Judy Miller watched the action on the football field in front of her with a distracted blankness. She knew her girlfriends were taking note of her odd behavior but she repeatedly reassured them that nothing was wrong, that she was just tired. She realized that the way she was acting was going to play into the excuse she would have to make anyway, so she did little to try and mask the nervousness and anxiety she was feeling.

A few sets of bleachers below her and slightly off to the left Kathi Downing directed a furtive look back at her. She almost blinked and looked away—she had done that several times already. This time she held her ground and Kathi’s bright blue eyes, slightly shrouded in a bit too much mascara, burned into her. She tried to return the look with as much cool hostility as she could muster.

She had known Kathi only casually all through high school. Together they occupied one of the lower rungs of the high school social ladder; they were late bloomers who had been tall and awkward through most of junior high and high school. Judy's mother had encouraged her to get into athletics in order to overcome her nervousness and frequent clumsiness and she had joined the swim team and started taking dance classes. The workouts had been great for her and in the past couple of years she had finally filled out and, even she had to admit, turned into a very attractive young girl by the time she’d turned eighteen. By then it was a bit too little too late and she still existed in the shadow of the more popular girls at school. Even as an athlete she knew she was a washout; she was a little too tall to be a first-class gymnast and she didn’t have tendency towards anorexia that the most devoted dancers had.

Kathi seemed to have some of the same problems Judy had. Watching her practice gymnastics when she was leaving the natatorium, Judy thought Kathi looked perfectly fine and her body in fact was rather powerful. Judy had worked hard to build up her muscle but she could never match the way Kathi could vault or jump. She often found herself watching Kathi work out or perform in competition because she knew it was the closest she could get to seeing what she herself looked like up there. Kathi’s hair was straight honey-blonde, done in almost a pageboy that flared slightly where it touched her shoulders, but she had the same milky-pale skin as Judy’s. Judy’s hair was dyed a bright, coppery red and it contrasted brilliantly against her glowing, creamy skin; whenever she wore red lipstick, which wasn’t often, the effect was dazzling. Boys had finally started noticing her, and that was the problem. In her little social circle it seemed a given that if a boy found her interesting, he would find Kathi interesting, and the blonde girl was always around to catch a boy’s eye.

Facially, the two could have been sisters; both had round, soft features, cute pug noses just slightly upturned, full, friendly, heart-shaped mouths and pretty smiles, sparkling blue eyes. Kathi always seemed a little down and moody, and that gave her a cold demeanor that some people took as stuck-up. Judy’s eyes were warmer and she was a little more popular, but she often assumed that was because she came from money. Kathi didn’t dress quite as nice but she was still an awfully cute girl and Judy often thought that if her hair had been blonde she would look a lot like Kathi.

Judy had never thought of Kathi as an enemy, so when the phone in her bedroom rang one night she was in for a surprise. Judy had finagled her own phone line out of her parents, a concession they had made after she’d made them feel guilty about not buying her a car for her senior year. She chatted with her friends as late at night as she could get away with and had purposely broken the ringer so that it gave out only a quiet rattle that her parents couldn’t hear. She was undressed and in bed when the call came and a girl’s voice that was only vaguely familiar to her asked if this was Judy. There was a long silence after she said ‘yes’ and Judy was on the verge of hanging up, but the caller was obviously another girl. Somehow it didn’t make sense that a girl would prank call her.

“Do you know me?” the voice asked.

“I don’t know. I guess you sound familiar,” Judy said, confused.

“I’m Kathi. I’m on the gymnastics team.”

“Sure, I know who you are,” Judy said at that. Oddly enough she had just been thinking about Kathi as she’d been drifting off to sleep, and even though the other girl couldn’t possibly know that she felt herself blushing a little at the thought. There was another odd, long silence on the other end and Judy realized that she was only hearing her own breathing and that of the blonde girl’s on the other phone.

“What do you think of me?” the other girl asked.

“What do you mean?” Judy replied, frowning. That was certainly an odd question.

“I mean do you think you’re better than me?” Kathi asked. Judy stiffened at that obviously inflammatory question. She tried to remember whether she had ever spoken more than a few words to Kathi but she couldn’t come up with an occasion when she had. Had she crossed the blonde somehow without thinking?

“Of course not!” Judy said, unconsciously lowering her voice to a near whisper. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about the way you act, Judy. Like you’re cuter than me and better than me and you think you know it,” Judy went on. There was something illicit and husky about her voice that Judy didn’t like, but in an odd moment she realized that that was exactly what was keeping her from hanging up on the other girl. “You strut around like you think you’ve got a better body than me.”

“I don’t do anything of the kind!” Judy hissed. In spite of herself the voice on the other end of the line was getting under her skin. How dare this near stranger call her in the middle of the night and drop this attitude on her? “You’ve either got a wrong number or you’re out of your mind, honey.”

“Don’t talk to me like that, Judy,” Kathi said coldly. “Unless you’ve got the guts to back your hot talk up.”

“What is your problem?” Judy demanded.

