Author's note: Again, thanks to all who continue to encourage me to write, without you, I wouldn't have the nerve to finish this story. I hope parts to this story will start coming with more frequency. Thank you for your patience, and enjoy!


Disclaimer: This section contains a brief amount of violence.


Just Breathe

Part 3

By S. Lynne


I was afraid of high school. At least in eighth grade I had been one of the biggest kids on campus. Now, it would be like I was back at square one. Well, all except for the fact that I was still taller than almost everybody in my own grade. That first day of high school, I was already 5'9", having grown another inch during the summer. I wasn't surprised, I knew I was going to be tall, that's what my mom had been telling me since as long as I can remember. Made sense, since she stood just over six feet tall herself.

All I wanted to do was disappear, but being so tall, I didn't have that option.

Especially when it came to P.E. class. It was as if being tall automatically made you either really good at sports, or really awkward. Almost everything I had tried up until freshman year began felt awkward. Except for one thing. Basketball. And, as luck would have it, it was the first sport we were set to play in PE.

The day we arrived for first dress, I breathed a sigh of relief, Rachel standing next to me at our gym lockers.

"Ugh, I can't believe we have to play basketball! Why couldn't we start with something us shorties can play," Rachel was grumbling as she changed into her gym shorts.

"Eh, c'mon, it won't be that bad, Rach," I said, pulling my PE shirt over my other shirt, then pulling my arms inside to take off the other shirt. What can I say? I was shy.

"Ha! Says the Jolly Green Giant here!" Rachel laughed, "You're just closer to the basket, giving you an unfair advantage!"

I just smiled. Rachel kept grumbling, pulling her shirt off and throwing it into her locker. I turned back to my locker, blushing. I couldn't understand how she could just pull her shirt off like that in front of me. Wasn't she embarrassed?

"Umm... hello?? Are you listening to me?" Rachel waved her hand in front of my face.

"Yeah, I'm listening," I replied, smiling down at her. She looked at me skeptically, then crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out at me. I laughed out loud and started to finish getting dressed.

"Alright ladies you've got thirty seconds to get out here, starting now!"

"Shit girl, change your shorts and let's go!" Rachel yelled, jumping by me. I threw my shorts on, put my inhaler in my pocket and followed quickly on her heals. As I was turning the corner to head into the gym, I ran into right into Amy, knocking her down.

"Whoa there tiger," she said, looking up at me from the floor. I stood, frozen. Not breathing. Again. She was smiling. "Hey, can you give me a hand up?"

I snapped out of my frozen state and without even realizing what I was doing, I reached down to help her up. I pulled her up off the floor with a little too much force, causing her to stumble into me. I blushed furiously and quickly stepped away from her.

"Ya know what Ky?" she asked, crossing her arms in front of her. I looked down at her, startled that she used the nickname Rachel had given me.

"What?" I asked quietly.

"You're kinda weird," she said. The look on my face must have said it all, because she quickly reached out and put her hand on my arm and continued, "Not that that's a bad thing, Ky. You're just different, and that's cool."

And with that, she walked into the gym. All I could do was stand there, staring after her. Did she just say that being different was cool? No... there's no way! I stood, rooted to my spot, trying to digest what she had said.

"Kyle! Get your butt out of the door way and into class or I'll mark you tardy and you'll be well on your way to detention!"

I jumped, startled out of my thoughts by Coach Cline. He stood just inside the gym, arms crossed, staring at me. I looked at the rest of my class; most of them were staring at me from their positions on the floor, including Amy. But she was the only one smiling at me. I lowered my head and slowly made my way to my spot on the floor.

"Alright ladies, we're going to break up into four teams of seven today and these will be your basketball teams for class for the next three weeks." Coach Cline continued to explain what we would be doing for the next few weeks, including a tournament in which the winning team would get out of dressing and having to run the mile the following week. "Alright, so I've picked four people to be captains and you will pick your teams. Remember, don't just pick your friends, you want to win, so pick a good team. Alright, the captains are... Belinda Simms, Keri Jacobson, Maryanne Wallace, and Amy Larkin." I looked up as the last name was called, silently happy that Maryanne and Amy wouldn't be on the same team. Maryanne didn't look to happy. And that was alright by me.

"Okay, Belinda, you pick first, then Kerri, Maryanne, and finally Amy."

"Umm... Jackie!" Belinda shouted, her best friend Jackie jumping up and running over. So much for not picking your friends.

