History

Dr. Deacon showed his bicep to the class. A couple of the football players were impressed, but most of the girls seemed embarrassed. Blushing was how teenagers showed admiration, he knew, but he was still annoyed by their evasive glances.

A nerd raised his hand. “Is this going to be on the test?” Other students laughed at the question. Dr. Deacon watched the nerd smile to himself. He thought he was smart.

“What separated lords from their vassals?” Dr. Deacon asked, writing the words ‘lord’ and ‘vassal’ on the board behind him. Answers came from around the room. Wealth. Power, but what is power? Strength.

“Exactly. Physical intimidation was very real in the middle ages. An insubordinate serf might expect a visit from the knights of the order.” He wrote the word ‘enforcer’ between the other two words, and nodded affirmatively as he curled off the r.

He continued the lecture, doing his best to get a laugh from the bored-looking cheerleaders, but they were too stupid to understand when he was making a joke. “No, don’t write that down,” he said, and they looked up to him with empty eyes that he could only pity. His voice resonated in his head. He thought he’d sounded vaguely faggy. He’d even flipped his hand limp-wristedly.

As class ended, he showed his bicep again. A couple of the girls came and felt it on their way out. So did a football player, who pointed to the blackboard and said, “Hey. Doctor D. We got the message.”

“Great,” he said. “Study hard.”

After everyone was gone, he erased his writing. He had two hours before his next class. Maybe he’d go to the gym.

#bully, #male-power, #microfiction, #misogyny, #no-homo, #predator, #teacher

Outing

The air in the room was stuffy. Whoever had stayed here last had been a smoker, and contemptuous of signs.

“We can ask for another room if you want,” Jeremy suggested, but Joel shook his head. The mountain air was too cold, and he was too tired to go back outside.

Joel had asthma. He never complained about it, as though he believed by ignoring it, it would go away. Knowing this made Jeremy all the more careful. Not that the man’s health was his responsibility, but Joel’s body was too heavy to comfortably drag to the hospital. Especially as far away as the hospital was.

He wheezed in his sleep all night. Jeremy listened closely to the breathing, making sure it didn’t stop. Sharing the room had been a mistake. Mere snoring would have kept Jeremy awake, but Joel’s hollow whimpers sounded desperate and alien. Jeremy couldn’t have ignored them, even with earplugs, yet there was nothing he could do to help. He had to remind himself.

“There’s nothing I can do,” and he went to sleep.

They rode the gondola together, and as the air thinned with altitude, Jeremy listened closer. Joel was taking deep, deliberate breaths. He was fighting not to pass out, Jeremy could tell.

“Are you feeling okay?” Joel asked him.

“Yeah, I’m great.” He wanted to ask the same question back, but the moment had passed. He continued listening. Joel’s breathing got heavier as they ascended, and he breathed with more of his body. He held air in his arms, in his hips, all the way down his legs. He knew how to compensate.

“Hey, I’m sorry,” Joel said, “but you’re sitting a little close. Could you scoot over just a bit?”

Jeremy swallowed. “My bad.”

He looked down at the snow and coughed.

#friends, #microfiction, #no-homo, #skiing, #vacation