December 13, 2007
By Alexis Lee, Park City, UT

The gun goes off, and I run away from it, the sound ringing in my ear. As I round the first corner of the track, I pick up the pace. We come through the second corner, and I pass the girl in second to take her place… The adrenaline is coursing through my veins, and I can feel his eyes scrutinizing my every stride.

I want to show off for him, want him to notice me the way I notice him… But he only sees me as a member of his track team and a student in his chem class.

Sure he’s twenty years older- but that’s really not that much… or maybe it is. But that is beside the point. I mean how can a girl like me help but fall for the tall, tan man with green yes and dark wavy hair?

I realize that it is absolutely pitiful to have a crush on my teacher, especially at my age… (You would think you would know better by the time you’re 18; crushes on teachers are only truly acceptable in Kindergarten.) But mmmmm. . . that look on his face when I’m first to cross the finish line— it gets me every time.

He pats me on the back and gives me the generic “Great Job! We’ll do your IPD (individual progression discussion) on the bus.”

I know it is entirely lame to be thrilled with such a generic comment, but I am thrilled.

After the meet is over, the team piles onto the yellow rectangular school bus. We plop ourselves down in the very back rows as somebody plugs an iPod into transportable speakers. The music is loud and we all merrily sing along. Even as I sing I am filled with anticipation for my IPD.

When my turn comes, a clammy sweat engulfs my hands. I walk slowly to the front of the bus and position myself on the blue leather seat across from my coach and secret crush, Mr. Willz. He gives me a brief review of my slow start time and how we’ll work on it this week. I nod and respond accordingly. As I go to resume my position on the back of the bus, he winks at me. Honestly what’s not to love?

Finally the bus pulls up at our high school, and we wearily rise, gather our things, and shuffle off, eager to go home.

I pull out my car keys and walk to my car (an old 55 Chevy— which may sound like a hand-me-down from an uncle or something, but really it’s quite nice; it has been redone, and it took me forever to get the money to buy it!) Anyway, after I have situated myself in the driver’s seat, I insert the key and turn the ignition, or rather, that is what I’m trying to do… I must have really bad karma or something because my car won’t start. I get out and open the hood inspecting everything… When I hear Mr. Willz call out, “Mel, is everything ok?”

I turn around and yell out, “No, not really. Truck won’t start.”
He’s walking toward me now and he says, “Well it’s getting late- you live in Millcreek right? It’s on the way I’ll just give you a ride.”

Well, that right there was practically a dream come true. Not that I had really dreamed of it, or well, I kind of had, but it isn’t something I talk about.

I gather my backpack and track gear into my arms and head in the direction of Mr. Willz’ white Subaru. He opens the back end and takes the various items from my arms and carefully arranges them on the ribbed, black, plastic mat, in a very cute OCD manner.

Wow, there is obviously something wrong with me. I have a crush on my chemistry teacher. Really I must cease, but you know what? I’ll cease right after I get out of this good smelling car with this good looking man. :D

We pull out of the parking lot on to 28th East, and as we wait at a stoplight, he turns on a CD. A familiar tune spills from the speakers, the Doors, and we both sing all the way home, which in a way is kind of sad that we didn’t have some kind of meaningful conversation, and yet it was just the way it was meant to be…

By now it is tomorrow, and something is very, very, very wrong. I am sitting in his classroom second row from the windows and third seat back; it’s where I always sit. My fellow runners are sitting in the other surrounding desks.

He looks somber, which is so atypical, so we know something is up. Finally, voice cracking, he informs us that he has taken a coaching job with the local university.

My heart starts beating so fast I think it might just explode out of my chest. Mr. Willz gone? It’s impossible! I feel lost and hurt… maybe even heart broken. All seems lost.

And then the strangest thing happened, as I am walking in my numb-dazed state, I walk smack into… a tall, green-eyed, curly-haired man. He looked just like Mr. Willz; it is so weird. He says, “Oh sorry,” as he stoops to pick up my running shoes. . . oh man he is cute.
“Do you run?”
“Yeah, I am on the cross country and track team.”
“Oh that’s cool; my dad is the coach.”

Then it hits me. He‘s Mr. Willz’ son. He goes to the private school; we haven’t ever met, but he is a senior too. “Hi I’m Melanie.”
“Hi Melanie, I’m Wes”

It’s our first “moment” (Oh my, did I really just say that? “first moment”? I really think I might be sick, but the funny thing is I know it won’t be the last.) That’s when it occurs to me that even when all seems lost, and the door slams in your face, it’s not lost, and another door will open. When it seems like it’s over, it’s really all just beginning.

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