Un-silencing Eve | part 1

image by naked pastor on etsy.

The florescent bulbs hummed and flickered atop the dim hallway. Shifting my weight, I nervously smoothed my hair.

"Red." Garish suit in hand, the girl hurried away without a sound. I took one cautious step into her vacancy at the line's head.

The fifty-something teacher sized up my adolescent frame, gaze penetrating. Rounding my shoulders, I crossed my arms protectively, willing my body to disappear. Embarrassment burst into full flare upon my cheeks.

He never looked me in the eye.

"Blue," he barked, shoving the navy swimsuit into my reluctant arms.

In the locker room, I struggled to pull the skirted relic over narrow hips. The stiff fabric suggested origin in a generation older than spandex, and I tried not to think of the dozens (hundreds?) of bodies made to squeeze into it before mine. Lack of stretch meant that it hung awkwardly in places that should certainly have been snug. I was almost grateful for its skirt.

Angry scars burned brightly over exposed shoulders and back, and I longed to hide behind familiar cotton and cover. Instead, locking away clothes in a locker, I fell into line barely dressed behind girls with clear skin and shy smiles.

Red and Green were smaller than Blue, which didn't look quite so grotesque on the blonde who filled it out better than I. Sucking in my stomach, I thanked God I wasn't Yellow. Or Purple.

A whistle pierced the thick, chlorinated air, declaring a ceasefire to the Body Olympics, if only for a moment.

"Quiet, girls!" the teacher growled. "Get on the ground and stretch."

In the swim version of a paper hospital gown.

"Twenty crunches.  NOW."

The pool, the last place on earth I'd wanted to be, suddenly looked like a heavenly oasis.

We sat down carefully on the hard pool deck, gingerly tugging the misshapen suits and willing against hope for them to sprout elastic--or wings. The teacher ordered strangely gymnastic stretches and we mutely obeyed, bending our bodies according to his gruffly hollered whims.

Twice a week, between Honors English and lunch, we lined up at that pool office, subjecting ourselves anew to the teacher's predatory gaze. At no point did any of us, say, Screw this. You can make me swim, but I'll wear my own damn suit. One that covers my lady bits so middle-aged creepers can't catch glimpses during coerced sets of lunges on tile.

No, we remained silent and did what we were told.

I would not make that mistake again.

{Part 2  is cheerier, I promise.}

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