“Hey Thomas, how did Stu get so good at football?” asked Bradley as he absent-mindedly fiddled with the hem of his gym shirt. Thomas grimaced at the mention of his older brother”s name.
“How am I supposed to know?” He replied with clear bitterness in his voice. Thomas tried to keep his eyes on the black rubber surface of the track beneath his feet, but sheepishly glanced toward the middle of the football field, where his senior quarterback brother effortlessly tossed perfect pass after perfect pass to various receivers from the varsity football team.
“Geez, sorry I asked.” Bradley continued to tamper with the hem of his extra-large Westside Knights P.E. shirt.
Thomas became increasingly enraged as they walked around the outdoor track. Because neither felt the desire to participate in the class dodge ball game that day, they were sent outside and told to “run laps.” While Bradley”s overweight, stocky frame prevented him from ever taking a liking to running, the events from the past night consumed Thomas” focus. Thus, the two best friends walked laps under the overcast April sky instead.
“So you never told me what happened between you two last night,” Bradley hesitantly inquired. He turned toward Thomas with hopeful eyes, his chubby cheeks suggesting a curious grin.
Thomas didn”t reply. All he could think about was Monica – unfailingly sweet, inconceivably intelligent and perfectly curvy. She was a junior at Westside, president of the debate club, captain of the Mathletes and the light of 15-year-old Thomas”s life. From her thick-rimmed glasses to her Mary Jane shoes, Monica had Thomas” adolescent heart. Which was why it came as such a surprise when Stu, his jock brother, brought her home for dinner the night before, introducing her as his “new girlfriend.”
“It was nothing. Just drop it, okay?” Thomas told Bradley. “I”m going to get some water.”
He sighed and glanced once more toward the field and noted his brother”s absence, but did his best not to care about his girl-stealing brother at all.
Departing from the track and heading toward the water fountain, Thomas came to a stop when he heard a small noise come from beneath the bleachers to his left – something twinkly and unmistakable. It was Monica”s giggle. It was almost inaudible, but distinct thanks to the hours Thomas had spent memorizing it.
Veering to his left and ducking behind a pole-vaulter”s mat, Thomas peered toward the source of the joyous sound. There stood Monica, the length of her body pressed against the athletic, sweaty bastard that was his brother. Stu”s arms were wrapped tight around her curvy waist, her pink chiffon blouse disheveled, but it was apparent that she didn”t mind. They”d kiss deeply for a moment then she”d pull away and let out that cheerful sound.
Something swelled inside Thomas. He sprang from his hiding place and approached the finagling couple with the most confidence a five-foot-two-inches string bean could muster.
“Monica, what are you doing with my brother?” He”d never addressed her before in his life, but now seemed as good a time as any.
Monica looked down at Thomas, then back a Stu, whose face was equally as bewildered. She raised one cute little eyebrow, and it was all Thomas could do not to melt.
“Little Tommy, what are you doing here?” Stu demanded.
“My name is Thomas, thank you. And I”m talking to Monica,” Thomas stated coolly. “Monica, did you know that Stu still needs a night light when he sleeps?”
“Tommy”¦” Stu could see where his little brother was going with this.
“Not to mention, our mom still cuts the crust off of his sandwiches for him.”
Monica slowly detached herself from Stu, and began straightening her blouse.
“In fact, now that I think of it, I caught him biting his toenails just the other night. Isn”t that right, Stu?” Thomas had never felt so empowered in all his life. He could see Stu shrinking, and Monica backing away.
“I “¦ um “¦ I have a debate meeting. I”ll talk to you later,” Monica didn”t so much as glance Stu”s way before she made her way out from beneath the bleachers.
Silence lingered as Monica”s footsteps faded. “Tommy “¦ “ Stu closed his eyes and clenched his fists, drawing out Thomas”s nickname with anger in each syllable. It was then that the consequences of what Thomas had just done occurred to him.
He turned and ran for the first time all day, and he didn”t slow down to let Bradley catch up.