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To My Disappointment
"Catherine, just go try it. Go ask him. Maybe he will say yes. Come on, just go try. I will have a word with him after school, I promise."
My English teacher, Miss. Luke tried to reassure me that everything would go as planned. It was my last semester in high school, and we were really trying to get one of my short stories published in the state literature magazine. The contest had been proposed to all the seniors in Oregon. The winner would win a published piece and an eight thousand dollar scholarship. It wasn't a lot of money, and I wasn't doing it for the money. But I really wanted to finally find worth in all my devotion and time. I just needed that liberation and reward. I had won local writing contests and a school competition, but sincerely that wasn't enough. My parents didn't see the value of anything that didn't contain digits involved. So I really wanted to publish my short story, "Aut vincere aut mori", which was Latin for "Either conquer or die." I had worked really hard my senior year for this competition, but I wasn't nearly finished with the piece. Perhaps, my best friend Jason was right though. Maybe I was searching for acceptance from my parents than the reward I claimed to be seeking. But that's a whole other story.
Miss. Luke had the "grand" idea of asking my gym instructor if I could skip his class at least 2-3 times a week so I could work on my short story in her class. But what in the world was she thinking! Coaches weren't sensible and considerate. And if they were, well I never had a sweet thoughtful one then. They didn't care if your arm or leg was broken. They didn't care if you felt sick or were on your monthly cycle. They were just so devoted to exercising and winning. How could she not know that? I'm sure she had gym class when she was in high school.
I could tell by her expression that she could read the dread on my face. She smiled reassuringly and rubbed my arm. I appreciated her gesture and time, and I gave her a warm smile.
"Cat, honey, I'm sure he will be considerate and agree. It's your last semester here. I'm sure he'd support your value in succeeding."
She smiled convincingly and then collected my draft off her organized desk. I could smell her vanilla scent as she handed it to me. I could see her excitement rise into her cheeks as she gazed at my draft. I knew she was so hopeful for me; gosh, one more person to disappoint if I fail.
"Now, we're doing a great job finishing up your story. The last chapter was a success, Cat! Good job! I didn't expect that twist."
I smiled bashfully. She didn't expect me to eliminate a character in such an atrocious way is the truth. Why?...Because I was so quiet and caring. She didn't think I could conjure such malice because I was so soft and kind.
"I really didn't expect that, Cat. It was a great tragedy, and judges love tragedy. Trust me."
I nodded and fidgeted a little when I peered at the clock above her desk. Fifteen minutes till 3. Ugh…I was about to go face stubborn Mr. Davenport. I knew he wasn't going to understand. Of course not, but I was going to have to try for Miss. Luke. She was just so tender and loving to me. With her soft golden hair, petite stature, and silky voice, she could convince anyone to do anything.
Once again she noticed my distraught face. She laughed musically as she put an arm around me. I could see my gaunt reflection on her glasses. The mocking terror was so obvious. I was repulsed by my futile composure. I felt so disappointed for being such a pessimist while Miss. Luke was so hopeful. But who was I kidding; I could never change that in me.
"Cat, go on, you know you can't be late to your next class."
I walked slowly to gym class. I had never even approached Mr. Davenport before. I always just did what he ordered the crowd to do. I never wanted to catch his attention so he could never spot all my flaws. Oh what fear! I was positive that he didn't even know my name. I was easily blended into the pool of girls, and I did that purposely. Sometimes in gym class, he would randomly select a student to demonstrate the activity of the day, and I always hid behind all the girls who raised their hands to volunteer. I just had no athletic abilities. I couldn't throw a ball or bounce one, and I wasn't going to try it either. My frame was just too small and my arms were spaghetti thin. I would just embarrass myself, and I couldn't handle the ridicule.
I passed through the filled hallways. The walls were filled with "Vote for me for Prom Queen or King" and with "GO KNIGHTS GO!" There was so much activity on the walls that peering into them would hurt your eyes. I wondered if anyone even bothered to stare at the posters. I never did. Black and silver banners hung from the high ceilings. And pictures of our football team were framed next to gym auditorium. This year was special for Blake River High. The football team went to the state competition and the basketball and baseball team were being just as successful. So the school spirit had really risen. You could see the enthusiasm in everyone. The principal and teachers even assigned Tuesdays and Fridays as Knights Spirit Day. If you wore a supporting school shirt, you'd get free lunch that day. I wasn't much of an aficionada but the free time I managed to accumulate was pleasant. Pep rallies were optional and because we were having a million ones this year; I had managed to work on my short story while the auditorium boomed with the deafening sound of the school band and cheering.
