Testing The Water.
An older girl that had allegedly sprained her ankle after falling down the stairs, had been testing one of those ruses; as had been the girl that had supposedly locked herself, accidentally (in a pig's eye), in one of the bathroom stalls, and another… but you get my drift.
The first girl held tightly on to him, striving to keep him close to her to encourage him to notice her, and to take advantage of certain crucial clothing-deficiencies that had to be obvious to him the way she was lying with her legs apart and her skirt high on her legs, favoring one of them and complaining of pain, until he discovered that she was not injured at all, but would welcome his attention in any way he wanted to provide it to certain exposed and eagerly welcoming parts of her body. She’d already got rid of her panties in preparation for that and loosened her blouse. He felt lucky to have so easily escaped that particular adventure with so many 'witnesses' around.
The second girl had waited expectantly for him to discover her, once he had lifted the stall door off its hinges to reveal her sitting there, essentially naked. Where she thought it could go from there with her friends looking on giggling, and nudging each other, they had not yet thought about. That would be the next step.
The girl had hoped that he would actually go under the side of the stall, and that they could then be alone in there together for some time, in close quarters as he calmed her fears of being locked in there forever, but it had not worked out that way. They would think about it before their next and more inventive attempt.
The school became more and more dangerous for him with time, and not safer. Familiarity, bred—not contempt, as the saying said, but—much more familiarity.
They thought it great fun how they could embarrass him, except he hadn’t let them see his embarrassment at all, but had just put the door to one side and walked away, saying nothing to either the girls, or to Miss Bagnold afterward, but Miss Bagnold knew all.
He’d see to the door later, when the coast was clear, which might not be until all of the girls had retired. Or he could just take all of the stall doors off. What did they need with privacy when they seemed so ready to flaunt everything to everyone, and especially to him?
He was wise to them now, but he had been required to wade in, when a cat-fight had erupted between two older girls in a dispute over something. It was not what he would have chosen to do, but it threatened to end with injuries to one or both girls, and possibly to him too, but not in that other personal way, so he had not hesitated. They learned of a new side to him at that time.
He had not been gentle with either of them as he separated them before blood had been drawn, though getting scratched himself in the process.
He grabbed both girls by their hair and pulled hard to get them apart, eliciting loud complaints from them both, and then he stepped between them without saying a word, sending one girl back, holding her nose, her eyes watering, leaving her wondering what he had done to her, and the other falling back, sitting hard to the ground when her feet refused to support her, winded, and fighting for breath, equally confused over what he had done to her. The many eye-witnesses were all confused about what they had seen, and there were as many variations in the tale as there were girls who had seen it.
The two, tried to continue their spat with a vicious war of words, conducted at a safe distance as their friends held them back from each other until a teacher appeared and took over.
They still didn’t know what he had done to each of them or how he had done it, other than it had been very effective, and they did not want to see a painful repeat of that. Clearly, men were dangerous.
There had also been that other time on the hockey field. It had been less of a personal problem for him, during a hotly contested game between battling thirteen-year-olds.
Half of the school had turned out to watch the game between the two closely-matched rival teams, one from another school.
The pace was fast and furious, ranging from one end of the field and back again, as bodies came close to colliding, and the sticks were wielded with lightning-fast reflexes and skill, until one of the girls broke her stick against another girls stick, trying to recover the ball.
The girl had been off balance, and she had fallen onto the sharp end of it, letting out a horrendous shriek as it had driven into her side.
She fell to the ground.
There seemed to be blood everywhere. She lay there moaning and writhing in pain as her light colored shirt became more noticeably stained with blood. The intense horror on the faces of those standing around, paralyzed with indecision and panic, was clear to see. The play halted immediately, of course, and the players fell silent, rooted to the spot, indecisive, wondering what had happened and what to do.
Then, he was suddenly there, a shining knight coming out of nowhere, kneeling beside her, knowing what to do as though he had done all of this before, holding the stick steady with one hand, and lifting her bloody and torn shirt around the stick with the other, to see what he could, of the wound to her side, noting where it was, as the girl lay there, pale and moaning. It had not gone through her, but the injury was still severe, and deep.
Where had he come from?
“Hold this steady, and still.”
There was no arguing with that request-that-was-an-order. A more level-headed girl who had been refereeing the game, stepped forward to do as he asked, given no choice, as others fell back, feeling nauseated and not sure what to do.
