The Tennis Match

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The bitch! How dare she? I was so angry, I almost screamed at her.

We were sitting together, waiting to be called on to the court. It was club championships, and I had made the final, up against Maria Martinez. I wasn't expected to win, she was a top player, but I wasn't expecting it to go like this either.

We had exchanged pleasantries, and then she said, “You're coached by Jacqui Knight aren't you?”
“Yes,” I said, “she's been great, I've come such a long way.” “Well, a word of warning,” she said, “She might be a good coach, but there have been rumours. You need to be careful.”
“What do you mean?” I said.
“I hear she's a lesbian. Just be aware of it, in case she tries anything with you.”

I was furious. Before I knew what I was doing, I blurted out “Well I’m lesbian too, so that's no problem.”
Her eyes opened wide, and then her mouth curled in distaste.

I was so upset that I played like an idiot. Martinez won the first three games easily. I couldn't seem to focus. I was playing the wrong shots, and missing most of what I did try.

I glanced at Jacqui. She was really concerned. She knew I was playing badly. Then I looked at Martinez, and I took myself in hand. She wasn't going to beat me. I put all my energy into the next game. I ran like a madwoman, retrieving every shot. I put all my anger and frustration into the racquet.

Soon, it was her looking flustered. When we were both near the net, I didn't do my usual apologetic smile. I glared at her. I made no attempt to disguise my dislike for her. The anger didn't leave me. It carried me through the rest of the game, and before I knew it, I had won two sets to love. I shook hands with a minimum of grace and left the court.

I went over to Jacqui and she gave me a hug. I was so mixed up. I hadn’t allowed myself to think too much about the possibility of winning, but I thought I’d feel wonderful if I did. Instead, I burst into tears.

Jacqui patted me on the back and said “What's happening? I could see there was something wrong, tell me what it is.”
So I told her what Martinez had said, and how I had responded. Jacqui's face fell. “I wish you hadn't done that,” she said. I was shattered. I had thought she would be sympathetic. After all, I was standing up for her.

“Why, it was you I was trying to protect?”
“When you said, ‘I'm a lesbian too’, you confirmed to her that I was, and now the whole club will know.”
“But I thought they knew anyway.”
“They probably do. My friends do, and I expect others have an idea. But it's every person’s choice to come out on their own terms. It's not ok to do it for them.”

I sniffed and turned away. “Wait,” she said, but I was too angry. I raced to the clubhouse, gathered my things and left. There was going to be a prize-giving ceremony, but I couldn’t face it. Instead, I went home to my flat, showered and changed, and had a medicinal shot of tequila.

Then another one. And another. Things got hazy after that.

I woke in the morning with my head pounding and my mouth tasting like crap. I hadn't drunk like that for a long time, and I hadn't been hungover like this for a long time.

I got myself some paracetamol and made a cup of tea. Slowly, I began to feel a little better. Then the phone rang. I could see that it was Jacqui's number. I wasn't sure whether to answer or not, but then I thought ‘don't be a chicken, you have to talk to her.’

I answered, “Yes.” Jacqui’s voice was immediate and sincere. “I'm so sorry,” she said. “I really wish I hadn't done what I did. Will you come over and see me, and let me explain?”
I thought about what to say, but I did really care for her, and maybe I had been foolish.

Correct that, I had certainly been foolish to drink so much. “Yes, I'll come over,” I said, “although I must admit I'm rather hungover at the minute.”
Her voice was rueful, “I thought you might be.”

I went over to Jacqui’s after lunch. I knocked on the door, and she opened it up and took me into her arms. I relaxed into her hug and had a little cry. She made me a cup of tea and we sat down in the lounge. “I want to apologize unreservedly. I was wrong and I'm so sorry.”

I sniffed. “Thank you,” I said, “but I want to take responsibility for what I did too. Only, I'm not really sure what I did. Will you explain it to me?”
“Yes, of course,” she said. “I was angry, but I shouldn't have taken it out on you. You thought you were doing the right thing. And I have a lot more experience with these sorts of issues.”

She gathered her thoughts. “The thing is, I'm a very private person. I'm not ashamed of who I am, but I also think it's nobody's business who I sleep with. So outside of a few close friends, I don't discuss my personal life. That Martinez is a gossip, and she will have no hesitation telling everyone else in the club what she’s learned. I just prefer not to have that sort of pressure.”

“Oh,” I said. “I'm starting to understand. I'm sorry.”
She smiled. “Actually, I think I was upset mainly because I was concerned about you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, a month ago, you were terrified of even the thought that you might be a lesbian. Now you've proclaimed it to the world.”

I hadn’t thought about that. Jacqui continued, “It's great to be proud, and I have no issue with people who want everyone to know, but I think it would have been better if you’d taken more time. You could have thought it through, and made a decision, and come out on your own terms. Lesbians do still face prejudice you know. You may find that there are consequences of this that you hadn’t anticipated.”

I swallowed. She was right. I thought about the people I was going to have to tell. Fortunately, I didn't know that many people in this city, but I wanted people to hear it from me rather than from someone else, particularly somebody who was doing it maliciously.

I started to cry again. Jacqui came and put her arm around me. “I wish I hadn't done it now,” I said.
“Well, it's d

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Written by Kerry Killeen
Cargado July 22, 2021
Notes What treat do you get your lover for winning an important match? A luxurious massage would be good.

A professional, responsible, treatment massage? Of course not. This massage comes with lots of benefits!

Claire has won the club championships. Her coach, Jacqui, is also her lover. So Claire gets an extra special treat, and discovers that Jacqui has some special equipment that has never appeared on the tennis court!
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