31 comments

Friendship LGBTQ+

The field is wet. Irrigation seeps through my cleats and into my socks. My legs are sore from countless Youtube workouts. (They claim to give you abs. I am living proof that those instructor ladies get liposuctions every month or so.) Besides, I tried to keep up lacrosse by practicing. Throwing, catching, cradling. But at some point, there’s no point. 

Hector has already started practice. I’m half an hour late and the girls are still doing warmups. They’ve already got their protection goggles on. Their feet slip along the grass when they drop down for burpees. (I always hated burpees. Hector always made me demonstrate them to the team.) 

I clap Hector on the back. “Heckles,” I say, and some of the girls look up. “Did you miss me?”

He gives me his all-famous sideways glance. Then his eyes drop disapprovingly to my untied cleats. 

My shoelaces coil in the grass lazily. I sigh, defeated, and drop down on one knee. Tying—untying—retying. (All so I don’t have to face Hector again.) “I’m trying to set a good example, Heckie, but they’re in seventh grade. They know better than to follow in my unlaced footsteps.” 

“Water break!” Hector hollers, almost cutting me off, with his hands cupped around his mouth. I stand warily. He crosses his arms over his chest. 

The girls gather around where they’ve laid their things. It’s hot and their faces are flushed. Some unzip their phones from their pockets and check Snapchat or Instagram or Tiktok. (I’m still living in the Facebook era.) 

I set a hand on Hector’s shoulder. “I am deeply sorry, Hec. My ‘me time’ lasted longer than I thought. I should’ve texted or something . . .” Hector grunts. “But don’t worry, because I’m back. And I can buy you as many packs of gum or slurpees or cups of joe or Haribo gummies as you want to make up for it.” (I’m broke so don’t keep my word on this. But I do most of the talking in our relationship anyways.) 

“Circle up, ladies. That’s enough break time.” The girls stumble over and form a semi-circle around us. Some have mascara smudged across their eyelids. Others are straightening lumps in their hair. “So, we need to work on our offensive slides before Saturday’s game. Also, I don’t want to name names, but more than a few of you are checking illegally. You know who you are. You know how to fix it.” Hector claps his hands together like he’s filtering the energy he has left. (He is a tough coach. Sometimes when we hang out after practice his phone rings with helicopter parents. All they want is an apology to their daughters. He won’t give it to them.) It’s late afternoon when Hector sorts them into groups and starts a scrimmage. 

Standing next to him while he yells at the girls is awkward. Especially when I cheer. And he shoots me a sideways glance. The girls check and clash sticks and call out to each other. Suddenly it’s six o’clock. (He knows random things. He knows which classmates are related to dead presidents. He knows the time before you check your watch. He does not know why I am an assistant coach. He does not know what my gender is.) 

The girls are sweating. He finds pleasure in this and mumbles when they thank him. They don’t thank me. Lines form beside the roundabout. Parents honk and wave. All until there’s no one left on the field. 

Hector stacks the perimeter cones on his head. It’s one of those rare times he does something silly. He walks around bending and pressing his sunglasses against his forehead so they don’t fall. 

I half-laugh to get his attention. “That was a great practice. You’re such a good coach to those girls. Will the League be promoting you anytime soon?” (The League will not be promoting anyone anytime soon.) 

“I hope so,” he says, which is the first time he’s talked to me all afternoon. “I’ve been coaching a twelve and thirteen year old team all by myself for the past month and a half.” He drags his feet against the grass and flips his stick in his hands. (He is a devoted coach but I don’t know why he coaches girls’ lacrosse when he is currently identifying as a boy. But aren’t we all?) 

I smile, “I am so sorry, Hect-o. You deserve to be director of the whole entire fucked up League.” (Our current director is a former stripper who lives behind the sewage plant.) He smiles back. “So how have you been?” I ask. 

Hector packs up his bag. It has a shoulder sling that’s ripped so he just swings it by a single strap. “Tired.” He doesn’t return the question. (It doesn’t bother me. I deserve it.) 

We walk through the dewy grass. It squishes and sneezes under our feet. The roundabout is devoid of cars except for Hector’s busted Toyota. (A car I have befriended over the years.) 

I sit on the curb and dangle my feet in the street, “Come on, Hecmiester, sit with me.” 

He mumbles something about an essay but eventually joins me. Our shoulders touch. “So,” he starts, “tell me about your quarantine from society.” (Society is such a disease.) 

I look at him to see if he’s forgiven me yet. Hector is peeking at something over his shoulder. His hands are in fists. I chuckle, “It was lonely, to be honest. I played dress-up games in all types of costumes but nothing clicked. You know?” 

