Something Pulled Away
While weaving through the loud, rapid chatter and clanging of locker doors along the hallway of Walkersville High School Tuesday morning, Brian Richter and Sean Wilson were walking toward their first period class. Brian saw Kaylee Barton at her locker up ahead with a few friends. Ever since middle school he was attracted to her even though his friends said she looked kind of quirky cute and a little flabby with a pudgy face. But she had a wild sparkle in her eyes that mesmerized him. She was a solid looking athlete with firm, good size breasts. And her long, straight black hair and solid body with a tight ass made her so sexy that he couldn’t stop imagining them both naked with her on top of him; but her ‘Git-er done’ attitude in what it took to compete and accomplish anything that she set her mind to was just like his. And that really made him want to have a relationship with her. She was also like a magnet to girls who clung to her moving snail-like through the hallways. Walking behind them sometimes, he’d overhear anger venting loudly through them with a passion about guys cheating on them or lying to them. Anxiety clamoring over problems at home, or other girls being mean to them or making fun of them on Instagram. Yeah, being a girl sounded tougher than being a guy. They seemed to bond closer with their feelings than guys. Even now a pretty girl who was also a soccer player but who had broken her ankle was brushing a tear away and Kaylee was giving her a hug and stroking gently her blond hair. Kaylee always was a very caring person. Pulling Brian into the moment, Sean said, “Hey, Pam McBride’s walking toward us with her friends.”
“Brian, she’s gorgeous.” He smiled nodding his head at Pam, a slender girl with firm breasts, a pin on braid hairstyle wearing a black, sleeveless dress just above the knees with sandals. Venus smirked then sneered while turning and saying something to her friends who laughed.
“She dresses so – elegantly. Brian, why would you dump such a hot goddess?”
“Pam’s – all about her,” Brian said decidedly. “Her friends, her phone, and what she wants. I was just a conversation piece worn around her neck. Half the time she wouldn’t even look at me when talking to me. She’d be on her phone. Her friends knew some of my friends. So, I
was of use to her.” Suddenly, he mimics her voice saying, ‘Oh, Brian, you got to bring Ken and Todd to Emily’s party Saturday night. And bring your friend Rick Sha! He’s popular too. But don’t bring, Carl! Nobody likes him.’ “I was so bored with her. She didn’t like camping, didn’t want to go on a hike. We went concerts that she liked. With her friends! She didn’t want to go shooting or ice skating.”
“Pam shooting a gun?” Sean snickers and mimics Pam talking with a girl’s voice: ‘Brian, what gun clothes should I wear? Do I need goggles, ear plugs, and a helmet?’” They both laugh. “Brian, I’m thinking about the prom this year, dude. I wanted you to introduce me to her friend, Amy. Is that still doable?”
“You’re on your own with her, dude.”
“Thanks, buddy. Paybacks are going to be tough.”
“I can’t even keep track of what you owe me,” snickered Brian. “I give you rides here, there, and lend you money. Hell, I pushed you to get in shape for wrestling!”
“O.K. You’re right. Luckily, I love riding in your super Dodge Challenger.”
“Watch your fat ass, Emma!” burst through the clamoring babble. “If you ran more during a game you’d lose it! You and slow ass Zoe!”
“Just move your ass out of the way!”
“Whoa! Now playing at Walkersville High School, ‘Kaylee Unleashed’!”
“She definitely tells it like it is. She’s pretty frustrated with some of her teammates. They don’t hustle. Miss practices. And Kaylee plays her heart out.”
A smirk from Sean blurts, “Are you kidding me? You go to her games?!”
“I went to her first game against Urbana and she shut them down. They’re ranked number three in the state! She’s very physical. Aggressive. In your face tough. And, she was an all-state goalie last year! Gave up the fewest goals than any goalie in the state last year! I’d like to ask her out.”
“Brian she’s a dyke! Logan said...”
“Logan’s an ignorant ass. Kaylee’s mom is a friend of my mom and she told her that Logan took Kaylee out on a date and afterwards wanted to stop somewhere to show her a meteor shower then forced himself upon her by taking her clothes off! She kneed him in the loins, got out of the car and ran. Kaylee called her dad to take her home. And he called Logan’s dad and said he’d call the police on him if he ever touched Kaylee again. Then he called the principal, Mr. Kingston, and told him. Kingston made Logan write a letter of apology to her and was suspended for two days.”
“Logan never said anything about that.”
“And he won’t unless you confront him about it.”
Later that day Brian was walking down the hallway from the bathroom and noticed Mrs.
Cousin’s science class. She taught a simple, very basic science and astronomy course to seniors who could fulfill their science credits to graduate if they didn’t pass or they had barely passed the science courses required during their freshmen, sophomore, and junior years. Kaylee was in Mrs. Cousins class. He stopped to glance into the classroom to see where she sat. He saw her a few seats from the back bringing a pink, construction paper mask that she drew up to her face that was a caricature of Mrs. Cousins. The girl across from Kaylee was giggling with her hand over her mouth as was Kaylee. Mrs. Cousins had her back to the students writing something on the blackboard. Brain couldn’t help laughing as well. On his way back to his classroom he recalled himself as a sophomore in Mr. Egan’s chemistry class anxiously taking notes on whatever he said in anticipation of it being on the test the following week. So it was in every class every year. High expectations for him and his sister being in a family of decorated military men going back to WW1. His parents wouldn’t dare accept anything less than a B. Even with his four-year scholarship to Virginia Military Institute his father wanted him on the honor roll his senior year.
