“Fifteen…Sixteen…Seventeen…” Jill grunted as she lowered herself down before pushing herself back up. The wooden floor of her bedroom creaked slightly as beads of sweat slid off the teenage girl’s face. When she reached thirty, she let out a sigh and sat on the floor, leaning on the wall. It was in those seconds that she realized that she had in fact done three sets of proper pushups, not the kind she was doing a month ago with her knees on the floor. She let out another satisfied sigh as she looked at her arms, which bulged visibly. More and more veins were making themselves known, pushing up through her skin. It wasn’t an ideal workout situation, having to do calisthenics in her room, but ever since mom canceled her gym membership, Jill realized that she had to find some way to pump up, if at the very least to keep that uncomfortable feeling in her head from returning. The school did have a gym, but it was only available for classes or football players and was closed after school hours. And just Jill’s luck, it never occurred to her to take Weightlifting 101 this semester. She searched for various heavy objects in the house to lift, but aside from the furniture, which she had a tough time grasping with just two hands, there wasn’t anything in the house that weighed more than ten pounds small enough to be curled.
She toweled her face off in the bathroom and flexed her guns as she looked herself in the mirror. Two powerful balls of rock hard muscle ballooned out from her arms. Impressive, and harder looking than the last time, but Jill noticed that while more veins were popping out across her body and she could see the definition in her muscles deepening, she wasn’t getting big as fast as she used to at the gym. She had indeed grown slightly bigger from her last visit to the gym; her biceps and shoulders bulged powerfully , her abs were cut as hell, and clusters of teardrop shaped lumps of muscle were forming around her thighs. But it wasn’t enough. She needed that burst of mass; that same incredible bulking up she witnessed her body undergo the last time she was at Genesis Fitness in the span of less than an hour. Pushups, situps and squats just weren’t doing it, but the tension in the Rhodes household was at an all time high, and Jill felt that her room was a safe haven from the unknown chaos that waited outside. Except for three days ago, when mom went on the warpath in Jill’s room, searching for the “steroids” that her daughter was pumping herself full of. But looking for a bottle the size of your thumb in an 18 year old’s room is about as fruitful as looking for a needle in a stack of needles, and mom did not find anything beyond Jill’s usual supplements which she herself took. “Mom, I’m not on steroids! There’s nothing to find!” Jill remembered telling her as the woman uprooted her room, teetering on the edge of wantonly hurling every object behind her as she searched for whatever it was that was starting transforming her daughter into a disgusting muscle freak.
Jill didn’t want to go out there, but it was 7.30 am and she had to get to school. She struggled to put on her T-shirt, which now clung tightly to her whole body. She groaned as she forced her muscular thighs through her jeans. She grabbed her backpack and hesitantly made her way for the door, furrowing her eyebrows at the tight feeling of her clothes. As she was about to step through the door, she glanced at herself in her wall mirror and stopped. She noticed that through the neck hole of her T-shirt, she could see her thick pectorals creeping up from the bottom towards her neck. Only little over a month ago, it was nothing more than just plain flatness, followed by her boobs below. Now Jill was starting to see these two rock hard plates of muscle rising out of *her* body, slowly erasing the breasts that she had grown up with for six years. It occurred to Jill that many women, for thousands and thousands of years, spent their whole lives being judged, being defined by these two fleshy sacs, and she now she would only spend six of them with them. She would not get that chance. For a moment, she didn’t seem to recognize the girl in the mirror, but as she scanned her body from toe to neck, she found her face again and a feeling of reassurance washed over her. She was still Jill Rhodes.
It was at this very inopportune time that the door suddenly snapped open, nearly decking Jill in the face, as mom stopped short of colliding with her daughter as she stepped inside. The two of them looked at each other for a moment in awkward silence.
“You’re going to school?” Mom asked.
“Uh, yeah?” Jill replied incredulously.
“Don’t answer me like that! Come here, I want to have a word with you before you go,” she said, walking back out towards the living room.
“Ugh, *Mom*, you’re gonna make me late!” Jill protested as she reluctantly followed.
“I’ll make it quick! Sit down!” Jill obeyed and sat on the couch across from mom. Mom opened her mouth to speak but stopped when she noticed something in her daughter, “You’ve made yourself bigger, haven’t you?” she asked in a tone of controlled outrage. Jill looked away. “My god, Jill. Your father and I are trying to help you get out of this and grow up liked a normal 18 year old girl, and you’re—“ she seemed on the verge of a meltdown but took a moment to compose herself, “Where are they? Where’d you put them?”
