“Yeah,” Megan muttered. She leaned her pink-haired head against the lockers behind her. “We only lost by nine goals this time.”
Coach’s glassy, bloodshot eyes flicked to Megan and tightened at the corners. “We’ll go over the tape—the, ah, video—tomorrow before practice. See what we can improve on.”
Kelley figured if Coach had been on her fourth vodka-soda of the day instead of her fifth, she might have gotten salty at Megan’s crack, but between Coach’s level of inebriation and Megan’s stardom, she must’ve decided to drop it. Coach could go from maintaining drunk to angry drunk at the drop of a hat.
“What we can improve on?” Megan thrust out her jaw and sat up. “We can’t—they must’ve been using HGH or something. They’re cheating!”
Swallowing, Coach couldn’t help but glance at the new players before saying, “You…that’s a serious charge. We could—it’s not good for the team.”
“I could get Congress to look into it. I know some people,” Megan said. “Chuck Schumer, Alexandria Ocas—”
“No! We know why—” Coach coughed, looked away, and peered at the goalie, sitting apart from everyone with her head down. “Ashlyn.”
Oh, crap, Kelley thought.
“Anything to add?”
Ashlyn shook her head. “I…they spent most of the game on offense.”
“So it’s defense’s fault you’ve been a sieve all season?”
“No, but—” Ashlyn glared at the new players, opened her mouth to say something else, and closed it.
“You’re benched,” Coach said. “We’re signing on a new goalie to start.”
Ashlyn’s face crumpled into tears, but she nodded and resumed her focus on the locker room’s tile floor.
“Look,” Kelley said, standing up. “We all know what the problem is.”
Blinking, Coach frowned. “I don’t think—”
“It’s these new players!” Kelley gestured at them. “We can’t play like this!”
Three of them looked up from their smartphones and scowled, but the rest didn’t seem to notice.
“What the hell are you talking about, Kelley?” Coach said. “Since we signed them, we’ve had more shots on goal, closed the point gap to single digits, and—”
“But they’re not women!”
The newest player, Colina, stood up, looming over the other players. Cornrows glistening in the fluorescent lights, stubbled cheeks dark with anger, she folded her arms under her falsies and growled in a gravelly falsetto, “Sounding kind of a lot like hate speech there, Coach. Might have to file a grievance with the league.”
Coach’s eyes filled with terror. “No! Please! She…she didn’t mean to—”
Kelley kicked the lockers behind her. “I did mean it! This…it’s completely nuts! The only reason why we’re losing this season’s because we’re the last women’s team in the whole league that has some actual women playing!”
Dumbstruck, Coach opened and closed her mouth like a beached fish while Megan got up and put a hand on her shoulder.
“Kelley,” Megan said in an overly calm voice, “you know that’s not true. Colina and, um, Johna and Georgea and the rest…they’re women just like you and me and Ashlyn.”
Colina nodded at this, while Johna and Georgea got up, opened their lockers, and began taking off their uniforms.
“See? Look! They’ve got…they’ve got dicks! Women don’t have penises!” Kelley turned to the other players, looking for allies, but found only stony stares and closed mouths.
“Women have penises, too,” Megan said, and swallowed audibly when Johna and Georgea trooped to the women’s showers. “It’s 2019. Stop being so, so…”
“Hateful,” Colina finished for her, helpfully, and put her huge, callused hands on her hips. “I’m as much a woman as any guy—er, woman here.”
“Oh, my God!” Kelley cried. “Are you kidding—”
“Enough!” Coach screamed, pulling away from Megan. “Kelley, you’d better leave before you make this worse for yourself. You’re already in trouble with the commission.”
“What’re you gonna do, bench me like Ashlyn?”
“No. Have you arrested for hate speech. We still have laws in this country, you know.”
Kelley glowered from the scowling Megan to the towering Colina, shook her head, and stormed out. “I quit. Find a tranny to fill my spot,” she shouted over her shoulder.
“I am so sorry that this happened to you,” Megan said to Colina, eyes bright.
“It’s okay,” Colina rumbled. “I think I’m having my period right now.”
As the other players got up to stroke Colina’s arms, murmuring words of encouragement, Coach backed out of the locker room, went to her office, and filled her water bottle to the top with Smirnoff.
“Prost,” she murmured, and drank deep.
(Special thanks to R.M. Huffman.)