An Alternative Choice

The low hum and steady beep of the machine slowly brought David back to consciousness. He opened his eyes slowly, allowing them to adjust to the harsh florescent light that hung above him. He tried to move, but every nerve in his body seemed to scream in pain. He felt some motion to his left and slowly rotated his head to see his friend Jack sitting beside him.

“What happened?” David asked, his voice dry and heaving.

Coach Jack quickly shut his book and leaned closer to him, “Hey bud, you scared us there. From what your students said, you just collapsed during your lecture. The doc said you had a heart attack.”

David closed his eyes and silently cursed. Jack continued, “Let me go find the doc. He said he needed to talk to you when you woke up.”

Jack beamed David a brilliant smile before he got up and left the room. David, on the other hand was cursing his stupidity. His physician had told him for years now that if he didn’t shape up, something like this would happen. He knew he was a diabetic, had hypertension and was morbidly obese, but he didn’t try hard enough to change his habits. Just the simple fact that every school year he had to buy all new clothes to fit his expanding waist line should have been a clue, but being the stubborn, lazy guy he was didn’t do anything to change himself.

And now, he was lying in a hospital. “Stupid, stupid,” he said quietly. He wanted to kick himself if he wasn’t feeling so weak. As he waited for Jack to get back, he started to get bored, so he tried to look around the room. He could see to his left and right, but in front of him was blocked by his bloated gut. He cringed slightly at the size of it, despairing at how out of control he allowed it. It was a huge ball of fat sitting on top of him, completely blocking his view. He wanted to blame it on all the late night eating and not exercising because of his teaching job, but he knew deep down that he could have fit in some exercise if he tried and his diet had no excuse for being junk food and fast food burgers.

As he was wallowing in self-loathing, he heard a creak from his right. He turned his head to see Jack closely followed by a older man in a white coat. Jack smiled as he walked back around the bed but the doctor following behind him looked a lot more solemn.

“So Doc, when can David here get back to teaching?” Jack asked with jovial tone.

The doctor looked down at his chart before looking at David and Jack. “Mr. Dale, I see here that you were diagnosed with Type II diabetes around five years ago and hypertension about four years. What lifestyle changes did you make?”

David winced slightly as he felt Jack looking at him. “Well, you see, I was meaning to start exercising more and eating,” he started before the doctor cut him off.

“I see.” He walked towards the foot of the bed and pulled out a pen. “Tell me Mr. Dale, can you feel this?”

David craned his neck to try and see what the doctor was doing, but his massive belly was in the way. “No, I don’t feel anything.”

The doctor mumbled to himself before saying, “And how about this?”

“No, still nothing.”

The doctor put the pen back in his pocket before walking around the bed. “Move your arm please,” he asked.

David, slightly worried, moved his arms upward as the doctor nodded.

“That is good,” the doctor said as he scribbled something on his clipboard.

“Well, what’s the verdict?” Jack asked.

“Well Mr. Dale, I’m sorry to tell you that you had a stroke and a heart attack. And the combination of those two events seemed to have caused some paralysis in the lower half of your body. I’m sorry, but I would advise against going back into teaching until your risk factors have been lowered by a great deal.

David’s heart shattered at the doctor’s words. Teaching was all he had in life and because of stupidity on his part, he had lost not just his legs but his reason for living. “I’ll leave you alone for a while. Just press the button if you need anything.”

After the doctor left, Jack stood up. David turned away slightly so Jack couldn’t see how upset he was. “Anything I can get for you?” David shook his head no and Jack continued, “Ok. I’m going to go to the cafeteria real quick and make a few phone calls.”

David simply said, “Ok” and closed his eyes. He knew Jack had to call the school to get a replacement teacher for him. He listened to the door close and sat in the quiet room, close to crying. He kept saying to himself, “How could I be so stupid? All I had to do was eat better or exercise or something and this would’ve never happened. Why did I let myself get like this?”

He continued to berate himself until he fell asleep from exhaustion. While he fell into a deep pit of darkness, he saw a small pinprick of light. Not knowing what else to do, he floated towards down to it. As he moved closer to the light, it grew and grew until it engulfed his entire being.

He stopped moving and just hovered in a warm, bright glow. For the first time since in years, he felt like everything was right. He smiled as he wrapped himself in the intangible threads of comfort that surrounded him. Then, he heard a voice whisper beside him, “Hello David.”

For some reason, David wasn’t startled. The voice was so gentle and soothing, he felt no fear or anxiety as it spoke. “I’ve been watching you for a while and while you’ve made some mistakes in your life, you have always had the best interest of others in your mind, even before your own. I’ve decided that I will give you a very, very special gift. I want you to think about your past life, and I want you to focus on a single thing you wish you could change. One moment in time that you look back at and wish you could have made a different choice.”

David started to let his mind wonder, and flashing in the emptiness before him appeared scenes from his life. Everything flew by rapidly, but they all seemed to converge on one moment in the past. Finally, the images slowed down and started to replay his first few weeks in middle school. Immediately, he knew what he wanted to change.

“If I could change anything, I would have not given up so easily on the weight lifting sessions after school. I liked it, but for some reason I didn’t stick with it. I wish I had the drive and determination to lift and play football instead of being so shy and scared of what people would have thought,” he said aloud. Soon as he said that, the day in question started playing before him.

David saw himself lifting on the bench. He could see the smile on his face as he felt his muscles working for the first time. Then he saw the look on his face as he looked around at the other kids in the weight room. He could see the fear that he felt then, knowing that he was getting aroused by the weights and the other kids lifting in the area. He could see the mental anguish he was feeling as he struggled to convince himself that he wasn’t gay. Finally, he could see the pain and defeat in his eyes as he put up the weights and went to leave.