It was the beginning of January, so all the athletic department filled the hallways with their sportsman leather jackets. Their thick black jackets and silver numbers and last names had become a common sight nowadays. Sometimes their proud girlfriends roamed around in their jackets with that boastful grin. And their happy shouts "We won the game!" were also a common thing to hear as well. I didn't mind because I really didn't care. It was good for them and it was a good thing for me too; I owed them a great thank you for all the free periods.
Jason came from behind me and wrapped his hand around my shoulders. I hate to be so cliché but when whenever I felt Jason wrap his arms around me, I just melted. His usual husky scent drowned me in as I tried not to suffocate in his sweet intoxication. As usual, I failed to not blush. Even though Jason was my best friend, I loved him more than just a friend. I know, the usual love story. Perhaps, I would get over him one day, but that day didn't seem too near.
"Hey Cat! You ready to go do some push-ups!"
He mocked me when I grimaced at him.
"Funny Jason. Funny."
Unlike me, Jason was quite full of athletic abilities. He was in the swimming and baseball team. Even though he was great at baseball, he preferred swimming a million times over baseball. Baseball was just a "hobby" he said. His coaches though were sure that he could win a baseball scholarship, but he always declined the ideas and recommendations of it. His light brown hair bounced softly as we collided through all the leather jackets and shouting. For once I was enjoying his arm wrapped around me. His 4-year girlfriend Taylor always seemed to obliterate our seldom moments together. I didn't hate her, I couldn't. Jason was just at his happiest right now.
"Hey tonight after Taylor's debut can we go catch that movie I promised you I would take you to go see."
"Oh you mean the one that came out 5 months ago."
Jason frowned and then gave me a sad smile. He knew that he quite always forgot about me all the time. He was always so busy with school, swimming, baseball, volunteering, and primarily Taylor. It was true though, he really did not have time for his best friend. I couldn't hold it against him. I mean who wouldn't want to spend time with such a beautiful girl as Taylor. With her golden hair and green eyes and long legs, I would succumb too.
"Cat, I'm so freaking sorry. I mean it. You know I've been really busy. Seriously, I'm so sorry."
I nodded and smiled at him. He held me closer as he repeated sorry a million times. His breath surrounded my ear and I closed my eyes to enjoy his aura. But just like I predicted, Taylor pushed herself through the crowded halls towards us. Jason released his arm around me as she ran towards him. She kissed him fervently and then gave me scowl. I would be mad too if I caught my boyfriend at another girl's ear. I made some space between them and me. I could hear her speaking about her winning the art contest and excited about her debut at her parents' house tonight. Then sadly, I could see that blissful smile on his face. That beautiful glowing smile that only emerged when she was around. I hung my shoulders as I made a left on the corner of the hall to the direction of the gym. Sadly, I knew Jason would be too absorbed with Taylor to notice I was gone. And sadly, I was correct. It's okay…he said he was going to take me to the movies anyway. The thought lightened my spirit and I managed to produce a genuine smile. I loved him so much that it was ridiculous.
I neared the gymnasium and my reverie came to a sudden end when I spotted Coach Davenport with his blue cargo pants and black sport collar shirt. He was a fit man not like those other unfit coaches who lose purpose in their career. As the head football coach, he was always being congratulated or spoken to with admiration. I noticed he was with his usual group of other coaches. All of them with caps and whistles dangling on their necks. Ugh…the sight of them gave me chills. I tried to cheer myself up, but I couldn't even feign courage or enthusiasm. And I knew that once he spotted my fear, he would immediately decline the suggestion. I clenched my fist and scolded myself and really tried to motivate myself. My hands throbbed and nerves filled my body with shudders. I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it. I just wasn't that confident girl that barged into rooms and asked for favors. I sighed…I had to do this though. Miss. Luke was really counting on me to win this contest. My mind pointed out all the reasons why I shouldn't do it. Like, "Now he's going to remember your face and pick you out of the group to demonstrate how to shoot a basket or something more dreadful." Or, "Now he's going to tell you to run faster when he sees you slowing down on the track." So much fear and intimidation filled my mind that I didn't even realize I had bumped into Coach Davenport. He abruptly turned to me with a glare. I could tell he shuffled names through his mind as he tried to figure who the stranger in front of him was.