“The steroids! Your drugs!”
“Mom! I’m not on steroids!” Jill pleaded.
“Sweetie, don’t bullshit me anymore. This is RIDICULOUS, look at you, and you- you’re telling me you’re NOT on steroids?! Now, your father is pulling all his contacts and calling up people to see if they can help you out of this, so I’d appreciate a little understanding from you-”
“Mom, seriously I’m telling you I’ve got-“
“Good genes or not, THIS,” she reached across and grabbed her daughter’s muscular veined arm, gesticulating wildly with her other arm, “is not natural, Jill! Not without help!”
“Okay listen to my voice! Steroids, okay, they would make my voice deeper! I still look and sound like me!”
“And your breasts! Look at you!” Mom shouted as she got up and invaded Jill’s personal space. Jill shouted in protest as mom jabbed at her thick pectorals, “Where are they?! Where are they, Jill?! You’re turning yourself into some freak!”
Jill felt like a bomb exploded in her head, and a force inside her poured itself out. “Okay, you know what? I *want* to turn myself into some freak! It’s my body, I can do whatever I want to it!”
“Don’t you dare talk back to me-“
“I mean GOD, mom! I feel great! I feel healthier, stronger, better than I’ve ever been, and I’m still a girl. I’m still a woman. You should be thankful I’m not like puking my guts out to lose weight, or, or, cutting myself, or getting high out of my fucking mind, or any of the other thousand things I could be doing to really destroy myself that girls out there my age are doing! And I’m still getting good grades, I’m going to get into college, I’m doing the things that *should* make you happy! But now you want to control how I, how I look-“
“You think people will accept-“
“Even if you take away the gym, as long as I have a freaking FLOOR to stand on, I can do pushups, I can still get bigger whenever I want to! You can’t control that! You can’t!”
She picked up her backpack and stormed out of the house.
“Jill! Come back here! Don’t you walk away from your mother!”
The door slammed shut.
The sun was shining on Portsdown High, a rare respite from the gloomy cloudiness that had pervaded for the past few weeks. Choi shuffled away from the shaft of light that was baking his back, stepping around the table so that he was no directly across his lab partner. He slowly added a small amount of base into the acid, methodically following the proper titration procedures as Ashley, his lab partner, watched on. She clearly had no idea what the fuck was going on, and Choi often wondered how someone without a damn clue was sharing the same AP Chemistry class with him. Titration was a slow process that required ungodly patience, and this girl was yawning and looking around while Choi was doing all the work. She would wind up getting as much credit as he did. It didn’t make sense to him, so he decided he would try something a little different for a change.
“Ashley. Did you wanna have at it?”
The girl gave him a quizzical look. “Oh! Uhm, sure…” she said as Choi moved aside to let her add the drops into the flask. She seemed to get off to a good start, adding half drops and shaking the flask to swirl the fluids together. Then she fumbled the nozzle of the dropper, causing a huge dose of titrate to spill into the dilute solution. Choi lost it.
“Goddamnit, Ashley. One. Simple. Thing. One simple fucking thing and you can’t fucking do it!” he barked, tearing off his safety goggles and slamming them on the table. Everyone in class grew silent and looked at them, “I’m doing all the work here, and you, you’re getting a fucking A like I do, when its MY-“
“Choi! Cool it!” Mrs. B said as she walked over to the pair. Ashley was verging on tears now, “She made a mistake. It’s okay. Just rinse everything and repeat it, and please watch your language or I’ll have to report you to the VP’s office again.”
Choi didn’t answer back, but stared angrily at the table and lightly nodded his head. As Mrs. B walked away and the sounds of a functioning class slowly crept back in, Choi continued to stare at the table as Ashley sniffled and pulled together her all to keep it under control. Choi couldn’t believe this shit. He was pretty much certain to get into UC Berkley on a scholarship, and here he was, dealing with Disney princesses in AP fucking Chem.
It was his free period, and he sat at one of the shaded tables on the patio by the cafeteria, working on his lab report. He really wanted to write “Lab partner sucked” as a footnote of some kind, but he just wanted the semester to coast by smoothly so he could get the hell out of this crappy high school. The chatter of a clique sitting at a table behind him suddenly white noised all over his concentration, and Choi angrily glared at the six preppy kids and wondered just what on earth was so funny that they had to be so fucking loud. Despite putting on his most intimidating stare, none of the kids acknowledged his existence. He turned back and tried to breathe the hate out of his nostrils.
