Ungleich

He sat close to her in her Algebra II class; two rows over and one seat back, but she never said a word to him. It was too hard and she wasn't very good at talking to people, especially nice, popular people who everyone liked. And she liked him.

She had liked him ever since that time last winter she sat there at the basketball game taking stats with the other manager, and he had come over to speak with the other girl, who was practically family to him. He had known her name. He had been really nice. They had laughed together.

After that, when she went to home basketball games with the band, she had a slip of paper with his name tucked in her pocket for good luck and cheered for him in her head. And then he was gone; after all he was a grade above her and not in any of her classes. He was gone until the next fall when she had walked into Algebra II and saw him there.

His father was one of her teachers, so sometimes he came into the room. She would sit there at her desk, quietly, watching and trying to keep the smile off her face, praying that he would look at her and say hi, or even better, smile back. She wanted to see that he was happy seeing her. She never got that sign.

She never told any of her friends, because she knew it was a pipe dream. Why would someone so wonderful; so handsome, sweet, nice, popular, and athletic ever be interested in her? The scrawny, geeky little band nerd who was brash and brusque and always seemed to get on people's nerves. So she went on, admiring him from a distance, never once letting on how she felt. After all, she'd done if before, so it wasn't that hard.

In her head she would disappear off into an alternate reality, where she did she that smile on his face. He would come up to her in class and sit by her desk and speak gently to her with light in his eyes and laughter issuing from his lips. He would defend her from those who sneered her way and walk with her in the mornings, his hand twitching next to hers.

They would hang out after school in the cafeteria and sit at their own table, on the same side, turned so they were looking right at each other. She would rest her hand on the table and he would take it and they would both smile before he led her outside into the sun of a bright spring day.

They walked hand in hand, her other arm wrapped around his, around the corner of the school towards the football field, out behind the parking lot where they would have some privacy. And she would stand up against the wall and let him kiss her, and for that moment, she would be inexplicably happy and the sun would blur out everything but the two of them. He would wrap his arms around her waist and hold her to him, all the while whispering that he loves her, that he will never let her go.

Then she snaps back to reality, and she's still in Algebra II, two rows and one seat away, and she hasn't said a word.