It was partway through lunch period when Matthew heard about Sarah's problem. Until then all Matthew knew about her was that she was Sal's girlfriend for a short time two years ago, was active in the phys-ed department, and pretty much kept to herself.
"I don't know, it's just really silly," Sal was saying as they walked down the hall. "From what the other girls on the team were telling me, she's probably the best they have, but she won't compete. I mean, I've heard about people being shy, but this is like some kind of anxiety disorder."
"So, she's on the rhythmic gymnastics team, but is too scared to be seen performing in front of other people," Matthew repeated, trying to keep it straight.
"Yeah, well, ostensibly it's 'other people', but I think it's more like 'boys'," Sal said, shrugging, "I guess she's like you when it comes to being afraid of the opposite sex."
"Oh, come on, you know what I mean. How long have you been mooning after Athena, but I've never once seen you get up the nerve to even talk to her."
Matthew made a dour face, but knew he couldn't deny the facts. It wasn't as if he was a bad looking kid, perhaps favourably compared to a young Keifer Sutherland, but even now as a high school senior he hadn't quite overcome this instinctive panic that overcame him whenever faced with a girl in any direct way.
"You know," Sal went on, taking on a conspiratorial tone, "if you were smart, I'd say there's a perfect opportunity for you two to work out your problems together."
"What on earth are you talking about?"
"Think about it. It would be just like confrontation therapy, where you confront your greatest fear head on. She could try and practice her little routines with you watching, and she could let you try out pick up lines on her or something."
Matthew thought Sal was just messing with him, but evidently he was quite serious. "She really has that big a problem?"
"Pretty much," Sal admitted, "I guess it's like a body image thing. You know how she always wears these long dresses and sweaters and whatnot, I guess she's a little insecure. I thought maybe I helped her out a bit back when we were going out, but performing in public like that is just too much for her. I know she could do it with the right encouragement, but I really don't have the time."
Matthew wondered if this was one of those seemingly mad ideas that were actually quite brilliant. And if it somehow helped him work up the courage to talk to Athena...
"Alright. So, what do you want me to do?"
* * *
Just as arranged, Matthew made his way toward the gym a half hour after classes. Exactly how quickly Sal managed to arrange all this was a little suspicious, but for the moment Matthew put those thoughts aside. Sarah was waiting at the rear gym entrance, leaning back against the orange painted metal door. On first spotting her, Matthew stopped in his tracks, that familiar panic taking over. She was dressed all in black, with a long straight skirt and jacket. If it wasn't for the Adidas bag slung over one shoulder one might have mistaken her for a 'goth chick'. Her hair was black too, cut in a straight line above the shoulders in a Chinese style cut. She smiled upon noticing Matthew, and he knew it was too late to back out.
"For a second I didn't think you were coming," she said, walking up to him and grabbing his hand.
"Uh, yeah, well..." Matthew mumbled, scratching the back of his head.
Sarah bit her lip, now coming to real grips with what they were about to do. "Er, I figure we have the gym to ourselves for a least an half hour or so before the custodians will come and kick us out."
With the folding divider pulled across, they entered that half of the gym with a wide blue mat laid across the parquet floor. It looked like they did indeed have the place to themselves.
"Um, look, I guess I better get changed," Sarah said, swinging her bag across to her other shoulder. She was obviously nervous, but he was so nervous himself that he couldn't think of anything to say to assuage her.
Giving a small wave, she disappeared into the changeroom as he sat down on the low tier of the pull out spectator seats. He tried to be patient, but after several minutes passed he wondered if maybe she'd bailed out herself, taking a back exit. He was about to get up and check when the changeroom door finally opened, and a very different Sarah finally stepped out into the stark light.
Gone were the layers of clothes, replaced with a simple tight fitting blue-and-white long-sleeved leotard, and an odd looking pair of slippers that only covered the front part of the foot. She was...well, she was really beautiful, and certainly had a slender, well defined figure. How on earth could she have a body-image problem as Sal suggested? Carrying a portable stereo in one hand, and a ribbon enveloped rod in the other, she padded out onto the floor mat.