Hector gives me his full unwavering gaze. “Maybe that wasn’t the right solution for you.” 

“I’d agree,” I say, wrestling my hair into two parts. “It’s done a number on my pores—clogging them like the public toilets in McDonald’s. I’ve even started growing hair in my nostrils, which I have idly named Lord”—I tap my right nostril—“and Voldemort.”—I tap my left nostril. This cues a ha-ha from Hector. 

“Puberty,” he comments. (My Potter Puberty jokes have long passed the expiration date. But he still listens.) 

We’re still perched on the cracked sidewalk edge. A few of the girls have collapsed onto benches, waiting. They sip water and close their eyes. (If only to dance with your eyes closed.) The sunset is small and blue and cold. Like watching slow motion through 3D cinema glasses. 

Hector rubs his arms. “So what pronouns are you using now?” The question hangs in the air. 

(Beats me, Hectagon.) “I think . . . I think I’m in between.” He nods. “I had a lot of time to think about it, holed up in my room, and no matter how many times I went back to Jo-Ann’s to try on their collection of plastic wigs, it still felt . . . wrong.” I tug on the sleeves of my jacket. My lips are trembling and not from the frozen sweat.

“Are you going to use neopronouns? Xe/zem/eir?” he breathes. 

I shake my head, “They/them will work—for now.” 

“And that’s perfectly imperfect,” he says. “You don’t have to look a certain gender to be it. It’s the thought and belief that counts.” 

My mouth parts because Hector has never said anything that matters to me. (Perhaps I never paused to give him the chance.) “What about you?” I flip-flop the subject, “Has your sexuality changed in the last month and a half? I can see that your very gay haircut and shoe choice hasn’t.” 

Hector snorts. “Still straight as your nostril hairs. But I now have a boyfriend who wears fedoras.” 

I hide my face in my hair and bite on my tongue to hold back a laugh or grin. Shadows are crawling out from behind streetlights. The circles around Hector’s eyes become spelled out like O’s on his face. “I’m so proud of you, Hectogram. You have managed to raise a very talented lacrosse team.” I exhale slowly. “And I know you don’t give two fucks about me but you give three fucks about the team and that’s what matters.” 

He knocks his knees together and stretches out across the concrete. “I . . .” he starts, and tries again, “I am so proud of you for navigating the murky waters of gender identification.” He curls his knees against his chest. “And I’m so proud of our girls and how they’ve grown. And how they have a beautiful non-binary assistant coach—” 

“And a gay coach,” I add fondly. 

“—to lead them along the way,” he finishes. 

I pick dirt out of my fingernails, “Join me for an evening cup of joe, will you, Heckleson? Not about making it up to you, just two people talking.” (He is not a cup of joe type of person and neither am I. But I am a talker. And he’ll be paying.) 

He smiles and stands. He helps me up. “Will you ever refer to me without a stupid nickname?” 

I take his hand. “Never, Heckmillion, never.”

March 25, 2021 03:50

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31 comments

10:55 Mar 26, 2021

It's simple. There's reality and then there's the inner mind of the protagonist, playing with everything else. I like Hector and more, I like the narrator. I like the way their friendship is and how effortlessly they talk about anything. I understand that the protagonist is trying to find themselves in the world. Finding self. Gender "talk". All of these things come together to create something that moves someone. The nicknames were good. Funny, actually. I liked them. This was wonderful.

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Scout Tahoe
13:26 Mar 26, 2021

It is simple, Abi, thank you.

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22:51 Mar 25, 2021

This gave me some flashbacks to my middle school lacrosse days, which I'm never keen to relive, but fortunately these coaches are much better than mine. I like how the friendship between your narrator and Hector progresses - it's very natural and Hector doesn't press them for too much information or stay mad for long. The only thing I'm bumping up against are the parentheses. I can't decide if I love them or if they're distracting. I think I love most of them, but there are perhaps a few too many?

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Scout Tahoe
23:12 Mar 25, 2021

Thank you, Natalie! I have recently taken up lacrosse and decided to write about it. There might be too many, I agree. I can take some out - so which do you think aren’t necessary?

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23:37 Mar 25, 2021

Oh that's fun! The sport itself is great, I was just very bad at it and wasn't friends with any of my teammates. Now that I'm rereading it, it's hard to choose because they're all gems, but here are the ones I'd take out: (Maybe this is one of those points.) (He’s usually a solemn person.) (If only to dance with your eyes closed.) This one you could just take the parentheses off: (My lips are trembling and not from the frozen sweat.)

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Scout Tahoe
00:00 Mar 26, 2021

Ah thank you so much. I’ll fix them when I get to my computer. I’m glad you liked it overall. See, all my friends began lacrosse earlier and now I’m terribly behind. So I can relate. I can’t catch a ball to save my life. And I can’t use lacrosse vocabulary either haha.

