Leigh Anne - Chapter 9
by Barbara Lynn Terry
Part I - Leigh's father returns.
As Geri drove in to the drive way of their home, She looked in the rear view mirror at Leigh, and found she was asleep. Geri Smythe smiled to herself and thought that her daughter must have been really tired. But it was only going on five thirty, and she had dinner to get done.
"Leigh, honey, we're home."
"I must have been really tired. Daddy, what...uhm...I don't..."
"It's alright, punkin. We will talk at dinner. I have a few things to say. But there is one thing that can't wait. Can you forgive a foolish man for being so insensitive towards his daughter?"
"Oh, daddy, I have been so worried about you. Are you going to...stay, now?"
"Yes, sweetie, I am. I will tell you all about it at dinner."
"Mom, daddy, I'm going to go upstairs and change in to something a little more comfy than this restricitng tennis outfit. Be right down."
When Leigh got in to her room, she sat on her bed, and thought about what happened on the court. She wondered who threw the bottle, but since she was not hurt, or even hit with the bottle, her thoughts turned to her father.
He hadn't been gone that long, and when she saw him at the court, he seemed almost like another person. Leigh wondered out loud what could have happened to make him change his mind like this? Well, she thought, if he is here to stay, maybe we can have a complete family, after all. She got in to her sleep shirt with the three bears and Goldilocks on the front, sitting at the bears table, eating from a bowl. The words on the nightshirt said, "...and she tried the third bowl, and it was just right." Leigh stepped in to her slippers and put her robe on. She then went back downstairs, to see if her mother needed any help.
“Do you need any help, mom?”
“No, dear, you just ... well, yes, as a matter of fact. Will you please set the table, and put the salad out on the table?”
While Leigh was doing this, She thought again about how her father had called her punkin and even smiled. He wasn’t yelling, or calling her names, nor was he being mean. Instead of wanting to leave, he said we would wait. What exactly is going on? Leigh went to tell her mother that she was done, and her mother told her to tell her father to wash his hands for dinner.
“Daddy, mom says you have to wash your hands, and that dinner is ready.”
“Alright, punkin. I will be right there.” He was only gone for a few minutes. As he sat down, he looked at Leigh and his wife.
“I suppose you both want me to explain why I have a change of mind. Well, the last two days have not been the best for me. I was at the hotel we went to when we went on our honeymoon, and as luck would have it, they gave me the same room.
“I sat in this room, ordered a pizza, and started thinking about the wonderful times we had. The wonderful childhood that Leigh has had and the friends that Leigh has made. Then I thought about what has happened recently. I couldn’t grasp the idea that my son wanted to play as a girl on a high school girls team. I even called the MHSAA and tried to get Leigh disqualified. I...”
“Excuse me, daddy. But, is that why Miss Constantine came to the house?”
“I guess so, punkin. When I was told there would be an association investigation in to the matter, they hung up. That was number one. Number two, was yesterday, I came to watch the tournament, and when that girl from the other school told everybody you were a male, it didn’t seem to bother anybody. I didn’t get it, at first. But when I heard the referee say that you were transgendered, I thought ‘could there be no end to this perversion’? I watched the rest of the tournament, and decided to come back today to see the finish. That was when it suddenly hit me like a bolt of lightning, when I saw you play. You moved naturally like any other girl, you swung your racquet like the women I have seen playing tennis on tv. When you ran to the net to hit the ball, you kept your thighs together, and your body swiveled like the girls bodies do, when they walk or run.
“So, I said to my self, I said, ‘self, this isn’t your son, this is your daughter, and you owe her an apology’. So, I am asking you both. Can you forgive a stupid bum like me for getting angry at the two of you?” Mother and daughter got up and gave hin such a hug that said, ‘yes, we forgive you, you big ox.’
Geri Smythe kissed her husband and told him that it she has been too lonely the past two nights. That was when the doorbell rang. Leigh answered it to find Debbie Constantine there.