He knew Kaylee in middle school. She was always around friends who were in training for soccer, going to camps to improve their skills, and playing games locally or out of town. She was also very involved in church sponsored activities. He went to church as well, but never had the time to volunteer his services to help out in the community like Kaylee did. He’ll never forget while he was running along the trails through Kenmar Park last Spring and saw a group of teenagers picking up trash in the woods. He recognized some of the kids from The Church of The Holy Spirit. They were volunteering to help clean up the park. He heard a girl yelling at another kid who didn’t want to pick-up trash because he was afraid of snakes. “They don’t eat plastic or paper cups! So, you brush the leaves and branches away and pick-up the fricking
trash, Ryan!” It was Kaylee yelling at Ryan Snyder who plays on the varsity baseball team. He was laughing for the next quarter mile. Kaylee didn’t care how big or strong you were. He heard stories about her where in a soccer game if a teammate didn’t cover her opponent or wasn’t giving their best effort, she’d leave the goal and run-up and yell at the girl on the field during the game! She not only set high expectations for herself, but for everyone on her team. Not unlike himself.
Brian chose to stay after school today with Dr. Fritz, his GT Physics teacher, to ask some nagging questions about density that were going to be on the test next week. He had been obsessed with them for the past few days. It was like he was carrying around this mass of stress disrupting his peace of mind and now wanting to be sociable with his friends. After about an hour he left Dr. Fritz feeling much at ease and having a better grip on the matter of density and its formulas. He hurried to the gym to work out and enjoy the feeling of his muscles stretching and bulging. He acknowledged the few guys still there from the football team with “Hey, Tommy, Darnell. How’s it going?”
“Great. Chasing that All-American again, dude?”
“You bet.” And he headed toward the dumbbell rack. A little further down the room he noticed Kaylee lifting alone. Sometimes she’d be working out with a couple girls on the soccer or the volleyball team. But they must’ve left earlier. She was sitting on the workout bench facing him with her head down breathing hard. She must’ve just got done lifting several reps. She always was so intense looking and staying focused on each exercise. Not too talkative and never noticing who else may be in the room. Momentarily, a cough was followed by a growling, hacking sound and Brian saw Kaylee spit upon the floor to her right. He was shocked. He never saw any guy, and especially a girl, ever spit upon the floor in the weight room! It was crude.
But, a girl doing it? He started laughing to himself. Shortly, she rose, took the weights off of the barbell, and was leaving.
“Hey, Kaylee! I watched you play against Urbana last week. You shut them down girl! Great game.”
“Hey, Brian. Thanks. Coach had to kick a few girls’ asses at half time to make them play tighter coverage and be more aggressive when defending them. It worked. So, they better keep up that the momentum and pressure in each game for the rest of the season!”
“I hear you! Hey, ah, you think maybe you’d like to go out for a sub or a pizza after school one day? Maybe after you practice.”
“Sure. That be nice. I’m usually starving after practice. We got an away game Wednesday, so how about Thursday? We always have a short practice the day after a game. We’ll look at film, talk about the positive things we did, how we can improve, then those girls who didn’t hustle or blew their coverage will run laps while the rest of us leave. How about four o’clock at Zacchi’s?”
“Great. I’ll see you there.”
“O.K. Brian.” She left and he couldn’t believe what he just did. He felt nervous and shaking. He looked around the room and he was alone. So, he burst out laughing hysterically. He never, ever spontaneously asked a girl out! For the first time in his life he didn’t know what to expect on a date. Every other girl he dated, he pretty much knew what their expectations were, what their interests were, and what they liked or didn’t like to do. He would talk to his friends, talk to her friends, and knew what to expect on his first date with that girl. But with Kaylee he would be surprised. They knew each other since middle school and their moms were friends. Suddenly, a trembling of panic, like a wave, rolled through him that maybe now he’d become too scholarly and serious for her. Would he be able to talk to her? Would they have anything in common? Doubt now plagued him that he wouldn’t know what to say to her. He shouldn’t have asked her out. Well, it’s too late. He did and he was going to enjoy it.
Zacchi’s Pizzeria was a large one room restaurant that served great subs and a variety of pizzas with a homemade tomato sauce that was excellent. Brian was staring out the window across the highway at a fallow field with a deep forest behind it drenched and dripping in red, orange, yellow, and red-yellow leaves dazzling in the late afternoon’s sun. What a glorious view he thought. Then, flashing before him was the very sad letter of his great-grandfather’s death in the Battle of Argonne Forest in World War 1. He was recalling the letter’s sorrowful details when shortly, “Hey”, yanked him from his memory. Kaylee was striding toward him with her long legs, muscular thighs, and her long black hair swaying. His joyful smile greeted her.
“I just got out of our meeting.” She slid across the plastic covered upholstery of the bench across from Brian.
“How’d it go?”
“We barely won yesterday. Three to two. Some girls weren’t covering their opponents. Not hustling. That left me defending the goal a few times against two or three opponents alone! We should’ve lost that game. Coach was all over those girls’ lazy asses today. And two are seniors who don’t give a shit. Can you believe that?” Their backups are good but they’re still learning the technique of covering their opponents along with having confidence in themselves. I get so angry giving my all and some of my teammates don’t give a damn. Two of them actually said they didn’t want to get hurt because they were going to a dance over the weekend. You believe that!?”
“I hear you, Kaylee. When I was a sophomore, we had a chance to win the county championship and a good shot at the state. But Chad Simmons, a senior, didn’t play up to his potential. Said he was tired. It was frustrating as hell after we were working our butts off for months.”
“Yeah. Coach said a couple of colleges are interested in me. But I need help from my
teammates. I can’t do it alone.” Brian nodded in understanding. -- He turned to look out the window. “This is a great time of year to go camping and running through the park.”
“My dad took me and my younger brother and sister camping last year in Gettysburg
during the Fall. It was gorgeous. I’m thankful there’s a lot of trees along my property when I run. It calms me.”
“You and I have a lot in common,” his casual smile said.
“Yeah. I can’t believe we’ve known each other since middle school.”
“Time flies. Thanks for coming out with me.”
“Of course, Brian. You were the only guy who asked how I did in my soccer games.”
“Because that’s what you loved doing.” She nodded and not knowing what else to say glanced through the menu as Brian did as well. Shortly, the waiter came over.
“Ah - how about a chicken, onion, and pepper pizza with extra sauce,” said Kaylee.
