Jill had that look on her face, the one she wore every time she came to Marianne’s dorm room: standing in the hallway, glancing cautiously around her as though she could be mugged at any moment. It is a look reserved for those in fear of being caught red-handed. But Marianne knew this wasn’t exactly the case—the fear of being stripped of money, of irreplaceables. Marianne, Angelina, and Rachel lived on the only floor in the dormitory, of all the dormitory halls, that was reserved as a safe space for queer students. A reserved 13th floor, as Matthieu explained to her, not only because it was a cursed number, but in case there ever was a fire they’d all be certain to burn, or be forced to jump from a distance so high that they would either split in threes on impact or, landing in the most unfortunate of ways, be mangled for life. So the choice, he explained: burn to ash or shatter every bone and brain cell in your body. Matthieu picked the jump. Marianne picked to stay low and see what came her way.
But Jill, although not afraid to be seen walking across campus with a girl who people either knew lived on the 13th floor of the Baker building or simply assumed she did, did not want to be mistaken as a resident. She feared being seen by someone she knew, standing on this floor, left outside Marianne Owen’s dorm room, even though she was in the issued practice uniform. So she shifted her weight, anticipating the door to open so that she could step inside.
“Sorry,” Marianne said as Jill did exactly that. “Let me just grab my bag.”
Jill said, “You look like hell. Are you hungover? It’s only Wednesday, for chrissakes.”
And just as Marianne though she could command conversation, just when she thought that Jill could maybe be an unbiased and sympathetic ear, Jill said, “Actually, I was still sort of hungover yesterday from the weekend, so that’s why I finished so far behind in the run. Do you know Amy Reynolds? She dates that guy who works at Starbucks that’s always loafing around campus.” And then she continued in the elevator, out the main entrance, and throughout the 12-city-block distance to tell Marianne a colorfully sordid story about too many Jell-O shots and one hand job regretted. Marianne nodded and thought about Julia, about what Julia did without her this weekend.
Practice was typical. They ran drills, then worked on fitness. They did an exercise where a player on the opposite side of the field crosses the ball up to the forward on the wing, but Marianne either mistimed her run and got caught offside, or missed the pass entirely, lost in thought, staring down at her shoelaces.
Coach Alvarez had snapped.
“Miss Owen! Hey!”
And when she didn’t respond, he continued. “Lift up your fucking head, Marianne! Goddamn it, we do not have time for this! We do not have TIME for this!” And he directed that to everyone, a finger out and moving to pass over them all, right eye squinted to narrow in on each and every face. To do this he had to spin in a circle, which only made him look like he was doing a dance.
But on the next run, she was caught offside again, and so he sent her to the track to run laps.
“Heads out of the clouds on my field! MY field!” He screamed, pounding his chest with a fist, the gold crucifix hanging around his neck bouncing free from his chest hair. The third and fourth year players stood silently with smirks unrecognizable to him at their distance. The younger players rocked nervously on their feet, looking from the coach to Marianne, and then back again. “You do not come to MY field to put your eyes on the ground! Do you all see this?” He pointed to Marianne pulling her shin guards from her socks, rolling them down to her ankles, and turning her back to the team to make her way to the track. “Heads out of the clouds on my field. Heads OUT!”
Marianne felt bad for pissing off her coach so much, but she was happy to be running, to only have to move one foot in front of the other. It was easy and mindless, and it gave her time to sneak back inside her head, in bed again with Julia, this time with Julia’s lips, her teeth, on Marianne’s cock.