“Miss Constantine, please, come in. We were just sitting down to dinner. Would you like to join us?”
“Why, even at home, you are such a gracious hostess. I will sit with you and have a cup of coffee, while you eat. We need to talk about a few things.”
“You may put your coat here in this closet, or drape in along the back of this chair.”
“Thank you, Leigh.”
“The dining room is this way.”
Leigh led the way, and then showed Debbie Constantine where to sit.
“I’m not sure I remember your name,” Geri Smythe told Debbie.
“It is Deborah Constantine, but I prefer to be called Debbie. Deborah is way too formal.” After Leigh poured her a cup of coffee, Debbie continued. “We at the MHSAA allowed Leigh to play in this tournament, because it was not only a request, but a plea from the school to allow this boy to play as a girl on the Hampton High School Lady Tigers tennis team. We decided I should come and look the situation over. We tentatively approved you to play after being assured you were very feminine looking, and that we had nothing to worry about. We were concerned, too, about strength, because male athletes are stronger and taller than their female counterparts. But, when I came here to invesitgate, I didn’t see a boy, I saw a girl. I didn’t see anything I haven’t seen on the girls. Of course, I didn’t see you naked, either.” There were giggles, while Leigh’s father laughed.
“Anyway, this brings up a further issue. Continued eligibility to play as a girl for Hampton Senior High School. I talked with Mr. Thompson, your school principal, before coming here. He said that he would have no objections to you continuing to play on the Lady Tigers tennis, volleyball and badminton teams. Since the same girls on the tennis team are the ones for the other games, we decided that Leigh Anne Smythe is not only the star player for Hampton, but also the epitome of femininity. When Geraldine Watkins told everybody about you, yesterday, you didn’t let it bother you. You kept playing as though what she said was about somebody else. Then, when the two sets were done, you shook her hand at the net. I was very pleased to see you actually show that kind of sportsman like conduct. That is what we want to see in our athletes, whether they are boys or girls.
“Another thing is, too, I understand you need another school in the conference to play next week. Gaynor Senior High School has been put on a probationary status with the association. The police did find the boy who threw the bottle at you. He is Geraldine Watkins’ boyfriend. Geraldine Watkins and her boyfriend have been taken to detention, because he told the police it was Miss Watkins idea to get you out of the game by any means necessary. Since he is fourteen, I will be talking with the social worker from child protective services, about having Miss Watkins and her boyfriend sent to the proper state homes. The court can’t even try them as adults, because they aren’t sixteen."
"But, why is she angry with me? I mean, I have seen her at the White Tower on 12th and Mitchell, and we even talked really nice with each other. It wasn't until after I was on the squad that she was angry with me."
"Well, Leigh, Geraldine Watkins is what we call an egotist. She thinks she is the best of ... well ... everything. When someone who is better than she is comes along, she tries whatever she can to get that person out of the tournaments. She is not a good winner, because she brags about being the best and she is a very sore loser. When we have our meeting on Monday, next week, I am going to recommend that Gaynor Senior High School be eliminated from the conference. This way, they won't have another school to play, because every senior high school, except them, right now, are members of the association and have to abide by conference rules.
"But, that wouldn't be fair to the other players on the teams that play according to the rules. I would say, though, that maybe you could eliminate Debbie Adams, because she was trying really hard to get it so that Geri could play."
"I know, Leigh, and I told her that I would have her school disqualified if I found out her pretending to be hurt was a ruse to get Miss Watkins to play. I asked her if that is what she wanted, and she said no. So I told her to get up and continue playing. Okay, so, then on Monday, I will file a report against Debbie Adams and send a copy of the report to Mrs. Archer, Gaynor's principal. But, even though Gaynor has been placed on probationary status, they have been penalized by being suspended from playing against any school, next weekend. It will give them time to reflect what kind of athletes they want for their teams."
"I wish there was another way."