“Sounds good. And two cokes and water, please,” said Brian.
“You got it guys. Thank you.” And he took the menus and left. Unknowingly to the other, each one was tapping gently the bottom of the front or the heal of their tennis shoe nervously and quietly upon the floor while staring idly around the room or smiling uneasily at one another whenever their eyes met. Then, “I don’t think I told you, but when my mom, me, and your mom saw you wrestle at the state’s last year, it was amazing how you stayed so focus and patient circling around that guy. Waiting to make your move. Then you faked a move to cover up the one you really surprised him with to bring him down. That was so cool, Brian.”
“Thanks. The sport is just as much brains as it is brawn. As you saw, we don’t draw that much of a crowd. Not that much action. But we have our moments of roughhousing with finesse and some trickery.”
“Yeah, but you got a scholarship to college for it. That’s awesome.”
“I love the sport. I give one hundred percent time and effort. Even through pain. But –
knowing there was a chance for a scholarship, it was an extra incentive to do my best.”
“Exactly. The same with me. It’s worth it for that scholarship.”
“What do you think you’ll major in?”
“Soccer,” she laughs. “I don’t know. Mom thinks I should go into business, but – I’m not that good in math. My aunt’s a coach at Oakland Mills High School in Howard County, and she teaches phys ed. I might think about that because I do love sports.”
“That sounds great, Kaylee.”
The waiter brought their pizza, plates, drinks, knives, and forks. Brian took a slice and laid it on Kaylee’s plate and then took a slice for himself.
“Thank you, Brian. That was very thoughtful.”
“My friends and I usually go to Pizza Hut or Ledos because they’re bigger and we usually run into people from school there. But Zacchi’s hands down is better.” He takes a bite of his
pizza and satisfaction smiles. “This sauce cannot be beat. It’s great.” Kaylee smiled while nodding and chewing. She was famished. She was nearly finished her first slice before Brian
took his third bite.
“I am so hungry. Excuse me while I pig-out.”
Brian laughed saying, “Go right ahead. There was a long pause while they were eating. The sun’s rich buttery glow was slowly dimming and about to perch upon the trees as voices entering the dining room summoned their immediate regard at who was a possible acquaintance.
“I remember my mom saying that your mom told her that you’re going to college to be an officer in the marines. You still want to do that?”
He finished chewing, swallowed, and wiped his mouth with the napkin while staring at the table momentarily. “Yeah, that’s still the plan. -- There’s a general, two colonels, two captains, a major, and a few lieutenants on my mother and father’s side in every war going back to World War 1. It’s in my blood. I like the discipline; the challenges of being an officer. And I love telling others what to do, a smile said self-assuredly.” Kaylee nodded looking at him and thinking ‘He doesn’t belong in the military! He’s not the type. He’s too nice.’
Later that evening after finishing reading a few pages in science, struggling with a few math problems, Kaylee forced herself to labor through reading a chapter of Frankenstein for English. Afterwards, she took a shower. Drying herself off with a towel, she paused and stared at herself in the mirror. ‘I’m pretty,’ she thought. ‘I am not quirky pretty that she overheard some guy saying to his friends walking pass her in the hallway. My face may be a little puffy. And my thighs big from working out. O.K., some flabbiness. But I am pretty. And I have beautiful eyes.’ She hung the towel on its rack and turned toward the mirror again. She raised both of her arms to her shoulders and let them gently slide down her body feeling her breast, ribs, stomach, and genitalia. Her body throbbed with exciting, myriad tingling sensations like little needles pricking all over her body. She loves being a young woman. Hanging out with her girlfriends. Enjoying their musk. She had even imagined being kissed and held by a few. But not until her friend Chloe surprised her by wanting to make love to her last Saturday, did Kaylee realize how much she wanted it to happen. ‘I must be a lesbian. But I hate how people label you and know nothing about you! Chloe’s a beautiful person and friend. She went into her bedroom, put her pajamas on, and got under the blankets. Thinking of Chloe sent a trembling sensation of pleasure rippling through her body. She met Chloe last January playing indoor soccer for the Keymar Rec league. She was a little taller than Kaylee and just as stocky and firm. She was pretty with her long, straight silky brown hair. She shadowed and attacked relentlessly an opponent with the ball. Like Kaylee, determined and tireless. One of the very few girls on the team who were. Her family moved to Frederick from Florida a year ago. Her father was a Colonel in the army and was now working in Washington D.C. at the Pentagon. She was smart but shy in the classroom. Didn’t want to attract attention by participating too much. Kaylee suggested that her and Chloe play together in the county Rec league in the Spring. Chloe was all for it. They’d meet after school in the gym with a few other girls to work out and practice once or twice a week; sometimes Kaylee would invite Chloe over her house to practice fine-tuning passing skills or defensive techniques that Kaylee had learned from going to summer soccer camps over the years. Friendship embraced them with a smile as they’d hang out with friends. Then, late in May, during a soccer game while driving the ball to the opponents’ goal, two defenders, one coming up behind and the other from the side, slammed into her crashing down on her ankle and severely breaking it. She couldn’t play sports for at least four months. Kaylee visited her sometimes alone or with a friend to help cheer her up, help her with homework, or watch a movie. During the summer, Kaylee was playing in a soccer league where she’d play games locally throughout the week; but on the weekends she’d play in neighboring states. They saw each other very infrequently but would call or text one another. Then, toward the end of the Summer, practice for Walkersville’s varsity team demanded her attention. Chloe would visit but her sadness for not playing with them was obvious. After practice, however, going out with Kaylee and some of the girls to Zacchi’s or Ledo’s did cheer her up. But last Saturday she and Chloe had finally released their frightened, guilty, and wonderful pent-up longing for each other. They were sitting on the sofa downstairs in her parents’ basement that was converted into a comfortable club room listening to music, talking about school, friends, and life after high school next June. Abruptly, Chloe stared tenderly, timidly, into her eyes while raising her hand to Kaylee’s face. Resting it upon her cheek, she let it gently flow down. Then, Kaylee laid Chloe’s head on her shoulder and stroked it affectionately. Chloe raised her head and brushed her moist lips across Kaylee’s cheek and gently kissed her and laid her head on Kaylee’s breast. Chloe’s vanilla scent of body lotion and her peppermint breath sent a warm, arousing sensation through Kaylee. She lifted Chloe’s head and kissed her with feeling on the lips. Chloe gently kissed her and wet kisses rained upon each other. Their tongues in each other’s mouth sucked arousing desire and fueling feelings of exciting pleasure rushing through each. Chloe eased Kaylee to lie down on the couch and laying on top of her began kissing her and slowly moving her body up and down upon her. Abruptly, she stopped. Lifting her head staring into Kaylee’s eyes, tears streaked down her cheeks falling onto Kaylee’s shirt. Then, Chloe laid her head on Kaylee’s breast crying. “I’m sorry, Kaylee. I shouldn’t of – I just enjoy being with you so much and – If I’m offending you or disgusting you, I’m sorry.” With tears streaming down her cheeks she bolted up as Kaylee’s arm shot out grabbing her hand and gently pulling her down to sit beside her.
