Junior year was an interesting year for me. Once I turned sixteen, I had a growth spurt. I went from five-foot nothing to five-ten in three months. And I spent every waking minute I could find in the gym lifting, drinking whey protein, and eating all kinds of chicken, steak, salmon, and broccoli. I went from looking like Spider-Man to looking like Superman. My drive was crazy. My body was crazier. And it meant Mom had to cook twice as much food at home, it meant I was getting all the playing time on the field and on the court, but most of all, it meant one very important thing…
No more little man.
I walked through the sea of students down the hall after seventh period with my backpack slung over one shoulder.
“How you do on that quiz?” Kenny asked as he came up on my right.
“Aced it,” I lied.
Carl laughed as he came up on my left. “You ain’t ever aced nothin’ in Ms. Nina’s class. Cuz you always trying to mack.”
“You know if you fail her class, coach’ll kick you off the team,” Kenny warned me.
“I’ll be fine,” I told them. “And speaking of fine.” I spotted her down the hall and put my arm around Kenny as I eyed her.
“Bro, she’s outta your league,” he said. “Don’t do this to yourself.”
I just laughed at him and kept watching Monique Morrison put her books in her locker. It had been weird getting attracted to girls at first. But after months of unstoppable boners, wet dreams, and 90% of my thoughts being about sex, there was nothing I could do but give in. And like I’d told Jamar, I’d never realized how hot girls were until I became a guy. And boy, was Monique hot. She had that good good hair that looked like she was a cross between Dominican and Indian, her skin was so smooth I could taste it by just looking at it, and that body! I felt like Michael Jackson on his “The Way You Make Me Feel” video just watching her and I had to stop myself from grabbing my crotch and squealing. I’d never been able to stop thinking about her since that first day of gym class when she jogged past us on the field.
“I’m goin’ in, boys,” I said, licking my lips.
“Whatever, bro,” Kenny laughed. “It’s your funeral.”
“We’ll be here to catch your tears,” Carl added.
But I ignored them and sauntered up to her. I leaned against the locker nearest her and waited for her to shut hers. She turned and almost walked right into me, but stopped short and looked up at me.
“Oh!” she said. “Jina. Right?”
I grinned, looking her up and down. “You can call me J.”
“Yeah?” she smiled. “Aren’t you a crossover?”
“Hey, everything still works, ya know what I mean?”
She laughed and looked over my shoulder at the guys who were probably making all kinds of stupid faces. “I don’t know if I’m into that. But thanks.”
She moved to walk around me and I sidestepped to block her. So I wasn’t as smooth as I’d thought. “Sorry. I probably turned you off. I’m not that nasty. Just gimme a chance.”
She looked up at me and laughed again. But it was one of those pity laughs. Like the ones I used to give Jamar when he was trying to convince me that he would never prank me ever again if I just wrote this last English paper for him.
“Sorry,” she said. “You’re just not my type.”
“Really?” I laughed. She was lying. Playing hard to get like any girl. “What’s your type then? I’m versatile. I could be anything you want me to be.”
She laughed again. That same pity laugh. But dang, was it cute. And then a tall senior in a black cardigan and brown slim fit pants walked up to her and put his hand around her waist.
Monique kissed him on his cheek then looked at me. “I like smart guys.”
Then they walked away, arm in arm.
I watched and Kenny and Carl threw themselves onto each other, laughing and making dramatic explosion noises.
I grinned and shrugged it off as I walked up to them.
“She ain’t my type anyway.”
But inside, I was bleeding.
And I’d been bleeding for the past year. I didn’t have periods any more, but I had a constant flow of internal bleeding that I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know how to deal with rejection. I’d been bullied for being too small. Pushed around for being too weak. And now I couldn’t even get a girl because I was too dumb.
So when I got home that night, I reached under Jamar’s bed for the magazines. Nothing could stop the bleeding. But this always numbed the pain.