"I do too, Leigh. Well, I should be going. You ..."
"Oh, Miss Constantine? Would it be alright if our school practiced on the clay courts at the college in the next county? This way, if we do have to play on a clay court, then we will be ready."
"I will call Mr. Thompson in the morning and discuss it with him. You have a good night, everyone."
Debbie Constantine left Leigh's and got in her car. As she drove away, Leigh couldn't help but think that Gaynor was being punished for the actions of a few. She would talk to Mr. Thompson tomorrow about this. She thought that it wasn't fair that the whole school be punished for what a few bad people did.
Leigh's mother wanted to watch telelvision, but Leigh's mind wasn't in it. She had to get Gaynor back in the conference for next week. Winning by default, wasn't the way Leigh wanted to win a tournament. She wanted to win on it's own merits.
"Mother, we need to get the association to keep Gaynor in the conference for next week. I mean, it wasn't the whole school who did wrong. It was just a few, and I do agree these few need to be suspended from playing. But it isn't fair to suspend the whole school."
"You are an angel, Leigh. You really do have a kind heart. I will tell you what. I will call the association and tell them what you said. Then, I will call Mr. Thompson and tell him. So, when you talk to him, he will know exactly what is on your mind."
"Thank you, mom. I'm not interested in watching tv, so I will just go to bed early. Good night mom. I love you," Leigh said, giving her mom a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Then she went by her father and told him the same thing.
"Bed? Already? It's only seven thirty."
"I have a lot to think about, daddy. See you in the morning."
Leigh went to her room, and crawled in bed. Activity like playing tennis or just going shopping and being on your feet for hours, can make a body tired. Leigh was alseep in no time.
That night, she dreamed that she was at the Gaynor courts playing against Geri Watkins. She saw the laughter as Leigh made one mistake after another. It was when the referee yelled Hampton, out that Leigh woke up. Leigh got out of bed and went to use the bathroom. She couldn't help but wonder what had woke her up. She got back in bed, and didn't dream any more that night.
The next morning, Leigh got up just as her alarm started to buzz. She got out of bed, stretched, and got her bath caddy and put on her robe and slippers. She would get her clothes out after her shower. She wanted to take a bath, but she didn't have the time. She wanted to talk to Mr. Thompson today, before school started.
Leigh dressed in her Khaki colored cargo pants, a light brown shirt with a western applique to it, her anklets, and her brown Mary Jane's. She brushed out her hair, and put it in a high pony tail, and went down to breakfast.
"Good morning, punkin. Going on a safari today?"
"Yes daddy. I'm going in to the dangerous jungle called school. They have monkeys, gorillas, hyenas, and donkeys there. They have cats of all kinds, and they even have snakes. So, I am going in armed with my wits, and my ability to dodge a barb thrown from one of the gorillas."
"Well, schools have certainly come a long way from when your mother and I went. When the last day of school was over for the summer, we would say 'school's out, school's out, teacher let the monkeys out'. We had fun."
"That's funny, daddy."
Leigh gave him a hug and kiss on his cheek, and went in the kitchen for a small breakfast. Leigh's favorite breakfast was a slice of jelly toast, with milk and juice. After she was finished, she put her glasses in the sink, wiped her part of the table off, and gave her mother a hug and kiss on the cheek.
"I love you, mom. See you after school."
"I love you, too, sweetie. Have a good day."
"I love you daddy," Leigh said as she grabbed her book bag and headed out of the door.
Patty's mother was just driving up, as Leigh walked out of the house.
"Good morning, Mrs. Langston. Hi Patty, Darlene." They all said good morning. "I have an idea. We need to get the squad together, and go in the office and tell Mr. Thompson that it isn't fair to suspend the whole school for what a few did. I want to to go to state as much as anybody, but not like this. I would like to think that we got to state on our abilities and not because of a penalty against another school."
