Crushing a Little Too Hard

By Alexandria Hodson ’21

He was perfect. It was as though God had descended from heaven to design each feature himself, leaving no mistakes, no flaws. 

I sat, staring at him, in Mrs. Smyth’s class as a pool of saliva threatened to spill from my lips. There were plenty of other girls sneaking glances when they could, but by some miracle, our teacher had assigned us seats right next to each other. If I wanted to, I could peel my hand off of the cold, plastic desk it sat on and lace my fingers with his. The idea had crossed my mind frequently, but I knew that would end with me being publicly humiliated.

You see, Sawyer, one of the most popular boys in the grade, had everyone wrapped around his finger. No one who peered into those eyes was safe. One look into the blueish-gray orbs put you in a trance whether you were a boy, girl, student, or teacher. A simple laugh would silence your conscious, and a smile would render you immobile.

Perhaps that was why I was stuck, frozen even, with my chin in my hands unable to focus on anything but him. I couldn’t hear what Mrs. Smyth was lecturing us on, or the questions she was asking about the book we’d been reading for weeks, but the sound of my heart beating, boom, boom, boom, rang clearly in my ears. He picked the baseball cap off of his head, running a hand through his hair. It was smooth, like the melted chocolate I’d seen flowing from pot to pot in videos. However, unlike the chocolate, it splayed itself in hundreds of different directions, spewing over the top of his head, but stopping abruptly above his ears. The cap covered the mess once more.

My brows furrowed, realizing a piece of the image in front of me was off. Something about the boy before me was different than the one I used to know. The one who came over for playdates in elementary school, the boy who danced with me at the middle school dance, or even the one who I dragged blindfolded to a field of wildflowers. Then it clicked. His glasses. Where were his glasses? My mind was in overdrive, trying to recall the last time I’d seen the rectangular frames upon his sculpted nose. I could have sworn it was just yesterday that he’d been laughing at one of my jokes and pushed the fallen plastic back to its proper position, but then again hadn’t it been weeks, even months since we’d last talked?

The puzzle pieces clicked into place. He’d gotten contacts. Just as every other highschooler ditched their plastic glasses in favor of plastic lenses, he’d jumped the bandwagon as well. It didn’t shock me. He’d told me that summer day, two years ago in July, that he’d be changing, that things between us would be changing. I guess I just didn’t want to let go of the theater nerd who’d brightened my days and made me long for something more. I still longed for something more.

That was the downside to a crush, though, wasn’t it? Having to see the person you loved everyday and believing they saw nothing in you. You wouldn’t know how they felt unless you asked them, but the idea of posing the question is just too much. What if they said no? What if they said yes? I was trapped in a continuous circle, spinning indefinitely with no end in sight. There was nothing I could do.

In my dreams, he holds me tight as I lay beside him. We laugh and grin, content with the company of one another. He tells me that he didn’t change who he was to become popular, but instead in the hopes that I would like him more. The mystery of our separation is solved and, eyes shining, I hug him as I did when we were young. Back when we couldn’t care less about what the world thought.

“Andrea,” Mrs. Smyth’s shrill voice rang out. “Could you please focus on the lesson more than your love life?”

A couple girls from what I had deemed “The Gossip Corner” snickered.

I opened my notebook to a fresh page. “Yes, of course. Sorry.”

My face was beet red, and I couldn’t tell if the room was shaking or me. I felt someone’s prying eyes digging into my skull. With a brief glance, I caught Sawyer staring at me, and I smiled.

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