GRIP

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Thy Will Be Done

“Dude, women’s gymnastics sucks; Why did I even agree to this?” Tommy whined.

“We all did, Tom; let’s just do this, and get it over with,” Declan began, “I mean, think of it this way… We’re inspiring a new generation of gymnasts. Just like someone inspired…”

Tommy wrinkled his nose, “Shut up, fag,” he cut him off, “I’m the only one who gets to give the pep talks around here, comprende?”

Declan rolled his eyes and looked towards Skylar, who shrugged and shook his head, brushing it off.

Even with the addition of Declan to the collegiate team, and their consistent performances at the last few meets, both of Coach Johnson’s gyms continued to struggle economically. It started with a few pay cuts, but rapidly extended to staff cuts. As moral wavered, many of the girls at the sister gym had left, in search of a more stable training environment.

In an effort to turn things around, Coach delegated some of the guys on the collegiate team to work part time at the other gym.

Slowly, they piled out of the van and walked towards the gym. The difference was evident the instant, they walked through the doors. Instead of sweat and chalk, the gym had a faint sent of lavender, the chalk still lingered in the air, but the smell of sweat wasn’t as pungent, merely but a very faint undertone.

Without a clue of what to do, they eventually opted to split up and get a feel for the equipment. Declan headed to the balance beam alongside Skylar.

“This shouldn’t be too hard, right?” Skylar surveyed the beam. He climbed on top and slowly began to stand up. He wobbled around like a newborn fawn, wailing his arms until finally bending too far over and slipping off. Declan snorted, he wasn’t laughing at him, intentionally.

“Is that funny?” Skylar lifted his eyebrow. He continued laughing until Skylar shoved him towards the apparatus, “You try it.”

Declan stared the beam down. Coach Johnson had trained him well. Balance beam wasn’t foreign to him, he’d trained on it to fix his once directionally challenged tumbling.

He squared his body and walked the length of the beam confidently. At one point, he wobbled, purposely, alarming Skylar.

“Alright, stop playing around,” Skylar shook his head. “Can you do anything on it?

Declan shrugged, “Cartwheels. Maybe a round-off.”

“Try a jump.” Skylar instructed.

Declan followed instruction and jumped. Wobbled, but stayed on. He turned to Skylar and gave him the thumbs up.

The day crept by with a glacier pace, Declan and Skylar eventually moved to lower beam and were trying simple skills for the time being. Tommy and Jason were on the uneven bars, trying to get the timing right on some transitions from high bar to low bar. After a few more hours of acclimating themselves to the apparatus, they caucused around the water cooler.

“So... How is floor going to work?” Tommy asked the group as they collected their breath.

The thought hadn’t really crossed their minds. Women’s floor exercise was vastly different from men’s; the choreography, the music, the artistry…

“Who is going to choreograph the routines for the girls?” Skylar finally broke the silence.

They all looked at each other quizzically. It wasn’t until they all turned towards Declan that the silence was broken.

“No. I’m not doing it.” He shook his head.

“You’re the most flexible of us all.” Jason pointed out.

“Exactly. If anyone can choreograph, it’s you.” Skylar added.

“Yeah, fag, I’m not going to deny that. You have that disgusting over split, and you’ve taken dance lessons since you started your training… Actually, it was hilarious watching your fat faggot ass prance around ballet with all those little girls.” Tommy chuckled.

“Can we not?” Declan furrowed his brow.

“Really? You’re ashamed of your own faggotness, now?” Tommy mimicked Declan’s furrowed brow.

“I’m not… Ashamed… Just the image of a heavier me ‘prancing around’,” he air quoted, “makes me uneasy.”

They shared a laugh. After a lengthy debate, it was decided; Declan would be in charge of beam and floor, Skylar would be in charge of vaulting and would help Declan on floor skills, and, finally, Jason and Tommy were delegated bars.

They gathered their things and exited the building. It would be hard, on top of their grueling work outs, but they knew they had to contribute. If not for Coach Johnson, for the sake of the dreams and aspirations of the gymnasts they’d be coaching, as well as their own.


“Art therapy sucks, but I enjoy it.” Karen commented as she drew away on a sketchpad. Art was one of the many activities they were allowed to participate in, including basketball, tai chi, and yoga.

Declan had always been into drawing, which had lead to him taking an interest in fashion design. It was a way he could truly express himself, and his creativity.

“Shit. Alright, Picasso,” She exclaimed as she examined his drawing. It was an ornate design. The ruching, the meticulous beading pattern... It had iconic potential, as if it belonged at a gala or on a red carpet.

“What?” He inquired; it was obvious he didn’t make much of it. He’d never really considered himself to be particularly talented, when it came to drawing, but it was nice to garner some accolade.

