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Losing the Field

Abbi Glines

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  To the reader who has been hurt by words. You are not defined by anyone but yourself. No words can take away your happiness except you. Love yourself and others will too.

  To the reader who has lost a dream. Life often changes courses, and you can choose to give up or find a new path with an even brighter future.


  It all started in first grade. Those crystal-clear blue eyes and dimpled smile on the prettiest color skin I had ever seen. Nash Lee was the only kid who smiled at me on my first day of school. A few had snickered when I walked in. My stomach ached, and I wanted to go home. I knew it was a bad idea to wear the shorts that my momma had bought me. My thighs rubbed together when I walked, and the shorts crawled up between them, showing even more of my dimply white legs.

  But Nash Lee hadn’t called me “fatty” or “four eyes.” When the girls had giggled when I tripped walking to the teacher’s desk to sharpen my pencils, Nash had told them to stop. When the teacher mispronounced my name every day the entire first month, everyone laughed but Nash. He began correcting the teacher when I had given up after three days in a row. I would soon learn that the fat, shy girl wasn’t popular with teachers, either. They made comments about the lunches I brought, and one told me to wear bigger shorts.

  In my mind Nash Lee was my hero. He was kind yet popular, beautiful, and a star on the football field. He had been approached by college recruiters already. Or that’s what the rumor was. I was sure there would never be a more perfect man in this world. Until the last day of our junior year. It all changed.

  Tomorrow was the day I looked forward to all school year long. Like most of my classmates. However, my reasons were different. I didn’t want to escape from homework and tests. I enjoyed learning. I liked to read. I had spent hours reading the websites of over fifty colleges I might want to attend. But I hated the way high school made me feel. I was ignored unless someone was using me to get some laughs from their friends.

  When the school play tryouts came around, I always memorized the lines, practiced in a mirror for hours, recorded myself, and watched it to perfect anything wrong. But no matter how good I was, I never got the part. I didn’t fit. I wasn’t what they wanted onstage.

  I was fat. I accepted it. And instead of dieting, I would go home and eat a box of cookies to make myself feel better. It was comfort to me. It didn’t make fun of me. Food was where I found happiness. That and reading. I read all the time. I read so much that I reviewed books online. I had a blog that covered everything from fantasy to romance to horror. I liked it all.

  In my head I was already at home reading a book, enjoying the swing on our back porch. Alone and safe from the cruelty that surrounded me. I cleaned out my locker, happy that next year I would be a senior and for sure get the top locker that I had requested the past two years and not received. With my backpack full of the items that had collected over the past nine months, I headed for the exit, so glad it would be twelve weeks before I had to walk back in those doors.

  Before I could get to the door, Nash Lee and his cousin Ryker came walking inside. They were smiling and laughing. Happy with life. I wondered what that felt like. Having it all. Being loved, accepted, wanted.

  “You out of here, Tallulah?” he asked, still smiling.

  No one ever spoke to me or called me by my name. No one except Nash. Last year my best friend Annamae moved to Georgia. Since then I was a loner. I wasn’t good at being social and making new friends.

  “Yes,” I replied, feeling my cheeks heat up like they always did when he spoke to me.

  “Enjoy your summer. We’re finally seniors!” He said the last bit with more enthusiasm. I was sure he had a big college interested in him, and he’d go get everything he had dreamed of.

  “You too.” Those were silly words really. As if Nash Lee wouldn’t have the best summer of his life. I was sure every summer was amazing for him. He’d have parties and friends. He’d go to the beach and not be embarrassed to wear swim trunks. I hadn’t worn a bathing suit and gone swimming since I was seven and someone called me “Fatty Patty” while I was at the local pool.

  I did not stand there and make him keep talking to me. I figured he was kind enough to speak to me, and so I responded and went on my way. I walked past them, and when I was a good distance away I heard Ryker whisper a little too loudly, “Damn, I hope she don’t wear swimsuits in the summer. No one needs to see that.” Ryker then laughed as if he’d said something hilarious.

  I waited for Nash to scold him. To tell him that wasn’t nice. To be my hero.

  Instead . . . the worst sound in the world . . . the one thing I never expected. Nash laughed too. Then they were gone inside those doors, and their laughter with them. However, it would haunt me. It would remind me that I had no one but my mom who loved or wanted me. Not even my father had stuck around.

  I had been craving my home and security all day, but when I got into my white Honda Civic, I didn’t go home. Instead, I drove to the walking track at the local park, got out, and walked until I couldn’t take another step. My shirt was wet with sweat. My feet ached so bad I wasn’t sure I’d make it back to my car. My face was streaked with tears. But the next day I did it again. And again. And again.

  I Doubt You Notice Fat Girls



  “Is she new?” I heard whispered yet again as I walked into the doors of Lawton High School. I’d heard that question as I passed at least three other groups of students. People I’d gone to school with since preschool. I had often wondered if some of them even knew my name. They never spoke to me. Hardly acknowledged me.

