A Wrestling Match at Winterset High

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A freestyle wrestling match turns sensual.
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Synopsis: A freestyle wrestling match turns sensual.

Author's Note: This is a high school setting, but all characters are 18 years and older, despite the narrator opening with a childhood memory.

________________________________________

THE WRESTLING MATCH AT WINTERSET HIGH

Section I.

The clock struck midnight as my mother closed the door of my bedroom behind her. A silent snow fell just outside my window. One might think that my young self wouldn’t dare leave the warmth of her bed sheets in the thick of such a winter. But little did my mother know that we were not planning on going to bed just yet.

“Will, hurry up!” I whispered. “Is it plugged in?”

“Yeah, I think so!”

My best friend William quietly slipped out of his Batman sleeping bag and tiptoed in the darkness to my small Panasonic sitting on my dresser. He was a scrawny, mousey boy with curly, maroon hair and a button nose. But with an unusual furtiveness, he grabbed the remote and fumbled with it until the TV switched on, quickly muting the volume as he did so. Unable to contain my own excitement, I grabbed the controllers of my Sega Genesis out of the basket and popped in the cartridge of the best fighting game ever made: Super Dream Heroes II.

Yeah, that was my jam.

“I gotta have my revenge!” William lisped. “We’re not going to bed until I beat the crap out of you, Toni!”

“Then we’re never going to bed,” I countered with extravagant sass. “Not by playing as Mermaid Maid you’re not.”

“Wanna bet?"

“Whatever.” I rolled my eyes. “She can’t beat Cyborg Butler. He’s got purple hair AND can shoot lasers from his mustache. Can Mermaid Maid do THAT?”

“Just watch me!”

Without being discovered by our parents, we tapped our controllers raw until two in the morning. And the night after. And the night after that night until our progressively heavy eyebags clued our parents to our nocturnal activities. My memories of those sleepovers turned me into the biggest fighting game nerd in town. Eventually, after growing old enough to realize that I couldn’t play games every day, I became inexplicably inspired to be the next best thing. And so, whenever I’ve had a lull in my inspirations; or whenever the pizza and potato chips get the better of my waistline; or whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul, I hit the ring as a wrestler and vent my frustration on the unlucky chap or gal who dares challenge me.

“Oh, damn it all, I’m late!”

Before I knew it, my adolescent life had passed by in a blink. I was now a grown-up whether I willed it or not.

“Shit!”

I swore like a grown-up and hammered the throttle of my purple Kawasaki, engines blaring so loudly that it set off the alarms of vehicles behind me. The streets of my hometown of Winterset—may it be blessed by sunshine instead of snow forever—became as a blur while my varsity jacket fluttered in the freezing wind. Ignoring the sign that read “Speed Limit 35”, I was now the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, and I talked like him too.

“Coach is gonna kill me!”

Winterset was one of those old forest towns back east that had only one major road passing through it. You know the type: brick churches with bell towers, ski lodges, Dairy Queens, mom and pop convenience stores that sold everything from frozen pizza to motor oil, and a surrounding wilderness so verdant and so primeval that we swore woodland fairies lived among us. The highway was a twenty-minute drive down the winding mountain, so one had to travel quite a distance just to reach the entrance of our little town. A person visiting for the first time might mistake it for a Boy Scout summer camp, but in truth it was simply a town for visiting fishermen and lake-goers.

The 19th century spires and red brick buildings of Winterset High School, of which I was now a senior, came into view on the horizon. I wasted no time. My motorcycle screeched to a stop as I slammed the breaks and staggered off the seat. I left my Kawasaki fallen at the curb and bolted into the open doors of the gymnasium, flourishing my hair as I slipped off my red helmet.

The building was packed. Crowds of spectactors of every age and vocation spilled over the bleachers like mountains of mice on cheese, their myriad voices and shouts and mutterings deafening to my ears.

In the center of the gymnasium were two circular wrestling mats side by side. Within each ring were two men in spandex singlets—one red and the other blue. With a blow of a whistle, the two men crouched low to the floor like a pair of grumpy grizzlies. Then, they charged at each other, grunting and groping and shoving at each other like wrestlers do.

For a moment, I forgot my tardiness and became mesmerized by the sacred battle that was about to unfold.

Four years.

Four years had brought me to this moment.

