Your legs moved monotonously as you got into a rut of thinking about ways you could escape this torture; the freezing air and the repetitive chk, chk, chk of your tennis shoes on the gravel track. The coach called your name, stirring you from your thoughts and reminding you how tired your legs were. You groaned, jogging lazily and glaring at coach Beilschmidt, who smirked with his pointed teath, and red eyes under his white-blond fringe of hair. He looked positively demonic. And he was so young. You tended to think “vampire” when you saw him. “Yes, coach?”
He leaned back on the bleachers, checking his stopwatch and then clipboard. “Pick up the pace, you’ve still got three laps to go and only four minutes left in this period.”
“Three!” you cried, looking away miserably as you picked up your feet at a faster pace. Coach B was notorious for his ridiculously tough grading policy. This was P.E. for crying out loud, no one takes that class seriously. Except for him.
You took your next lap at a sprint, at first, and held that pace for a good ten seconds before you slowed back down. Not quite a quarter way around the track, you began to worry, because you knew that once again you would receive a C for this, and certain parental units were not very pleased to hear you had anything less than an A in P.E.
One particularly annoying factor about having Coach B was that a good deal of girls were head-over-heels for him. In fact, there were a lot of teachers at this school that girls liked to fawn over, and that struck you as a bit dangerous. But Coach B, he had caught the eye of mainly the most…outgoing girls at the school. One of these was an acquaintance of yours, Viv, whose long, bleached-white ponytail bobbed up and down out of the corner of your eye. “Hey,” she panted, slowing her pace as she reached you.
“Hey,” you responded with a smile, and she smiled back, snakebites glinting in the weak sunlight of the morning. You watched her eyes flicker to the bleachers, her tongue splitting a salacious smile.
“Ugh, he’s such a dick, isn’t he?” she groaned, in more a tone of twisted adoration than anything else. “I bet he’s looking at his reflection in that stopwatch or some shit.”
“Oh no, trust me,” you huffed, eyes fixed on your shoes, “he’s…huh…keeping track of…huh…time. Mine, at least.”
“Dude, what ever,” she laughed, turning around to jog backwards. “This is my second lap and he doesn’t give a shit.”
“Vivian, you have an F.”
She waved a hand dismissively, rainbow of gel bracelets and rave kandi cuffing her wrist. “He still only gets on your ass about it. Everyone else he lets fail but he wants you to improve or some shit.”
“Ew, okay,” you began, hard breaths breaking up your speech. “I’m sure you’re just exaggerating to fuel your own strange fantasies. Like you said, he’s a jerk, but he’s a jerk to everyone.”
“You’re missing my point. He cares that you know how to pass,” she said as though she was telling you the sky was blue. Which, actually, it wasn’t right now; more like a mix of greys and white. “It’s his way of flirting, because he doesn’t know how, because he’s so into himself usually.”
You sighed, irritated, and picked up your pace some more. Viv only turned around again to keep up.
“It’s because you’re such a fucking teacher’s pet, damn,” she complained. You shook your head, knowing that was not true. “No one else except you actually listens to him when he’s telling us what the fuck to do during stretches. He likes that you give him the attention.”
“You know what, I bet you could get out of the rest of these laps,” she said, and you shushed her because you were passing the coach again. She lowered her voice. “Just call him by his first name, like I bet it’ll turn him on so much that you know his name he’ll let you off the hook for the rest of class.”
“Um, his first name is ‘coach,’” you said, back of your throat growing dry from talking too much.
“Actually it’s Gilbert, idiot.”
“I know that. I’m not calling him that, it’s disrespectful.”
“ONE MINUTE,” he called. Shit, you had done one lap.
“Go away and let me jog, Vivian, I am not failing P.E. for talking.”
“Fine, whatever.” She jogged off ahead of you, her tight, red hot pants standing out against her white skin. You sighed and drove forward.
Now her words began to stick to your mind and you knew that was dangerous. It was sort of true, you supposed; you had at least never observed him explicitly pointing out anyone else’s times or laps. Or maybe that was just because fitness wasn’t your thing.
The thought quickly shook from your head as you booked it around the track, knowing full well you would never finish in time. And right as you finished your second lap, Coach B blew his shrill whistle and a collective groan of relief could be heard from the exhausted students. “Alright, dress out!” he called, motioning exaggeratedly toward the locker rooms.
You glared. Asshole. He should at least give you the points for effort, but you knew that was a long shot at best. His permanent smirk sat on his lips as he checked something off on the clipboard, and you snagged at the drinking fountain on your way to the locker room.
“Hey,” he said as you came up from the cold stream and wiped your mouth, “I know you tried, okay? But you still didn’t finish—“
“Well you can blame Vivian for that,” you snapped acidly, folding your arms across your chest. He raised an eyebrow.
“I’m sure it wasn’t miss Valentine’s fault.”
“Yes, it was, actually,” you spat. “And you’re partly to blame as well. Maybe if she found you less attractive she wouldn’t be repeating her fantasies to me while I’m trying to jog.”
You really had not intended to say that out loud. You watched the coach’s face warily, trying to think of what you could say to make that sentence sound like something other than it meant. You were rendered unsuccessful by the time he spoke.
“Alright. It isn’t exactly a secret that all the girls on campus want me…”
“But you can’t blame miss Valentine for you not finishing your laps.”
“No, but I’m pretty sure I can blame you.” No regrets. What’s the worst he could do, lower your grade more? “Not everyone is athletic, you know. I really tried today.”
The way he looked at you brought Viv’s stupid ideas back. He looked a little conflicted, like he was compromising for your sake, weird red eyes concentrated at your lips. Then they flickered to your eyes. “Alright, well. I’ll give you full points for today, I guess.”
“One exception,” he said, voice lowering. He looked about casually, dropping his clipboard to his side and holding it against his thigh as he stepped closer to you. “C’mere.”
“I don’t—“ Before you even could understand, he was already kissing you. What? Yeah, kissing you. His pale, cold lips were on yours and a strong white hand held your face. Your eyes widened in surprise, but then they half-closed because this actually felt kinda good.
But you pulled away because this was bad.
He brushed his fair hair out of his face, lips parted only a little before they quirked into a smirk. “Great job today, then.”
“You can’t just--!” you protested, but he was already walking away.
“Go dress out, you have seven minutes.”
You should have felt both relieved and annoyed. Relieved because you had “finished” your laps, and annoyed because you were sure that counted as sexual harassment or something. But instead, you were relieved and frustrated, because Vivian wasn’t just being stupid…and now you had a possible way to not fail this class. That you might come to enjoy.