8 Touches

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Based on a true story.

Nobody likes high school. 

It’s full of people with too many different attitudes and teachers who occasionally dismiss those who truly try. I could write a whole book on the things and reasons why I hate high school so much, but I won’t. I’ll only talk about the one class that I’ve come to genuinely despise.

“Physical Education”.

Gym’s something nobody looks forward to, taking into consideration the transition from the confines of Middle School gymnasiums to the colossal beasts of sweat and tears at the higher levels. Each high school has their very own unique and special way to torture and terrorize their children, and mine is no different. 

We can start off by discussing the locker room situation.

Nobody likes it. Everyone just gets used to the fact that you have to remove and replace the clothes on your body in front of your peers. People may have issues with their appearance, but the locker room can be considered a safe haven from the horrors that lie outside. The rules are simple; the clothes you must change into for gym have to follow the color scheme of red, white, and blue. Simple enough, not very hard to achieve. Phones are not permitted in the gym so they must be contained within the lockers. There is a shower in the locker room for the boys that is only used for students who participate in after-school sports. I’d like to assume that there is also one there for the girls, but I wouldn’t know. I’m not a pervert.

I’ll run you through my first day of true PE the best I can in as much detail as possible.

After getting dressed and placing our new, not-so-shiny locks onto our lockers, we exit the gym, which is separated by a large, white wall down the center. There are two doors, one on each side, leading to the other half. This description may sound confusing, and if it is, please disregard what I just said and continue reading instead of trying to make sense of it.

My gym period has two classes, so one is at one end while mine is at the other. The classes face each other during warm-ups.

The boys consistently end up getting changed before the girls, so during our first day we all just stood around looking like awkward shrimp that don’t belong. That description, unlike the previous one, is not very confusing and is incredibly and undeniably accurate.

When the girls enter, each class lines up against the bleachers on their respective side. My teacher, who I will call Mrs. G in this, tells us to form ‘squads’.

Each squad will consist of five members, and they are not chosen randomly. The squad you are placed in is dependent of the first letter of your last name; in short, we were grouped by alphabetical order. Mrs. G tells us to do this on our own, which I thought would prove to be an easy task.

I was incorrect.

My last name starts with the letter A followed by the letter D, therefore making me the first person in the first squad.

I sit down happily, my work done, as the rest of the boys and girls squander in complete and utter psychobabble. One girl approaches me, looking down, and asks my last name. I respond, asking the same question in return.

“Americhi,” she says.

“Oh, you’re behind me, then,” I say.

I expect a response but don’t get one. She stands for a few seconds before turning towards the throng of people rambling and trampling about the wooden gym floor.

“EVERYBODY LISTEN,” she shouts. 

I mean, I didn’t find myself to be surprised that she was the loud type, but wow was she howling.

“PLEASE TELL ME YOUR LAST NAMES WHEN I POINT TO YOU.” She starts with a scrawny boy at the front, then slowly moves her way through, pointing to one side of our section to the other. At least somebody’s taking charge, I think.

When she finishes, nobody has any idea where to go, including her. My hope was diminished.

Keep in mind that I’m the only one sitting down in my spot through this, enjoying the show.

Mrs. G comes back out, angered with our recklessness, but she isn’t the agitated type. This I could tell by her tone. I have a feeling we’ll get along very well with that in mind. She starts with my row, reads the names of the people who belong there, telling them where they’re meant to sit. She then moves to the next row, repeating the process. The other class across from us has already been seated and is shamefully staring us down.

After all of this is done, the other teacher, whom I will call Mr. H, begins to speak.

“You all are new to this,” he said, “and because of that there are new rules. Each day we will begin with a set of warm-ups. Today we will learn to memorize those warm-ups.”

The entire gym sighs including Mrs. G. I couldn’t tell if it was sarcasm towards us or genuine disgust.

“We will begin with 8 touches. If anybody stops before 8, we will start over. This goes for all activities.”

All of them.