Four years of painful homework, grueling exams, and high school drama so outrageous that it could be sitcom-worthy. I didn’t care to admit it, but that four years of being on the wrestling team had transformed me from a little French girl who could barely arm wrestle an infant into a powerful lioness with Olympic dreams. And despite the fact that I was late to the final match of the year, with a possible team scholarship on the line, I could not help but smile that I had come so far doing what I loved so much.

“Toni! Where the HELL have you been?”

I nearly leapt out of my Reeboks. Coach Trilby’s voice rang loud and clear on my eardrums. Her wavy, blond hair and doe-like blue eyes belied her Chef Ramsay-like temper. But I owed her my success and wouldn’t have had her any other way.

“YOU are over thirty minutes late! Unacceptable! Get your damn singlet on right now or I’ll personally vouch for your expulsion!”

“Yes Coach!” I replied, straight as a board.

The acrid smell of old sweat and deodorant filled my nostrils as I entered the girl’s locker room. Crushed soda cans and gum wrappers littered the floor as mold-caked fluorescent lights flickered overhead. For some, this room was more disgusting than the underside of a toilet seat. For me, it was a war room, and I was General Patton.

I opened my locker in the far corner, unlocking the padlock with the same 6-6-7 combination I had since freshman year. Having removed most of my belongings save for my singlet and some fresh clothes, I was already feeling nostalgic. There was a time when this locker was full of Doritos, stickers, and other junk.

But the small mirror that I had glued on the backside of the door as a sophomore yet remained. And when I looked at that mirror, I saw a stranger staring back at me: She was fair-skinned and gray-eyed and full-lipped with a light tan, her cheeks peppered with baby freckles and a small pimple under her lip. She wore glasses with black, elongated rims much like the ones she had in Junior High. Her purple, dyed hair was a tousled pixie-cut with a flourishing mullet. She had not grown as tall as she would have liked, sporting a mere 5’8’’ athletic frame. But her muscles were sharp with a definition that did not overwrite her femininity despite her intense, daily trainings.

That stranger was me. My name was Toni, short for Antoinette, an eighteen-year-old girl and self-proclaimed nerdy wrestler who got into the sport solely because of a childhood video game.

“Hah, you’re a funny one, aren’t you,” I sighed to myself, defeated.

These days would never come again, would they?

“Toni, hurry! Is your singlet on yet?!” A familiar voice echoed in the locker room.

The face of my best friend Elmasette anxiously popped through the crack of the door.

“Almost!” I responded, pulling my shirt over my head.

“Your match is in, like, two minutes! The team is so pissed! Nobody wants to be disqualified in the finals like this!”

“Shush! Just give me a minute, okay?” I grumbled, kicking my jeans off my ankles. “If you’re going to stand there and hassle me, you could at least tell me who my opponent is!”

“W-well, fine!” Elmasette stuttered. “He’s—"

“Oh, a guy?” I blurted.

“He’s a guy, yeah…” She trailed off.

“Oh, a big guy?”

“Kinda, yeah…”

“Well, kinda what?”

I snapped the straps of my singlet over my shoulders as my sports bra filled out the tight spandex over my chest.

“Look,” I continued. “I’m feeling pretty good today. I think I can handle whoever the Tigers of Ridgemont High can dish out.”

“I’m hearing that he’s their Ace, Toni. They call him Beastly Bill. He’s undefeated.”

“And I’m Terrible Toni,” I joked. “C’mon, you know I don’t care for those cheesy villain names.”

There, I was dressed! I once thought singlets to be extremely uncomfortable. But over time I saw value in their freedom of movement. Now I even enjoyed wearing them casually around my house.

“Win or lose, I’m looking forward to this!” I grinned. “I wouldn’t have my final match any other way!”

Elmasette sighed. “Good luck Toni…”

“Cheer up, kiddo! I’m gonna win this!”

With that, we shared our best friends handshake and a brief hug.

Walking out into the gymnasium in my singlet was like coming out as a superhero. There is a trepidation one has when they walk into an arena surrounded by people. The bright lights overhead are blinding. And everyone watching, including your own teammates, maybe even your family, is judging you, wondering if you’re worth your salt. And it’s all you can do to make sure your shoe laces are tied and your shirt isn’t on backwards.

Today was no different. I felt the rapid beating of my heart thrumming like a drum as I strolled down the aisle onto the soft mats. Coach Trilby stood by with her clipboard wearing the most pissed-off expression I had ever seen. Were we in a more private setting, she most certainly would have blown up in a tirade of f-bombs that would have gotten her fired.