Placing the stereo down by the side of the mat, Sarah began to pace back and forth, arms clasped tight about her as though fighting off some deep chill. In fact she hadn't said a word or looked in his direction since she'd changed into her gymnasts gear. Matthew knew he had to do something to try and make her comfortable.
"Er, you know, I don't really know too much about this sport," he spoke up, "could you tell me what you're going to do?"
"Well, I decided to show you the ribbon," she replied, talking to her feet, "It's probably what I'm best at, though I don't really think I'm as good as the other girls say I am."
"From what I hear you're very good," Matthew told her, "and I doubt I'd be able to tell if you made a mistake anyway. You should just to go out there and do what you like, regardless of what anyone else might think. Besides, I'm sure you'll have lots of people cheering you on, and I'm certainly not here to pick on you. I think you look terrific."
Sarah looked over at him with an embarrassed smile. "Ok. I'm going to do it."
Taking a few deep calming breaths, she unwound the long yellow ribbon, mentally going over her routine. It was probably wise not to think of herself as being watched, though at the same time she wanted to do her best to impress him. She just wished she felt better about what she had to wear -she wouldn't even go to the beach without a proper pair of jeans and a long sleeved shirt, which the pale skin of her completely bare legs no doubt gave witness to. No, no time for negative thoughts, only for action.
Walking over to the tape deck she pressed 'play', then took position at the centre of the mat. She arranged the length of the ribbon in a circle around her, arm outstretched, one foot before the other, waiting for the music to begin. It was a selection from J.S. Bach's cello suite #6, which in some ways was an unusual choice of ribbon music, but she loved the sombre understated power of the cello, having some strange affinity with it.
Matthew leaned forward as the first strains of music came forth, and Sarah immediately responded. It was like her entire demeanour changed, face sharp with concentration yet enraptured with the placid flow of the melody. With a deft flick of the wrist the ribbon became airborne, and she set her lean body in motion as her routine truly began.
Watching Sarah was something of a revelation. Having little knowledge of the sport apart from brief glimpses on television, seeing it performed in person was a genuinely compelling experience. She manipulated the ribbon with completely flawless control, creating patterns of snakes and spirals he'd never thought possible. He also never thought it was possible for a human body to move and bend the ways hers did, and from the sharp way she pivoted on her feet he could now see why those toe-shoes were so necessary. The sheer amount of control she had was remarkable yet appeared so effortless, such as when she tossed the baton into the air, performed a smooth roll, and caught it again without a single pause or an upwards glance.
And, he must admit, he took some guilty pleasure in just watching her slender agile body move and twist, her legs very shapely and lean, her torso so tightly enveloped in her leotard he could almost count her ribs, but could certainly see the perfectly defined shape of her modest breasts.
When the routine finally ended after it's two and a half minutes, it was almost too soon for Matthew. Sarah remained on the mat in the splits position, her ribbon draped around her, hardly believing herself that it was over. She'd done it! She looked over at Matthew, who rose from his seat, clapping. She broke out in a relieved smile, immediately running over to him, giving him a big hug. He was completely startled by this, and a little embarrassed since she must be able to feel the bulge he'd gotten in his trousers.
"Oh my gosh, I never thought I'd make it through," Sarah enthused, wandering back out onto the mat.
"You were really good out there," Matthew said, following, "I can't imagine why you were so concerned about competing in public."
She shook her head. "I don't even want to think about that. Still, I do feel better about the whole thing now... I don't know, maybe I could."
Sarah sat down crosslegged on the mat, motioning for Matthew to join her. He paused, now confronted with his own innate fears. It was all very easy to be a spectator, but now they were face to face.
"Uh, yeah, sorry," he stammered, distractedly scratching at the back of his head. "Just a bit nervous I guess."
"Right, Sal told me. You shouldn't be. Anyway, it's my turn now to help you. Are you really that uncomfortable around girls?"
Matthew shrugged. "I guess. It's kinda hard to explain."
Sarah tilted her head, studying his face. Somehow it never occurred to her that a guy could really be that way.
"Maybe you just lack familiarity. I assume you don't have any sisters. Have you ever had a girlfriend?"
"No, not really," Matthew admitted. "Which isn't to say I'm not interested. Do you know Athena at all?"
