#ThrowbackThursday Fiction: Reunion

It’s Throwback Thursday! You know what that means . . . Time for another blast from the past. I absolutely love this story, “Reunion.” It’s probably one of my favorite stories I’ve written on this blog. Originally published January 20, 2015, you could call it a fictionalized autobiography. I still feel this way around teenagers. It’s the main reason why I would suck as a teacher—at least a high school teacher. Hell, sometimes even middle school students scare me. I’ll stick with the babies and toddlers for now. 

Speaking of reunions, my high school reunion is coming up in three years. I’m not all that excited about it. I doubt if I would even go, but if I do, I would really like some accomplishments ticked off my list, so those bratty popular girls who made my life hell won’t think I’ve done nothing for the last ten years.

Those accomplishments would be to finally get a full time job, have all my student loans paid off, have my book published, and be moved out of my mama’s house . . . or married, whichever comes first. But to meet a guy, date him for a while, fall in love, and get married all in three years sounds a bit illogical. Then again, I have a coworker who did just that. Got hired full time, started dating a girl who like guns and dogs and snowboarding just as much as he did, had a baby, bought a house, and now they’re getting married next month. All this happened in a span of two years! So, at this rate, hell, anything is possible.

But I’m not holding my breath, so let’s get on with the story . . . 


Reunion

It’s been ten years since I graduated from high school, and they’re still doing the same old, tired cheers.

“I don’t see one white girl,” my older sister, Anita, whispers to me.

“Basketball cheerleading squads are predominantly  black. They’re like step teams. Even at some of the white schools, unless they’re those rich white schools. The white girls cheer during football season.” I wonder if I assume this is true because of my Sociology degree, or if it only applies to my small, North Carolina hometown.

We are seated in the small gymnasium of Ben L. Smith High School to watch my nephew Domenic play in the final game of the season before playoffs. He’s a freshman playing on the varsity team, and is one of the leading scorers. The game is deep in the third quarter and the opposing Page Pirates have just come back from a fifteen point deficit at the half to take the lead, but I can’t seem to take my eyes off the cheerleaders.

They are sitting in the first three rows of the middle section of the bleachers. There are nine or ten of them, all black. When they say their cheers, slapping their thighs and stomping so loud, the bleachers shake, their voices are so deep and gruff, it’s as if they were yelling at the players instead of cheering them on. An occassional high-pitched chirp exists the mouth of one of the girls, though I still can’t pin point which one it is. Maybe it’s one of the skinnier girls on the end, with the long black weave—the AKA in training.

Their green uniforms are tight—too tight for underaged high school girls. They don’t have to bend over too far for anyone to see their butts. The two biggest girls on the squad look to be wrapped in seaweed. Their stomachs poke through their waist high skirts like the pouch of an older woman who has had at least four kids. When they step onto the court to do toe touches for made free throw shots, I cry for the strained seams. At least they’re sitting down for most of their cheers, though. The girls on the dance team moving with the marching band on the other end of the gymnasium are only wearing tights and t-shits, and they’ve been romp shaking and dropping it like it’s hot since halftime.

Were we that raunchy in high school? I can’t remember. Maybe the kids in my class were just as grown as these girls are. I wasn’t among them, though. I was always  that mousey girl who faded into the background and observed everyone else having fun around her. I still am.

The boys are just as intimidating—and they’re tall. Why are they so tall? I feel as if I’ve reverted back into my awkward teenage years, hunched under a bookbag twice my size and hiding behind a book to avoid all eye contact with anyone who may feel invited to tease me. A boy wearing a snapback, sagging skinny jeans, and a gray t-shirt sits in front of me. He reminds me of the guy I lost my virginity to junior year. Wayne Allred was his name. Wayne had the reputation of turning all the good girls out, and junior year he had his eyes set for me. I would say the sex was consensual, but I didn’t have much of a choice. He had a reputation to keep, and whether we did it or not, he was still going to brag about it in the locker room to the guys. So I let him lead me to the balcony of the auditorium after school while the theatre students rehearsed Hamlet on the stage below. It wasn’t pleasant at all—nothing like the movies. He was rough. He covered my mouth with his sweaty t-shirt to muffle my yelps. A week later my guidance counselor called me into her office to talk about a boy I’d been hanging out with after school. She hinted that she knew more than she was letting on, but she wanted me to tell her myself. I didn’t say a word. The rest of the year I went straight home when the final bell rang.

“I’m gonna get some nachos,” I say to Anita. I walk along the sidelines, ducking just as a blocked ball comes hurling my way. Despite not getting hit, the students in the bleachers burst into laughter, and I feel all eyes on me. I scurry out of the gym to the concession stand in the lobby.

“Nachos with cheese,” I tell the PTA member behind the counter. I slide her a wrinkled five dollar bill. She puts the money in the register, gets the last nacho tray from the rack behind her, and hands it to me. I pick up one nacho—the hot, melted cheese dripping from the chip—and sticking out my tongue, I put it in my mouth and chew slowly, savoring the saltiness from the nacho and the smoothness from the cheese. When I look up, two teenage boys are staring at me.

Crap.

“What’s up, girl,” one says. He pulls up his oversized pants and licks his lips.

“Hello,” I say. I lower my head and turn towards the gym, but he grabs my arm.

“Wait. What you in a hurry for? You got a name?”

“Raquel.”

“Ok, Raquel.” He rubs his chin, as if he had a beard to finger through. “My homie wanna holla at you.” He points to his silent friend next to him wearing a faded Robert Griffin III Washington Redskins jersey.

“I’m too old for you.”