“This is beautiful!” She continued, as she showed the rest of the patients.

“Karen, sit down,” Declan motioned.

“Sorry.” She sat down, dejected.

The session grew to an end, and they began to disperse. Declan and Karen walked towards the cafeteria, and sat down, after having grabbed some lunch.

“There’s still something I don’t understand… If you don’t mind giving me some insight,” She probed in between bites.

Declan’s brow furrowed, he’d come to abhor such initiations. However, it was a necessary tool towards recovery, so he had no choice but to engage in situations much like the one he was about to engage.

“Go on,” he nodded.

“Well, your parents, as you’ve mentioned, didn’t really know about Gable,” He nodded in acquiescence, “Did Gable’s?”

An involuntary sigh escaped him. Myriad of encounters with Gable’s parents filled his mind in rapid succession.

“Oh… They knew.” He shook his head.


“So, where is your next football game?” Declan asked randomly as they sat on Gable’s couch watching television.

“It’s a home game... Why?”

“Well, I was seeing if I could come? We have a by week and... I don’t know, I’d like to come watch you... Do your thang.” he smiled up at him.

“My thang?” Gable chuckled, “I’ll think about it, alright?” he lifted Declan’s face to his, “But... For now... Can we focus on another ‘thang’?” He smirked, looked in Declan’s eyes and nodded to his crotch.

“Right now? In your living room?” he asked wide-eyed.

Gable smirked and moved Declan until he was on top of him. The two teens began to kiss passionately. Declan straddled Gable and began to remove the jock’s shirt. Gable moaned as the teen kissed down his neck and onto his chest. He moaned even harder, as Declan took his nipple in his mouth and began to suck on it. Their hands explored one another body, leaving no place untouched. The passion in the room was palpable.

Their heartbeats pounded in unison. It was red. Declan worked his way down Gable’s torso and reached his belt, he began to undo it, as he peered into Gable’s eyes. They beckoned him to continue, so he did. His dick sprang to life, as he undid the button, and slid Gable’s jeans and boxers off.

He grabbed the base, and began an upward jerking motion. Gable moaned in ecstasy and pleasure. His eyes radiating passion and longing toward the guy between his legs. Declan, as if telepathically, smiled and engulfed the throbbing head with his mouth. He began to bob up and down, lubricating the jocks’ member.

Eventually he was bobbing his head up and down the entire length of the shaft. Gable was squirming and moaning, in the seat. Both were too far gone in the moment to hear the door being unlocked from the outside.

As the door swung open, they froze. Gable attempted to retrieve his clothes before anyone could see him nude, but it was too late. The light turned on, and Gable’s mom stood before them; mouth agape.


“WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?!” One of the other patients blurted.

The remark caused a shift of mood in the room. He’d been so transfixed on the memory, that the sudden interruption elicited laughter from deep within him.

“Well,” He said between laughs, “If you’d let me finish!”

Rehab wasn’t as awful as he’d thought. Every day felt like a different battle, true, but he’d grown to overlook the minutia that caused him unnecessary grief. He felt healthier; his knee was recovering well. He felt lighter… Reinvigorated, unfettered, and alive.


“Get out.” Her face stoic.

They both stared at her. Confused, without a clue of what to do. Gable’s jaw clenched. Declan could see the disappointment in his mom’s eyes, and immense sadness in his.

Declan grabbed his things and walked towards the door. However, before he walked past her, she grabbed his arm with brute force. Her nails dug in to his skin with fierce pressure.

“I don’t EVER,” She bellowed, “EVER want to see you in this house… Hell, I don’t ever want to see you in this town. Right now, if I knew I wouldn’t go to jail for it, I could kill you with my bare hands. Get the fuck out of here, you fucking faggot.” The infliction in her voice cut straight to him. Her words held more force than the one she was exerting on his arm. She pushed him towards the door.

Declan looked at Gable and furrowed his brow. Gable looked away and sat down on the couch, in preparation for what would be the worst conversation of his entire life.

“Has sucking dick,” she paused, “Caused you to lose hearing?” Gable’s mom continued her berating.

“No,” Declan shook his head, “I’m sorry. I’m leaving.”

Gable’s mom nodded in approval, and, with that, he walked out of the house, and into his car. He drove for a while, until he couldn’t keep it together anymore. He began to cry rivers. How was he supposed to feel? It was a terrible notion to wrap his mind around. He had, not only, put their relationship in peril, but had outed Gable to his mother, inadvertently.

He hated himself. He never wanted this to happen. It was meant to be a torrid affair, discrete in nature. He’d broken his trust before by telling his peers, and now he had no inclination towards where their relationship stood.