“Please, stay with me.” And she drew Chloe close to her and gently began stroking her head and embracing her. Chloe brought her feet up on the couch, laid down beside Kaylee, and snuggled with her.
“Guys were rough with me. I was shy and they only wanted to maul or paw me instead of talking and having a nice time. It frightened me. I did go out with a few nice guys, - but I always felt more comfortable in being in a relationship with a girl. But my father was in the military and we never stayed in one place longer than a year or two. It was hard for me to make close friends. Especially, with a lesbian like me. You and I were lucky. Soccer brought us together. You teaching me skills, spending time working with me to be a better Midfielder.”
“You just had to work on your technique. And it came easy to you because you’re dedicated like me. You’re beautiful, Chloe,” said Kaylee. “I’m proud to call you my lover.” And she kissed her passionately and held her tight. - “I also haven’t enjoyed going out with guys. The last guy I went out with I kneed in the balls because he was taking my clothes off!”
“What!” exclaimed Chloe in shock.
“Yeah. I got out of his car and ran while I called my dad. Then this other guy after we came out of Taco Bells and got into the car, right away started kissing me and shoving his chip breath and salsa tongue down my throat. And was shoving his coarse and calloused hands up my blouse to feel my breast. What an animal!”
“Close your eyes.”
“Please, close your eyes.” Kaylee closes her eyes and Chloe tenderly kisses each eye. “You have beautiful eyes.” Kaylee laughs.
“No one has ever kissed my eyes!”
“Then I’m the first.” She held her tightly. “You know, we might walk the hallways at school hearing ‘lesbian’ sneering at us,” snickered Chloe sarcastically.
“So, we’ll act no different than the other girls who are close friends and very touchy feely with one another.
Two weeks later on a Friday night a friend of Brian’s had a Halloween party at his house and Brian asked Kaylee to go with him. She said ‘yes’. She told Chloe that she knew him since middle school and he was very nice. “Besides, it would be good for me to be seen with him by our friends.” Chloe didn’t care about that. She wanted Kaylee to go to a Halloween party with her, but she accepted it. Two friends of Kaylee were at the party as well and she was glad because it was necessary to be seen with Brian by them. Brian dressed up as the Walt Disney Character Goofy and Kaylee was a witch. Brian was funny goofing around with his friends. He’s very laid back when he’s with them. Just like she is around her friends. She laughed and enjoyed herself. She feels safe with him. But she learned how very serious he was in getting A’s in all of his courses. If he doesn’t, he’ll do extra credit and study harder. A character trait that she wishes she possessed. But she’s never really been one to enjoy reading and studying. And her grades now were borderline passing. Barely. Her mom invited Brian’s mom over the house tomorrow, Saturday, for a traditional family get together of making tomato sauce and raviolis. Kaylee had such a wonderful time with Brian that she thought since his mom is coming over why not ask him to join them. He said, “Great. I love Italian food. But it’ll taste better with you there.” She laughed. Chloe called her late Saturday morning, and asked Kaylee if she wanted to see a movie that night. But Kaylee lied and said she couldn’t because of her family’s traditional get together and said they’d get together next week.
Brian came over Kaylee’s house around four thirty. Brian’s mom, Sharon, was mixing ingredients of the tomato sauce with Kaylee’s mom, Jeannie, and her two uncles, along with her thirteen-year-old brother, Ethan. While her uncles were cooking they talked to Brian about college, studying to be an officer in the marine corps, his family’s history in the military, and how proud he was to continue that tradition. Ethan soon came over to Brian and asked him to wrestle with him and teach him some skills. He wanted to try out for Walkersville’s jv wrestling team next year. Brian was more than happy to. After dinner Kaylee and Brian, Sharon, and Ethan each made and decorated a ginger bread house. Kaylee couldn’t resist adding some bloody Zombies around her and Brian’s house. Jeannie was the judge and she declared that Sharon’s house was the winner. They won a ten-dollar gift certificate to Zacchi’s Pizzeria. While the ginger bread house builders, Sharon and Ethan, were gingerly picking and tasting their work of art, Kaylee was smashing it and rubbing some in Brian’s face. He was laughing and while Kaylee was preventing him from face painting her with green, white and red icing, Brian did manage an uppercut leaving thick ribbon streaks of green and red icing up her chin, nose, and right cheek. Sharon took a picture of it on her phone and posted it on Facebook so laughter could go on forever.
For several days Chloe felt Kaylee was a little stand offish and not too touchy feely at school.
She wasn’t returning her texts or calls. Did she not want to see her anymore? Was she having doubts of her sexuality? Something was wrong. At lunch she saw Kaylee at her locker and asked her if the two of them could walk down to the cafeteria alone. Kaylee said sure and told two other friends that she’d see them downstairs. With the hallway practically empty, Chloe got her lunch and the two of them started walking. “Have you changed your mind in how you feel for me? Do you still love me? Do you regret what we did together?
