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

Rarae Aves

Bullies and a Great Friend

“Hey, Liu!” June shouted, “Who said you could change here?”

Amber froze up. “Oh great, someone’s trying to start something…”

“Don’t you know that this is where we change?” June yelled, “You can’t be here.”

“Don’t let them push you around,” she told herself, “You have every right to be here.” She could’ve just quickly changed her shirt, put her shoes back on, and ran out of there. That’s probably what she should’ve done. She would’ve avoided confrontation that way. She wasn’t in the mood for scurrying away, though; she was going to stand up for herself. “I can be wherever I want,” she huffed, “You don’t own the locker room.”

“Ooooo,” the other popular girls howled in unison mockingly. They found it laughable that Amber, a weird little nobody, had the audacity to backtalk June.

June didn’t care for Amber’s mouthiness one bit. How dare that little…whatever the hell she was…snort at her like that? “Go the hell away and get away from our spot!” she snapped.

“Why?” Amber smirked, feeling brave all of a sudden, “Are you-” she made a fake gasp “-afraid of changing in front of me?” She crossed her arms, waiting for their reaction. She knew they had no problem changing in the locker room. So, why the hell were they telling her to leave and acting afraid to go near her? They were just being jerks.

“I should come over there and slap that dumb smirk off your face, Liu,” June threatened. All the other girls concurred with a cheer of “yeahs.”

“Whatever, I don’t have time for this,” Amber repined, brushing it off. She grabbed the hem of her gym tee shirt, starting to lift it upwards. One of the stalls cleared, and the girl that came out was washing her hands. As she washed, she listened to the conversation. Amber was considering going to the stall, but decided against it. She was already there and she wanted to prove a point. She was going to stand her ground and just do it.

She had the shirt lifted just above her navel when June said, “Nobody here wants to see your gross, manly little-boy body. That’s disgusting.” Amber dropped the shirt hem back into its place, beginning to feel awkward. She didn’t think they were going to take the petty route and play the “you look like a guy” card. The locker room erupted with laughter as Amber felt her cheeks flush from embarrassment. Even the girl washing her hands laughed, and Amber could tell that the girls in the stalls were, too. She took a step back, and cast her eyes towards the floor as her cheeks grew redder. Finally, the other two girls in the stalls came out, giggling the whole time.

“Eww, yeah,” one of the girls from the stalls, a stout red-head added, “No one wants to see that.” They all continued to roar with laughter. Quickly, Amber grabbed her things and made a dash towards the stalls, but the read-head and the other two from the stalls blocked her path.

“Come on,” Amber whined, “J-just let me in so I can change in private, okay?”

“Should we, girls?” the red-head asked, looking around at the others.

“No!” they all jeered.

Amber tried to make her way past them, but the red-head pushed her to the ground. More laughter and giggling followed. The fact that she fell into a puddle of water (she hoped it was just water) on the tile floor was just an added bonus for them. “We’ll teach you to change in our spot,” sneered a girl who looked like a freshman. All the girls had formed a circle around her. Amber tried to get up, but she was pushed down again. She could feel tears starting to form. “Aww…,” the freshman girl started again, crossing her arms, “She’s going to cry. Poor little baby.”

“She?” the short girl that freaked out earlier when she first saw Amber in their spot quipped, “I think you mean ‘it.’ ‘Cause that obviously ain’t no real girl.”

“Sh-shut up,” Amber stuttered, trying her best to not cry in front of them.

“No,” said June, “You shut up, you freaking…girl-guy-thing-it-she-man.”

“Yeah,” another girl, this one wrapped in a pink towel with her monogram embroidered on it, started, “We all know that the only reason you were in front of the lockers is because you wanted to watch us undress, you freak.”

“Yeah, it wanted to see our boobs,” added June.

“Speaking of, I bet she doesn’t even have any!” someone shouted.

Amber couldn’t put up a brave front anymore; this had all been a big mistake. She started to cry, just wishing she could disappear. That’s when all the girls started chanting, “Freak, freak, freak, freak!” in a sing-song fashion. Every now and then, a girl would utter a derogatory term just to mix it up a bit, and add more insult to injury. The circle of her mean classmates tightened around her, making damn sure she had no way to escape. The bell that signaled that it was time to go to their next class rang, but no one cared. They were too busy having fun taunting the “weird” girl that always wore baggy clothes and had short hair. She wasn’t “normal” like them; she didn’t belong and deserved to be punished. They kept it up until the bell that signaled that they were late sounded. Soon, Ms. Chesterfield was probably going to go in to see what was going on and why she hadn’t seen that many girls leave the locker room yet.

