Protest

Disclaimer: This is fiction. A fantasy. No, not that kind. The other kind.

Lawrence was waiting for me when I got off the bus. “Gig. Come with me.”

Everyone calls me “Gig.” It’s a nickname I got in sixth grade because I knew what the “giga-” prefix meant. My fellow students at Morristown High call me that because it sounds silly. The teachers use it because it’s better than “Thornton.”

Lawrence put his hand around my arm, just above the elbow, and led me away from the other students. This is it, I thought to myself. I’m finally going to get beaten up by a jock. I had spent my entire school career doing my best to stay invisible, but you can’t stay invisible long when you’re the kid who always has the answer.

Once we were away from the other students he spun me around and stared into my eyes. “You know that kid, Janet? The trans kid?”

“She’s in my AP History class. She tried to get the court to say she could use the girls’ rooms.”

“There’s going to be a protest today. It’s a big deal, and you’ve been picked to help out.”

Oh, shit. “I have?”

“Yeah. It’s happening at gym. Last period. You’ll get the details during class. But when you change into your gym clothes, put your stuff into this.” He shoved a duffel bag into my hands. “Leave it on the bench, instead of in the locker.”

“What? Why?”

“Just do it, Gig. And don’t talk about this — not to anyone. Got it?” The expression on his face left no doubt as to the seriousness of the matter.

“Yeah, got it.”

“Good.” He punched me on the arm and smiled. I’m sure he thought it was a friendly tap. “Don’t worry. It’ll be worth it.” He jogged inside.

I rubbed my arm where he’d punched me. I was being set up for something, I was sure of it. They were going to mess with my clothes somehow. Hide them, destroy them, draw something on them, something like that. Why single me out for this whatever-it-was? I hadn’t done anything to Janet. I liked Janet. She was a good person. When she had started living as a girl in eighth grade it seemed kind of strange, but I had kept my reactions to myself, same as I did for everything else. I didn’t even consider skipping gym class, though — in spite of being the picked-last-iest senior in the history of Morristown, I had a perfect attendance record.

I figured if anyone knew about this protest, though, it would be Janet.

I hurried to get to lunch early, then hung around looking for her. When she went into the line to get her food I jumped in behind her. She gave me a funny look. I started to ask, “Hey, this protest thing I heard about…” and the girl behind me in line poked me in the shoulder.

“You’re not supposed to talk about it, Gig,” she hissed. “Not to anyone. An-ny-one.”

I turned around. “I’m just…”

It was Julia Turndall. I knew her from gym. She glared at me so hard I flinched. Some people think ‘staring daggers’ is a metaphor, but I bet if Julia Turndall tried hard enough, she could draw blood. I got the message.

All I could do was wonder, anticipate, and dread.

When I got to the locker room, a couple of the guys gave me hard looks. Another guy winked and gave me thumbs-up. I changed into my gym uniform and stuffed my street clothes into the duffel, still with no idea what was going on. I’m still not sure why I did as I’d been told. I suppose one reason was that it was supposed to be for Janet, who I felt a kind of kinship with because we both got treated like freaks, though she had it worse than I did. Another was that Lawrence wasn’t one of the jocks who mocked the way I laughed or called me a pussy. And Julia was pretty and she was in on it too.

So, I did it. I left the duffel there on the bench and ran out to gym class.

We were playing softball that day, so we spent a lot of time standing on sidelines waiting for our turn at bat. Julia came over to me after I struck out (of course) and took me aside.

“Here’s what’s happening,” she whispered. “Today, you’re changing in the girls’ locker room.”

“What?!”

“Will you be quiet? You’re going to fuck up the whole thing. Your clothes have already been moved in, the duffels swapped with the ones for the girls who are changing in the boys’ locker room. We’re showing those assholes who want to keep Janet out of the girls locker room that we can all behave ourselves when we’re changing clothes. There will be no touching, no comments, no trouble. If you fuck this up, Gig, I swear you will never get a date as long as you live.”

“Wh…why me?” It didn’t even register that her threat wasn’t really much of a threat.

“Because we trust you, Gig. We trust you not to make trouble. The girls who have doubts about this thing aren’t switching, so we’re depending on you to behave yourself. Just walk in like you’re supposed to be there, shower if you want, change your clothes, and walk out like it’s No. Big. Deal.”

My mouth wouldn’t work right. I wanted to explain that I didn’t want to get detention or suspension or expulsion or any of the other punishments running through my mind. But that was nothing compared to the whirlwind my libido was kicking up. In a last, desperate attempt at a way out, I said, “There’s got to be something illegal about all this.”

“We’ve already worked that out. The only serious crime involved would be ‘contributing to the delinquency of a minor’ but we’ve checked the records. Everyone in this class is over eighteen. That’s why we picked it. So if you don’t think you can handle it, then we’ll just throw your clothes out in the hallway and you can change in the bathroom or something.”

“No. I can — I can do it. You can count on me.” I felt an uncomfortable swelling in my shorts. “Though I can’t — well…”

“Jesus Christ, Gig. Of course you’re going to get a boner. That’s kind of the point. We’re going to prove that just because a guy gets a hard-on doesn’t mean he’s going to lose control. Now go think about baseball or something before you embarrass yourself.”