"Cindy!" Kerri shouted. Maryanne scowled. I'm sure she would have picked Amy if she could, not only because she was her best friend, but also Amy was a really good basketball player. I mean, it's not like I watched her games sometime back in junior high, well, at least, only when Ashley was late picking me up or something. Yeah. I watched as Maryanne looked around the gym floor, her eyes falling on me. Oh God! Please no! Don't let her call my name!

"I pick... Sarah R.!" Maryanne said, smiling. The girl right behind me stood up and jogged over to Maryanne. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

"Amy, you're turn." Coach Cline prompted.

"Alright..." Amy started looking around. Please pick me! No, don't pick me! Please, please pick me!

"I'll take Kyle."

All heads turned to me, most with surprise, some confused. I never got picked in the first round. I stood up and jogged over to where Amy was standing.

"She just picked her cause she's so damn tall," I heard one girl mutter to her friend. I frowned. Oh yeah, that's probably true. I stood behind Amy.

"That's not why I picked you," she whispered without looking at me, "I've seen you play, you're pretty good."


"Umm... Terry," Amy picked again, "you ever thought about trying out for the school team?"

"No," was my quick reply.

"You should. With your skill and your height, I bet you'd be good."

"Oh," wow, such a conversationalist.

"Hmm, ok, Rachel," Amy chose, "Just think about it, OK?"

"Umm, alright," I said as Rachel came running over to join our growing team.

"Hey Amy, thanks for picking me," Rachel said, standing next to me.

"No problem... umm, Serena," she continued. Rachel looked up at me.

"Hey Ky, glad we're on the same team, we're gonna kick some ass!"

"Ms. Young, language," Coach Cline reprimanded.

"Sorry sir."

"Jerrie," Amy continued, "and you're right Rachel."

"I am?" Rachel turned to Amy, slightly confused. Amy looked up at me.

"Yup, we are definitely going to win."




"Our team ended up winning the class tournament, just like Amy and Rach predicated we would. As we played, Amy kept on me about trying out for the team. She gave me little pointers here and there, and I'll say it, I got pretty good. Eventually, she and Coach Cline convinced me to try out for the basketball team. To my surprise, I made it. Our school wasn't all that big, so we only had a varsity team. I was afraid at first that having asthma would keep me from being any good, but as I played, I noticed that I needed my inhaler less and less, the exercise helping me breathe easier. It was amazing. It was also the first time I'd ever ventured outside of my comfort zone. My parents were thrilled that I had finally taken an interest in something 'normal'. That didn't matter to me, what mattered was that I was getting to spend time with Amy. I started to get to know her, we'd talk about the game, sometimes about school; she was really good at getting me to open up. I was starting to trust her. But I never let it get to personal. I couldn't stand it if she knew my secret."

"Lady, that doesn't sound bad. It sounds like it was good."

"Yeah, it was good."

"But you said something happened, right? Doesn't sound like nothin' bad could happen."

"Ah, well, I haven't quite gotten there yet. You see, at the same time I was playing ball, I was also starting to have a hard time getting to school on time. With the after school practices I had to stay up later to do homework. Ashley was off at college, so I had to get myself to school and was constantly late to first period. I started getting detentions, which in turn made me late to practice sometimes. It was on one of those days that something happened that would change my life forever..."




I watched as the minute hand slowly closed in on the twelve, ready to bolt as soon as Mr. Singh released us from this silent punishment. As soon as the clock hit four on the nose, all eyes turned to Mr. Singh.

"Alright, ladies and gentlemen, I don't want to see any of you here again, so get out of here!" he said, smiling to take the bite out of his words. As soon as people started standing up, I was already out the door and racing down the hall towards the gym. I knew coach would be mad that I was late and that I'd probably have to do a bunch of laps around the gym as punishment. I ran into the gym and cut across the floor, shouting hello's to my teammates and getting a glare from coach.

"Hurry up and change, Kyle. You've got a lot of laps to do when you get back!"

I groaned as I burst through the doors of the girl's locker room, and then ran all the way to the back where my locker was. It already being so late, there was no one else in the locker room with me, so for once I didn't care about making sure I was completely covered at all times and just shucked my school clothes and began putting on my practice uniform. As I was slipping my jersey over my head, I heard the door to the locker room open. I yanked my jersey down quickly and peaked around the corner of the locker, wondering if someone was later than I was.

