4 - Not bad, for a girl.

77 10 4

Then.

I walked outside and back to my locker, then on to find my friends seated at our regular spot under the large Eucalyptus trees and blooming Warratahs on the edge of the school football oval. My best friends, Tanner and Morgan, were already making out when I got there, which wasn't anything new.

Tanner has always lived near me. He's been my best friend since kindergarten, and we made friends with Morgan during our orientation to high school four years ago and have been inseparable ever since. They got together a week before Ruben and I did, having crossed the sacred friend-zone line on a camping trip up to the New South Wales border last year with Tanner's family. Usually that extra place in their party would have been mine, as his family had been welcoming me on their annual AFL Grand Final camping weekend since we were in Prep. But with my stepfather being off work for the whole weekend and consequently very likely to be on the piss the whole time, I simply couldn't justify leaving, even for a couple days. So Morgan happily took my place that year, and I've been the third wheel to my best friends ever since.

Ruben has always gone to a different school a few suburbs down the mountain from us, so it was only really at school that I felt this way. I was happy for them, Tanner being my oldest friend and Morgan my only real girlfriend. I just sometimes missed the way things were, and I really just couldn't shake the constant state of shock I fell into seeing them holding hands and making out. Don't even get me started on how it felt when Tanner gave me a very detailed description of the first time they had sex. Morgan at least had enough good sense to respect that I didn't want to hear about the size of my best friend's penis and how good it felt inside her. He did not do me the same courtesy.

I made a pillow out of my school bag and laid back on the grass in the shade, listening to the magpies warbling and the gallahs screeching at each other in the higher branches, and watching the rest of my friends playing footy on the oval. I didn't feel like playing today, though the other boys beckoned me to go kick with them like I usually would. My dad had been encouraging me to play in a team with Tanner since I started school, but back then there was never enough interest to form a single all-girls team, let alone an entire league; and I was nowhere near bold enough to play competitively with the boys. My mates knew how much I loved the game though, having been connected with the local club through my dad early on when he still lived with us and played on the Old Boys team.

When my parents divorced and Dad moved away, he stayed playing at the same club despite needing to travel an over an hour to drive there and back for training and games. I think he did it to stay close to Seth and I, and to get more opportunities to see us. When Brayden got a bit older he started playing there, too; but when my stepfather saw how well liked my dad was, he needed to make a point of himself and started getting more involved. Dad felt uncomfortable enough having to come pick us up from the house every second weekend with him there, and I think it got too much for him seeing my stepfather around at the club, too.

The club was his second home, like the Art room was mine, so I know how much it must have pained him to leave. He stopped playing and coming by the club on weekends, except for when Seth had a game. He always tried to stick around for Brayden's games too, despite my stepfather usually being there as well. That was just the type of person he was, and I truly loved him for it. My dad would stand on the opposite sideline to my stepfather, cheering Brayden on as if he was his own, giving him the encouragement he needed to continue playing the game he loved and later to withstand with the flak he copped for being gay and playing AFL footy. My stepfather absolutely hated it, and whenever my dad was at a game he would get more drunk than usual, and there were always more problems than usual awaiting us when we got home later on those nights. None of us ever told my dad that, though.

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