Status: I will be posting a new story soon, so this one might be delayed a bit.

Rarae Aves

Can't Join the Team

Even though she was constantly weary and sore, one class that Amber excelled in was gym class. In fact, that was probably one of the reasons she did do so well in gym, interestingly enough. Even though she didn’t get to sleep like she should and was putting most of her energy into keeping things at home running smoothly, she still was a strong girl. That was what Delia didn’t understand. Instead of making her weak, being worked like a mule only made her hard as nails. All of her duties and responsibilities made Amber more durable. Toiling at home every day made things like push-ups and running laps a breeze. In fact, the two activities went hand-in-hand. All of the housework made her powerful enough to do well in gym class, and all of the exercise she was getting during that class period was helping her become more able to do the housework. Each activity prepared her to be able to handle the other. If she were to become as tenacious spiritually as she was physically, she’d be a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, she didn’t realize how strong of a girl she was, and was trapped in her frightened mentality.

“Alright everyone, hit the showers,” instructed the gym teacher, Ms. Chesterfield, after she blew on her whistle. The boys in the class went towards the boys’ locker room, and the girls started filing towards the locker room designated for girls. Amber was last in line behind all the other girls. “Wait up, Liu,” Ms. Chesterfield requested, “I want to have a talk with you.”

“Am I in trouble?” Amber inquired in a worried tone.

“No, no, of course not,” Ms. Chesterfield assured, “I was just wondering…what’s your opinion on extracurricular activities?”

“Uh…what do you mean?”

“It means activities outside of school.”

“I knew that,” Amber laughed, “I mean, why are you asking me for my opinion?”

“Do you like basketball, Amber?”

“Yeah, I’ve been playing since I was little.”

“I figured you did like it,” noted Ms. Chesterfield, “I’ve been noticing you play these past few days, and I’m impressed. You’re really good.”

“Oh…uh…thanks.” Amber blushed at the compliment. It was rare she ever got any of those.

“As you know, basketball season is starting soon,” Ms. Chesterfield began her proposition, “How’d you like to try-out for the girls’ basketball team?”

“Me? Oh, no, I-I-I’m really not that g-good,” stammered the young girl. After all, Ms. Chesterfield was, in addition to being the gym teacher, the coach of the girls’ basketball team. She was asking her to consider trying out, too. Did Ms. Chesterfield really think she had potential? Amber wasn’t sure what to say. Being on the team would be so great, but…

“I think you’re a lot better than you’re giving yourself credit for, dear. You should really think about it.”

“I would like to. I really would.”

“Then it’s settled,” Ms. Chesterfield decided, “All you have to do is get a physical and show up to the try outs. Don’t be nervous; I’m confident that you’ll do fine.”

“No, Ms. Chesterfield, you don’t understa-”

“-If you make the team, you’ll have so much fun!” she exclaimed, “You make so many new friends, and get to go to away games, and the uniforms! Oh my, I have to tell you about the jerseys we have this year. They’re in the school colors, but they’re so pretty and sparkly, and-”

“I can’t do it.”

“Sure, you can. Don’t be so down on yourself. If you try your best, anything is possible.”

“No, I mean, I can’t be on the team,” Amber tried to explain.

Ms. Chesterfield felt like she just heard glass shattering. Amber just laid some bad news on her. “W-whatever do you mean?” she asked, surprised.

“I want to,” Amber started. It was true; she really did want to try out for it. In fact, ever since middle school, she had desired to join a school team. But, alas, that wasn’t a possibility.

Delia would never allow it, ever. First of all, Delia wasn’t going to waste her time to take Amber to the doctor for a physical exam. Next, she wasn’t going to shell out money for a uniform. Also, Delia sure as hell wasn’t going to inconvenience herself and take Amber to and from practices and games. Lastly, the way Delia saw it, Amber belonged at home. Why would Delia let Amber participate in something that would require her to spend more time away from the house, away from her duties? She wouldn’t. Delia thought that almost every waking moment in the poor teenager’s life should be spent toiling away and serving her. It just wasn’t going to happen.

Amber continued, “But, I can’t. My stepmom won’t let…” She was going to say, “My stepmom won’t let me,” but she stopped herself. She couldn’t say that, even though it was the truth. She was in high school, for goodness sake. “My stepmom won’t let me” sounded so babyish; it was embarrassing. “Um…my stepmom wouldn’t…want me to join. I mean, uh, she’s just so busy, and I have things going on at home, too.”

“Oh, come on,” Ms. Chesterfield pleaded, “Please consider it.”

“I can’t. I’m sorry. Besides…” Amber looked downwards at the ground, “…my grades aren’t exactly up to par…” The school rules required that a student must have an average letter grade of a C+ or higher. She knew that her grades didn’t make the cut.

“Well, if you’re having trouble in your classes, don’t worry about it. I can set you up with a tutor, and maybe you can get your grades up just in time to…”

“I really, really can’t. I’m sorry,” the young girl sighed.

“You know what, I’ll give you some time to contemplate about it,” Ms. Chesterfield offered, “It’s quite a decision, after all. Go home and think about it tonight, and I’ll ask you tomorrow morning.”

