My Teacher, My Wingman

I was idling in math class staring at an algebra equation that I couldn’t balance properly when in my periphery, Mr. Morita cruised in and headed straight for Mrs. Peralta’s desk. I’m not psychic, but I knew in my gut he was here for me. As they chatted, Mrs. Peralta glanced my way. That only confirmed my suspicion. I could feel myself flush and sweat begin to bead across my skin.

Mr. Morita walked over and placed a hand on my desk. With a jerk of his head, he said, “C’mon. You can leave your stuff.” I plodded out of the doorway, trailing in his wake.

He began without any preamble. “I was thinking about what you told me lunch time.”

Though I was no longer in my goth phase, I still habitually wore black, so it wasn’t obvious when I began to sweat profusely.

“She’s working in the office right now.”

“Yeah, but Mista Mori, I was gon ask her tomorrow…” I had been too long in psyching myself up to ask her at the end of Spanish class; Teri had gotten up to leave for lunch.

He looked over his shoulder at me, an eyebrow raised in doubt. “You can ask her now.”

That cold fist of fear in my gut that had loosened its grip after Spanish class–after I missed my chance–clenched tight once more. I could feel my own fingers and toes going numb, clammy. In silence, we descended the stairs. I trudged after him into the office as he leaned into a doorway and asked to borrow Teri for just a moment. He then clapped a hand on my shoulder as he jogged past me and out of the office.

Teri stepped out into the hallway and stopped. She had a shy smile on her face. “You have something to ask me?”

Her smile deleted from my mind the words I had prepared and practiced before a mirror last night. I gamely tried to kickstart my brain. I still have a vague memory of stammering out some words, asking her out to junior prom.

I can still see her lips forming the word around her smile, “Yes.”

I think I thanked her. She was the first girl I had managed to successfully ask out and who had accepted. The smile tugged hard at my cheeks and I was unable to resist. The dopamine flooded through me, washing away the fear, short-circuiting my attention. I had trouble listening to her words, much less retaining them. She gave me her number and suggested we talk about the details later. I stood there and watched her walk back into the office.

I next remembered Mr. Morita returning my smile with his infamous smirk. “You going be alright walking back?”

I somehow walked back to Algebra. Mrs. Peralta smiled at me and nodded at my seat. For the rest of the class, I couldn’t balance any equations as I couldn’t bestow a quality I didn’t have at that moment.

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