They would dream about it for many nights, seeing that stick in her side, hearing her screams, and seeing all of that blood.
He did not hesitate, but stripped off his own shirt as those girls stood there in confusion. He wadded it tightly and held it to her side as he felt behind her, and then retrieved the stick from the hands of the first girl.
They had never seen a man naked from the waist up before; so amazingly, shockingly well-muscled, or seen so much hair on anyone’s arms or how well-developed his arms were, almost as big as their legs.
He looked at the girl on the ground. She probably would not understand a word he said with the state she was in.
“I’m going to lift this out of you. It’s a superficial wound, and the stick seems to have missed everything important. It will hurt.” He was not asking her permission, and was giving her no choice.
The wounded girl let out a shout of pain as he did that, before he pressed his shirt directly over that wound this time, putting a lot of pressure there as he pulled her against his knees for support, and looked up at those standing around.
They had never seen this man, or any man do anything so decisive before, but they knew instinctively that this was what men did. This man, anyway. He seemed unaware of her developing maturity, or that with her falling as she had, her short hockey skirt was covering nothing, revealing delicate panties to the world.
He did not see. He did not care.
Until then, they had generally regarded him as unsociable (that was only one of the more forgiving words, of many unflattering descriptions that were used to describe him behind his back). Others excused him as being shy. He was clearly both unsociable and shy, studiously ignoring them at all times. He was aloof too, as though he didn’t actually see any of them, other than to try and avoid them when they ran into him somewhere in the school as classes changed, and as though they had not seen him, which they hadn’t (he was much taller than even the tallest of them) other than for them seeing a pair of immoveable legs or an iron-hard body that they had run into. Now, they could freely admire and be amazed by that wondrous body of someone only slightly removed from a god.
He pointed to one of the calmer girls, still pale, and another beside her. There was no mistaking that he was in control of the situation once he had seen that there was no teacher around, and no one else capable of dealing with it.
“You two. Run to the school office and ask them to send for an ambulance, and tell them why: that a girl was pierced by a broken hockey stick in her side and is bleeding, and where she is, then bring the school nurse back here with her first-aid kit”—he pointed to the second girl—“find Miss Bagnold and let her know about this. Go.” They ran off with skirts flying as though a fire had been lit under them. He looked directly at another.
“You, go into the change rooms and bring me some clean towels.” She ran off to do his bidding, almost wetting herself in fear (fear, not of him, but of the situation), with another following her.
He returned to the girl on the ground, seeing her eyes were open, but screwed up with pain.
“You’ll be okay. It hurts like hell I know, but I’ll keep the pressure on. What’s your name?”
“Stef. Stefanie Boltzman.” She could talk but was pale, breathing shallowly, and was in pain.
“Well, Stefanie Boltzman, the hospital is only a few minutes away so we’ll soon have you seen to.” She was lying still now.
“Thank you.” She was aware that he was helping her far better than any of her friends could have done.
He picked up the lower part of the broken hockey stick as he kept the pressure over her wound and examined its bloody end.
One of the girls passed him the handle that went with it.
From what he could see, comparing the two, there was just a single clean break on the shaft along the grain, and none of the wood appeared to be missing, though there could be cloth fibers in that wound.
That would go with her in the ambulance for the doctor to see.
Another girl by then, was gently putting a rolled up coat under the girl’s head, as others recovered their wits, and brought her skirt down over her, and other things over her to cover her legs to trap her warmth before she went into shock. The girls on the sidelines stayed quiet, tearful, in shock themselves, and waited.
He looked at the girls who had helped, smiled, and thanked them, appreciating their efforts.
“Thank you.” They recovered enough to do more, needing to be seen to be doing the right thing by his unhesitating example.
The girls came back from their tasks soon after that, and he made Stefanie as comfortable as he could, while they waited for the ambulance. Neither Miss Bagnold nor the nurse could be found, and other girls were looking for them.
They could hear the ambulance faintly in the distance.
“Five minutes, Stefanie. Five minutes.” She had her eyes closed, but was holding his hand firmly on her side.
He went to the hospital with Stefanie, with one of her friends going along with them in the ambulance. No one knew when he got back, but both Miss Bagnold and the nurse had gone to the hospital as soon as they knew what had happened.