I was surprised to see a very tall, well-built guy walking into the room. He looked familiar, but I knew he wasn't a freshman like me. I quickly pulled back around to my locker and made sure I was completely covered. Other than putting my shoes on, I was ready to go. I just shrugged to myself, figuring he was just taking a short cut through the locker room to get to the back of school. He probably figured there wouldn't be anybody in here at this time, so it was safe to go through.

Without giving him another thought, I bent down to put my shoes on. As I began tying the first shoe, I realized that I wasn't alone in my locker row. The guy had stopped at my row, and now was just standing there.

"Hey dyke."

I froze. How'd he know I was gay?! He can't know! I haven't told anyone! My heart was beating double time, as if I'd already run those laps that I knew were waiting for me. I didn't know what to do, so I just tried to ignore him. Maybe he'd go away. I finished tying my shoe and started to tie the other one when I felt him come closer.

"Hey, I'm talking to you, dyke."

I was scared. Really scared. I needed to get out of there. I forgot about tying my shoe and just grabbed my gym bag and made to leave. I didn't get very far.

As I tried to pass him, he grabbed me by the back of the head and slammed me face first into the locker. I felt him push his body against mine to hold me there, his grip on my head never letting up.

"If I ever catch you looking at a girl at this school, I'll fucking kill you, you dyke bitch!"

With that said, he pushed his body into mine fiercely, and then released me, quickly stepping away, causing me to fall quickly to the ground. As I lay crumpled on the floor, I could hear him walking away.

After I heard the door to the locker room open and close, I slowly sat up. I was in shock. I didn't know what to do. On automatic pilot, I stood up on shaky legs, grabbed my bag and slowly made my way to the door to the gym. I opened the door and continued to walk into the gym, heading straight to the area where everyone was gathered, taking a much needed water break.

"Look who decided to show up!" someone yelled. Some of my teammates laughed. Amy looked up from her seat on the bleachers.

"Hey Kyle, how was...Oh my God!" she stood up quickly and came running over to me. She was staring at my face. "What the... what happened, Kyle?"

For a minute, I didn't know what she was talking about. I reached up slowly and touched my cheek, feeling something sticky and wet. I pulled my fingers away and looked down to see blood on my hand. I looked up from my hand to Amy, who was watching me intently. I looked down at my hand again.

"Kyle? Kyle, c'mon, what happened?" Amy asked, almost in a whisper.

I couldn't speak. I didn't know what to say. What had just happened to me? A thousand things ran through my mind. Just tell her! Oh yeah, good idea, tell her some guy called you a dyke in the locker room, that'll go over well. You know she'll ask you if it's true. Can you lie to her? No? Yes?

"Kyle." I turned to Coach Cline "what's going on? Why is your face bleeding?"

"I..." I stopped, took a deep breath and looked at coach, "I tripped and fell in the locker room, must have hit my face on the way down."

I could hear some of my teammates snicker, they figured me for a klutz already, and to them this must have confirmed it.

"Well, c'mon. I've got a first aid kit over by the bench, let's get you cleaned up so you can run your laps," coach motioned for me to follow him. As I made my way over to the bench, I looked over to Amy, who was watching me intently. Our eyes met briefly, and for a second, I wanted to stop and turn and tell her what happened. I wanted to tell her everything. I even stopped walking and turned slightly in her direction.

"Kyle, get your butt in gear!"

I tore my eyes away from Amy's and turned back to coach. He was shuffling through the first aid kit. I started walking in his direction, looking over my shoulder, watching Amy look down than run off the court back to my teammates.

"Take a seat Kyle, I'm gonna clean that out here real quick and check out the damage you did"

I sat down on the bench, clasping my hands between my knees, staring at my hands.

"Alright, look up at me, kiddo."

I looked up at coach and he began to clean the blood off of my face. He gently wiped away the mess.

"Well, it looks like you did quite a number here on your cheek. It looks pretty deep, too. You might need stitches," he said, pulling out a couple of band-aids from the bag.

"Ok," was all I could think to say. Coach must have heard something in my voice because he stopped what he was doing and looked at me intently. I couldn't handle him staring at me, so I looked away.

"Are you sure you just fell in there, Kyle?" he asked quietly.

Here was my opportunity. Coach would understand, wouldn't he? I could tell him, right? Trust him?

"Yeah, I'm sure." No, I couldn't. I couldn't trust anyone. I looked over at Amy, she was still watching me. No, no one.

Continued in Part 4

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