“You’re my problem. I’ve thought about calling you for a long time to let you know what I think of you.”

“Why? What did I ever do to you?”

“Don’t you always watch me practice in the gym after your swimming practices?” Kathi asked. Judy flushed hotly at that revelation. Yes, she had stopped by to watch Kathi on more than one occasion—was it that obvious? She may have caught the blonde’s eye once or twice there but she hadn’t thought Kathi had noticed her hanging around.

“I just wait there for a ride after practice—so what?” Judy said.

“So you can check out my body, you mean!” Kathi snarled. “I suppose you like comparing it to yours.”

Judy’s heart was in her throat. Maybe she had checked out Kathi’s body a few times. Everybody did it; it was no crime. But she’d never expected to be called on it like this. She glanced across the room at her dresser and looked at her reflection in the mirror. Her face was turning almost as red as her hair. “I don’t know where you got that perverted idea, girlfriend,” she growled. She had about had enough of this abuse. “Don’t put your own sick notions on me.”

“I should have called you a long time ago so we could have this out,” Kathi pressed on. She was keeping her voice quiet too, and Judy realized she was probably calling from her bedroom with her parents a few doors down, just like Judy. There was something impossibly titilating about that idea, that this horrid, bizarre verbal concentration was their secret and theirs alone with others so nearby.

“Well you’ve been thinking about me quite a bit, haven’t you?” Judy snapped. “I don’t really care about your little lesbian fantasies.” She bit that last part out before she really realized what she might be getting into. It was the sort of curt line she’d give to one of her girlfriends, but she’d never used it in a heated confrontation before. She could hear Kathi’s voice thicken on the other end of the line as she replied—after a long, deadly silence.

“I’m no lesbian, Miss Redhead,” Kathi said with practiced chilliness. “You’re the one who likes watching me work out, remember.”

“You’re the one making late night phone calls to me, honey,” Judy said, sensing she was really hitting a nerve. If this little tramp wanted to try to get under her skin she would show her a thing or two.

“You really do think you’re hot stuff, don’t you?” Kathi said stiffly. “You couldn’t get a boy to stare at that body of yours, let alone a girl.”

Judy swallowed that in silence for a moment. She had still not had more than a few awkward dates and she had her own insecurities about the opposite sex. “You lesbian bitch,” she said finally, speaking slowly and purposefully.

“Don’t you dare call me that you stuck up little slut,” Kathi said with equal precision. Judy did nothing but breathe hotly for a few moments and listen to Kathi’s exhalations steaming out from her earpiece. “You’re not brave enough to say something like that to my face.”

Judy waited for a moment before answering. “I’d love to say it to your face, blonde,” she said levelly.

“You want to meet me?” Kathi asked in reply. There was something game and self-satisfied in the blonde’s voice, as if it had all been leading up to this. Judy had never been in a fight before and she wondered for a moment whether a gymnast like Kathi would be too strong for her. Maybe, she thought—but just from watching Kathi as much as she had she sensed that this wasn’t a girl who got into catfights all the time.

“If you want to meet me somewhere then let’s meet,” Judy said coolly.

“Okay,” Kathi said. “Behind the gym after the football game Friday night.”

It was such a ridiculous request that Judy thought at first it might be a joke, but it quickly became clear that Kathi was serious. She approached Judy abruptly the afternoon of the game outside her locker, and the sudden face to face meeting seemed to put both girls in a stammering, blushing burst of awkwardness. Kathi barely met her gaze as she asked her if she planned on showing up for their meeting.

“Yes, if that’s what you want,” Judy replied stiffly, trying to find somewhere else to look.

“I don’t want anyone else to be there so come alone,” Kathi insisted.

It was clear to Judy that she was being railroaded into a schoolyard fight and the idea put a thrill of fear through her body, but she was also angry at being put in the position and her annoyance gave her the spine to bite back a reply to the blonde girl: “I don’t need anyone else to help me so don’t worry.”

At that Kathi glared at her and the two exchanged their first openly hostile glances. Kathi seemed to flush with anger and her full, heart-shaped mouth opened a bit, giving Judy a flash of teeth. She looked quickly down at Judy’s chest and the little hint of cleavage the sweater she was wearing showed. Judy blushed herself and automatically looked down at Kathi’s chest just to even things out. She had always thought Kathi showed off her bustline more than she should, but that didn’t mean she thought Kathi was really any bigger than her. Her body and Kathi’s seemed to have reached maturity about the same time, and while neither was exactly busty, Judy was proud of her breasts and more than happy to show them off at the proper time. She had to admit Kathi’s were nice, but she didn’t have to be all THAT proud of them.

Almost as soon as the two girls realized that they had so openly checked each other out like this a wave of embarrassment struck them both, and Kathi turned away, blinking rapidly. If she felt anything like Judy did her whole body was tingling and sweaty at the confrontation, minute as it was. Kathi briefly reitterated the meeting place and time and Judy agreed to it immediately. There seemed nothing more to say so Kathi walked away.

To be continued