Sarah's expression cracked for a moment. "Oh, yeah, Athena. Very tall, long hair; yes, she's nice," she said, drawing her knees up to her chin.
"Of course I have no idea if she'd even give me the time of day, much less go out with me..."
"Oh, no, don't say that," Sarah blurted, "I mean, if I were her, I'd be crazy to pass up the chance to be with you."
Matthew was rather surprised by this bit of flattery, he didn't know how to respond.
"Alright, I'm going to do everything it takes to get you comfortable enough to ask Athena out," Sarah decided, shuffling very close to him, her right leg now inbetween his knees. Matthew glanced down to where her toe-shoe clad foot now rested so close to his lap. "I'll show you that there's nothing to be afraid of when it comes to the opposite sex."
"Er, really," Matthew replied weakly, unable to disguise his unease. This reaction only encouraged Sarah, who reached out to grab his hand.
"Look into my eyes," she instructed, leaning forward. For the first time Matthew noticed that her eyes were a very rich hazel colour. "If I were Athena, what is the one thing you'd most like to do?"
"I, uh..." A brief image of Sarah out there on the mat flashed before him, and the memory of how aroused he'd gotten by watching her. Athena wasn't exactly foremost on his mind right now.
"How about a kiss," she suggested.
Sarah's lightly pink shaded lips opened, her eyes closed, and Matthew completed the act by coming close and pressing his lips to hers. This may not have been his first kiss, but it felt as though it was. He could feel her warmth, and the subtle trace of what might have been perfume. It was not a deep kiss, but they held it a while before she finally broke it off.
"I have a confession to make," Sarah told him. "When this whole idea came up to help me with my 'stage fright', there was a reason why I asked for you specifically."
"You asked for me," Matthew repeated, brow furrowed.
"You see, I knew that if I could perform in front of you, I could perform in front of anyone because... well, because you're the one person I'd most hate to have think badly of me. Sorry, I shouldn't be saying these things, especially since you aren't really interested in me..."
Sarah paused, still holding onto Matthew's hand.
"Can I ask, if it's not too personal, just how far you've gotten with a woman," she asked, "if you know what I mean."
Matthew, still reeling from Sarah's half-admission of her feelings for him, at first didn't know what she meant.
"Oh, er, that. It's a little embarrassing to say, but not very far at all..."
"That's ok," Sarah smiled, "I'm glad. Besides, they're probably a lot more virgins running around this school then they'd admit to. But, I did say that familiarity was the key to helping you overcome your fears."
Sarah nodded her head, then proceeded to lay his hand firmly against her right breast. His first instinct was to pull away, but she held him there. Through the thin white-and-blue patterned lycra leotard, Matthew could tell she must be wearing a support bra.
"How does it feel?"
"It's, um, really nice," he replied nervously. He wasn't lying though, it was.
"You can squeeze a little if you want. I promise they won't burst," she said lightly, eyes bright. He couldn't resist doing so. "You have a nice touch. I only wish they were a bit bigger."
"Oh, no, not at all," Matthew said, his thumb running over the barely perceptible bump of her nipple. "I think they're just fine as they are."
She leaned forward and they kissed again, deep this time, their tongues meeting together. She stealthfully moved a hand up between his crossed legs, resting it against the obvious bulge in his trousers. The gentle pressure she applied made Matthew very aware of just how aroused he'd gotten, pre-cum now beginning to make a noticeably wet smear on the inside of his underwear.
"My god, my mother would kill me if she knew what I was doing right now," Sarah grinned.
"Yeah, you and me both."
Sarah pushed Matthew back onto the mat, her other hand still pressed to his crotch. Her dark bangs falling forward over her eyes, she felt genuinely wicked, looking at his lap with indecision. Should she ask, or just go for it? The rather strong tingly feeling between her legs told her to go forward.
Sitting up on his elbows, Matthew hardly dared to move as she unzipped his fly and undid the button of his pants. There was something very surreal about this once shy girl, kneeling beside him still clad in her gymnasts gear, extracting his stiff member from his briefs. He also didn't want to move for fear of coming -he really was that close to the edge, and he didn't want to embarrass himself in the worst way possible.
"It's so cute," Sarah breathed, now holding his warm bare organ in her fingers, "It's sort of curved to one side."
