Short story contest 106 ended with a three-way tie. As per the FAQ, "Where more than two pieces tie, I will decide upon an outright winner from the tied pieces, basing my decision on adherence to the theme, word limit, originality and overall enjoyment." With that in mind, congratulations to picklzzz, the outright winner of the contest. Congratulations to seelifein69 and AxleMAshcraft, runners up this time around. ------------------------------------------------------- picklzzz - Thunder Thighs Just call me Thunder Thighs. Everyone else does. Ever since the fifth grade end-of-year pool party, when I dared to wear a swimsuit in front of the whole class, I’d earned the nickname. My mother had told me the suit she bought me at the mall would be flattering, its skirt hiding my worst parts, and although I didn’t really believe her, I wore it anyway. I wanted to have fun like the other kids, playing Marco Polo and volleyball in the pool, celebrating the end of elementary school. I’d been called other names in the past, like “piggy” and “fatty” and “wide load”, but this one for some reason hurt the most. And when they called out to me with this name, it was usually followed by a “whoosh-whoosh” sound to imitate my large thighs rubbing together. The name stuck all through junior high, and now that I was in high school, a whole new set of kids were learning my lovely nickname. For years, I’d begged my mom to move to another school. She told me it was impossible to run away from my problems because they’d be right there waiting for me wherever I went. She put me on all sorts of diets, had me checked out by doctors, tried to get me to come to the gym with her or for long walks after dinner, but no matter how hard I tried, I still was the fattest girl in class. My nearest competitor was Kathy Simms, and I had a good fifty pounds on her. Needless to say, I’d never had a boyfriend before. No boy would ever even talk to me, except to call out “Hey, Thunder Thighs,” when I walked by. And that certainly didn’t qualify as talking. One time in sixth grade, I passed a note to a boy I had a crush on. I gave it to Darla in first period, who gave it to Sherry in third period, and she gave it to the boy at lunch. The note said, ‘Would you go steady with me?’ and I gave him two choices. He had to simply check either a box for “yes” or one for “no”. When I got the note back from Mandy in sixth period, I saw he’d scrawled in his own answer below. He’d written “HELL NO!!!” in all capital letters. I never tried to talk to another boy again. On a Monday morning, I was rushing to get to class. My cat had stepped on my alarm clock and somehow shut it off, so I’d totally overslept. My mom came in finally and yelled at me to get up, and I didn’t even get a shower or breakfast before I had to leave. While heading down the hall, I heard the familiar “Hey, Thunder Thighs” as I walked past a group of boys I didn’t even know. However, even though I was frazzled, my hair barely combed, and I would be late for Mrs. Miller’s math test, nothing could ruin my good mood that day because I was the luckiest girl in the whole world. I was now somebody because for the first time ever, I had a boyfriend! A real, certifiable, wonderful, cute boyfriend who liked me for me. And he was a junior, which made it so much cooler. Maybe he’d even give me his varsity letter jacket so everyone would know! So, nothing anyone could say would make me feel bad today. I wouldn’t let that happen no matter what. I floated to my locker, my mind on everything that happened over the weekend. My best friend Allison, who was really my only friend, had three older brothers. When I went to her house, which was pretty often, they barely paid me any attention. Two had already gone away to college. Pete, the one who was still around, always ignored us. But, suddenly, three weeks ago, when I was spending the night, I bumped into him as I stumbled to the bathroom for a drink of water. Allison was already fast asleep. Somehow, we got to talking. I don’t remember what we said, but we ended up in the rec room in the basement, and he kissed me for the first time. The whole next week, I was on cloud nine. The following weekend, even though Allison wanted to spend the night at my house, I insisted we spend it at hers. I didn’t tell her about me and Pete. I didn’t know how she’d react. This time, I snuck out of her room at around two in the morning, and sure enough, Pete was there waiting for me. We resumed our make-out session in the basement. I even let him get to second base. It was really romantic. He put on a CD of Pink Floyd and dimmed the lights, and I felt special all over again. No one had ever made me feel that way before. This past weekend was still great, but as we were getting hot and heavy again, my pajama top in a ball on the floor while Pete’s pants were down around his ankles, we heard a loud voice that stopped us cold. Allison was at the stairs glaring at us, hands on her hips. She really let us have it, screaming so loud that even her parents woke up. She told them to drive me home at three-thirty in the morning because we’d had a fight, and she wouldn’t return any of my calls on Sunday at all. I hadn’t seen her yet this morning. I felt bad for not telling her and upsetting her so much, but at the same time, she should have understood. It