“Alright, Toni,” she said. “I—"

Was she hesitating? Her demeanor was different.

“Listen, just do the best you can, okay? I’m not going to put any pressure on you. Just let me know if you need anything, okay hon?”

“Coach?” I called out to her, but she had already walked off.

Freestyle wrestling matches, unlike the “pro” wrestling seen on TV, are rather simple in concept, but complicated in execution. They are composed of two three-minute rounds during which the goal is to pin your opponent’s back to the floor. Doing so ends the match. However, most matches aren’t quite so one-sided, and so more often than not the winner is determined by the number of points gained from putting your opponent into positions of vulnerability. And that means getting your opponent’s back as close to the mat as possible.

The referee, a short, bald man with black trousers and white-cuffed shirt—whose name I knew only as Stanley D., stood up straight in the middle of the ring. The match was about to begin.

I stole a glance at the other team on the far side of the mat sitting on the benches, the so-called “Tigers” of Ridgemont High which was situated on the other side of the valley. Our two schools had historically been rivals, though the faculty wanted to downplay this history for the sake of promoting sportsmanship.

The Tigers were dressed in red with white accents, and I could spot at least three girls and two boys, none of whom looked particularly imposing.

“Heya. Um.”

I heard a deep, gravelly voice resonate behind me.

“May, uh, the best of us win, eh?”

“Huh?” I turned.

My opponent was dressed in a red and white singlet with a flaming tiger logo emblazoned on his massive chest. His locks of curly, maroon hair tumbled over his ears and his eyes such that I could barely discern his stolid expression. His skin was bronzed like a Baywatch lifeguard, his muscles and veins bulging dramatically from the spandex, sharp and solid like the hewn marble of a Roman effigy. The outline of his hard nipples was visible in the crimson fabric, and for a moment I felt my heart flutter that I would have the opportunity to behold him and wrestle him and touch his pecs in this sacred combat that the Greeks invented so long ago.

But he also seemed oddly familiar.

“Will?” I cocked my head. “W-William is that you?”

“Oh, have we met?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, gosh… wow…”

My jaw dropped. I could not believe how much he had grown. After junior high, we went to separate schools and completely lost contact with each other. The flood of memories of late-night gaming, bags of Cheetos, and Mermaid Maid’s obnoxious knockers hit me like a freight. But he didn’t seem to remember me.

“Settle down! The match is starting! Everyone behind the lines!” The referee announced. “William Cartagra of the Ridgemont Tigers is facing Antoinette d’Eon of the Winterset Bears! Whoever wins this match claims the win for their team! I want a clean match! Cleaner than a preacher’s bed sheets! Do you both hear me?”

He glared at me.

What, me?

The referee stood between us then blew his whistle twice. The scoreboard displayed zero points and the timer was set at three minutes for the first round. I crouched down low, mirroring the bear-like pose of Cyborg Butler himself, bending my knees with my arms outstretched and my hands groveling the air. I could see that Will had done the same.

Then, the referee glanced at both of us, gave a thumbs up, backed away, then blew the whistle one last time. The match had begun.

My excitement at having met Will again was dampened by the realization that I might possibly lose if I lost focus. I gulped and put on my best glare, gritting my teeth and crouching down low like a gorilla on all fours! Even with Will as my opponent, I would not waste an opportunity to intimidate my opponent!

“Grr…!” I growled.

Great fun.

We circled each other, waiting, waiting, and waiting for the other to act. Will’s arms reached out, his fingers brushing against my shoulders, again and again, testing my response and faking me out. I heard the referee call out my passivity.

I wouldn’t have it.

I acted first, lunging at his beefy shoulders. Our heads locked against each other, nearly cheek to cheek as I felt his stubble and his grunt and groans against me. His trunk-like arms made me feel uncomfortably small as we tussled back and forth. The referee circled us with whistle in hand as the crowd looked on with bated breath.

Suddenly, he ducked under me and twisted around, grabbed my left shoulder in his arms, and pulled me over his back!

“Guh!”

It was a move known as a fireman’s carry. I cried out as I lost my footing and was thrown to the floor in a heap!

Crap!

Alarmed, I brought my elbow down to break my fall. Will wasted no time shoving me to the floor with his weight and pressing my left shoulder toward the mat, exposing my back to the floor. His entire body weighed me down. I grit my teeth as I desperately pushed back, leveraging myself on Will’s legs. As was the goal, he was attempting to turn my back onto the mat.