Choi despised Portsdown High. There were too many prep kids and elitist morons driving their Mercedes Benzes. The science department was a joke, having castrated itself to cater to the lack of qualified students like him, which is why idiots like Ashley could wind up in AP Chem and why hacks like Mrs. B refused to take Choi’s side when he felt like asserting his superiority over his less intelligent peers. Still, you have to make the best what you have, and Choi, if not a good communicator, was a great listener, and was therefore in the know with what was going down at Portsdown High. At best, it proved to be superb entertainment for him. His freshest piece of gossip came from one of the preppy football cliques, where apparently one of the girls was seriously buffing up faster than any of the jocks could dream of. He had seen the girl in question before, Choi was certain her name was Jill. Even though he was more inclined towards other Asian girls, Choi still thought Jill was always one of the better looking girls at school. Top five, probably.
Rather conveniently, it was at this moment that the double doors to the cafeteria opened and out stepped Jill, walking and talking with Rhonda, who Choi took Biochem with in Junior year. Though it didn’t happen very often, Choi was taken aback at how built Jill was. The last time he had a really good look at her, she was slender and toned, bordering on athletic. Now the girl he saw walking past him looked to have put on at least 20 pounds of muscle.
“The fuck-?” Choi silently mouthed as the two girls got further and further away. With barely a minute to collect his thoughts, the cafeteria door opened again, and this time out stepped Kee Yoon, looking like she was in a hurry to get somewhere. Choi’s heart raced a little. Kee Yoon, man, out of all the girls at Portsdown High, she was the prized gem that sat atop Mount Fakery, as he called it. Choi knew that she was a fob, and that was his opportunity. He could speak some of the language, most of it learned from hearing his parents talk, but he grew up in LA. He could show her the ropes! Ease her into the American life with that feeling of homely familiarity! That could be his way in. As Kee got closer and closer, Choi sat up and leaned out towards her a little, making himself obvious. As soon as they made eye contact, he put on his best smile and waved at her. Kee returned his gesture with a smile and wave of her own before resuming her hurried journey.
Choi sat back and sighed contently. It lasted all of two seconds, but man did it make his day. He could tell just by her smile and wave alone that she wasn’t one of them, she was an innocent *forced* into attending this shitty high school. They were united in that commonality, even if he was a man of science and she was a woman of the fine arts. He turned back to his lab report, and picked up his pencil, but found that it was impossible to even think about chem now. His mind raced with all sorts of thoughts. He turned back to see if Kee Yoon was still visible. She was distant, but he could see her heading down the corridor. He turned to the prep kids behind him. They weren’t getting any quieter. A fly landed on his finger and he angrily waved it away. The sun seemed to be getting hotter, and the heat was starting to bake his skin, even under the giant umbrella. He was not comfortable anymore. He turned back to where Kee Yoon was and something piqued his attention. There was a piece of paper on the floor that wasn’t there before Kee Yoon walked by. Maybe she dropped it? Not wanting to question this perfect opportunity, Choi packed his things and got up.
The Edward M. Graham sports gymnasium was Portsdown High’s most recent architectural monstrosity; a building that was the cause of much noise and dust during Jill’s junior year. In her early morning free period, Jill had the entire place to herself. She looked around the vast space that surrounded her, her shoes squeaking against the polished floor. There was a serene quality to the dead silence of the place. It was massive, soundless, and empty. Everything that her home wasn’t. But Jill wasn’t here to sight-see. Earlier in the morning she made a pass at the gym, and sure enough, it was locked. Frustration. Jill, with her newfound muscle mass, felt like she could have simple rammed the door open, but she wasn’t that insane just yet. The gymnasium perhaps had something she could use. She approached the far end of the hall, where the storage closet was, and tried the handle. To her surprise, it opened, and within it sat a variety of sports equipment; basketballs, soccer balls, volleyballs, cones, skipping ropes…but no weights. She looked around the place. There was a volleyball net set up at one corner of the gymnasium. Jill smiled to herself and whipped out her phone and began texting.