wasn’t every day that I got a boyfriend, even if it was her brother. I was mad at her for being mad at me. But, like I said, nothing was going to ruin my good mood, so I put it out of my mind. “There she is,” I heard someone say. I assumed they were talking about me, so I spun around. When I saw all eyes on someone else, I realized that for once they weren’t talking about me. Otherwise, I’d be hearing the familiar “whoosh-whoosh” sounds by now. Janice Hubbel sauntered down the hall, her long blonde hair flowing behind her. She’d only been at our school for two weeks, and in that time, I’d heard she’d slept with half the football team. Already, every boy in school had a crush on her and every girl hated her. As I eyed her perfect size-six figure, clad in low-riding, ultra-tight jeans that were ripped in all the right places, I could see why. Her huge boobs threatened to erupt from her extra-small tank top, and I don’t even think she was wearing a bra! She didn’t seem to notice all the eyes on her; she walked with the confidence and ease of a supermodel. I didn’t hate her like every other girl; I was the exception. I admired the way she carried herself, oblivious to everyone as they whispered behind her. I wished I could walk like that. She disappeared around the corner. I quickly gathered my books, but as I was about to shut the door, I noticed an envelope at the bottom of the locker. It had my name on it printed neatly in unfamiliar writing. I was about to open it, but then I heard a clanking sound beside me and realized Allison was at her locker two away from mine. I shoved the envelope in my book and turned toward her. I didn’t know what to say. I stood there staring at her, trying to think of what could smooth over our fight, when she beat me to the punch. “Don’t even,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Don’t even what?” “No apology will undo the damage you caused.” She slammed her locker door shut. “What damage? Why aren’t you happy for me? I finally have a boyfriend!” Her lips curled into a sneer. “Boyfriend? Really? Is that what you think that was?” She laughed in a way I’d never heard before and walked away shaking her head. Well, that ruined my good mood. I didn’t think anything could, but the tears started before I could do anything to stop them. I rushed around the corner to the bathroom as the warning bell rang. Some girls pushed by me as if I wasn’t even there. “Out of the way, Thunder Thighs,” one of them said. I pressed to the wall to let them pass and then hurried to the farthest stall, hoping to hide before anyone saw me crying. The locks on the doors never worked in any bathroom at our school. They were either missing or broken and they never seemed to keep the doors shut. So, when I pushed into the stall, I didn’t notice it was already occupied. I didn’t realize who or what I was staring at, it all happened so fast. Someone was in the stall peeing, but she was standing up. My eyes found their focus through my tears, and the parts I saw weren’t exactly female. In the same instant, the girl whirled around, spraying pee on my good suede shoes. I looked up and stared right into the face of Janice Hubbel. I jumped back, completely startled, while she finished peeing all over the floor. “What the hell! Don’t you knock or something?” “I – I didn’t know,” I stuttered, still trying to process what I was seeing. She finished and zipped herself back into her pants. Or his pants. I wasn’t even sure at that point. She turned toward me, lunging and pressing me against the sink. My head slammed into the mirror, and for a second, I actually saw stars. “Listen, bitch. If you tell anyone, and I mean anyone, what you just saw, I’ll make your life a living hell.” My head was spinning. My ears rang. Nothing was making sense that day. “I promise,” I whispered. My voice squeaked instead as her hands squeezed around my throat. “I know people, so don’t go messing with me. I’m totally serious here.” “I won’t. I promise I won’t say a word.” She didn’t seem satisfied. I couldn’t breathe, and my chest heaved as I struggled against her vice-like grip. “Look,” I said, barely able to get the words out as she increased pressure on my windpipe, “no one at this school even likes me. No one would ever believe me even if I told them.” This seemed to work. Her death grip relaxed slightly. “And as I said, I won’t tell anyone.” I pulled at her fingers, trying to pry them loose. She held me against the sink a little while longer, as if she were trying to decide whether I should live, when a voice interrupted us. The guy hired to police our halls, who everyone called “Robocop”, was standing at the door frowning at us. “Ladies, get to class now!” he barked, and Janice let go of me finally and grabbed her bag, pushing past him and disappearing down the hall. I stood at the sink, trying to regain my composure as Robocop stared at me. “Didn’t you hear me? Get to class, or you can go to the Principal’s office. Your choice.” Didn’t he see what just happened? Didn’t he notice her hands on my throat? I grabbed my books and ran past him, wondering if there was another bathroom nearby. I’d about given up on my math test by then. The only bathroom I could think of was near my classroom, and there was no way I could sneak by. Mrs. Miller had the eyes of a hawk, and she’d