She squeezed it, and another drop of pre-cum emerged to slide onto the top of her hand. This was only the third penis that she'd ever seen, but she decided on the moment that this was the nicest -because it was attached to her favourite person, though he still probably had no idea how long she'd been mooning after him from the obscurity of the crowd.
"I'd be really careful about doing that," Matthew told her as she slowly began to stroke him.
"Why? Doesn't it feel good?"
In fact the warning came too late. One more fateful squeeze and that was it. Unable to stop, Matthew groaned with both pleasure and defeat as the first streams of semen squirted up onto his half exposed belly. Sarah stifled a laugh, delighted by the sight of his physical pleasure being expressed in such a sticky, messy fashion. She kept holding onto him, feeling each shot pulse through his length, until the last drops now trickled down onto her fingers.
"Oh, I am so sorry, I...," Matthew stammered, practically blushing.
"It's alright, I loved it," Sarah said, still looking at the wonderful puddle of slick semen, "I can't believe you were that excited for me. It's kinda flattering."
"I guess you're going to have trouble walking out of here like that," Sarah observed, testing the consistency of his ejaculate between her fingers.
"No kidding. I still can't believe I did that..."
"Don't worry, no one will ever know but us," she assured him, "come on, let's get cleaned up in the changing room."
Leading him inside, Sarah ran the water from the sink. Rinsing off her hand, she then grabbed some paper towels, getting them a little moist first. Dropping to her knees, she pulled Matthews pants down a little further and began to clean off his mess.
"I can do that myself," he offered.
Sarah just gave him a small smile, taking some obvious pleasure in handling his still half-erect penis as she wiped away the semen from his abdomen. She extended her explorations to the sac of his testes, being thinly covered by his blonde pubic hair.
"Can I ask a forward question," she said softly, looking up into his eyes, "you wouldn't happen to have a condom in that wallet of yours?"
Matthew was too taken aback to answer.
"You don't think that guys are the only ones to get horny, do you," she smiled, "I guess I understand if you don't want to. I'm sure you think I'm trying to use sex to try and win your affections away from Athena..."
"No, not at all," he said hurriedly, "I just never understood that's the way you felt before. I'd love to go out with you, if you want. But as for right now, I do have a condom, but I don't know if I can get it up again so soon."
"It looks like you're half way there already," she observed, massaging his length in her hand, "Maybe I can help speed the process along."
Opening her mouth, she slowly eased the head of his penis in past her lips, touching his glans with her tongue. Closing her eyes she began to suck him, his member carrying the salty taste of his recent ejaculation. Matthew swallowed hard, staring down at the top of Sarah's head.
He desperately hoped one of those caretakers didn't walk in on them -perhaps it was just as well they were still more or less fully dressed. While she teased and fellated him, it was the little details that grabbed his attention; the way her black hair was so precisely cut, her outstretched arms sheathed in white lycra up to the wrist, to open back of her leotard, the rough bare skin of her heels peeking out from the straps of her toe-shoes. Within fairly short order she had him fully erect once again.
Following Matthew's direction, Sarah extracted his wallet from his pants pocket and pulled out the single condom it held within. No doubt it had been there for some time, kept like so many other teenage boys in the hopeful anticipation of just such a moment as this.
"How do you feel," she asked as she rolled down the slick translucent rubber down over his erection.
"Uh... nervous," he frankly admitted. Sarah grinned, somehow feeling powerful in the face of his reticence.
"You'll do fine," she told him, standing up now. "Why don't you take off your shirt. We can have a shower together afterwords."
"Will we have time?"
"Trust me." Sarah quickly pulled her arms free from the sleeves of her leotard while he undressed. Pulling the lycra garment down to her waist, she reached back to undo her small white support bra. By the look on his face, Matthew was obviously pleased by the sight of her naked breasts. "Why don't you take off the rest," she offered.
Matthew nodded, hooking his thumbs under the top of the leotard and gradually pulled it down over her hips. He only paused when he reached the top of her white cotton briefs, but she nodded for him to continue. Kneeling down, Matthew finally unveiled the fine dark patch of her pubic hair, which caused a significant involuntary twitch in his cock.