“Jill?” Linton said as he walked into the gymnasium, duffel bag hoisted over his shoulder. The burly football star looked around and found Jill’s increasingly unfamiliar figure at the far end of the hall. He just managed to catch her sliding her PE shirt on, but from the millisecond that he saw her shirtless, he could see all her back muscles standing bold and hard from out of her torso, glistening in the ceiling lights. Linton’s heart beat faster. As she pulled her shirt down to where it sat above her midriff, she spun around in a moment of surprise before smiling at him, her hair whipping around her face as she did so. The whole thing seemed to play out in slow motion in Linton’s dazed mind.
“You got here quick, barely gave me time to change!” she quipped as she pulled her sneakers out of her backpack.
Linton snapped out of his daze and gave her a confident smile as he folded his arms and cocked his head, “Not exactly every day that I get a text from you telling me to come over,” he said, walking towards her. She giggled as she laced up her shoes. Linton looked at the net adjacent to her and then down at the volleyballs she had laid next to it, “So what, you called me over for volleyball?”
Jill finished putting on her shoes and turned around, approaching Linton. As she did so, she remembered how she looked like a stick standing next to him. She gave a quick glance to each of her shoulders, admiring how broad and thick they had gotten, and how much more powerful they made her feel in the face of the towering Linton, “I’m feeling…” she cooed suggestively. Linton’s confident exterior was on the verge of crumbling into a nervous heap as she got closer and closer to him, “…like I need you to work me out.”
Linton collected himself and smirked as Jill picked up one of the volleyballs. Amazing, he thought. The last time she was like this to him was Junior prom, while Tara was being distracted by her friends. His confidence began to waver once more as Jill walked right up to him, coming within a hair’s length of him as she gently pushed the ball into his hands. Holy shit, Linton thought, she is fucking ripped. He could make out the veins in her arms, which forked like lightning bolts as they traveled from her biceps down to her forearms. He could see her insane pecs bulging through her shirt, and sweet Jesus her whole body was almost as cut as his, if not more. For the first time, Linton felt like he had to *respect* Jill not as his on and off fuck-buddy, but as someone who was by some freak of nature intimidating and arousing him at the same time. He had never felt this way before. He still felt his unholy, uncontrollable desires for Jill, but now he was *terrified* of those desires. His fears were no less assuaged when Tara’s face started flashing in his head. He gripped the ball, standing there like a poor loon, not knowing what to do.
“You’ve gotten all quiet on me. That’s a first.” Jill remarked as she took her position on the opposite side of the net from Linton.
Her confidence, her poise, it was killing Linton. He was frozen on the spot, trapped in his own skin. He couldn’t move, but his mind was screaming at him. He took a deep breath, and decided that he would set aside his hesitation, at least for this moment. At the end of the day, no matter what Jill did, it was Linton who was Portsdown High’s football star, on track for the USC Trojans. He could be sure of that.
“Work you out, huh?” Linton said, finally looking up at her, “I’ll see what I can do about that…after this game!”
Linton slammed the ball as hard as he could, rocketing it over the net towards Jill. A deafening “bang” reverberated across the entire gymnasium. Immediately, Linton felt a bit worried that he had turned the ball into a deadly projectile headed for Jill. To his surprise, however, Jill blocked the ball with her arms, halting its deadly trajectory without so much as an ounce of effort. She followed up by leaping in the air and slamming her fist into it, sending the ball back to Linton even faster than he had. The football dimwit was caught off guard and clumsily deflected the ball, but he already knew he had made a mistake. The ball floated slowly over the net, where Jill easily pounced and pounded it into the ground in front of him.
“Whoo!” Jill yelped, pumping her fist in victory.
“Holy shit girl,” an astounded Linton said, “I don’t think I’ve seen anyone hit a ball like that, let alone a chick.”
As Linton tossed Jill the ball, she smiled and said, “Don’t worry Linty. At this rate you’re gonna have to worry about a different sort of balls.”
He raised his eyebrows in surprise, not just at the tail end of her comment, but at the fact that she called him “Linty”. Only Tara called him that. He barely had time to think when he realized that Jill had sent the ball flying towards him. He deflected it, this time more competently than the last time, and shot the ball back at her with all his might at the far side of Jill’s court that she couldn’t possibly get to in time. Jill’s powerful thighs propelled her across, and she dived and deflected it in the nick of time. Damn, thought Linton. She’s everywhere. Linton held his own for several back-and-forths, but in his relentless effort to beat Jill, he put all his strength into each hit. Yet, no matter how hard and how fast he played, Jill was always ready to deflect with such unrelenting power. Linton realized far too late that he had tired himself out far too quickly, and eventually the ball hit the ground where Linton wasn’t. “Shit,” he muttered.