The first activity in the warm-ups required us to stay in our squads, run to one end of the bleachers, tap them, and run back. When you tap the bleachers, that counts as a touch. You can then turn back, do the same, and keep going until you’ve made it to 8 touches. The first member of each squad acts as the leader and the rest must follow and not pass them or anybody in front of them.

I was the first person in my squad.

Now, I’m not in the best shape, so I knew this was going to be difficult. I definitely wasn’t in the worst shape either, which was clarified by me looking at the rest of the people in the gym. I was probably among the most fit of the bunch and that even surprised me.

When he blew the whistle, I began to jog. 

I kept a good pace for the group, occasionally looking back to make sure we hadn’t lost anybody. After six laps I turn to the group to talk.

“I’ll slow down a bit,” I say.

They all nod quickly through very heavy breathing, almost thanking me. It made me smile.

We finish and move on to the next torture; jumping jacks. 

One minute of jumping jacks. No stopping.

I make it through. I don’t know how. Each lift of the arm was an eternity, every leg movement a sting that shot up my spinal cord and into the part of my brain saying PLEASE STOP OH GOD HELP. Everyone else barely makes it through, all knowing that stopping means having to complete everything again.

“Next up will be three forms of leg exercises,” says Mr. H. 

I don’t like Mr. H.

The first of the three was a general march, steadily lifting our legs in a repetitive manner before bringing them back down. This one was fine, as we had to just reach the bleachers and tap them before jogging back to our squad spots.

The second march was an extended limb lift, where we had to lift each leg going from one to the other. You had to tap the tip of your foot with your opposite hand as you brought it up. This march was also not very difficult despite previous judgement.

The difficult one was the final march.

In order to complete the final march, each step would have to be taken backwards. This forcefully involves coordination and dexterity, as it is equivalent to the previous march aside from having to complete it in the reverse direction.

I kept the pace extremely slow. Even though I was able to pick up the movement quickly the rest of my squad could not. I paced everything as best I could to ensure that we all survived the period.

After everybody had finished, Mr. H began to speak once more.

“We’ve completed each exercise, but do you think you remember them all?”

No, I mutter under my breath. Mrs. G must’ve heard me because she turned towards me and laughed.

I wasn’t laughing.

He asked us what the first activity was and the loud girl behind me immediately rose her hand. 

“Put it down,” I say to her. “If you get it wrong we’re doing everything again.”

She doesn’t hesitate to put it down.

“Take some time to think about what we did,” he says. The gym goes silent except for the heavy breathing of recovery from past events. Those thirty seconds pass and he then begins to point to random people in the gym, asking what we did in corresponding order. He choses me for the last one, and I was prepared to answer with the backward leg kicks.

With that, gym was over.

That was Friday of last week. That was also the first day I had “Physical Education”.

There are 179 days of school left.

I could not be any more excited for those 179 days to be over.


Submitted: September 16, 2015

© Copyright 2022 H. Adams. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

amaani

i thought this was a horror story

Wed, September 16th, 2015 8:47pm

Author
Reply

It is if you look at it the right way :)

Wed, September 16th, 2015 1:56pm

Tangelo

Haha shrimp :) Ph.ed sounds like bloody torture here, Hanorbi. Interesting read though, I'm sure this speaks for a lot of us! Actually, I've recently done something similar to your 8 touches activity, and my period spent two and a half classes just to complete it; so I feel your agony. About the last name thing, I think you should be very grateful for a last name beginning with an 'a'. (If it is) And this is coming from someone who's almost always last on the list... Anyway, I enjoyed the sarcasm and horrific take of P.E. Nice job!

Wed, September 16th, 2015 10:40pm

Author
Reply

WOAH two and a half classes? That's insane. I'm gonna pray for your safety and well-being. My true last name does start with a, so yeah, I guess I'm grateful. I'm so used to being called first now that I can say 'here' before the teacher even starts reading the attendance list. I feel for you though, I know a girl with a z last name. She isn't a fan of it. Glad you liked the sarcasm, it's always fun to write and read :D

Wed, September 16th, 2015 3:54pm

Whiskey Charlie

Oh, damn, that brings back nightmares, Hanorbi. I graduated from high school in 1960, and I still remember how badly I hated gym class, not to mention the sadistic "coaches" who put us through the drills. Then, I wound up in military boot camp which made gym class seem like a walk in the park. But look on the bright side. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. Of course, I do not envy you the next 179 days.