“Of course not Chloe. I do love you. I just want to be cautious.”
“You want being with Brian?”
“What?! No. He’s a nice guy. We’re just friends.”
“Then be cautious. But tap my shoulder when you see me. Stroke my back while walking with me. Let your hand slide down my arm. I want to know you care about me in some little way.”
Kaylee stared into Chloe’s eyes and – feelings for her melted at ease. She glanced down the hallway in both directions. No one in sight. She kissed Chloe tenderly and gently stroked her face. “I needed that. I love you. C’mon. Let’s go to lunch.” She held her hand a little while then released it. In the cafeteria they joined their friends at a table and one girl asked, “What kept you two?”
“Chloe had to calm me down.”
“How’d you that Chloe?”
“Looked her in the eye and gave her some tough love.” Kaylee and the girls laughed.
“Good. She’ll need it tomorrow against Liberty.”
“You coming, Chloe?”
“Damn straight,” said Chole. “I got to make sure she shuts down Liberty.” And she playfully punches Kaylee in the arm, and Kaylee gives Chole a hug. Hearing how frustrated Kaylee was with some of her teammates, Brian, who was sitting a few tables behind her, was glad to see her bonding with those around her.
Throughout the coming weeks Brian had asked Kaylee out, but she always had plans with her friends, Chloe in particular. The team was winning and seemed destined to play for the state championship again. The girls were partying and having pizza and movie nights at one another’s houses. On a Friday or Saturday night Kaylee would go back to Chloe’s house or Chloe would sleep over Kaylee’s house in her comfortable and lavish clubroom basement for more privacy. There were in love and sleeping together waking up joyfully in each other’s smiling, naked embrace. On this particular Saturday morning while holding Kaylee lovingly, Chloe said, “What do you say after we graduate, we find jobs and get an apartment together?”
Yanking Kaylee’s attention from deciding what to fix for breakfast, she said, “What!? You’re talking about a serious commitment, girl.”
Her eyes smiling gently, said, “Yes, I am. So, can’t we?”
Thoughts were racing across Kaylee’s mind. Yes, it would be a wonderful! She loves Chloe. But a full-time job? Doing what? Briefly, a flashing thought of friends and Brian would know
she’s a lesbian. But she didn’t care. However, what would Brian think of her? She didn’t want to lose his friendship. But there was also college. “Chloe, I have to go to college.”
“You can’t go to a four-year college on a scholarship because your guidance counselor said your grades are too low.”
Sitting up, Kaylee’s hands flew into her hair and flung it behind her. “I have to go to Frederick Community College.” Shaking her head in frustration, she says, “I’m not a student. Mom’s hiring a tutor to help me graduate this year. If I don’t go to college, I have to sign up for the army reserves. I have no control over my life!”
“That’s insane, Kaylee!”
“Dad says they’ll train me for a career if I choose not to go to college.” She turned and stared at Chloe lying down. “So, I wouldn’t be able to work full-time anyway. But if I go to college part-time, and pass my courses, then I can live at home for free. I’ll still have to find a part-time job on the weekends, probably waitressing, to help pay my bills. But we will be seeing one another. Just not living together. That’s as much commitment as I can give right now. And you know how hyper and active I am. I’ll have to be playing soccer so I can be tired enough to sit down in class and then come home and focus on homework.” She stared earnestly into Chloe’s eyes looking helpless and a little desperate. “I love you so much, Chloe. But if I don’t pass the first semester, I’ll be in the army. After a long pause while staring at Kaylee, Chloe stroked Kaylee’s face tenderly and sat up embracing her while kissing her passionately. Then, lying down and gently letting her hand slide through Kaylee’s hair, tenderly onto her shoulder, and flowing slowly and sensually over her breast and down her abdomen and resting between her thighs, Chloe said thoughtfully, “You’re right. I – we should be thinking about the future. I’ll go to Frederick too and study nursing. We’ll be together. “We’ll take courses together!” she said excitedly. “We’ll study around your work schedule. I’ll come over your house and you can come over mine. Especially over the weekend!” burst a beaming smile.
“I love it!” said Kaylee. “You’ll make a wonderful and caring nurse, Chloe,” and she bent down to kiss her. “Come on. Let’s take a shower together. My little brother will be coming down to play with his games.” And they gathered up their clothes going into the bathroom.
After Walkersville lost their last game of the season to Liberty, they were eliminated from playing Urbana for the county championship. Injuries to a few key players along with some seniors’ lackadaisical commitment and earnestness during the last two games, in spite of Kaylee’s angry tirade while running toward them on the field to rally their school spirit, didn’t allow them to come from behind to win. Kaylee was so upset that she didn’t want to speak to anyone, even Chloe, on the bus ride back to Walkersville. She sat angry and alone in the rear of the bus on her phone texting friends why the team lost. She worked so hard not to graduate without another state championship. Brian called her when he read on Instagram that the team lost, and he wanted to cheer her up by asking if she would like to go to a movie tomorrow night, Friday, then to Zacchis afterwards with some friends of his and their girlfriends. She thanked him and said she and a few close friends on her team were having a board game and Wii night with pizza and homemade brownies and chocolate chip cookies. He said that sounded like more fun than what they were going to do. He said he hoped they could see one another soon. She said they will and thought that was so sweet of him to call and want to cheer her up. She’s in love with Chloe, but she enjoys being with Brian. She wouldn’t sleep with him; he’s a good listener. He has a soothing presence. She admires his strict discipline and his untiring work ethic to be the best you can be. Chloe is like him, but it’s nice to be with a guy who is like her.
Kaylee spent Thanksgiving at home until around five o’clock, then went over Chloe’s to have dessert with her and her family and spent the night and Friday and Friday night. Saturday, she was helping her mother around the house, studied for her math and English tests next week, then went out to dinner and saw a movie with Brian. Sunday, Chloe came over to help Kaylee with her math homework and study for her tests. They ate dinner around six o’ clock, then watched a comedy on Netflix downstairs in the club room for privacy while holding each other. “Are you feeling o.k.?” asked Chloe.