The scene stopped as soon as the door was opened. “Here is the point of choice. What would you change here?” the soft voice asked.

Thinking carefully, David said loudly, “I would change my entire outlook right there. I would make it so he didn’t feel ashamed about the feelings he was having. I would let him know that getting aroused at the sight of muscle wasn’t a bad thing. And I would give him the focus to stick with it no matter what. I would let him know how much fun it is lifting weights and playing football, and how, even though it might not seem so right then, there were a lot of people in the world that felt the exact same way he did and eventually, he would discover an entire world of gay lifters and bodybuilders to fit in with.”

“So shall it be.” The scene before him started playing and he continued out the door, but he was stopped by a large, muscular man. David couldn’t tell what was being said, but he could see the expression of awe and wonder on the his young face. As he talked, David could see his younger self begin to cry and fall forward into the bigger man’s embrace. It took a few moments, but eventually, the muscle man stopped talking and his younger self stood up, dried his eyes and smiled at the big man. The man pointed back inside and David returned to the weight room.

The scene faded away and he heard the soft voice whisper, “You have been given a great chance David, remember always, be true to yourself and your life will be filled with joy and happiness.” As soon as the voice finished, the light started to fade.

“Hey man! Wake up!”

David’s eyes began to open slowly as some person shook him. He looked up to see Jack’s face again, but this time there was something different. Instead of a look of worry, there was simply a jovial smile on his face, coupled with a sense of bemusement. “Dude, I had no idea you were THAT afraid of needles.”

“What are you talking about man?”

“You mean you don’t remember? I mean, we come here to donate blood with the rest of the team, and the guys were laughing because their huge musclebound coach faints at the sight of a little needle.”

“Who me?”

“No, I’m talking about the queen of Sheba? How many other huge muscle bound coaches do you know?”

David was about to reply, but suddenly his memories started changing. It started from his middle school experience when he chose to stick with weight lifting instead of giving it up. He didn’t even know why he was thinking about giving up lifting. It was such a great feeling in his muscles when he lifted. And who cares if he got hard every time he lifted. It was just the testosterone running through his system. That’s what the big man said. It was perfectly normal to pop boners like that. Even being gay was ok as long as he was happy with himself. The big man had told him so many things that made perfect sense and helped him get through that rough patch in his life.

He remembered how rough it was to start, being an openly gay guy in the weight room, but just like the big man said, as long as he was truthful to himself, it would be ok. And it did turn out alright. The coaches saw him as a hard working and dedicated kid and his focus paid off. He grew a lot, his body responding well to all the working out. It seems that he had a lot of testosterone in his system and it went a long way to making him big.

He remembered the years of playing football and wrestling, how he just kept growing and growing as he played. He remember the day he got the nickname “Dave the Dozer” from how he plowed through the line. He remembered raising the state championship trophy for football and for wrestling, and he remembered graduating school near the top of his class, and by far the biggest one there.

Then, he remembered going to college, learning how to teach kids and coach, vowing that he would give back to his community. He also wrestled and played ball there, repeating the accomplishments of his younger years.

David shook his head slightly, clearing out the cobwebs and said to his assistant coach, “Hey man, when you can bench 585 for fifteen reps, then you can give me shit about needles.”

Jack erupted in laughter as David swung his legs off the bed. Something felt slightly weird as he moved, and he headed straight to the bathroom. When he closed the door, he was confronted by his reflection. He saw himself with fresh eyes.

It started with his face. It was tight and masculine and rough from the years playing sports. He sported a goatee, but the rest of his head was bald. He always liked that look because it was so easy to maintain and since he usually wore his coach’s cap, he liked to maintain the image of the rough and strict coach, even though his jocks knew that he had a soft side.

His eyes went down to his neck, thick and bulging with power. He could see the veins that trailed down the massive pillar that connected his head to his torso. Even though it was only visible for a few inches because of his traps, you still could see the power left over from when he wrestled.

His shoulders and traps were massive, so wide they spilled off the mirror. He could remember the hours of doing shrugs and presses to get his shoulders to cap off with the thick layer of muscle that they had. His arms were amazingly huge and he was thankful for the genetics that gave him his massive pipes. The last time he had measured them, they were 25 inches flexed, with a pair of hairy forearms that looked like they belonged on Popeye.

The polo shirt that he wore was a XXXL, but it still was stretched across his chest like it was Saran Wrap. The school’s mascot that sat on his left pec was just as equally stretched, letting onlookers imagine how massive his chest and back were. He hated how the shirt fit because while the chest was almost uncomfortably tight, the waist billowed in the wind if he didn’t tuck it into his shorts. He knew that underneath the shirt was a hair covered, mainly chest and torso, flat and hard as a rock from all the exercise that he did every day with his players.

He looked at his legs, noticing the gym shorts he had on. He remembered that he was going to order some new clothes to try and fit his massive legs. He saw the thick quads and vascular hamstrings attached to his legs, thinking about how his legs were bigger than most people’s waists and chest. He flexed them a little in the mirror, thinking about how he and his team had to do squats today. Finally, he flexed his calves and saw the football sized muscle pop into sharp relief. He smiled to himself, “Yeah, going to have to hit those hard too.”

He quickly washed his hands, shaking the last remenents of memory from his old life away before leaving the bathroom. Jack was standing there laughing still and David jabbed him in the shoulder. Jack laughed and rubbed his arm as David said, “Ok, ok. Let’s head on back. We’re going to need extra time for practice today because I swear, anyone that laughs is going to get extra laps.” The two of them started to laugh as they left the hospital room.

As soon as they left the room, a figure materialized behind them. The white gowned woman floated towards the window and smiled. “See Kaos, you’re not the only one who can make massive muscled men.”