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Orenda .
17:04 Apr 03, 2021

hey Scoutie, miss you ;-; are you doing awesome?

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Scout Tahoe
14:08 Apr 05, 2021

Orenda! I'm doing less than awesome but more than fine! How are you? My notifications don't seem to be working so I just found this. :)))

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Hi!

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Courtney C
16:11 Mar 27, 2021

Well written, funny, and I liked all of the parenthetical asides. It seemed to suit your character.

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Scout Tahoe
18:51 Mar 29, 2021

Thank you

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Rachel Loughran
14:46 Mar 26, 2021

This was really lovely. You made me want to spend more time with both of them! I loved the parentheses (bracketing off witty asides is how I live my life) and the nicknames and the sweetness you brought to a tricky subject. Lovely stuff.

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Scout Tahoe
18:53 Mar 29, 2021

Thank you, Rachel. I’m glad you liked the parentheses.

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Elliot G
12:36 Apr 01, 2021

I really liked your story! The characters are each unique and developed in their own separate ways, but I love how Hector (who's personality was portrayed as mostly professional, serious, etc. throughout the story) was eventually able to tell the narrator that he was proud of them (great moment and amazing ending!). Keep up the good work:)

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Scout Tahoe
13:14 Apr 01, 2021

Thank you!

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Valerie June
00:07 Mar 31, 2021

I loved this so much. You dealt with a pretty mature topic but you managed to balance it out with humor. The dialogue felt so natural and you had a lot of great turns of phrases. This story was simply beautiful.

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Scout Tahoe
04:08 Mar 31, 2021

And your comment simply made me blush. Thank you.

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Dorsa S.
18:03 Mar 29, 2021

i love how you used this subject to make a well-balanced, funny story. the characters had a friendship that could actually be replicated in real life; a few authors make these friendships between their characters that seem unnatural. however, this is not the case. such a well-thought-out story, i can imagine you being a filmmaker! ahh, my favorite: "I pick dirt out of my fingernails, “Join me for an evening cup of joe, will you, Heckleson? Not about making it up to you, just two people talking.” (He is not a cup of joe type of person and n...

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Scout Tahoe
18:55 Mar 29, 2021

Haha, thanks, that was one of my favorite lines too.

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Holly Fister
01:16 Mar 27, 2021

Okay, so these two lines were hilarious: “We walk through the dewy grass. It squishes and sneezes under our feet.” This one was a little odd: “My shoelaces toil in the grass lazily.” Toil means working really hard and shoelaces can’t work anyways unless they’re doing what they ought by being tied but maybe you were being ironic in a goofy way? Haha! (I really loved the parentheses. They gave the narrator a funny, but insecure, and jittery type of personality.) I wondered why they had never listened to what Hector had to say before because it...

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Scout Tahoe
01:30 Mar 27, 2021

Thank you! I actually meant coil... let me fix that.

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Holly Fister
01:31 Mar 27, 2021

Oh that makes sense!

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Mia S
21:30 Mar 26, 2021

I like this a lot. The narration and dialogue both seem really realistic. All the different nicknames were really funny, and I think you tackled the subject of finding one's gender identity well (although I'm not much of an expert on that subject). The relationship between the mc and Hector was fun and felt refreshing, sort of, since there was no arguing or romantic tension or any of that messiness. Anyways, really enjoyed this. Your posts are always great :)

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Scout Tahoe
18:53 Mar 29, 2021

Thank you so much Mia. Your posts are great as well - I can’t wait for another one.

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Rachel Smith
15:38 Mar 25, 2021

I think this is a hard subject to tackle and you did it well in my opinion. The nicknames were funny and did a good job showing what their relationship is like. I'm glad they managed to rekindle their friendship. Well done.

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Scout Tahoe
15:58 Mar 25, 2021

Thank you so much, Rachel!

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17:09 Jul 09, 2021

So most days when I come on reedsy, I check your page if you've written anything and I wonder why you haven't. I feel like I should have sent this message weeks ago and I'm terribly sorry for this. How are you? I've missed you. Tell me you'll be back! Hope you're good. And please forgive me!!

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Scout Tahoe
03:48 Jul 10, 2021

And your wondering hurts my soul. I forgive you, Abi, but only if you forgive me. I am doing well, but unfortunately I will not have Wifi for the next week. Literally Saturday to Saturday. Hopefully I survive - I am *not* a camping person.

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Hey Scout!

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Please look at this https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/bridget-summers/

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12:45 Apr 16, 2021

How's life rolling?

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