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Beauty & the Beast: A Modern Fairy Tale by John Phythyon @JohnRPhythyonJr

Rory sighed. Caleb wasn’t very attractive, but he did look kind of cute in his football uniform. The shoulder pads made his head look overly small. The goofy smile, the crooked nose, and the sandy hair contrasted with his giant jersey to make him look adorable, if ridiculous.

“He needs to quit flirting with you,” Cameron said, sounding concerned. “The coaches will never put him in if they don’t think he’s paying attention to the game.”

“It doesn’t matter,” she replied with a chuckle. “The score is close. He won’t get to play.”

Poor Caleb. He was so sweet, but he wasn’t much of a football player. She wasn’t even sure how he made the team.

“I don’t know about this boy you’re dating,” her mother said.

            “Mo-om,” Rory sighed. “Can you please let it go?”

            “He seems nice and all,” her mother continued.

            “Mom, I don’t want to hear this,” Rory said, pulling her math book closer to her on the kitchen counter. “I’ve got a calculus test tomorrow I need to study for.”

            “And he’s on the football team, which is good,” her mother went on as though she hadn’t heard. “But he never plays. I’ve watched. He only ever gets in if we’re winning by at least three touchdowns, and that’s only been once all season – against Shawnee Mission West.”

            “Not everybody can be a star, Mom.”

            “Well, that’s my point. He’s a senior, Rory. He can’t be any good if he’s a senior, and he doesn’t get in.”

            “I don’t care how good at football he is, Mom,” Rory said.

            She stared hard at the calc and tried to ignore her mother. God, she was sick of this conversation, especially since she knew what was coming next.

            “But there’s no point in dating a bad football player, Rory. That won’t help make you popular.

            “Now, see, back when I was at LHS,” her mother said, “I was one of the most popular girls in school. You see—”

            “Yes, Mom,” Rory interrupted. “You dated the middle linebacker on a team that won a state championship two of the three years you were in school. LHS won six championships in seven years, and Dad was on a team that won two of them. And he went on to play at Oklahoma. Yee-hah. You were so freakin’ popular.”

            Her mother looked irritated. Her blue eyes bored into Rory. The black hair that was the same shade as Rory’s hung over her ears as if to keep Rory’s sacrilege from reaching them.

            “He played safety, not linebacker, Rory,” her mother scolded. “And don’t call him, ‘Dad.’ He’s not your father.”

            “Oh, right,” Rory said, turning her own blue eyes in an angry gaze on her mother. “He knocked you up and left you pregnant with me. But he didn’t stick around to help out. He went off to play football at OU and left you behind. He met some other girl there and had children with her too. But he married her, and he doesn’t want anything to do with us. I always forget that part of the story.”

            “Don’t you speak to me that way!” her mother shouted. “You don’t understand!”

            “Whatever you say, Mom,” Rory said, but her tone wasn’t as bitter. Somehow, it was all too sad to really be cross with her about it.

            “Look,” her mother said. “I made a huge mistake. I had sex with Darrell, and I got pregnant. Obviously, I don’t want you to go having sex while you’re in high school, especially with a third-string running back, who has no chance at a scholarship.

            “But the point is high school only comes along once, Rory. You have to seize your opportunities. It’s your senior year! This is your last chance to be somebody.”

            “I am somebody, Mother!” Rory shouted. “I’m the editor-in-chief of the school paper! I’ve been working for that since freshman year! I’ve got a 4.0 GPA. I’ve got tons – Tons! – of activities, and I’m going to nail the SAT and the ACT, so I can go to Yale! Unlike you, I’m getting out of Kansas, and I’m going to make something of myself. And I don’t need to date the star of the football team to make that happen!”

            Her mother stared at her first in shock. Then her expression turned to disappointment. She shook her head slowly, as though Rory was a very stupid person, who just didn’t get it.

            “Some day,” her mother said as she turned and walked away. “Some day you’ll understand what I mean.”

Rory felt sick. She just did not understand. Why was football so important to everyone? Why did it matter a damn how many games the team won or who was the starter at any given position? Lawrence High hadn’t won a state championship since her mother went to LHS, and that was before Free State got built, splitting one high school into two. Why did anyone care now?

And what the hell good did winning a state championship do anyway? Her father won one. Hell, her father won two, and did it stop him from running off on her and her mother? Did those titles bring anything besides a child support check every month?

No. All it did was keep her mother drowning in nostalgia and Rory wrapped in bitter dreams of a better life. All it resulted in was young men getting concussions as they bashed each others’ brains out and forty-year-old men walking like they were eighty.

She just didn’t understand why everyone thought it was such a big deal. She just couldn’t see how football made someone like Holly popular and someone like Rory unimportant. It wasn’t fair.


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Genre - Fairy Tales, Contemproary Fantasy

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author

Connect with John Phythyon on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://johnphythyon.wordpress.com

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