Sheila and Esther
“She goes to his church,” I heard Sheila Thomas whisper to five or six other girls huddled around her.
I sat on the gym floor against the wall, under the basketball hoop on the south side of the gym, unable to play volleyball on that cold January day. I had cramps. I also have excellent hearing.
“Shhh. She might hear you,” someone whispered.
“She can’t hear us way over here,” Sheila replied
“She can’t help what he does,” someone else whispered.
“Maybe she’s his g….”
Sheila was stopped mid sentence by a hand around her throat.
“Don’t choke her, Esther,” Cheryl cried out.
“If she doesn’t shut up her stupid mouth I’ll crush her voice box and she’ll never say another word the rest of her pitiful little life. Hear that, Sheila?”
Sheila tried to nod yes. Esther released her grip on Sheila and walked my direction.
“Think they’ll tell Mrs. Markel?” I asked Esther.
“Nope. They’re all afraid of me and know I’ll kill them if they do. You heard what stupid, has-shit-for-brains Sheila was whispering, didn’t you?”
“Part of it. This is my worst day for cramps. I didn’t tune in until the ‘she goes to his church’ part. She was saying something about the church my mom takes me to, right?”
“Don’t pay any attention to her, Tam. She doesn’t know anything.”
“Was she starting to say I’m his girlfriend when you locked down on her throat?”
“Who knows? If she says something like that I’ll break her face.”
“I can take care of myself, Esther.”
“I know. But you’re my friend. Friends take care of each other.”
“I don’t want you getting into trouble, that’s all.”
“I’d give you a hug if they didn’t think….”
“That you’re a lesbian? That would confirm it to them, alright.”
“They’re only guessin’ Tam. But you know, and like me anyway. Thanks for keepin’ your mouth shut.”
“Why wouldn’t I, Esther? They’re morons.”
“Morons. Yeah, they’re morons. Really stupid. They don’t know anything. Ignore what they said about your church.”
That’s Your Business
“You’re not going to ask me, Esther?”
“Why would I? I figure it’s your business.”
“Good answer, so I’ll answer the question you never asked. He hasn’t touched me. That would be the biggest mistake of his life. Other than that I have nothing to say.”
“If ya’ ever do, you can talk to me. It would go no further.”
“I appreciate that, Esther. I know I could talk to you.”
“Why do you go there?”
“To the church, you mean?”
“My mother wants me to go with her. She thinks we should go to church.”
“Hasn’t she heard the stories?”
“Why does she stay?”
“Says he’ll be leaving soon.”
“How does she know?”
“I didn’t ask.”
Mother was right.