James W. Hicks, M.D.

After Track

In Stories* on February 12, 2011 at 7:01 am

Maria and I had not been particularly friendly before the season started. She hung out with a different group of girls, and even on the field, we were just competitive at first. But competition turned into admiration, and within a few weeks we were seeking each other out in the locker room or going out for pizza after practice. I’d never had a friend like Maria before; she talked faster and laughed freely and couldn’t care less about shopping at the mall or dating.

One night at the pizza parlour, I got a cramp in my leg and was squirming in the bench. I was probably dehydrated from practice. Maria looked at me with concern and then said, “Give it here.” She grabbed my ankle under the table, pulled off my sneaker, pushed my toes back with one hand in her lap, and squeezed the back of my thigh through my jeans with her other hand. She did it so casually, no one who was looking would have even noticed. I found myself staring at her with amazement as her fingers pushed apart the knot in my muscles, but she was looking down, either in embarrassment or concentration.

“I owe you a massage,” I said as she finished and lowered my leg.

She took me up on the offer that weekend, when we were hanging out in my room, though she brought it up hesitantly.

“I remember,” I said, putting away my homework. “Take off those pants and lie down on the bed.”

She turned her back to me and stepped out of her jeans, pulled her shirt over her head, and took off her bra. “Okay?” she asked, sitting down on the mattress and looking at the floor.

I put my hand on her shoulder and nudged her to lie down. Then I reached down to take off my shoes and added, “I’m going to make myself comfortable too.” Down to my underwear, I sat across her legs, put my hands on her back, and waited, feeling her chest rise and lower with her breathing.

She turned her head and smiled. “You got any massage oil?”

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