"You are so right, Leigh. We will see where the whole squad is, and get everybody together. This way, too, when he sees that we all want the same thing, I'm sure we will be playing Gaynor, next weekend."
"Leigh, do you always think good about others, even the ones who have done you wrong?"
"Why not, Mrs. Langston? Didn't Jesus forgive us on the cross?"
"Yes, I guess He did."
"Then I can forgive those who do wrong to me, or even my friends or all of us together. Mrs. Langston, I want to win to go to state, not be raised on the ladder because another school was disqualified. That isn't the way I want to go to state. I want to earn my right to be at the state semi finals and finals."
"I'm with you, Leigh," Patty and Darlene said, together.
"Well, Leigh, I have to commend you on your sportsman like conduct. A lot of schools would just rub it in to the others that they got to state because someone else messed up. But you, you want to actually earn the right by winning, instead of just being put ahead of another school."
"That is what I am saying, Mrs. Langston. The whole Gaynor team didn't do anything wrong. It was Just Geri Watkins, her boyfriend and Debbie Adams. I do agree they should be suspended from playing, but not the rest of the their tennis squad."
"Well, here we are girls. Good luck talking to Mr. Thompson."
"Thank you Mrs. Langston."
"You're very welcome, Leigh. Go get 'em Tiger." Leigh did a tiger claw motion and went "rawwwr".
The girls went inside the school after finding the rest of the squad. They marched right in to the office and told the secretary they needed to see Mr. Thompson on an urgent matter. They waited a while, and were all shown in to the principal's office.
"What can I do for you ladies, so early in the morning?"
"We have a dilemma, Mr. Thompson. Miss Constantine is going to recommend that Gaynor High be suspended from playing next week against any school. Mr. Thompson, that puts us one school in favor of us going to state. I don't want it like that. I want to win the games, and be able to go to state on my own merits, not because another school was disqualified. Would you be able to call the association, and let them know what we said. I mean, we all talked about it, and we are all agreed."
Mr. Thompson sat back in chair, and looked at his tennis squad. He was thinking that Leigh certainly has the spirit, and is thinking only of others. That is how a good athlete thinks. After a few minutes, he smiled at the girls.
"Yes, ladies, I will definitely tell them what you said. I'm sure if I get right on it, I can actually talk to Miss Constantine and get her to only suspend the guilty parties."
"Thank you, Mr. Thompson. I hear the first bell, so we had better go to homeroom. Let us know after school or during lunch what you find out."
"I certainly will."
The girls all left to go to their lockers and sort out their morning books, then head off to their homeroom. As everybody sat in their homerooms, Mr. Thompson delivered the announcements.
"Boys and girls and staff, I was approached by our varsity Lady Tigers and asked to call the MHSAA and ask that only the guilty parties at Gaynor be suspended from playing, but not the whole school. Miss Debbie Constantine of the MHSAA told me that three separate incident reports would be filed against the two Gaynor players that were so angry at our Leigh Anne Smythe, and she said also, that she is filing a report against one of the Gaynor player's boyfriends, because he threw the soda bottle at Leigh.
"It is very commendable that our varisty Lady Tigers don't wish to see anybody punished that had nothing to do with the campaign against our Leigh Anne. Next weekend we will be playing Gaynor on their clay courts. Also, the school board has approved tennis practice for our Lady Tigers as an extracurricular activity to be held at the college in the next county. The college has graciously consented to let us use their clay courts for free. If you are all wondering how we go this done so fast, you can all thank Leigh Anne, because this was her idea. Yes, Leigh, the rest of the Lady Tigers told me. Thank you, Leigh, for thinking of others before yourself. This concludes the announcements. Have a good day everybody."
Leigh turned a thousand shades of red, purple, orange, blue and red, again. She never was one for taking credit for anything, except her studies, and if she had help, she gave the other person credit in class for helping her. Leigh Anne Smythe is a star, rising, because she looks out for others before herself.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudo!
Click the Good Story! button above to leave the author a kudo:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.