“Because you always have this angst look that something is coming to make you miserable.”
“Babe, school is so on my mind now.” Brian was also. His positive attitude, calm temperament, and making good decisions. With a good career ahead of him they could have a comfortable future together. No! That won’t happen. She kicked that out of her mind.
“But that’s not an excuse to stop running or working out. That isn’t like you. Now, I’m not being judgmental, but you’re eating more junk food than ever before.”
“Chloe, I’m failing math and English!” she burst out angrily. “Mom’s ready to ground me and
suffocate me with a tutor if my grades don’t go up by the end of the quarter! Soccer’s over and all I’m doing is busting my ass studying and doing homework. I’ve never been a student!
Studying is so difficult for me.”
“But you’ve been working very hard today. And I am so proud of you, Kaylee. You made some great progress.”
“Because of you.” She held her putting her head on her shoulder. “You’re very patient and good for me, Chloe.”
“Because I love you, babe. And I want to help you.” She starts chuckling. “Turns out breaking my ankle was a blessing so I could focus on getting my grades up as well.”
As the Christmas holidays were approaching, the weekends were all about partying. Kaylee went to one party with Chloe one night and with Brian the next. During the day Saturday and Sunday, she studied. However, before Christmas break, Kaylee’s mom visited her teachers. Thanks to the work she did over the Thanksgiving break, Kaylee was just borderline passing now. So, mom got what other work Kaylee could re-do from her teachers to complete over the Christmas break to guarantee her chances of passing all her subjects for the second quarter and the semester. She was grounded until all the work was completed. During that vacation week following Christmas, Chloe was more than willing to come over and help Kaylee complete her missing assignments. And fortunately for two nights Chloe could stay up late helping Kaylee and spend the night with her in the bedroom downstairs in the clubroom.
The threats of Kaylee’s mom grounding her and making her join the army, along with Chloe’s cajolery with gentle but demanding insistence over the weekends, albeit overwhelming and stifling at times, enabled Kaylee to pass the first semester. But Kaylee had a glimpse of what life might be like if she and Chloe chose to live together: a too motherly and organized Chloe who could be both demanding and loving yet holding her accountable. Her tough love. Kaylee thought it time for a Brian break. She hadn’t seen him for over a month. It was now February and seniors were counting down to graduation and thinking about college and jobs in life after high school. Brian was very busy taking AP courses and with wrestling practice. But maybe she could coax him into taking a Zacchi’s Pizza break after practice one day or going out over the weekend. She wanted space without Chloe for a while. She’ll tell her that she wants to see a few friends who aren’t in their circle of friends because they haven’t seen one another for almost two months. So, on Friday night after seeing the movie, The Goldfinch, Kaylee and Chloe went to Zacchi’s to share a medium pizza.
“I enjoy watching movies on love and relationships. They reinforce what you need to say to stay in a relationship; or give you the courage to say what’s necessary to get out of a relationship instead of just lying to one another and hurting each other in the long run.”
“Yeah, they pretty much mirror relationships today,” said Kaylee confidently and thinking she can tell Chloe now that she would like to be with friends that she hasn’t seen for over a month. “Chloe, you know I love you. I want you to know that so you don’t get upset when I ask you if we can take a break from seeing each other for a few weeks.”
“Why?!” blurted being caught off guard with confusion and shock seizing her.
“I need to catch-up being with friends I haven’t seen because of doing school work every
weekend. You and I will see each other in school, call, and text one another.”
Quietly absorbed in focusing on what might be another reason that Kaylee’s not telling her of why she wants a break from her, she shortly said, “You’re not having any second thoughts on being a couple, are you?”
“No, of course not!”
“You want to see Brian?”
“Yes.” She gave her an accusatory shock and ‘how could you’ look. “Stop it, Chloe. We’re just friends. I told you we’ve known each other since middle school.”
Not wanting Kaylee to think that she wants to control her life, Chloe says with a faint smile, “I understand Kaylee. We were pretty close and in each other’s face for a while.” She felt a pang of regret recalling being a little too hard on Kaylee and ignoring the vibrations of feelings that Kaylee was giving off in wanting to stop and finish studying or writing on a specific assignment and do it later. ‘But if we do it now you won’t have to do it later!’ Chloe insisted. And she did surprise her with treats as if she were a ten year old to goad her on to finishing some difficult assignments. But she remembered how hard her father was on her during her first two years of high school. No social life what so ever until grades went up. She loved Kaylee and if keeping her meant giving her a break from being together, then she would. She realized that there were a few girls she’d enjoy seeing as well. “You’re right, Kaylee. It’ll be good for us,” she said decidedly but not sincerely. Pulling into Kaylee’s driveway, Chloe turned the car off and stared into her eyes. “I love you Kaylee. Don’t forget your smile tapping me on the shoulder or squeezing my hand in the hallway. O.K.?”
“O.K.,” she said grinning. They hugged and kissed each other tenderly and passionately.
Breathing a little heavily, Kaylee chuckled and said, “Love you”.
“Love you more.” Chloe watched her enter the house then drove home praying that she’ll see her again.
Friday night Kaylee was invited over her close friend Autumn’s house for a spontaneous party
once she learned her parents were going away for the night. Autumn, a soccer teammate, invited several mutual friends who also invited a few friends. The older brother of one of them bought and dropped off a few six packs of beers for them. Kaylee was talking to friends in the kitchen having a beer, a slice of pizza and picking at some veggie snacks talking about soccer. Even though the season was over, some girls were still upset over not going to the state championship. Others were sharing their joy over scholarships to their favorite colleges and finding friends from other schools on Facebook and Instagram who won scholarships to rival colleges that they’d be playing against. Kaylee shared in their excitement but had to sadly admit that because of her grades she’ll have to attend Frederick Community College to play soccer instead of going to Penn State or West Virginia which offered her a scholarship. The girls sympathized with her and tried to console her saying that if she did well at Frederick she may be able to transfer to either one.