definitely see me. So, although I was all shaken up and on the verge of more tears, I finally decided to go to class. *** “Do you have a late pass?” the teacher asked as I entered. “No, I’m sorry I don’t. I just overslept this morning.” She thrust a test at me. “Well, better get started then. You lost fifteen minutes already.” I went to my seat at the back with my face red as a few eyes stared after me. I couldn’t concentrate at all, so although I knew mostly everything on the test, I just doodled in the margins. I was always really good at math, but the weird events of the day prevented my mind from conjuring up the right answers. Instead, my thoughts drifted between the startling revelation of Janice Hubbel’s true gender, the fact that my only friend hated my guts, and that somehow even though I was known as “Thunder Thighs”, there was actually a boy in this school that thought I was pretty. Like I said, it was kinda hard to concentrate with all that on your mind. *** At lunch, I didn’t look for Allison at our usual meeting spot. I knew it would be pointless. I didn’t even go into the lunchroom at all. I had no appetite, for once. Instead, I made my way out to the courtyard where many students were gathered, laughing and throwing Frisbees on the grass. I found a quiet corner away from everyone. Sitting on a bench, I stared at an ant as it tried to carry a bit of food across a puddle of water. The poor ant struggled desperately as it sank. I’d started off the day on top of the world, but now I was like the ant, sinking lower and lower as I relived the morning’s events. A strong gust of wind swept by then, and my math book beside me flipped open. The envelope I’d shoved in there, which I’d totally forgotten about, drifted away. I heaved myself up and went after it. I was a little too late. By the time I got to it, the note was under Penelope’s shoe. The most popular girl in school snatched it up before I could bend down to get it. “Hey, Thunder Thighs,” she greeted with her usual nasty smirk. Her sidekicks, Cindy and Tracy, giggled behind her. “What’s this we have here?” Penelope asked as she tore open the envelope. “A love letter, perhaps?” “None of your business,” I said, trying to grab it back from her. She held it out of my reach as she and her gang laughed. “Come on, Thunder Thighs, I know you can do it! Just reach higher!” I put my hands down. It was no use. “Let me see now,” Penelope said as she opened the note. She looked to her group for approval, and they nodded enthusiastically, encouraging her to continue. She began reading aloud: Dear Marla, I don’t know how to say this. I think your real cool and all. I know we’ve been messing around lately and stuff. But, I think I’m into someone else. I don’t want any weirdness, and I hope we can still be friends. I just think you should know. Pete I couldn’t believe what I’d heard. My tears threatened to return. My face flushed with embarrassment, hurt and a torrent of other emotions I wasn’t ready for. “Awww, so sorry. That’s really too bad,” Penelope said with fake concern. I stared intensely at the ground. “So, who’s this Pete? Do I know him?” she asked. I remained silent. Tracy tapped her on the shoulder and whispered something in her ear. Her eyes lit up. “Yes, you’re so right!” she said to her friend. “It’s gotta’ be Pete Mackey! He’s that loser Allison’s brother. It’s totally gotta’ be him!” Her friends nodded in agreement. “Yep, makes total sense. I know I’m right, aren’t I?” I stood there, humiliation spreading across my cheeks, my tongue swollen and unmoving as my heart sank to a level lower than the drowned ant in the puddle. “Okay, Marla. Nod once for yes, twice for no. Is Pete Mackey the one you’ve been messing around with?” I turned without a word and ran inside. I found the nearest bathroom, knowing this time I would check under the stall thoroughly before entering to bawl my eyes out, but of course on a day where I swore nothing could ruin my mood, I was met by an even bigger surprise. Pete was there, leaning over someone, his hand bracing against the wall as he bent down to whisper something. The person giggled, and I knew it was definitely a girl. No boy would lean over another boy like that. As I got closer, I tried to see around him. He turned then, his face flushing when he realized it was me, and he revealed the identity of the girl. Boy, that Janice Hubbel sure got around! Pete started to say something while Janice glared at me. I ignored them both and continued on my way to the girl’s room. I checked under the farthest stall, finding it empty. I was all set to cry my eyes out, but the final surprise of the day caused me to almost fall into the toilet. I laughed like I’d never laughed before, until my sides hurt and I could barely breathe. It was perhaps the best revenge of all, more than I could ever imagine. Nothing better than getting dumped for another girl who wasn’t even really a girl at all! What a surprise for Pete if he ever got to third base with her! After awhile, I felt much better. I wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes. That evening, I joined my mother for her nightly walk. As I told her about everything that had happened, she made me realize that even though I was known as Thunder Thighs, I was still lucky to be me. I was special, whether Pete thought so or not.