When I was in second grade, a boy named Steven was in love with me and with a girl named Trisha. He wanted both of us to be his girlfriends--which would have consisted of chasing each other at recess more than we chased anyone else--but I wasn't interested. I liked Steven, but I didn't love him.
One day, my teacher asked me to stay in for part of recess to help a kid named Willy with some schoolwork that he didn't understand. I don't remember which subject it was; it could have been anything, though. Back in second grade, I was pretty decent at most subjects, even math.
The teacher presented it in a such a way that I didn't want to say no. She told me that I was so good at it and could I show Willy how to do it, too? I was flattered enough not to mind missing out on chasing and being chased on the playground.
I moved my chair next to Willy's desk and explained how to do whatever it was. I read some stuff aloud, he asked questions, and then I explained further. After a few minutes, he was getting it. I was helping him figure it out! Then he started doing the work on his own while I sat quietly and watched.
With all the silence and Willy and me sitting so close, completely alone in the classroom, I started experiencing weird feelings. My head got all tingly and my heart was beating fast and I became really, really warm.
Willy had pale skin, freckles, and big teeth. His hair looked like maybe some gum had gotten stuck in it while he was sleeping, and someone had had to use scissors to cut it out.
Right then, as of that moment, I was in love with him.
I loved Willy.
When he finished his work and we went outside for the last few minutes of recess, I felt sort of floaty. I was going to chase him. Because I loved him.
I skipped over to my group of girl friends. He raced over to his group of boy friends. The boys all huddled together to talk about something. They were planning their next girl-chasing strategies, I figured. But then Steven yelled, "Hey, everyone! Willy loves Mindi!"
All the girls stared, wide eyed and open mouthed. Because this was Willy that Steven was taking about! He had never loved anybody and they hadn't loved him, either.
I looked at Willy. He was watching me with this look of pride and excitement. There wasn't even a trace of embarrassment on his face.
Those feelings. The ones I'd been having. Willy had them, too. We'd had the same feelings at the same time. Both of us.
My chest got tight and I wanted to cry. Loving him had been one of the tingliest feelings I'd ever had, but being loved by him was just too much. I couldn't handle any of this anymore.
The chasing began. I ran fast and I ran far. I didn't let the boys catch me on purpose like I usually did. I didn't chase Willy.
After that day, I couldn't bring myself to chase him ever again.