I soughed through my teeth and bit my bottom lip as I resisted.

Less than a minute in and I was already perspiring. When I felt my shoulder bend just so, the referee raised his hand and I knew that Will had scored his first point. It was all I could do to contort my body and flip my chest to the floor in a purely defensive stance. I spread my legs for support as he attempted to rotate my torso. I didn’t give in, and when the referee blew his whistle to break our stalemate, I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Go Toni! You got this!” I thought I heard my team cheering. But when I glanced at the scoreboard, I groaned. Will was ahead by four points already. I had zero.

“Damn,” I muttered.

Will seemed unperturbed as he rolled his shoulders and cracked his neck.

Again, we faced each other in the center of the ring. This time, I was resolved to push him down. I crouched yet again, my fingers grazing the floor. When the referee whistled, I wasted no time and went directly for his head. I grasped his trunk-like neck and shoulders in my sweaty palms, clutching with all the strength I could muster. I spread my thighs on the mat, holding him as tightly as I could. And for a moment, he buckled under my hold and I thought I might throw him down.

“Grr…!”

I gritted my teeth, nearly grabbing at his curly hair. Were it not unsportsman-like, I would have screamed in frustration.

Then I saw the opening!

I shoved my foot around his ankle, and before he could react, I had him tumble to the floor in a heap with a deft duck-under move! I heard the crowd collectively gasp when his shoulder landed with a thud on the mat, and I sprawled myself over him for all it was worth. Will’s leg brushed between my thighs as he struggled to resist the exposure that would give me a point. And in that raw moment, as I desperately pressed his head to the ground with his arms grappling at mine, I bore the ample swell of my right breast down upon his cheek. I felt his strength briefly leave him, and there I took my chance to push him down.

The referee blew his whistle–I had scored just as the timer hit zero. The first round was over.

I grabbed my towel, wiped the sweat from my brow, and guzzled my Crystal Geyser. From a distance, I could see that Will was visibly nervous and avoiding my gaze. It was mostly off-limits to talk to your opponent during the match, but considering our past friendship, I couldn’t help myself.

“Hey Will,” I called out to him. “You really don’t remember me?”

He was wiping his forehead with his towel and offered only a brief glance. I thought him a bit rude until I saw the blush crawling up his neck.

“It’s me, Toni! Antoinette! You know, Cyborg Butler?” I smiled and imitated, punching the air with my hands as Cyborg Butler did.

Only then did his eyes widen in recognition.

“Whoa, no way! Toni?! Super Dream Heroes?!” He cried out.

“Heh, yeah!”

“I-I didn’t recognize you! You look so… different!”

“Yeah, I get that a lot,” I chuckled. “Bit of a tomboy now, I’m afraid.”

“No, no! You look amazing!”

“Do I now?” I smiled. “I’ll take that compliment! And you don’t look so bad yourself. Not at all the skinny boy I once knew!”

“Heh, thanks, I guess…”

“It’ll take more than muscles to beat me though!” I teased, sticking out my tongue.

“Oh yeah? How’s that purple hair? Still channeling some Cyborg Butler?” He smirked.

“Why you—"

“Hey no sidebars you two!”

The referee silenced us; that was it for our mid-match conversation. The referee blew his whistle. The match resumed, the scoreboard reading 3 to 4 with him ahead.


Section II.

It’s difficult for me to describe what happened next. Through the tumultuous years of my parent’s divorce and the untimely passing of my dog ‘Thunder’, I had depended on Will and our many days together playing Super Dream Heroes to nurture my withering sanity. I had not seen Will in nearly seven years, and I had forgotten that the feelings now welling up inside my throbbing chest were the same dormant feelings I had for him back then, now born anew.

Did he feel the same way, I wonder?

“TONI PAY ATTENTION!!!”

Coach Trilby screamed as my fantasy ended before it even began. Will’s huge body barreled into me, and I nearly fell to the floor before I caught myself and whirled around him.

That’s right–this was a wrestling match! It didn’t matter whether I liked him or not!

“Yargg!”

I charged at him with a snarl, my fingers clawing into his spandex. Our foreheads pressed flat against each other, the tips of our noses a hair’s length apart as he breathed his own breath into my mouth. My feet ground into the mat—as did his—and we circled each other like bulls on a turntable. His strength seemed to perfectly counter mine, though I knew I could push even harder.

“Blue! Action!” The referee signaled passivity.

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