Knowing this, all of her bullies quickly scattered and got ready to leave. All the girls that needed to change did so at lightning speed, seeing that Amber was too busy crying to sneak glances (even though she wouldn’t have done that, anyway) at them. They all ran out of the locker room in a huge collective, still talking and giggling about how funny it was that they bullied her. Her body shuddered as she cried for a moment longer. She just wanted to stay there and cry and hide from the rest of the world forever, but she knew she couldn’t. Soon, either Ms. Chesterfield would walk in, or either the girls from the next gym class would in any minute. She slipped on her sneakers, not even bothering with socks, and got up, grabbing her backpack and gym bag. She ran towards the back of the locker room, to the door that lead outside.

She was still in her gym tee shirt, but she didn’t care; she just had to get away. Wiping tears from her eyes, she walked around the back of the school and went up the concrete steps to the football field. The grass had been freshly cut, the natural scent of it lingering throughout the air. The sound of birds chirping was audible. It was peaceful there, no one could bother her. The sets of bleachers that fans sat on to spectate football games came into view. The highest two levels of all the bleachers were high enough that people could walk and stand underneath them with no problem at all. She went under the set that was completely out of view from the school so no one could see her. It was shady under there. She dropped her bags and sat on a nice patch of grass, pulling her knees to her chest, and just let it all out and cried.

She had hidden under the bleachers before; no one really came up on the football field during the day, so she never got caught. It was where she always went when she skipped class. She knew it was wrong, but she did skip sometimes. Usually, she did it whenever they had a test she hadn’t prepared for. She would skip class, hide under the bleachers and try to study the material. Then, she’d show up to class the next day and make-up the test she missed. Sometimes having that extra preparation time helped, but not always. The only other times she ever skipped class were when she felt so exhausted, she knew she wouldn’t be able to keep her eyes open. If there was the risk of her falling asleep in class, to avoid getting fussed at by a teacher, she’d go up to the field and sneak in a quick nap under the bleachers. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t always such a quick nap…

This was the first time she ever went there to cry, though. Sure, she was no stranger to being picked on and teased; being made fun of by peers was a normal part of the high school experience that all teenagers had gone through at least once. However, what happened in the locker room…that was the worst it had ever been. She had never been ganged up on like that before, and no one had ever chanted at her before, either. No one had ever gotten physical in the past, either; none of the kids would so much as push her or anything. Until that day, it had always been little verbal insults like cracking jokes and the like. “What if the late bell hadn’t have rung?” she caught herself considering, “What would they have done to me if they had had more time?” She rested her forehead on her knees, tears still falling. Her cries had stifled down into little whimpers and gasps, and her shoulders weren’t shaking quite as violently, but she still felt miserable. She had never been teased like that in school before. She blinked away some tears, and they fell loose, creating little dark and damp spots in her lap when they landed.

All of a sudden, she heard a male voice ask, “Hey, what’s wrong, Am?” She looked to see none other than her friend Max standing there; he was skipping class, too.

“Oh, uh…h-hey,” she greeted him, wiping her tears away immediately and forcing herself to fake a smile. It was obvious that he had caught her crying; there was no point in pretending that she wasn’t. For some reason, she still tried to fake it, anyway.

“You okay?”

“Yeah, sure, why wouldn’t I be?” she lied, “Just chillin’. Yep.” She looked off to the side, avoiding his concerned gaze.

“Am,” Max’s voice deepened, “Don’t try to fool me. I know you were just crying about something. Now, tell me, what’s the matter?” He sat down next to her.

“What are you even doing here, Max?”

“Skipping class like you. Stop dancing around my question.”

“It’s personal, Max,” she told him, “Girl stuff.” Max reared back, a disgusted look forming on his face. Amber sighed and rolled her eyes, “Not like that, Max.”

“Ugh…well, uh, maybe we shouldn’t talk about it…” he trailed off.

“It’s just…girls were picking on me in the locker room, okay?” she said, burying her face into her hands. She rubbed her face and then lifted her head back up. “And, it really hurt my feelings,” she continued.

“Oh, I know how that is,” he returned, “People can jerks about that kind of stuff. Don’t worry about it; it’s just pathetic high school junk. The people in the locker rooms that make fun of everyone else are just uncomfortable with their own looks; that’s why they do it. Don’t let it get to you.”

“They didn’t just make fun of my looks, Max,” she groaned, pinching the bridge on her nose, “They pushed me and crowded around me, and they said I wasn’t a real girl.”

“Oh…geeze,” Max spoke barely above a whisper, feeling bad for his friend.

“June called me a…,” she stopped and let out a breath, “A ‘girl-guy-thing-it-she-man.’”

“You mean June from the cheer squad?”


“She’s jealous, you know?”

“Oh yeah, I’m sure she’s really jealous of me of all people,” Amber snorted sarcastically.

“It’s true. It’s because you hang out with me. She bullies Tia about it, too.”

“What? I don’t get it.” June had picked on her in the past, but it had never been anything major before.

