The glaring sun of a mid-April afternoon disappeared from my eye’s view as I sauntered into the musty, foul-smelling locker room. As I sat down on the hard wooden bench that was disgustingly warm from whoever sat there before, the sound of gossiping and giggling from at least thirty other girls over the sound over locker doors slamming resonated loudly in my ears. As I pull my crumpled uniform from out of my locker, my friend Anna sits next to me already in her uniform. “Hey Taylor,” Anna chirped. I replied with a grumble, exhausted from the long day full of memorizing algebra equations and the scientific method. As Anna continued to speak enthusiastically about something or another, I changed into my uniform slowly, pulling the itchy grey fabric of my shirt over my head disheveling my hair in the process. I adjusted the frames of the glasses too big for my face and patted down my hair with my hand. I yawned loudly as our gym coach walked into the locker room and announced that today we’d be playing volleyball. My bad mood slightly worsened at the realization of engaging in physical excursion - especially volleyball. I knew that the next forty minutes would consist of being smacked in the face repeatedly with the volleyball or me smacking the volleyball into the net. Either way, it was not going to be a fun class.
It had been only ten minutes into the game and I had been hit in the face with the dirty old volleyball at least three times and smacked it into the net at least seven. I took a deep breath and tried to block out the annoyed sighs of my teammates and adjusted my uncomfortable petite gym shorts, which were a part of my sixth grade uniform. Unfortunately, Anna had been chosen for Team A, since she was extremely gifted at sports while I, being extremely terrible at sports, had been chosen last into Team C, so I was alone.
Team C was comprised of kids mediocre at sports, assorted friends who were chosen to stay together, intense sport fanatics, or me, a kid who was crappy at sports and making friends. As Team C made way to our section of the gym to play a game against Team D, kids were spitting curses and challenges at each other rambunctiously. I grimaced at every curse word, knowing that my grandmother would smack me if I said one, no more less than ten a sentence. Being the strict Christian she was, my grandmother taught me that cursing was a sin and I would have to pray hard for Jesus to forgive me, so I tried my danged hardest to not ever curse.
We all sorted into fixed positions on the court, chosen by our team captain, Jordan. The only person without a certain spot was me, which I was glad to go hide behind one of the taller kids, before a boy called to Jordan, “Yo, Jordan, you forgot..her?” I wasn’t particularly offended he forgot my name, it’s not exactly memorable. Jordan, being at least six feet tall, looked down at me, being at most five-foot-five, with a puzzled stare, which I met with an awkward smile. He grabbed my shoulders tightly and maneuvered me to a spot dead center, “Don’t miss a ball or you’ll ruin the game,” he announced and dropped his grip on my shoulders. I don’t know if it was directed at the whole team or just me, but I assumed it was the latter.
As I tried to stay away from any confrontation, I watched the volleyball fly back and forth over the net while my peers ran from side to side, their shoes squeaking loud against the gym floor, to get a chance to return the volleyball to the other side of the net. I avoided the ball as long as I could before it finally came hurtling in my general direction. The white ball flew towards my face as if in slow motion like in all the films I watched with my dad. In that few seconds, my entire life flashed before my eyes, I could see my parents crying at my funeral, and my grandmother was holding back her tears to stay strong for the family, because that's the kind of woman she is.
I shut my eyes in blind hope and threw up my hands to block the ball from ramming into my face and leaving a bruising indent from my big, bulky glasses. I felt the ball slam against my open palms, sending me a few steps backwards, and heard the sound of it bounce against the floor. I heard a plethora of frustrated groans and mumbled curses coming from my teammates, but one person above all. “What the f*ck? We could’ve won, but now time’s up!” Jordan’s voice echoed. I looked up at him and furrowed my brows, appalled that this loss was pinned on me when we were four or five points behind before my incident. “Who f*cking cares? We’re playing volleyball for the next two weeks!” I spat, full of frustration. There were a few gasps from kids who never heard me curse, let alone speak. I thought that would be the end of it, but my luck had run out years ago. “Hey, watch your language! Do you want to be sent out with a referral?” Coach Bradley boomed from across the court.
I froze. I could feel the sweat dripping down my neck, I could hear the sound of my grandmother’s yelling echoing through my head, “Cursing is a sin! You will have to pray extra hard for Jesus to forgive you! Shame shame!”
I looked to Coach Bradley who was staring me down, “Sorry,” I mumbled and gave her an apologetic smile. I’m sure the smile looked more like a constipated state of fear, but I tried. “Alright! Switch nets, we're playing one more set before packing up!” Coach Bradley walked over to a kid who called her, leaving me to contemplate myself. I looked back to Jordan who had a small disgruntled frown on his face before moving along to the next net. I sighed and promised myself I would never curse again, out of unadulterated fear. If I could help it, I would never sin again either, but my self control is terrible.