“Goddamnit, where did she go?” Choi said to himself as his head darted left and right as he power-walked down the corridors. He had looked inside every empty classroom to no avail. He even checked inside the library, even though it wasn’t even on the path that he saw her take. He finally doubled back and decided to check the gymnasium, even though he couldn’t fathom a reason she’d be there. This is ridiculous, he thought. The piece of paper she dropped was utterly blank, save for a few random chicken scratches made in pencil, kind of like something a psychopath would make. For all he knew, it was just some random thing that the wind blew in that didn’t even belong to Kee. At worst, he would probably come off as an obsessive stalker for walking up and down Portsdown High, trying to return a piece of paper that probably didn’t even matter to a girl he had a crush on. It was too late for his doubts at any rate, because as Choi rounded the corner and the gymnasium came into sight, there she was.
Choi slowed down and gave a puzzled look. Kee Yoon was peering through the little window on one of the doors into the building, standing on her toes to compensate for her meek four feet ten inch frame. What the hell was she doing? Choi stood there like a fool for the longest time, holding the paper like the ridiculous thing that it was. Ah, fuck it.
As he approached the unknowing Kee Yoon from behind, Choi started hearing loud banging sounds from within the gymnasium as well as the short, rapid bursts of shoes squeaking against the floor. Why was Kee Yoon peering into some PE class? He got closer and closer to Kee Yoon until the girl heard his clothing rustle and spun around, letting out a yelp.
“Oh, no no, sorry!” Choi said as he raised his open palm at her, “I just, uhm, I think you dropped this.”
He showed her the paper. Kee Yoon seemed to recognize it and suddenly looked incredibly embarrassed. Choi walked towards her and handed it to her, “Is it yours?” he asked gently. Kee Yoon refused to meet his eyes but simply nodded and took the paper from him.
“Thank you,” she said, just about managing to put on the faintest hint of a smile, before hurrying off away from Choi. The confused kid watched as Kee disappeared around the corner before turning his attention to whatever the hell was going on in the gymnasium. Cupping his hand around his eyes, he squinted hard as he saw the two figures playing an intense game of volleyball. One of them was clearly winning.
Linton wiped the sweat off his forehead as he placed the ball on the ground, “Phew, okay Jill. Gotta time out now. I gotta keep some in the tank for practice later.”
Jill, also sweating now, pinched her shirt with both hands and fanned air onto her body. Checking herself out, she grinned satisfyingly as she saw how pumped her body had become. Her muscles were bulging out more and they felt harder now. She pulled up her sleeve and inspected her shoulder. What was formerly a faint striation was now bold and pronounced, and the skin around it felt thinner. Mission accomplished.
“So why’d you wanna play volleyball anyway?” said Linton, trying his hardest to ignore the fact that he just got his ass kicked by a girl.
“You mean besides wanting to whoop your ass?” Jill said, laughing. Linton returned with his own brand of nervous, artificial laughter.
“Ha, that’s cool, that’s cool, no problem.” He couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Sorry,” Jill said as she smiled at him, “My mom canceled my gym membership and I needed a good workout. And your good company, of course.”
Jill walked over to Linton, close enough that they could both smell each other’s sweat. “Mom didn’t like the fact that you’re, ah…” said Linton, looking intently at Jill with new eyes.
“Yeah. Big time.”
Linton laughed lightly and scanned Jill from head to toe, “Jill…did you…? Have you gotten…bigger?”
Jill pretended to be surprised and checked herself out once more, flexing her biceps and examining her arms, “Oh! Have I? I don’t know, Linty. Are you sure you’re not seeing things?”
He was at a loss of words again. He shook his head, smiling nervously and said, “So why *do* you want to, ah…you know…”
“It was always my life’s dream to grow up to be like you, Linty,” she said, placing her palm on his sweaty chest. They both laughed. Jill still had her hand on his chest. That weird feeling of terror and lust was wreaking havoc on Linton’s mind, but the feeling of her hand on his chest could not be denied. She was right there, in front of her, looking into his eyes. Linton took her hand and gently pulled her closer to him.
“So now what? You want to…heh…work out now?”
Jill smiled coyly and seemed on the verge of something with Linton.
“Yeah,” she said, “But I want you to do something for me.”
“What would that be?”
Jill leaned towards him and spoke into his ear, “Get me into the school gym.”