Wooden poleTitle: Control
Author: Jesse Cheng
Category: Fiction

“It's what's normal, the basis for scientific comparison,” teacher is explaining,
and Chad Boltinghouse hisses Not like you, you willowy beanpole freak! before dead-arming me hard as fuck in the back of the classroom. You see, me being 7’3” I’m always stuck in the very last row so I’m out of everyone’s way. I'm stifling the hurt but it’s hard not to jerk when your knees splay off the sides of the desk like gimpy wings and teach whirls around giving me the stink eye: “Not all students will get into college dropping a ball in a hoop, Maypole!” Ironic, because that afternoon Coach cuts me in the first round of junior varsity tryouts, says I could use another summer for them neurons to catch up to the rest of allll that appendage, huh! So I suck at what I'm supposed to be good at which is why people stopped talking to me in junior high, around when I started having to bobble the cafeteria tray to avoid knocking heads; dropped the entire thing once to sarcastic claps and jeer-cheers, my lunch splattered wide over the floor from its extra long fall and the lunch lady wouldn't even let me have a few more tater tots. “Ay, mijo, you don't real-ly need more, do you!” she said, chuckling. Or was it even earlier, maybe last year of elementary school when kids had me hold up some streamer ribbons while they took the other ends and skipped circles around me, and the P.E. instructors cracked up so hard they actually made it part of the annual Maypole dance performed for parents of the entire fifth grade class. Boltinghouse, that goat blower. At tryouts he comes stomping up the court to stuff my shot as I almost drop the pass right underneath the basket, but instead of botching the layup point-blank I straighten up real tall and palm the ball high with one hand while I look down at that asshole and smile—“Boy just stood there like the Statue of Liberty, scrap-ing the sky, huh!” I take his running elbow to the ribs and crumple to the ground, so what if I brick both free throws, and when cheer hottie Christina Twist, who hasn’t even looked at me in years, later asks if I’ll join the pep squad as the new mascot, yeah, I seriously consider getting my dance on in front of everyone in the whole damn world because she’s right, I would totally make the most awe-some Triton, like, proportionally.

Jesse Cheng is from Southern California. His website is jesse-cheng.com.