“Yeah, I could!” she said jump-starting her self-confidence and becoming enthusiastically more of a participant in everyone’s conversation instead of a gloomy listener. Leaving the kitchen, she saw Paige Richard and a friend circulating clandestinely through and among everyone’s conversations in the dining room. Paige was among Pam McBride’s sycophants whose false smiles devoured gossip and returned to regurgitate it into Pam who’d use it to nourish mistrust and hostility among friends and those in a relationship. Kaylee heard that she liked Brian and wanted to go to the Valentine Dance with him even though he dumped Pam. Entering a hallway that took her to the family room, Kaylee saw Autumn talking to Julia and Linda on the sofa. Kaylee knew them both and joined them. Autumn was giving Julia advice while Linda was listening. Shortly, Julia thanked Autumn and the two girls said hi to Kaylee and left to get a drink and some pizza.
“Ted Ryder problems,” said Autumn. “I told her just hang in there a few more months then you start fresh in college.”
“Hopefully, not to meet a liar there as well.”
“Right. How’s Chloe?” asked Autumn. “You two have been inseparable since whenever.”
“She’s great. Her ankle’s better. She’s been helping me big time with school work. Mom and dad threatened to put me in the army if I didn’t graduate. And Chloe made me bust my ass so I could pass the first semester,” said Kaylee. She’d come over my house or I’d go over hers.” Paige McBride and her friend appeared just behind the sofa. Coincidentally? Of course not.
“Hey Kaylee,” said Paige obnoxiously loud. Glad to hear you passed the first semester. You should’ve had Brian helping you. It wouldn’t have taken so long. But I’m sure you and Chloe were glad that it did.”
A sneer flashed upon Paige’s friend’s face while two girls standing several feet from them were whispering and staring at Kaylee with a smirk. “Not really,” said Kaylee matter-of-factly. We would’ve been glad to do something else.”
“And as pretty as you both are, I’m sure you two did spending the night together,” added Paige sarcastically cutesy while she and her friend were laughing walking away as were the two other girls beside them. Anger glared in Kaylee’s eyes as she shot up off of the sofa ready to bolt after her when Autumn’s outstretched hand stopped her.
“I’ll take care of her. Sit down.” She followed Paige into the hallway. “Paige! Get out of my house now! You don’t talk to my friend like that.”
“Somebody should. She’s not normal. It’s gross.” Autumn came back shortly as Kaylee was walking toward her.
“Thanks, Autumn,” and she hugged her. “I have to go. I can’t stay and feel I have to explain to my friends and others why another friend of mine and I are very close and enjoy each other’s company. If they’re my friends, they’ll understand. If not, then they’ll think whatever they want about us and screw them.
“I’m sorry to see you go. Call me so we can get together, ok? Love you,” she said as she hugged her.
“Love you. I’ll call you.” Once Kaylee got into the car, she started texting Chloe to warn her of verbal assaults that could be flung at her from the fallout of Paige Richard’s accusation of her and Kaylee being lesbians. Suddenly, she stopped. ‘No, it would be better to call Chloe and ask if I could come over now to talk,’ she thought. She did, but only got her voicemail: “Chloe, call me if I can come over sometime tomorrow to talk. Please. Love you. See you tomorrow.”
After helping her mom clean the downstairs club room, Kaylee arrived over Chloe’s around one o’clock. The weather wasn’t too cold and Chloe suggested they take a walk around her neighborhood. After Kaylee was done telling her what Paige said, Chloe was quiet for a while walking and staring thoughtfully into a forest of gray, dreary, skeletal trees behind houses.
“I guess it was necessary after all taking a break from each other now.” She wanted to say how convenient it was for Kaylee, but didn’t because Kaylee knew a lot of these girls from middle school. She only arrived this year and suddenly, the few friends she did make, have been avoiding her and not inviting her to join them when they go out together. “We can still text and call each other, right?”
“Of course, we will, Chloe.”
And while walking back to Chloe’s house her hand slowly reached over and put itself into Kaylee’s. “I love you.”
“I love you to.” They kissed and hugged each other.
*At school they acknowledged one another with a smile, or a surprise tap on the shoulder from behind while one passed the other in the hallway on their way to class. And, of course, a sneer or a smirk would fling toward either Chloe or Kaylee from Paige’s friends in the hallway, in the cafeteria, or from someone in their classroom. And no verbal or cyber bullying wanted to face suspension. They were quietly shunned. But Kaylee and Chloe had some strong friends who wouldn’t abandon their friendship with them over hearsay. And those strong friends had friends as well who if listening to such gossip would rather quietly tolerate Kaylee and Chloe than lose a friend they had for years. Brian surprised Kaylee by asking her to his wrestling match on Wednesday that was at Walkersville after school. She said yes. Obviously, Brian was immune to Paige’s poisonous tentacles of slanderous rumors. While watching Brian against his Urbana opponent, Kaylee noticed how muscular he looked in his chest, shoulders, and thighs. He had been working out and was hot looking. She hasn’t wanted to run or lift weights and the extra lbs. we’re making her clothes a little tighter. She assured herself that she’d get back to working out. ‘I need a brake now’, she’d tell herself while struggling with her love for Chloe and her psyche clashing with reason over her sexuality preference. Brian won his match and the team beat Urbana. He took her to Zacchi’s to celebrate and he ordered their favorite pizza covered in green and yellow peppers, chicken, cheese, and extra sauce. Once its smells and succulence appeared before them, Kaylee told herself that she’d start dieting this weekend.
“Your mom told my mom that you’ve been studying a lot this past month and haven’t been going out at all. Sounds like me this semester so far.”
“I was failing a few subjects last semester, but I passed them. Soccer and working out consumed me. But my mom, my friend Chloe, and I have come up with a schedule to help me focus more on schoolwork. I’m only going out once over the weekend until I graduate.”
