#42: One Week

Whitley cocked her head sideways in an exaggerated duck into Coach Richter's office. She'd been dodging door frames since high school, but Whitley had the impression Coach Richter was—for whatever reason—uncomfortable with her extreme height. Perhaps Coach Richter saw it as a physical manifestation of Whitley's celebrity, or maybe she had a thing for tall people, or maybe she was afraid of black people. Whatever it was and for whatever it was worth, Whitley would use it to her advantage.

Coach Richter faced away from the door, offering Whitley a double-take as she turned in her chair. Wearing gym shorts and a tank top to show off as much of her long limbs as possible, Whitley stepped over the chair opposite the desk and sat down.

"Ow!" Whitley yelped, letting her leg impact Coach Richter's desk. "Sorry, my legs are just out of hand today."


"God," Whitley seethed, rubbing her shin. "I haven't even measured myself lately. I hope I'm not growing again."

Coach Richter's eyes widened briefly. She abruptly shut them, took a beat and continued. "Whitley, when I hired you, I told you I wouldn't abide you being a distraction."

"I recall those were your exact words."

"I would certainly call last Saturday's incident a distraction."

"I beg to differ."

Coach Richter appeared caught off guard by Whitley's response. "What would you call your behavior on Saturday?"

"I would call it standing up for our players. I'm sure we'd both rather I, an assistant coach, get ejected than our starting outside hitter."

"Regardless of what you call it, I expect my coaches to model proper sportsmanship. You're a leader on this team. The girls look up to you. They idolize you. Would you want them to act like you did?"

"No, and I wouldn't expect them to. They have a responsibility to their team, and I've made that clear to them. But I can stick up for them and I like to think that's my job."

Coach Richter sighed. "I've spoken with the Athletic Director and the Dean, as well as a representative from the NCAA. You will be suspended for two games and be on probation for the remainder of this season. Another ejection will cost you your job." Her delivery seemed to imply Whitley should be grateful.


"Your welcome," Coach Richter said, expectantly.

Rage swept over Whitley with such intensity it made her momentarily light-headed. Patting her lap with one hand, she took several breaths until feeling returned to her tingling ears. She pictured an encore performance of Saturday's ejection—this time with no one to hold her back. She also wondered how heavy Coach Richter's desk was.

"Coach Valentine—."


"Your suspension bars you from participating in team activities for the next week. I expect you to make arrangements with Coach Koga to cover morning conditioning and practice drills."

"I'll see you in a week." Whitley abruptly stood, shoving the chair aside and staring down at Coach Richter, who flinched ever-so-slightly. "God, I am getting too big for this place." Whitley headed for the door, groaning as she tilted her head down.


Whitley stopped before the door and squeezed her eyes shut. "Yes?" she said through her teeth as she turned back around.

"While I can't say I agree with the choices you made, I am impressed with how you inspired those girls. But I'm not willing to sacrifice sportsmanship and professionalism. Maybe you should think less about yourself and more about the team."

"I wouldn't have done it if I wasn't."

"It's hard to look at how you behaved and hear you say that."

"It's hard to look at how you just stood back and watched them try to screw us and hear you say I’m the one not thinking about the team." Whitley turned again to leave, barely managing to duck to avoid the door frame—this time unintentionally. 

"I can't remember the last time I so badly wanted to punch someone in the face!" Whitley screamed into her phone.

Still in Santa Barbara, Krysta sized up her outfits for her final shoot with DreamGirls. Putting her phone on speaker, she set it atop the clothing rack and held up her two options: a sheer lavender negligee with matching lingerie or a navy blue teddy with a neckline plunging to the waist.

"One: that would have been a poor decision."

"Thank you, Jiminy Krysta."

"Two: please tell me you are not yelling this inside the Athletics building."

"I'm not," Whitley said. Krysta overheard the sound of double doors being shoved open and wind blowing into the earpiece.

"So, what was the final verdict?"

"Suspended for seven days. Probation for the remainder of the year. No surprises."

"Coach Richter's call?"

"Essentially, but she used the excuse she was only enforcing the NU and NCAA athletics policies. Either way, I've got plenty of time on my hands for the next week. Also, don't tell my sister I'll be using her weed money for rent. Being gone for four days at the tournament left me with a surplus."

"I have no intention of ever contacting Kiana."

"Yet you still have her number saved in your phone."

"I...I am not going to...look, Whitley, think of it this way: you have a week to re-group. That gives you time to get a handle on your social media situation."

"Can I post a picture of the dozen tacos I'm about to go eat?"

"...or let Alicia and I plan it for you. Whitley, this is it. This is the time for—"

Whitley saw she'd received an email. She let Krysta continue talking as she tapped the notification and opened the message. It was the Northshore University newspaper. Grateful it was not The Sentinel, she read:

Hello Coach Valentine. The Northshore University paper, The Decree, extends an invitation for you to join us for our 72 Questions series (yes, we copied it from Vogue). Would you please consider joining us for an—

Whitley stopped reading and hit "Reply."

