I left the locker room in a pair of too-short shorts and a too-tight tee, and I didn’t stand out attire-wise at all. Except that I was much more attractive in my outfit than most of the others were. Which, oddly enough, made me feel self-conscious.
The boys gathered on the left side of the gym, the girls on the right. Holden let out a low whistle and tried to shake the shock from his face. He was already in position, so he’d watched me enter. The rest of the guys did, too, I think, and he smacked the nearest dude in the back of the head.
I snickered and covered my mouth.
“Leg stretches!” Mr. Peterman shouted at us all. “Left leg!” A few seconds later. “Right leg!” And finally, “Touch your toes!”
That right there was reason number one of why the guys and girls were on opposite sides of the gym. Not that it helped much.
“Arm stretches! Left arm!” I glanced to my right and Charlene smiled at me. I didn’t realize we had gym together. She at least made me feel less self-conscious about my body.
“Right arm!” I looked left. Oh, shit. Big mistake. Loren Marlowe flipped me the bird. Okay, so maybe there were more attractive people here than I realized.
“Jumping jacks!” Mr. Peterman shouted. Reason number two why boys and girls were separated.
“Mountain climbers!” Reason number three.
“We have to do these in cheer all the time,” Charlene whispered to me as we ran in place with our hands on the waxy floor.
I took a deep breath. “Well, I might look fit,” and I took another deep breath, “but apparently I’m incredibly out of shape.”
She chuckled and shook her head. “You’ll get used to it.”
“Form a line,” Mr. Peterman said. “We’re heading outside for more Lacrosse. I need some volunteers to help carry out equipment. We’ll divvy up teams on the grass.”
I walked over to the bag of white rubber balls, then slung it over my shoulder. Holden glanced up at me from the pile of sticks.
“Fancy seeing you here,” he said with a wicked grin.
“Like you didn’t notice.”
I turned to follow the rest of the class outside, but Holden grabbed my shoulder and spun me around.
“Watch Loren like a hawk, okay?” he warned.
I took a deep breath and nodded. “I didn’t even know she was in the class.”
“And I didn’t know it would be a problem until this morning.”
I nodded my own self-pity and we fell into step with the rest of the group filing outside. The sunshine was blinding and the wind was whipping around with a vengeance.
Mr. Peterman stood across from us on the field. “Michaels, you’re captain of Jerseys. Marlowe, you’re captain of Plain Tees. Holden, you choose first.”
“Valerie,” he said immediately and a few guys whistled as I crossed to his side of the grass. Assholes.
“Thomas,” Loren countered loudly.
“Jay,” Holden called.
“Sharon,” Loren said.
They sounded off alternately until the entire class was split down the middle and divided by their clothing assignments. Jerseys took the left side, Tees took the right by default.
Holden gathered us into a huddle. Such a typical quarterback, calling the shots with envious ease.
“This isn’t supposed to be a contact sport in gym class, but I don’t trust those assholes,” he said and received a few chuckles. “Keep them outta the strike zone, okay? Stick check them. Intercept the ball. Get it to the offense; that’s me, you guys.” More chuckles. “Anyone else running offense, be prepared to score a goal. Don’t stand there and look stupid when the ball comes your way. That’s not how we play, alright? Everybody good? It’s just gym class so I don’t want to get into any elaborate plays, but the goal is obvious; get the ball into their net.”
He broke up the huddle, then addressed only me because I didn’t know the rules.
“Don’t touch the ball with your hands, okay? Catch and throw it with the net at the end of the stick. The ball can touch the ground, though, and that’s okay. Watch your shins during stick checking; that can be pretty painful if someone misses; you can even nail yourself. Um… oh. Keep the ball inbounds if you can help it. And score some goals.” He smiled warmly. “Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? You’ll do fine.”
I could tell that he loved this.