  I had blamed them for so long. However, over the summer I’d come to realize a lot of things. One being I was the one who tried to be invisible. I was shy. I didn’t want attention drawn to me. Often when I did get attention it was hurtful, and I kept to the shadows as much as possible. So if they didn’t know my name, then it was because I had done nothing notable. Nothing to look back on one day and be proud of.

  This year would be different. I wasn’t hiding now. I was tired of being the butt of everyone’s jokes. I would make my senior year one to remember. One to be proud of. I was even going to join . . . something. Maybe the yearbook staff or possibly try out for the dance team. I could dance. That was my little secret. When I had weighed more than society thought I should, I hadn’t wanted to dance in front of anyone. It was something I did alone.

  “Hey, new girl!” a male voice called out. Since I wasn’t new, I ignored him. But I did glance slightly to the left to see who it was. Asa Griffith. I almost paused. He was good friends with Ryker and Nash Lee. Ryker I didn’t care about, but Nash . . . let’s just say that my hurt and anger because of him were what kept me going all summer. When it was so hot I thought I’d melt, but I walked anyway. When I really wanted some hot-from-the-oven cookies, but I ate an apple instead. It had been revenge. Admitting it wasn’t something that I was proud of, but it was the truth. I hated Nash Lee. But that hate had driven me to lose weight.

  Before I could think too long and hard about it, I stopped and turned to Asa Griffith. He was attractive, popular, and would be the Lawton Lions star running back now that West Ashby had graduated. Asa gave me a flirty grin I had never see
n before. Guys like Asa didn’t smile at girls like me. Or they hadn’t. I realized how shallow they were now that I was thin. My plan for revenge may be something ugly. But so was the way they treated girls due to their weight. Inside I was the same. No, that wasn’t true; inside I was angrier now.

  I didn’t know how to flirt. I was one to shrink near a corner. So I just stared at him. Waiting to see what would come out of his mouth next.

  “Asa,” he said with a nod as he closed the distance between us. “You just move here?”

  “No,” I replied. This question I had prepared for. I was going to enjoy it. Seeing the looks on their faces when they found out they’d known me for years.

  He was still smiling, but he looked confused. “Homeschooled?” he asked.

  “No, Asa. We had Literature together last year. Economics the year before that. In fifth grade you tripped me in the hallway, and my books went everywhere. It was an accident. At least I assumed it was since you helped me pick up my books.”

  That was more fun than I realized it would be. He stood there frowning. I wondered if he even knew my name. It only fueled the fire inside me. My revenge seemed justified.

  “Asa,” a familiar voice called out, then a pause. I turned my head and met his gaze head on. He wasn’t the one I hated. He had never noticed me before. He’d not been someone I expected to be better than that. Nash had been. But Ryker Lee had been there. He had said the words. Made the joke. The one that had cut deep enough to change me.

  “Well, hello,” Ryker Lee said with a drawl. Then as he got closer to me, I saw the confusion in his eyes. Slowly that turned to clarity. He recognized me. “Holy shit,” he muttered.

  I let him take in my transformation. As he let out a low whistle that I found insulting, Asa said “What is it?” He was still confused.

  “Tallulah, right?” Ryker said when his eyes stopped gawking at my body and found my face.

  “Yes,” I replied.

  “Wow” was all he said.

  “Tallulah.” Asa said my name as if it were familiar, but he just couldn’t place it.

  “The summer was good to you,” Ryker finally said, a slow smile spreading across his face.

  I wanted to say that I had in fact worn a bathing suit. But I held that close. He didn’t need to know I’d heard him. I also didn’t want to hear his apologies.

  “Likewise,” I said, although I gave him a forced smile. “Have a good day,” I added, then walked away. That was done. My first conversation with those close to Nash. As much as I didn’t want to talk to them. Ryker had never spoken to me before. Why should I speak to him now? But I had to. My plan was to be accepted into Nash’s world and then completely ignore him. Embarrass him in front of his friends. Let him see how it felt. Then, when I was satisfied, I’d walk away from all of that crowd. Find a path that fit me and be happy. But not yet.

  “Wait!” Asa called out.

  I stopped walking and glanced back at him. “Yes?”

  “You’re a senior, right?”

  It was all I could do not to roll my eyes. I simply nodded.

  “What’s your first class?”

  Seriously? It was this easy? He didn’t know me. Had no idea if I was intelligent, had a sense of humor, had any ambition in life. But he saw how I looked in this short skirt, and that was all it took. I had his complete attention.

  “Trig,” I told him.

  His eyebrows shot up. “Gorgeous and smart. We’ve got that one together. I’ll walk with you.”

  We had been in advanced classes together since ninth grade. Something he didn’t recall. But I did.

  “Okay,” I agreed, then saw Ryker watching me. I gave him a smile and little wave that I assumed was flirty before walking toward the entrance with Asa.

  “I’m having a hard time believing we’ve been in school together since elementary and I don’t remember you. Although your name is familiar.”

  For a smart boy, you’d think he would realize how admitting he didn’t remember me made him seem like a jerk.

  “I doubt you notice fat girls.” The distaste in my tone was unavoidable. I could only take so much.

