A Boy Named Beau
Gym class is definitely not my strong suit. I’m too small, too short, and too clumsy, yet my gym teacher insists on playing volleyball almost every Tuesday. It’s almost as if God is making it a routine, like Tuesdays are the days he watches me stumble across the gym and laugh as he eats popcorn with his blessed angels.
“Are you going to join or stare at the molecules in the air?” The gym teacher asks, his meaty hands on his meaty hips.
I look at him, disappointment shaping my features, “Do I really have to, coach? You already know how this is going to go.”
“We know, Charlie, but if you aren’t doing it, why should they have to?” He gestures to the other boys filing into their places, “You can be the libero since we already know you’re going to fall on your face.”
I laugh, “I guess that works.”
“Pretend like you’re smacking your face on purpose.” He slaps my shoulder, gesturing me to move over to the left side.
Even with a stomach full of butterflies, I move onto the side of the court, awaiting the serve. A tall, lanky boy named James is the server, and I watch as he throws the ball into the air, then runs after it to give the jump serve. It flies to our side of the court, right into the hands of the receiver, Collin. I watch impatiently as the ball goes up into the air again, right towards the setter, Lake. I step onto the court as I see the wall of blockers on the other side drop down with their hands up, prepared to jump. My job is to keep the ball off of the floor if it is blocked so that we can keep the game in play.
The spiker, Damien, is already running at full speed towards the net, his eyes connected with the setter. Before I could even notice, the ball was in the air and Damien slapped it with the palm of his hand, making it hit the blocker’s hands with a loud smack.
The ball hits my face, hard.
I drop back onto my butt, my vision blurring as something warm drips down my lips. I blink to try and see, my face tingling with hot pins.
“Dammit, Charlie!” Coach leans over me, grabbing my chin and tipping my head up, “Someone get a tissue or something.”
I blink a few more times, my vision coming back, “Did I get it?”
Coach laughs, putting the tissue on my lips, “Closer than ever before, boy.”
I smile, replacing his hand with mine as he helps me stand up. I feel the warmth come through the tissue.
“Damien, can you escort Charlie to the nurse’s office?”
“Sure thing.” He grabs my upper arm gently, helping me walk out of the gym.
“I’m fine, y’ know,” I mutter behind the tissue, looking at Damien.
“You look like you’ve been in a massacre.” He laughs, Opening the doors for me and walking me through, “Sorry about that by the way.”
“It’s not your fault, I’m supposed to keep the ball up.”
“You sure got pretty close this time.” He laughs again.
We get a few looks as we go down the hall, toward the office, but by now the whole school probably knows what happened. Words spread fast in an all-boys school.
He walks me into the nurse’s office and sets me in a chair, “See ya, Charlie.”
“See ya.” I sigh, watching him as he heads back to the gym.
“Bloody nose?” The nurse asks, coming out of her office to retrieve me.
“Bloody lip I think.” I stand up, following her in.
“Okay, darling, take a seat and let me look,”
I sit down and remove the tissue and she purses her lips, “Looks like your lip just got a bit of a split. Ball to the face I’m guessing?”
“Yeah,” I blush in embarrassment.
“You need to be more aware, Charlie. Don’t need you in my office every week.”
“I know, ma’am, I’m sorry.”
She cleans my lip off with a cotton ball and peroxide, then puts a little vaseline on it, “That should stop the bleeding. I doubt you’re gonna need stitches or anything.”
“Make sure to tell your mom you weren’t punched in the face. God knows what she’s gonna call us about this time.” She smiles, throwing the cotton ball away.
“I’m super sorry about her, she’s a worrier,” I mutter.
“No problem, darling.” She washes her hands, “You’re good to go. Tell your gym teacher I said to let you sit out.”
“Yes ma’am.” I get off the table, walking back out to the office.
I look over my shoulder, seeing the principal looking at me, “Yeah?”
“Can you come here for a moment?”
“Yes, sir.” I step into his office after him, “Want me to shut the door?”
“No need,” He sits behind his desk, flipping through a few papers, “I just need to ask you a few questions.”
“Oh, okay.” I stand with my hands in my pockets, my feets crossed, “Did I do something wrong?”
“I don’t know, did you?” He looks at me from over his glasses.
“Good, then no.” He pulls out a few papers, “Do you remember a student named Beau?”
My heart drops.
“Of course.” I look down.
“Well, he’s been kicked out of his private school, and is attempting to transfer here, and I want your opinion.”
“What for?” I look up at him.
“I know that you two were childhood friends growing up, and I want to know your opinion of him.”
“He’s...okay I guess.”
I shuffle, “I mean, I haven’t seen him since we were ten so I’m not really sure what he’s like now. Though it can’t be too good if he got kicked out of school…”
“Well, I’m not supposed to share this information but he was kicked out for punching a teacher.”
“What?! How is he not getting charges filed against him?!” “I’m not sure of the whole situation, though the teacher has filed no charges.” He sets the papers down after thoroughly examining them, “My main point is, his parents are trying their hardest to get him into this school, and I’m considering allowing the enrollment. Is there anything you have to say against this?”
“I feel like I’m not worthy of having an opinion on this…”
“As far as I know, you’ve never lied to me, Charlie. I’m trusting you and will make my decision based off of you.”
“But no pressure.” I laugh, “Yeah, I…,I don’t know. I would say just accept him…”
God what am I doing?
I shift to my left, “Have they moved into town?”
“I think they are going to move when I accept the enrollment.”
“So when do you think he’ll be coming?”
“Two days, three max. Why? Is this going to be a problem for you?” He looks at me.
“Him coming to this school?”
“It shouldn’t be, no.”
“Okay. Well, tell me if anything crazy happens. I know that you two didn’t break off well.”
I look down, “Yeah…”
“Head back to class now, Do you need a pass?”
“No. He knows I came.”
“Okay. see you then.”
I walk back out into the hall, headed for the gym. I already feel like I should punch myself in the face. Of course, Beau. Of course he’s coming back. Of all people, him.
I cover my face with my hands and groan. This is already giving me too much anxiety. Though, why did he punch that teacher in the face? And when did he become so violent? He never used to be like that.
I drop my hands and walk into the gym, seeing as the game continued after Damien got back. They’re mid-flow, left side with ten points, and right side with eleven. I sit down on the bleachers and touch my lip gently, making sure it’s not bleeding. All clear.
I look up at the ceiling and sigh. I’m not sure I’m ready to see Beau, even after six years. We haven’t even spoken since he moved to Iowa. He originally was moving away because his father was offered a new job as an engineer, but then we had our...situation, and he was set on leaving. He never even said good-bye to me.