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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Estrada

Broken Pride

Updated: Mar 22

Photo Courtesy of Dreamstime

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Ashley entered the gymnasium of her high school and sighed as she leaned on the white brick walls near the locker room. Her eyes traveled within the small room as she was prepared to scrutinize and find fault in the movements of every student.

The squeaks of worn shoes on rubber flooring made Ashley grit her teeth. The room reeked of sweat that smelled like a sewer on a warm day. She watched the sweat glisten on the foreheads of stocky males jogging across from her as they lunged at the basketball bouncing on the wooden floors.

They were like swarming bees in a hive as they pounced on each other just to have their fingers briefly touch the leather of the ball.

Ashley heard the sharp thuds of some of the boys falling on the ground in failed attempts to grab the ball, and she saw students making some progress on grabbing the ball only to swing it to the net with no proper forming.

It was pathetic.

She closed her eyes and exhaled deeply. She was waiting for her friend Jasmine to finish changing her clothes, but she knew that Jasmine didn’t care for playing the game; she only cared about looking attractive in the court.

She would take advantage of every class period to look decent enough to have a guy follow her around after class like a desperate dog. She would take them to a closet if they showed promise and after a class period, the guy would walk like a dog with two tails.

Ashley was glad that she cared more about sports than boys.

“I’m ready!”

Ashley opened her eyes to see Jasmine in a white crop top and pink seamless workout shorts that exposed too much. Her eyebrows furrowed as she looked at Jasmine’s face. It was filled with makeup and overused red lip gloss. Her lips would open and close as she would chew on gum.

Usually, it would be unacceptable to dress inappropriately in a gym class, but Jasmine was able to convince the teacher in a private discussion that it was allowed. She always had her ways of making things happen.

“You know this is a gym class, right?” Ashley scoffed.

She rolled her eyes as she watched Jasmine intentionally stand in a position to appear alluring. Usually she wouldn’t see herself being around a person like Jasmine, but Jasmine began latching on to her after finding out that she was friends with guys from the school’s sports teams.

Ashley decided to keep talking to her after a while as it made her look like she had a social life. Jasmine huffed and crossed her arms.

“Whatever, Ashley,” her sass was as loud as the gum that popped in her mouth. “Let’s play catch.”

Jasmine skipped to the football that was left on the ground and slowly bent down to pick it up. Reluctantly, Ashley stood straight and followed Jasmine.

“Why do we have to play catch?” Ashley asked. “There’s so many better sports we could play.”

“Catch is fun,” Jasmine said. The gum popped again in her mouth in a way that made Ashley wince. “Come on, it’s the only thing I’ll look good doing.”

“That’s because you suck at sports,” Ashley replied.

She knew Jasmine was rolling her eyes but couldn’t tell with the extensions she applied on her lashes.

“Well, it’s not my fault that I’m not as good as you,” Jasmine said, her voice raised slightly as she frowned at Ashley’s response. She never took her honesty well.

“Don’t worry,” Ashley replied. “Everyone else here is just as bad so you’re not the only one.”

Jasmine watched Ashley saunter in the gymnasium and her eyebrows narrowed.

“So, you’re saying that everyone here sucks at sports?” Jasmine asked.

“Not everyone,” Ashley shrugged. “I’m the only one that actually knows what I’m doing.”

“Ashley, this is a gym class not a sports team,” Jasmine retorted. “Not all of us are going to be as good as you.”

“I know,” Ashley replied. “None of you are as good as me. I could beat all of you in any sport if I wanted to.”

Ashley closed her eyes and smiled to herself. Jasmine gripped the football that was on her hands and took a deep breath.

“You know Ashley,” Jasmine continued. “You’re really full of yourself.”

Ashley continued sauntering around her. Jasmine teeth pressed down on the gum in her mouth as it helped her to regain her composure.

“I’m just saying the truth,” Ashley stated. “Don’t take it to heart.” Ashley stopped at a spot that was a few feet across from Jasmine. “Come on, let’s play.”

Jasmine stared at the football. She studied the gray laces and took note of the strings that were forming from within. She felt her heart start to shrivel as she would remember how Ashley would casually roll insults when talking about her and other people. She couldn’t recall if Ashley has ever said anything about herself degrading her own faults.

She always spoke of herself as proudly as a peacock, and it would be tiresome to hear after a while. She looked at Ashley staring at the boys playing across the gym.

Jasmine heard one of the boys fall while dribbling a basketball, and she watched Ashley chuckle while shaking her head. Jasmine took a deep breath.

“Hey Ashley, catch.”

Ashley noticed the ball too late, and she scrambled to catch the ball before it could fall to the ground, causing her to fall on the ground and the ball to slam one of her fingers. She yelped as Jasmine ran to her.

“Jasmine, what the hell?!” Ashley yelled. “You didn’t tell me you were going to throw the ball!”

“You weren’t paying attention,” Jasmine replied. “You always criticize me when I don’t pay attention.”

Ashley moved the ball from her hand and watched her right middle finger start to swell and bend.

“I should have caught that,” Ashley replied. “I always throw and catch better than everyone else. I think my finger’s broken.”

Jasmine looked down at Ashley wincing in pain and sighed.

“I don’t think that’s the only thing that’s broken.”

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