various women and wondered why they chose one color over another, or one type of makeup. Women were fascinating mysteries, he thought.