Amber sighed sadly. Ms. Chesterfield just wouldn’t let it go. She wished she would, though. She couldn’t join the team, and that was final. Even if by some strange miracle, Delia would agree to let her get involved in extracurricular activities (which she wouldn’t), she would still expect Amber to be her own personal servant like usual. School, work, all the chores…it was too much as it was; adding basketball into the mix would only make things worse. She’d probably end up collapsing from exhaustion if she took on another thing, another burden in her life.

It hurt, though, knowing that she couldn’t get involved in basketball. Even though she had always to be part of a team, she never even knew she had an inkling of a chance to make that a reality until Ms. Chesterfield complimented her skills. When she brought it up, it almost filled Amber with hope. It gave her a glimmer of an idea of what amazing things could have been if her home life weren’t so miserable. To have that glimmer taken away just as fast as it came, it was depressing. She didn’t want to discuss it anymore. “I can’t,” Amber sighed, “P-please just don’t mention it ever again. Sorry.” She sulked away to the girls’ locker room, a heavy feeling in her chest.

After getting her things out of her gym locker, Amber headed towards the bathroom stalls to change. They were supposed to shower when they returned to the locker room, but not everyone did. It was mostly just the popular girls who did take showers. Of course they showered every day in the locker room; they were actually comfortable in their own skin. Why wouldn’t they be? They were given the impression that they were the physical form of sheer perfection their entire lives. The small handful of girls that didn’t have the courage to shower there were the outcasts, the freaks, the dorks, the losers. They were worried that all the other girls would make fun of their bodies, pointing out every single flaw. Amber was in that group of girls that didn’t shower in gym. She didn’t do it so much because she was self-conscious about her body like the other outcasts; she did it because the idea of being naked in a room full of strangers was creepy. Sure, they were all girls there, but it was still uncomfortable. She’d rather shower in the privacy of her own home, thank you very much.

She got to the toilet stalls, and they were all occupied. That was where she always changed. Most of the others would dress out by the benches by the lockers, right in front of each other. Even the other girls that were afraid to shower would change there in front of each other while the rest were in the showers. Amber never changed in front of anyone; she always did it in the privacy of the stalls. All of the other girls thought it was strange that she secluded herself from them. They never mentioned it or anything, but Amber knew they thought she was weird by the looks they’d give her. She didn’t care. All she ever wanted to do was change quickly and get out. So, she waited for someone to come out of the stalls.

“Why don’t you just change out here with the rest of us?” a girl scoffed, “Why do you always hide in the stalls like an oddball?” She was one of the outcasts, but apparently, she must’ve felt that she was high enough on the high school totem pole to pick on Amber.

“Yeah, weirdo,” another girl teased, “Just change already. We’re all girls here. Why are you afraid of dressing out in front of other girls?” The two girls laughed, along with the other outcast girls.

Amber rolled her eyes in annoyance. It would’ve been one thing if it was one of the popular girls making fun of her, but to have one of the self-conscious girls do it…it was irksome. Wasn’t there some sort of…secret bond between all of the outcasts that didn’t shower in the locker room? Apparently not. Those girls had some nerve making fun of her for wanting to change in private. After all, the only reason those two were changing out in the open was because all of the populars were still in the showers. If the other girls weren’t in the showers, they’d be trying to find a stall to hide in, too.

She was fed up, and the people in the stalls were taking too long. Besides, she wanted to hurry up and get out of the locker room. If she waited for a stall to clear, she could end up being late for her next class. She shrugged. She honestly didn’t have anything to hide. Why not just get it over with? There was nothing to be afraid of, right? Even if the other girls were to say something rude about her body, it’d be some dumb superficial crap, anyway. What did they have to make fun of? Her body shape and size? The size of her breasts, maybe? That kind of junk was so petty, and she wasn’t going to let it bother her. She had bigger worries in her life besides looking good for people. The way she saw it, all girls should love their bodies no matter what. And with that, she decided she was going to get it over with.

All of the other misfit girls had finished, and were starting to leave. Amber went over to where her locker was and, for time’s sake, just went ahead and began changing. “Everything will be fine,” she figured. She was wrong.

Just as she undid the drawstring to her black sweatpants, out came a group of five girls from the showers, towels wrapped around their bodies and shower caps on their heads. “Oh my God!” one of them, a really short girl, shrieked, jumping backwards with her hand over her heart when she saw Amber drop her sweatpants to her feet.

“Oh my God, what?” another girl, a member of the cheer squad asked in a panic, also placing her hand on her heart, concerned. At first, Amber had no earthly idea why that girl reacted that way. Maybe she saw a roach or something. There had been many of roaches (as well as other things) in the locker rooms before. Every time it happened, most of the girls would scream and back away in a corner all in a cluster and change hurriedly. Then, once they were fully dressed, they’d run out and tell Ms. Chesterfield, who’d try her best to calm them down. It was probably the same situation again. Not caring, Amber changed into her jeans. She didn’t have time for any bug-related foolishness. None of the girls would go near her.

The short girl that totally freaked out whispered to June, the cheer squad girl, “S-she’s actually changing out here…where we always change. I-I don’t w-want to change with her here. She might…look at us.”

“Don’t worry,” June assured all of the girls, watching Amber button and zip her pants, “We’ll make damn sure she never steps foot on our part of the locker room ever again…”
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Special thanks to Taneisha for all the help with this, mainly in this chapter, the Prologue, and chapter one.

Also, for an entire month, I'mma gonna be posting two chapters a week as a thank you to all of you who commented and recommended and subscribed. Hell yeah!