“Oooh,” Oversized Jeans says, teasing his friend.

“Man, whatever. I don’t want her ass,” Jersey Boy says, waving me off as he walks away.

“All you had to say was that you wanted me,” Oversized Jeans says to me. “So, what’s good?” He holds out his arms, inviting me in.

“I’m too old for you,” I repeat, though I really don’t feel like I am. I feel as though I’m shrinking into a younger, more timid self. This boy’s hold on my arm makes me nervous. His grip is tight like Wayne Allred’s when he lead me up the stairs to my shameful deflowering.

“What’s too old?” he asks.

“28.”

“You ain’t no damn 28,” the friend says, returning to the conversation.

I look at the Student Resource Officer standing next to the door to the gym. He intentionally doesn’t look our way. What’s the point in having police in schools if they don’t bother to intervene when someone’s getting harassed?

“Let go of my arm,” I whine.

“You really 28?” Oversized Jeans asks. “You don’t look it.”

I guess I wouldn’t when half of the girls at this school look and dress older than I do. While in the gym, I saw a girl wearing jeans with large cutouts at the thighs, revealing fishnet stockings underneath. Another had a baby on her hip. A part of me hoped the child was just a younger sibling, but I knew better. Anita herself had Domenic young, but at least she was out of high school.

I snatch my arm from the boy’s grip and start towards the gym. I can feel them walking behind me, their eyes examining me. I know they’re going to follow me to my seat, sit directly behind me. They’ll talk and joke about the way I look loud enough so that I can hear. They’ll debate about what sexual positions I like, and what new things I might have learned since graduating high school—territory they haven’t yet discovered. They’ll dare each other to make a move on me. Oversized Jeans will stay behind after the game, and on Monday, brag to Jersey Boy, that I let him hit after everyone left. They’ll compare my 28-year-old vagina to that of the girls they’ve had sex with or imagined having sex with. Ten years later, and I’m still the subject of teenage male sexual exploration.

I turn away from the gym and instead walk out of the front doors to the parking lot. Anita will just have to text me the score and how many points Domenic made later. I’ve had enough of high school.

—Nortina

Spanish Field Trip

“¡Bienvenidos a Barthelona!” Shannon shouted as she climbed onto the airport shuttle bus.

“I thought it was pronounced Barcelona,” Mike said.

“They pronounce ‘c’ like ‘th’ in Spain. I’m just trying to fit in.”

“Right, with your tennis shoes and fanny pack,” their Spanish teacher joked.

It was after midnight and the students’ last night in Spain before returning home to North Carolina.

Mrs. Hamilton sighed. “I hate that we won’t get to see Barcelona. It’s such a beautiful city.”

“There’s always next Spring Break,” Shannon said, hopeful.

Her teacher grinned. “No. Next Spring Break, we’re going to Costa Rica!”

word count: 100

—Nortina


Memories of the coolest high school Spanish teacher ever, who took her entire class and even some former students to Spanish-speaking countries for Spring Break! Too bad we were only in Barcelona for a night (actually a few hours; we had a 6AM flight to Munich), but we did get to see Madrid, Córdoba, Sevilla, and Costa Del Sol. The next Spring Break was actually Mexico . . . in the middle of the Swine Flu outbreak. Needless to say, I didn’t go, but I’m sure it would’ve been fun . . . not really, a lot of the students came back sick… 

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly challenge where you must write a story in 100 words or less using the provided photo prompt as inspiration. Click the froggy icon to ready other stories and add your own.

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Air Mattress

This post is part of JusJoJan.

I had a dream about my ex last night. Not the crazy one, but my high school sweetheart. The one who got away. Although, I wouldn’t call him that either. We were bad for each other. We fought all the time, and I know for a fact that he cheated on me with the girl he’s dating now. Still, I can’t deny that I loved him like crazy. And the sex was amazing. Graduation night is one night I’ll never forget. Doesn’t that sound so cliché? The best sex I’ve ever had came on graduation night? I guess that’s when most girls get knocked up. Or is the prom night?

I don’t know why he was at my house in my dream. Dreams never offer an explanation. They just give you the broader picture. Leave you hanging with that one compelling image buried in your mind, causing you to question every aspect of reality the moment you wake up.

I was lying in bed when he casually walked into my room and asked if he could spend the night because he couldn’t find a ride home. I didn’t offer to drive him home or protest the inconvenience. I just got my air mattress from the closet and let him sleep on the floor.

Graduation night, we had sex on an air mattress. He and his mom and had just moved and hadn’t yet bought any furniture for the new house. She was on late shift at the emergency clinic, so we had an empty house and one air mattress all to ourselves. We ran around the house naked, spanking each other with damp towels and drinking apple juice. When we finally settled on the mattress, he planted a sloppy, wet kiss on my neck that made the bottoms of my feet tingle. I didn’t want the night to end.

I wonder if I was thinking about that night in my dream as I lay in bed, the only man I ever truly loved a couple feet away. I wonder if the memory of what we used to be motivated me to get out of bed and join him on the floor. I wonder if flashbacks of us being young and stupid and enjoying every second of it led me to kiss him sloppily on the neck, and then the lips. Maybe that’s why I climbed on top of him and travelled back in time to a place where we didn’t worry about infidelity, or gossip, whether or not we were right for each other, or if things were meant to be. A place where we could wave so long to the pretenses and just be two people enjoying the company we brought on one insignificant air mattress.

I woke up smelling his cologne this morning. Maybe he was here. Maybe he had the same dream. Maybe he woke up smelling me too.

 

Nortina

View the prompt for JusJoJan Day 21-30 here.