  “Fat?” he repeated. “You’re not fat.”

  I turned my head until my eyes met his. “No, Asa, not now. Not anymore. But the Tallulah you don’t remember was fat.”

  Slowly I could see the recognition in his eyes. They grew wider, and then his mouth dropped open slightly. Maybe he did remember the fat girl in the corner. My face was thin now, but it had all the same features. If he’d ever taken the time to look at me then, he’d see that.

  “You gave me your notes last year when I missed class for a week with the flu,” he whispered. Like he was too amazed to talk in his normal tone.


  He stared at me then. I wondered how many other memories of me he was recalling. I let him stare. Remember the girl I once was, because that girl was nicer. Kinder. This one wasn’t.

  This Tallulah was going to leave her mark, then walk away.

  We All Love You Here



  I was late, and I didn’t want to be here. Standing outside, staring at this place, all I felt was disappointment, pain, and loss. This was supposed to be my defining year. I had plans. I was a senior. I’d leave here and go become great. Football was my life. It was my future. It was all I’d cared about fighting for since I was old enough to walk around holding a ball in my hands and not falling down.

  And all those dreams were gone. Just like that. Over. I hadn’t wanted to come back. My dad was making me. Told me life threw shit at you, and how you handled it defined the man you would become. All I knew was my life was over. I didn’t want to fucking handle it. I wanted to stay away from here. From what was formerly my life. All my dreams were dead.

  The late bell sounded, and I still stood there looking. My friends had been supportive. But the pity in their eyes was almost too much. I hated seeing it there. When I began walking toward the entrance, the limp I’d now live with the rest of my life mocked me. Reminding me of what I’d lost. What could never be again.

  The darkness in my soul was taking over. Just two months ago I had been so excited about what would come next. My life was just like I had always planned it. Senior year was ahead and with it my chances at a scholarship at a division one school. Ryker and I had been going to go together. We were a team. We’d play on Saturdays for our family and friends to watch on television. College would be our kingdom.

  Ryker would still have that, but my shot was done. I didn’t even know what the fuck to do with my life now. Why even go to school? I’d never wanted to do anything in life but play football.

  “You going in there, or you going to stand out here and glare at it?”

  I turned to see Coach D standing beside me. His hands in his pockets, staring at the school much the same way I had been. He was new. He’d been hired at the end of last year. I hardly knew him. All I knew about him was he was twenty-seven, had played football for Tennessee, and had a teaching degree. He was the defense coordinator on the team.

  “Not your business.” My tone was angrier than it needed to be. The man had done nothing to me. But he reminded me of all I didn’t have now.

  “Technically it is. I’m a teacher. One of yours to be exact. I get to correct students. Comes with the gig. Or so they tell me.”

  He was trying to lighten my mood. I got that a lot these days from people, and I hated it. I hated everything. “I’m already late.”

  He nodded. “Yeah, you are. So am I. Bad car battery this morning. But then I have a shit car.”

  We weren’t friends. We never even played a game together. By the time practice started up, my leg was already fucked. I didn’t want to be his friend, nor did I need someone to talk to. That was coming next. I could feel it in the air. Thick and annoying. He’d offer to listen to me. Tell me he understood. All that bullshit.

  I didn’t say anything more to him. When
he sighed, I felt my teeth grind in anticipation of the next words. His offer to listen. His small pep talk that he could shove up his ass.

  “It’s my job, so I better go on in. You’ll have to give the place death stares on your own. Good luck with that.” That was all he said. Then he walked on. Toward the entrance. Past me. No words of encouragement. Nothing.

  “That’s it?” I asked before I could stop myself.

  He paused and glanced back at me. “What?” He looked confused.

  I waved my hand in the direction of the school in frustration I didn’t expect to feel. “You’re a fucking teacher. I’m out here, and that’s all you’re gonna say?”

  He shrugged. “Sure. You want to stay out here in your own little hell, then do it. Nothing I can say to give you back your old life, Nash. Why waste my breath?”

  When he walked off this time, I just stood there watching him. Some would think he was a dick. But for the first time since I . . . I hadn’t been talked to like an invalid who needed special care.

  Once he was inside, I followed him. No point in protesting. My dad would be up here ready to kick my ass if they called and said I wasn’t here. He was as broken up about this as I was. He had dreams. We shared them. But he wasn’t gonna let me miss school.

  The door was heavier than I remembered. But then all the times I had walked through it before I’d been happy about things. I had liked it here. Now it was taunting me. The Lions crest on the wall with the championship banner from last year flashed like a neon sign. I’d played on that team. Been a part of that victory.

  My chest felt like it was being clawed at by sharp talons. The lion mocking me as it loomed ahead. Once I had gotten excited about that crest. I had been a lion.

  “You’ve missed the late bell, Nash,” Mrs. Murphy, one of the school secretaries said from the office. The door was always propped open with a large box fan blowing. I turned to look at her. Did she honestly think I didn’t know I was late? I’d ruined my damn leg, not my head. It worked just fine.