Wed, September 16th, 2015 10:51pm

Author
Reply

Nightmares indeed. I think I've been through four rounds of those warm-ups now over the past few days and I'm not loving it anymore. I can't imagine the difficulty of boot camp... I really don't think I could last. Major kudos to you for getting through it! I wrote this over the weekend, so 176 days now. 176 days too many in my opinion.

Wed, September 16th, 2015 3:59pm

Jeff Bezaire

I completely understand what you're talking about with the gym divided by a wall - one of the gyms at my highschool had the same thing. Ours retracts so you can use the entire gym if need be. This story takes me back to those days and also highlights how different your gym classes are from what mine used to be. Still, when living in a country where obesity is a huge problem among everyone from youths to adults, that's a great way to try to get everyone in shape. Good luck with the next 179 days! Things will get better and it will become more fun. Freshman year for everything usually sucks, but the further through highschool you get, the more fun it gets, partially because you're that much closer to graduating. Good read.

Wed, September 16th, 2015 11:30pm

Author
Reply

Woah, so does ours! I've always had the retractable wall since middle school, they would store and bend it back into the bricks when we'd play dodgeball or wiffleball. I guess that might be a global thing. Obesity IS a major problem yet at the same time the things we do nowadays seem incredibly harsh and unforgiving. I understand what they're trying to do, but I don't really think a 40 minute period each day can wipe away all of that. Even the healthier kids struggle! I'm already having fun, gym and ap world hist. are just so tedious. I'm making an effort to get involved; people always say that's the easiest way to make the experience of high school better. You truly do give fantastic comments, thank you, Jeff!

Wed, September 16th, 2015 7:40pm

Chris Green

Exactly how I remember P.E. Horrific with sadist P.E. teachers. From my experience I find it hard to see how people would go to a gym voluntarily and even pay however much a month it is. But back to your story. I think it hits the spot. Nice writing.
regards
Chris

Fri, September 18th, 2015 3:06pm

Author
Reply

I doubt I'll ever go to the gym. I'd prefer to do everything from home where I can do things at my own pace, just so I know my own limitations. Good to hear that it hit the spot, Chris. Also nice hearing from you. I gotta get to reading some more of your work :)

Sat, September 19th, 2015 8:40pm

Melancholic Wisdom

Ah, I remember PE class.....no, just so much no. This was an interesting take on PE, exactly how I remembered it. I always hated it, somehow I always got stuck with people who had bad tempers or just hated kids. However, there was the occasional attractive gym teacher, not gonna lie ;) XD Anyways, I liked this a lot. You always do a great job on your writing :D

Mon, September 21st, 2015 7:51pm

Author
Reply

I've had no luck with attractive gym teachers. Even if I did, it'd be hard to admire them with the strenuous breathing and near fainting. I try my best, I'm glad you noticed :) Thanks as always!

Sat, September 26th, 2015 8:21pm

Jason Crager

There was a guy in my gym class who repeatedly showed up in a black concert t-shirt, a pair of worn out blue jeans, and some black boots. He would be forced to sit, half napping, with his back against the wall and accept a terrible grade or an "incomplete" for non- participation. When he would not change his ways, he eventually began getting sent to the principal's office for his failure to comply, thus he avoided the boredom and torture of observing. For reputation purposes, I will not claim to be that guy. However, if I was not him, I admit that I envied him! I enjoyed the read Hanorbi. Well done.

Wed, September 23rd, 2015 1:18am

Author
Reply

What I don't get is that some people just can't do the exercises and if they don't they get a failing grade. How's that for equality? It really angers me. I also would've envied his position in getting out of gym even though it'd be a punch to your grade. Glad you liked the story, Ronin; it's nice getting some feedback again :D

Sat, September 26th, 2015 8:25pm

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