“That sounds like you’re really disciplining yourself. Believe me, you’ll find out that’s
definitely what it takes to get what you want.”
“It got me scholarships to colleges that I can’t benefit from now. But if my grades are good at Frederick Community College, they’ll change their mind.”
“That’d be great, Kaylee. - Would you like to go to the Valentine Dance with me this Friday?”
Shock radiated from her face. Her sparkling hazel-blue eyes said, “Yes.” Eyes that always entranced him. With Brian’s hand in hers at the dance, the scene would squelch any doubts of her being a lesbian. And she’d enjoy herself at the dance with Brian and his friends. Around school in the hallways and cafeteria Kaylee resigned herself to be more casual with Chloe. She wanted both of them to avoid any cause for critical, sneering attention that would interfere with enjoying their senior year with friends. But Kaylee was thinking more of herself since she knew a lot of seniors from going to middle school with them, and Chloe only arrived at Walkersville this year. Chloe would have to understand that they could resume being a couple after graduation since they’ll be in college and can focus on their classes and goals.
Up until graduation there were parties aplenty every weekend. On a Friday or Saturday night Kaylee would attend some with soccer friends and some with Brian. Chloe, however, was never invited. In the hallways during school, Kaylee was always with a select group of friends,
while Chloe was usually alone walking slowly behind others indifferently introspective. Seeing Chloe, Kaylee would nod with a vivacious smile and then turn toward her friends while Chloe, if she noticed Kaylee, would smile half-heartedly and observe the weight Kaylee was gaining. They had promised to call each other or text one another, but it was Chloe doing the calling and texting. Kaylee would return her call or text whenever and sound glad to hear from her apologizing for the delay saying she had to stay in touch with friends because graduation was coming and she probably wouldn’t see many of them after they went away to college. She promised that after graduation they would spend time together and work on their relationship. But Saturday, Chole called Kaylee and asked if she could briefly stop by to say hi. “We’ll take a run around your property for exercise.” Kaylee knew she wanted to talk about their relationship. She really did miss being with her. But Chloe will just have to wait until her friends are gone away to college, and she’s ready for a serious commitment to being only with her. So, she told Chloe to come over. For an early afternoon in late April, there was a slightly frisky breeze cooling the warmth from the glaring sunlight. It was invigorating, wonderful weather for running. When Chloe arrived in the driveway, Kaylee sauntered out of the house smiling and they hugged one another. Brief questions and chitchat about school and grades followed until an awkward silence escorted them across Kaylee’s backyard.
“Want to try two laps?” interjected Chole’s smile nonchalantly.
“Sure. I can do that.” They started in an easy jog across Kaylee’s wide-open grassy meadow of a back yard. A burning spasm started shooting through Kaylee’s body in rebellion to such an unfamiliar activity. Nurturing herself among loyal friends since middle school who would be gone after graduation, she was on a steady diet of junk food and beer to enjoy their camaraderie while at the same time avoiding the ongoing battle with her psyche over her sexuality and love for Chloe. Heading toward a barbed wire fence separating her property from a recently plowed and seeded corn field, they were jogging lightly together heading up a slight hill toward a gleaming, budding wood on their left. They were following a gradual turn while on their right was a not too broad copse of scraggly, blooming, maple trees along with a few tall and thick Weeping Willows. Chloe abruptly stopped and suddenly blurted out, “We have to talk!” and she stopped while Kaylee did as well. Tears were welling up in Chloe’s eyes.
“I want to know how you truly feel about me! No more, ‘After graduation we’ll be together.’ You want to play it safe and not be rejected by your friends or Brian. I get it!” She was wiping her tears away with her hands and sniffling. “I know I’m new in this area. I’ve never had an iron bond to friends from childhood like you have. My father being in the military we never lived too long in one town. But you and I made a commitment to love one another. Regardless of what others said. So, either you love me or you don’t. You’re either proud of who you are and us being a couple or you’re not!” She turned away walking aimlessly in a circle. Then, the sparkling blue sky with huge, fluffy white clouds pulled her attention to an image of a flying monkey and a small dragon spreading its wings. Facing Kaylee, she screamed, “I am miserable! I don’t like myself loving you or being with you! I can’t wait to graduate, go to college somewhere, meet new friends, and be proud of who I am!” She turned away sobbing. Kaylee was crying as well while staring at the Weeping Willows. After a very long moment until their agitated and excited emotions became calm, Kaylee faced Chloe and said, “I’m sorry.
I can’t - be in a lesbian relationship now. I feel – I believe I am a lesbian. I do love you, Chloe.
Love being with you. But not now.” Nodding gently, a faint smile kissed her eyes.
“Thank you for freeing me. Good-by.” Drying her tears, Kaylee stared after her feeling something being pulled away. Walking around the perimeter of her expansive pasture of a back-yard, she was feeling detached from herself. Once in the house she wanted to clean her room and do her laundry. For dinner she wanted to bake brownies and take a half-gallon of vanilla ice cream out onto the back porch to watch the sunset. Her and Chloe use to do that. ‘Your porch has the best view I’ve ever seen of the sunset! You’re so lucky,’ Kaylee was hearing Chloe say while sitting out there. Then she felt Chloe take her hand and they’d quietly stare in peace at twilight’s soft ivory-pink glow in the horizon until slowly easing into night when Chloe said, “This is what I want to do with you forever. In our own place.”
“I can’t wait,” Kaylee said eagerly giving Chloe’s hand a tender squeeze. Abruptly, soccer barged into Kaylee’s memory saying that Frederick Community College’s team starts practice in a few weeks and she better start getting into shape. Then, she saw the faces of the girls on the team that she’s known since middle school who excited her anger by not giving a hundred per cent every moment while on the field. And she decided she wasn’t playing. Since she was a child soccer was her passion! It taught her discipline, dedication, persistence, loyalty to team, purpose, friends. And commitment! - Night was easing slowly into the fading twilight while warm tears slowly streaked down Kaylee’s cheeks realizing what it was being pulled away as Chloe left her.