Max sighed, “She thinks the two of you are a threat because you’re girls and you’re my friends. You see, I crashed an upperclassmen party with some guys in my class last year, and she was there. June was pretty drunk. A guy tried to mess with her and I helped her get away from the creep. Then, she started flirting with me, but I politely declined. I had a girlfriend at the time. You remember Linda, right?”

“Yeah,” answered Amber, “That girl you dated that moved to Ohio, right?”

“Yeah, her. Anyway, I could tell she didn’t take the rejection lightly. She’s still mad about the whole thing. She hates seeing me with other girls, even just friends. You and I hang out quite a bit, so that’s why she doesn’t like you. Tia’s not that big of a threat in her eyes, since I only see her at lunch. She’s just jealous, Amber. She thinks something’s happening that’s really not. Either that, or she knows we’re just friends, but she still doesn’t like it. Don’t pay her any attention, okay?”

“I didn’t know that,” Amber voiced when Max finished his story.

“It’s true.”

“Well, it still hurt, what she said. All of the other popular girls joined in and teased me. How am I supposed to set foot in the locker room ever again?”

“Just don’t.”

“Max, you have to change in the locker room, it’s half of your grade. The other half of the grade is participating in the activities, which you’re not allowed to do if you don’t change into your uniform in the locker room. The teacher keeps track of that crap.”

“Oh, right,” he realized, “Well, then just show up to class, and chill out in the bleachers.”

“And fail the class?” she shrieked, “Max, that’s a terrible idea.”

“Upperclassmen aren’t required to take gym. If you fail this year, you can make it up next year.”

“My GPA is awful as it is, Max.”

“Well, skipping class isn’t helping any, Amber,” he quipped matter-of-factly.

“I know,” she moaned, “I know. I don’t know what to do. I’m probably going to have to repeat tenth grade.”

“Well, the school year isn’t even close to over yet. I mean, we’re only half way through the first semester. You can get you grades up in time. You just have to study more.”

“I could try…”

“I mean, Devon and Jeff are the smartest people I know. They could help you for sure. I got it!”

“You got what?” she asked.

“An idea,” he exclaimed, clapping his hands together in excitement, “The six of us could have a study session this weekend. See if your stepmom will let you do it.”

Amber didn’t say anything. She knew she wouldn’t be able to go. “Oh great, another thing I’m not allowed to do. she thought.

“Just think about it,” Max urged. Some time went by before he changed the subject, “Hey, want to sneak onto the school’s outdoor court and shoot some hoops?”

Oh, how she wished that Max hadn’t have mentioned that. Him bringing up basketball only put her in a fouler mood. It made her think about how Ms. Chesterfield wanted her to join the team. “No, I don’t feel like it today,” she mumbled.

“Aww…” he cooed, “You really must be feeling bad. Come here.” He embraced her with no hesitation at all. He just wanted her to feel better. Out of everyone in their group of friends, with the exception of the two siblings, Amber and Max had the strongest connection. The two of them were best buddies.

Amber felt so at peace in his arms. She didn’t see him as anything more than a friend, and neither did he, but it still felt great to have him there comforting her. Amber couldn’t help but notice that Max smelled like cheap cologne and after shave; it was kind of unpleasant. She laughed, breaking the hug. “You need to go easy on the after shave and cologne, dude. You reek a little.”

“Whatever,” he grunted, slapping her arm playfully, “You wish you could smell as good as me.”

“Uh-huh, sure,” was her response. Max rolled his eyes at her. For the rest of the class period, they just talked and joked around. Before she knew it, Amber began to feel much better. That’s was one of the good things about having great friends.

“Come on,” he told her when he checked his watch, “The Bell probably just rang, and it’s time for lunch.”

“Okay,” Amber rejoined, “I want to hang out with the rest of the gang, anyway.”

“Yeah, and if we hurry, we might be able to get some chicken sandwiches before they sell out. Come on!” They both made a mad dash down the concrete steps to the school, but they had to slow down once they got inside the building. “You doing okay now?” Max asked her as the passed the trophy case in the hallway on their way to the lunchroom.

“Yeah,” she grinned.

“Glad to hear it.” He gave her a quick side hug, happy to know she was fine.

“Eww, you still stink, Max,” she teased, “Get off.” She pushed him away, and they both laughed. The two of them didn’t know that a certain jealous member of the cheer squad was watching them with beady eyes.

The rest of the school day was nice. She had a great time with her friends at lunch, and Mason even apologized for his behavior yesterday. None of the teachers in the classes that followed even bothered checking for homework, either. That bought her an extra day, but it didn’t guarantee anything. The school day ended with them watching a movie in her last period because they had a substitute teacher. She actually had a great time in school after the gym class disaster. She actually walked to work smiling that afternoon, something she hardly ever did. All of her problems had melted away, or so she thought…
♠ ♠ ♠
Max is such a good friend. :)