#6: With an 'L'

Six years ago...

[KGTS-05] There are tall girls. There are exceptionally tall girls, and then there's Whitney Valentine: a senior volleyball standout at South Hill High School who stands an astounding six-foot-eight inches tall. And, get this...she's still growing!

A montage shows Whitley leaping into the air and as spiking a volleyball during a scrimmage with her teammates, followed by a shot of Whitley walking down her high school's hallway. She stares directly at the camera as the shot cuts away to a taped interview in the gym after volleyball practice.

[Whitley] "I don't really think about it much, honestly."

"I actually try not to," Whitley continued with a smirk. "I mean, do you constantly obsess over you're being what, five-six and not growing?"

"I'm five-eight," the reporter replied, with unconvincing amusement.

Whitley chuckled. "Uh huh." This would be one of several exchanges cut from the final broadcast, much to Whitley's disappointment and her father's relief.

"I'm certainly not six-foot, eight inches tall, Whitney," Whitley noted the way the reporter's face seemed frozen in overly animated anticipation as if he expected her to spontaneously combust at any moment.

"It's Whitley, with an "L", and yes, I am six-eight.

[Whitley] It's a big deal to some people, but for me, it's just me. I don't think about being different—"

"—unless someone, ya' know, points it out and makes a big deal out of it."

[KGTS-05] "Have you always been tall?"

[Whitley] I've always been a little tall for my age—

"—if that's what you're asking."

"But you haven't always been as above average as you are now."

"No, I was actually a pretty small baby."

[KGTS-05] So, when you entered high school, you were five-foot-eight. You've grown roughly three inches a year since then!

[Whitley] Five of those inches were actually in the first year.

An image of a 5'8" Whitley playing basketball at age 14 is shown, followed by the 6'1" Whitley in her freshman homecoming dress next to her 6'3 father, and a 6'5" Whitley as a sophomore, the tallest on the varsity volleyball team.

[KGTS-05] And how was it growing so fast?"

[Whitley] It was something—

"—awful. Absolutely terrible. It's like my body decided 'acne and heavy flow periods aren't enough. Let's grow some more!'"

Whitely's father conspicuously cleared his throat from off-camera.

"Most girls finish their growth spurts by the end of junior high," the reporter continued. "But yours just keeps on going!"

"Yeah, it's pretty goddamned weird."

The reporter chuckled again. "What's the hardest thing about being so tall?"

"I'm not fond of this whole spectacle here." Whitley gestured at the camera fixed on her.

Her father cleared his throat again, and Whitley accepted his disapproving glare. Standing next to him, her sister Kiana didn't even look away from her phone.

[KGTS-05] You're an all-state middle blocker. That's earned you quite a lot of attention from college recruiters all around the country.

So, Whitney, do you have colleges in mind?"

"It's Whitley, with an 'L.'"

"Whitley..."

[KGTS-05] ...do you have a college preference?

[Whitley] I wanna find the right fit, you know?

"Maybe some kind of all-tall school for Amazons, you know, like the island where Wonder Woman is from?"

Her father muttered something through gritted teeth as Whitley continued.

"And there'd be, like a big stone vagina statue where we all pay our respects before climbing into our communal hot spring bath and—"

"Whitley! Dammit just answer his question!" Her father's booming voice echoed through the gym. Whitley pouted for a moment, then straightened and took a deep breath.

"As you might imagine, I'm certainly hoping to get away from home, so..."

[Whitley] ...probably the Midwest.

[KGTS-05] "There are some good schools out there. So, to close, any advice to other tall girls like yourself?"

"Google Alerts are your friend. Did you know there's a website out there entirely dedicated to my feet? They even have their own Yahoo group. It's called "Whitley Valentine's Long, Sexy Feet" and they've got EVERY picture of my feet in existence on there."

Her father cursed loudly.

[Whitley] "Stand tall, and don't be afraid to be yourself."

Whitley hammed it up, giving a thumbs-up as well as the cheesiest grin she could muster. She added a wink for emphasis.

[KGTS-05]Thanks Whitney.

[Whitley] It's Whitley, short stuff.

[KGTS-05] This is Artie Pinsetter with—

Whitley reaches over from off-camera and tousles his hair.

[KGTS-05] —with KGTS news, at South Hill High School.

"Good footage Whitney," someone next to the camera shouted. "We'll piece it together into a short piece for our morning show."

"Whitley."

"Sure. Can we get a shot of you reaching and grabbing the basketball net?"

"Why? I don't play basketball."

"How about showing how far you can reach your hands over the volleyball net?"

"What is this, some kind of fetish photoshoot?"

Her father cleared his throat with enough force to send him into a minor coughing fit.

After filming an interview with Whitley's father which did not make the final cut, they wrapped up the session. Kiana declined to be interviewed and requested she not be shown on camera or even mentioned at any point. Save for a few comments from Mr. Valentine about how the exposure would be great for college recruiting, the trio walked mostly in silence out of the gym. As they exited the building, Kiana, who'd stayed mostly quiet to that point, grasped her sister by her jersey and jerked her downwards so she could look her directly in the eyes despite standing a foot shorter.

"Whitley, you're really tall. It's going to get you attention whether you like it or not. We're middle-class mixed twin girls getting okay grades at one of the biggest high schools in Southern California. You have something that makes you different. You can dwell on the shit parts of that, or you can suck it up and own the advantages." Kiana paused briefly. "If you can't, I'll hate you even more than I already do."

Whitley said nothing but watched as the intensity in her sister's eyes faded. Kiana let go of her and left to join their father in the car.

It was the last honest moment the two sisters would share for a long while.