“Nate, you doing okay?” I think one of them says, but I can't hear them, I'm too dizzy, and I feel I'm about to fall, and I can't breath, and, and-!
My best friend of 15 years jumps over the fence and runs to me, her short hair flipping with every long stride she takes. “Ey, Nate, get a hold of yerself!” She says when she reaches me. She looks around and sees Nobody too close by. “Yer a lady ain't ya? Ya need to get together like one.” she whispers to me, winking.
I grab onto her shoulders as Coach nears us. “But you don't get it! This... I'm not ready! How did they even find out?” I can't breath again, and I know I'm on the verge of having a mental breakdown, but the determination in Sophie’s lagoon eyes keep me here.
“Nate, this is a perfect chance! I'm not forcing ya to, but... maybe it's time ya at least told yer family...”
“Winter, off the field, you're not a player or a referee.” Coach says, his eyes glaring daggers at Sophie. She ruffles her small locks and smiles towards Coach, obviously ticked. “Sure thing, Arnold!” she says, making a slow descent back towards the bleachers.
Coach looks on at her in anger, then turns his icy glare back to me, shoving a crumpled picture into my chest. “Do you mind explaining this to me, Benedict?” He says, his eyes burning in shame. Shame towards me.
I stare at him a moment, too afraid to look down at the picture that's now in my sweaty hands. I already know what's on it, but I can't seem to make myself look at it. “Well?” Coach urges, his ice colored eyes mirroring his heart.
I take the jump and look at the picture, horrified at what I saw. A picture of me in my room, with a bright blonde wig atop my head and a dress in my hands. I stare at the picture. I remember this day... Why didn't I close my curtains like usual?
Coach clears his throat, obviously annoyed at me for not answering him What am I supposed to say? What am I supposed to do? I can't do anything is the answer. I can't say anything.
So I just stand there, staring at the picture, tears coming to my eyes and falling down my mud and sweat covered face.
Coach’s burning cold glare never letting up once. To think that he and I share the same icy eyes, yet his are so cold just having them look at me.
“Dad-,” I start, but he interrupts me. “It's Coach while on the field, Benedict.” His response as cold as his eyes. “Coach,” I restart, trying to think of something, anything, to say. Only the truth surfaces and stays unrelenting or going away like the other answers that get taken away by the large waves of the Tsunami going on in my head.
I can't do this. I can't tell him. He wouldn't approve. Everything that could go wrong with telling him goes through my head, and I'm suddenly drowning in my own thoughts, and I can't come up for air, because he'll be there and I don't have an answer he'll like.
“Son...” My thoughts stop, my mind quiet as I look up at Dad in wonder as his eyes fill with some tears. “I'm not angry, anything but... I just want to know why. Why didn't you tell me?”
My mind reels. He's... not angry. He really isn't? My eyes fill with more tears as I crumple the picture in my fist. I look Dad in his melting icy blue eyes and finally come clean.
“Dad I... I'm a woman.” I say, finality in my voice, my tears stopping. “I've been a woman for a long time now, but I've always been afraid to tell you. For a while, I felt ashamed of myself and tried to stop myself being what I was, but I had come to realize that I couldn't stop being what I was. When I told Sophie about myself she had helped me in every way possible, and accepted me for me. I hope you'll do the same.” I say, my voice cracking at the end, hoping he wouldn't notice how scared I really was in telling him this.
I hear a loud hush fall onto the crowd on the bleachers as whispers and the sound of paper crumpling take over the attention. Of course this would happen. I did get on the bad side of the wrong person...
I hang my head in shame, but think better of it. I am a woman, I am not ashamed to say so, and I will not be ashamed of who I am.
So, I look up to the whispering crowd and with the final bits of courage I have left in me, I yell at the top of my lungs, “I AM A WOMAN, AND I'M PROUD TO BE ME!”
The crowd goes completely silent, not a word or whisper is spoke, not even the crinkle of the papers with the picture on it. Even my mind is silent, affected by my courageous outburst.
My face heats up, my ears burning with all the eyes on me, and I'm about to walk completely off the field when I hear it. A clap, and then another, and another, and soon, the whole crowd is clapping, whistling, shouting gleeful words.
I stand there amazed, my face heating up as I'm cheered on. I spot Danny on the sidelines of the bleachers, face red in anger as he stomps his feet, yelling at the people close to him, saying something I can't hear over the roar of the crowd. Some people start to boo at him, and the soccer team picks him up and takes him away.
I'm brought back to the moment with Dad when he sets his hand on my shoulders. He starts to say something, but closes his mouth and gives me a hug instead. “I'm sorry,” He whispers to me, and I stand in shock as sniffles. “I'm sorry you thought you couldn't trust me enough to tell me this.”
And suddenly, I felt much better. With the cheering crowd behind me, my teammate’s whoops and hollers for me, and Sophie, my very, very best friend, leaning on the fence with a smug look on her face, life actually didn't feel all that bad anymore... It's a lot to take in, but, I think I'll get used to this...