"You ran into me Miss. Rosewood. You okay?"
My eyes widened at my name. I could not believe that he knew my name! Oh my God! NO! This was horrible news. Now definitely he would summon me in gym class. I shook with disbelief. My last semester would be hell without doubt. I squirmed in my fright and tried to conjure the words that I had for him. He noticed my discomfort and scrunched his dark eyebrows together.
"You okay, Miss. Rosewood?"
Mr. Davenport was the scariest guy, hands down. He had those built arms, broad chest, and sharp face. His voice was harsh and rough from all the screaming. Plus he had that confident and daunting stare. You couldn't stare at him for so long because you would shake from the trepidation he formed in you. I tried to make words come out of my mouth, but I couldn't. His dark moustache twitched as he tried to discern my behavior.
"I need to talk to you Mr. Davenport."
He looked quite puzzled with my words. He nodded and then beckoned me to follow him with one lifted finger. Even when he was calm, he looked quite bothered and antsy. I followed after him through rows of sport lockers and trophies. He was so tall and that it took me long strides to stay at his pace. After a few feet, I was left behind. I rushed towards him before he also noted that I was out of shape. I puffed when I finally reached him. He halted as he rummaged for his keys in one of his pockets. I tried to silence my huffing as it grew quite. He unlocked the door and gestured for me to take a seat. His office was gloomy as I expected. They were no adornments like in Miss. Luke's desk. His desk was simple: a computer, a notepad, pens, and a single picture frame of his family. When he noticed me glancing around, he inquired after the matter of us convening.
"So what's wrong Rosewood? Is something going on?"
I know what he expected me to say; he expected me to hand him a doctor's note excusing me from today's activity. I could see the flat "no" producing from his lips already. I clasped my hands together as I smiled at him gently. I breathed slowly as my eyes blinked.
"Coach Davenport. I've been working with Miss. Luke from the English department on a short story I'm trying to submit to the state competition this May. I'm trying to win a scholarship by entering and winning the contest."
At that moment, he seemed amused by statement. Yea, it probably was humorous that some people try to win scholarships by writing a story to a coach. He nodded for me to proceed even though he knew I was aware that I was conscious of his amusement.
"Miss. Luke and I were wondering if I could maybe work on my story during this period. She suggests maybe 2-3 times a week and when I'm done with the story, I come back to gym regularly."
My voice was shaky but a bit firm. I tried to keep my eyes on him, but he was so stiff and discouraging. The thick veins on his neck throbbed as he moved his lips to one side. He began to tap a finger on his desk annoyingly as he sighed.
"Rosewood, you know gym class is very important. Why do you put me in this position? Do you know how hard it's going to be explaining to Miss. Luke why I have to say no?"
My dreams died then. I put my head down and my façade exited the scene. I felt so humiliated. I told her it wasn't going to work, but she didn't believe me. Ah, and now the torture I'm going to pass here as I sit here as he explains to me how important exercise is. I licked my lips and then pressed them together in a sad smile. I pressed my feet together and noticed my laces were untied. Before he could commence on his long speech, his son walked into the office without a knock.
"Dad, I need to talk to you."
Wes gave me a look, just a simple curious look. I knew who Wes Davenport was. Everyone knew who Wes Davenport was. He was quite infamous actually. And no, he wasn't that all star football celebrity in school. No, no, no, he was that pain in the ass that all teachers hated. He was that mischievous menace that enjoyed ridiculing people because he liked how it felt. I couldn't really place him in any certain crowd because he was so spontaneous and audacious. He was wearing something casual today, blue jeans and a black shirt that read across his chest FOO FIGHTERS. His raven black hair was a bit long, but not too long enough…just above his ear. His skin was so pale unlike Coach Davenport's tanned red skin.
"Wes! Can't you see I'm busy?"
Coach Davenport seemed infuriated. The throbbing veins on his forehead alarmed me. I sat there humiliated and even more shamed because now I was caught between Coach Davenport and Wes. But unlike his father, I was positive that Wes did not know my name. Positive. He was just another person I tried my best to not wander into. Wes cringed at his father's tone. He gave me another stare and crossed his arms.
"Seriously, it's important. I can't hold it till later."
When Coach Davenport gave him a scowl, Wes put his hands up.
"Fine, then find out when Mrs. Bell tells you the bad news."
"Rosewood, I'll talk to Miss. Luke. You go change for gym. Tell the class to start stretching and demonstrate to them how to play badminton."