The horror that she had noticed my already stiffening crotch was heightened when someone caught a pop fly and it was time to switch.

I ran out to right field where the rest of the losers pretended to play softball and held my mitt over my crotch. I couldn’t stop thinking about what was about to happen. I was going to see a bunch of my classmates in their underwear — maybe even naked — and they were going to see me. I was lucky nobody hit a ball out my way because I would have been even more distracted and useless than usual. I went through the rest of the period in a daze.

Finally Coach Roberts blew his whistle and pointed at the school building. “Showers!” he shouted, same as every day, but it felt like doom.

I wasn’t sure whether to run or walk. If I ran they might think I was too eager, but if I dawdled maybe they’d think I was chickening out. I looked back to see whether the coach was watching us, but he was going around the field, picking up bats and bases and stuffing them into a big equipment bag. If I ran, he might not see me going in the wrong door, so I pelted it.

Julia and a few of the other girls went into the boys’ locker room. And there were otherguys running into the girls’. This was really happening. It wasn’t a trick, trying to get me in trouble. Or at least, I wasn’t the only one.

I ran in and Sheila Madison handed me my duffel. She gave me a wink and a nod. “Showers are over there.”

The place didn’t smell like the boys’ showers. Over there, the smell of sweaty old socks was overpowering, at least until you got used to it. Here, it smelled like a dozen different kinds of perfume, plus air freshener and underneath it all, an unfamiliar musty smell. Was that what a sweaty girl smelled like? I could almost feel the ka-chunk as my brain filed the scent away in the ‘things I will always remember’ vault.

My first thought was a massive disappointment that the gang shower featured in every high school movie had been replaced with shower stalls. A few girls were already using them. I spotted others walking to the stalls with a towel and their street clothes in their hands, still in their gym uniforms. They were going to change in the shower.

But some of them were naked.

Billie Liederman was naked. She walked right up to me with her big round boobs and her curly bush of pubic hair and said, “Better get to it, Gig, or you’re going to miss your bus.”

“Right…right…” I stammered. My hardon was about ready to burst right out of my shorts. I looked around to see what the other guys were doing; they seemed to be just as flummoxed as I was, but they were taking off their uniforms and wrapping towels around their waists to walk to the shower. I was glad to see I wasn’t the only one there with a boner.

I undid my shoes, pullled off my socks and tee shirt, and then dropped my shorts and underwear. Nobody screamed. Nobody said anything. All around me, girls were either taking off their clothes or putting them on again. Some were changing under a towel, but some weren’t. I saw that Patty Ellis wore a padded bra over a pair of cute conical breasts. And Jennifer Liao either didn’t have pubic hair at all, or shaved it or something. I tried not to stare, as if creeping them out would break the magic spell and I’d suddenly be beaten to death by a dozen naked girls.

Ka-chunk. Another thought to keep me awake at night.

Girls who had already changed into their regular clothes stood in a row by the mirrors, touching up their makeup and combing their hair.

I checked the clock. Did I have time for a shower? Maybe, if I was quick.

I took a towel and wrapped it around my waist, holding my hardon against my body with my hands. I walked over, trying to keep from staring at Holly Jenkins’ bare shoulders, something weird happened.

It stopped being such a big deal.

I mean, there I was, in the middle of a situation I had fantasized about for years, and my erection was subsiding. There were naked bodies all around me, and it just wasn’t a big deal anymore.

As I walked up to the shower, someone called out, “Hey Gig.” Leanna Brookside had her towel flung over her shoulder casually. She was maybe a little overweight but the extra weight had given her really nice boobs. “You gonna rub one out in there?”

“No,” I said. “I’m good.” I showered quickly, really just a quick rinse off, and while my dick gave a little throb, I didn’t feel any compulsion to whack off. It seemed like it would be disrespectful. And I didn’t hear any orgasmic groans coming from any of the other guys, either.

I came out of the shower with a smile on my face. We had done it. All of us, a bunch of girls and a handful of guys, had been naked or nearly naked around each other, and nobody had lost control. I hoped Janet was proud of us. I dried off without trying to hide myself, and put on my street clothes. Take that, Morristown Board of Education. We’re smarter than you think we are.

I followed the girls to the locker room entrance, feeling on top of the world, and found Principal Harris, Vice-principal Yarborough, and Coach Roberts waiting for me. They already had the other four guys who had been in the girls locker room lined up against the wall.

The following Monday I was up in my room, getting started on the study material the school had sent home for me to work on while I was suspended, when a car pulled in the driveway and honked.

“Hey, Gig!”

I poked my head out my bedroom window. It was Lawrence in his beat up old Focus. “Come on! We’re having a planning meeting for our next action.”

“Forget it!” I shouted. “You guys got me suspended! My dad took away the PS4!”

Then Janet pulled herself out of the passenger side window and sat on the door. “We’re having the meeting naay-ked!” Then she flashed me her boobs and dropped down into the car, squealing with laughter.

I grabbed my phone on the way out, and texted mom that I would be studying at Lawrence’s house.

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons and events is entirely hopeful and not in any way exemplary of the bullshit going on in the country today.