He pulled over, and broke down. He yelled expletive after expletive, banged the steering wheel, and finally buried his face in his palms. He empathized with Gable and what he must be dealing with. He messed up. He turned his car around, and headed straight towards Rio Rojo; he didn’t think about it twice.

He arrived in Rio Rojo, and drove straight to the gym. The drive was a blur, but once he arrived, he grabbed his bag, and walked through the doors of the gym.

That night, he worked out all of his frustration and self-loathing until his body felt as heavy as his heart. His body painfully pulsated as he sat looking at the vault.

“Fuck.” He finally muttered.


“Mom, please don’t tell dad.” Gable uttered the moment Declan walked out. He knew this was going to be worse than the Tsar Bomba. He wasn’t ready. He would never be ready to have this conversation with her… Or anyone.

Anna paced around the living room with her hand over her mouth, obviously ashamed. The pacing continued for a few minutes, Gable pleading his case.

“I swear to God, I’m not gay.” His voice cracked as he said gay.

“Then why the fucking… FUCK… Were you… Fucking around with that… That… That faggot!?” She finally uttered, the words cutting straight through him.

Gable searched her face, as if to find the answer. He didn’t know what to say. It was true, if he wasn’t gay, he wouldn’t be fooling around with a gay guy. He didn’t want to accept the fact that he was gay.

“I don’t know. I just… I’m not gay. I swear, mom.” He pleaded after deliberating the answer for a short eternity.

The social stigma placed on sexuality should’ve made him realize how dangerous and detrimental engaging in sexual activities with the same sex would be to his athletic career. He buried his face into his hands.

“I don’t ever want you to have any sort of contact with him. Ever again,” she began, “And if you do, I swear with God as my witness, that I will kick you out of this house, and believe you to be dead. I don’t want a faggot for a son. Never wanted it, never asked for it. No son of mine is going to be a fairy. You’re a man. Act like it, or I won’t allow you to be a part of this family.”

Gable cringed at the thought of not being able to talk to the person that meant most to him in this planet.

“You were my little boy. The only man who had never wronged me. I cared for you. I gave everything up for you,” She sat down, and began to cry, “I never thought this would happen. I can handle drugs. I can handle drinking. I could’ve even handled you getting a girl pregnant, but… For you… For you to be a gay? I don’t even know if I can look at you the same. Why? Why are you doing this to me, if I’ve given you everything I’ve been able to, and then more? Why are you doing this to me?” she repeated.

Gable couldn’t bear to look at his mother in this state. His face remained buried within the confines of his palms. He, too, had begun to cry. There was nothing he could possibly recant to remedy the situation.

“Tell me, please,” She begged, “Tell me why you did this to me. Say something!!!” She cried.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He uttered. They were both crying streams at that point. She out of pain and frustration, he out of shame.

“As long as you promise me,” she knelt next to him, and grabbed him from the back of his neck, “Promise me that you will never contact him again.”

He couldn’t look at her. He looked everywhere else but at her. He couldn’t bring himself to promise her that. He’d be lying, if he did.

“PROMISE ME!!!” She screamed at him, “PROMISE ME YOU’LL STOP TALKING TO THAT FAGGOT.”

“What is going on?” A voice behind them inquired.

“Julia… Julia…” Anna beckoned, “I need you to leave for a while. I’ll call you, when it’s okay to come back. We’re just…”

“Mom, I promise,” Gable conceded, “Julia, don’t worry… It’s nothing. Just a misunderstanding. That’s all it is.”

“Can someone please tell me what the hell is going on here?” Julia reiterated.

“It’s nothing, Julia; I promise.” He shook his head at her. Their eyes locked, and lingered. She searched his face for an answer, but he broke their gaze.

“Okay.” She looked at him and nodded. The rumors were true, Gable was gay, and this proved it to her. Gable knew she must know, on some level… Now, she had confirmation.


“Shitty.” Karen furrowed her brow.

“You’re telling me.” He leaned back in his chair.

“Did she end up telling his dad?” She asked.

“No. At least, I don’t think so.” He shrugged.

It almost seemed unfair how vivid that memory was to him, especially, after how long it’d been and the events that had unfolded since then. He had come to learn that, while his mind could be a cruel punisher, it could be an even worse confidant. Not only, did it fill him with doubt, it had the power to deter him from reaching his full potential, as he had come to find out.

“Did you end up going to his game?” She interrupted the silence.

“Yeah, we didn’t text for a couple days, but eventually we decided that it was a big enough event that she wouldn’t cause a scene, you know?”

That night, he dreamt of that very memory. It haunted him. It was the main reason he’d learn to accept the term “faggot”. He accepted that a word was only as powerful as the strength someone entrusted it with. Eventually, he’d desensitized himself from it, and it would ebb to haunt him.

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