Totally, yes. Let me know when and where.

She felt a tad guilty blowing off the Northshore Sentinel after the last reporter’s show of cordiality but she had no wish to be their go-to source of sports drama. The Decree would likely give Whitley more flexibility with the content and subject matter.

Realizing Krysta was still talking, Whitley put the phone back to her ear.

"—does that make sense?"

"Sure, Krysta. Totally. Hey, I gotta' run. It's almost nine and I have a second-breakfast date with a couple of pounds of Mexican food."

"I know you were not listening. Most of what I said was Prince lyrics."

"Shaboogie, girlfriend," Whitley said, ending the call. She trailed the outer edge of campus to Senior Tacos, where she stuck around to power down six tacos and two breakfast burritos.

Satisfied with her meal and the large horchata she left with, Whitley took the longer route home, weaving through the neighborhood. She arrived in time to catch Alicia filming a video with her arms full of groceries. Despite the load, Alicia opened the front door without a visible effort. Her face lit up with excitement when she noticed Whitley approaching.

"Hey, you! Welcome home. I said I'd get you to a thousand followers in a month, and you've added nearly a thousand in the last week! Told you you were famous."

Whitley took a few bags from Alicia, lightening her load. "I guess, but this isn't that different than the last time I made regional news for a fight. I just didn't have social media then."

"That post was awesome. You owned it."

Whitley rolled her eyes. "Oh, God. I can't even imagine what they're saying online."

"Wait, you haven't checked?"

"Honestly, I’m a little afraid to—"

Alicia dropped the remaining grocery bags onto the coffee table, plopped down onto the couch, and snagged her laptop from the floor. "Oh, we gotta' check the comments."

"Don't you need to put the groceries away?"

"Priorities! Let's check out the Amazons Among Us Forum."

"You have it bookmarked?"

"Duh. I've got my own starred thread and I'm subscribed to yours. Anyways, that's where your audience tells you what they like, what they don't like, and what they want. It's required daily reading if you take your career seriously."

Whitley sighed as she sat down beside Alicia, scowling as she read the comments.

Man she can't seem to stay out of the news...not that I'm complaining

She's even more gorgeous when she's angry.

If only she'd lifted him up and spanked him.

A real-life GIANTESS ATTACK!?!? God I swear she is a fantasy straight out of my dreams! I LOVE this woman.

"None of this is new..."

"You gotta' read between the lines. They like you when you're passionate and assertive, and they also just plain think you're a super hot Amazon. That means you need to play up the  strong, athletic poses that also show off your height."

"I'm not opposed to that, assuming it doesn't get too weird."

"So what if it does? Do what makes you comfortable. Whitley, this is exactly what makes the internet so fantastic. It's where people like us can be who we are and people who like it can tune in and appreciate it. Everyone wins."

"What do I get out of it?"

"A creative outlet. A chance to remind people you're a real person and not just an inseam, and probably some free swag when a big & tall shop notices how many followers you have and starts sending you stuff. On top of it all, think of how nuts it's going to be when you show up at Coastside Con! I'm thinking She-Hulk or maybe Giant Gamora..."

"Really, Alicia? You're bringing this up now?"

"Good a time as any. Krysta said she'd go if I could convince you to go, which she figured was a pretty safe bet for getting out of it."

"I'll go."

The dumbfounded shock on Alicia's face was priceless.

"I'm going to want something in return from you, of course."

"Sure! Watcha' got?"

"I need you to run the morning conditioning sessions this week for the volleyball team."

Alicia’s excitement visibly deflated. "Hm."

"You'll be well-compensated, I'll see to that."


"You do this, I'm all in for Coastside Comic Con, costumes and all. That's my deal."

Rather than her usual prompt follow-up, Alicia bit her lip, clearly still considering the offer.

"Alicia, I know you don't do public gyms and I get your reservations—believe me, I do. You think I'm excited to put my giant ass on display at a Comic Con?"

"Whitley, you don't have to—"

"Think of this as personal growth for both of us. We can go jogging tomorrow morning, I'll buy you some coffee and give you the full rundown. I'll handle all the legwork so it all goes smoothly. Can I at least get a tentative yes?"

"Can I wear whatever I want?"

"Within reason, but generally, yes. Hell, get creative."

Alicia took a deep breath, exhaled, then nodded. "Okay. Yes."

"Good." Whitley stood, and Alicia looked up at her. They exchanged smiles. "Now, I'm going to go get baked and watch Luke Cage until lunch."

"Yeah, see ya."

Alicia detected a trace of guilt before Whitley turned and headed up the stairs. Alicia remained on the couch. She sat silently, her computer on her lap, gazing at the ceiling. Fifteen minutes passed before she closed it and went to the kitchen to put the groceries away.