Monday, January 17, 2011

He always had a thing for the smart girls

Nathan had to admit it: He'd always liked the smart girls.

If anyone asked him, especially Kurt or Curt, he'd deny it with more vigor than a desperate escape from one of his big brother's full nelsons.

But just between Nate and his inner Abraham Lincoln, he felt compelled to fess up to himself about his fondness for females...especially the smart ones.

He was eleven now, and he'd had these feelings for a while. He'd decided that they'd begun in earnest sometime during second grade. As with any class, it was divided between kids who did anything for the teacher's attention, those who went to extremes to avoid it and those who were indifferent.

The girls in Nate's class who'd jutted their arms into the air before Ms. Pringle had even finished her questions were obviously the attention-getters. Sure, some were cute, but not attractive to Nathan. Some were painfully shy, and then, there were the others.

That select group was comprised of girls who only offered the answer when it was correct, speaking confidently and loudly, yet not boastfully. He was enamored with each and every one of them.

Nate didn't adhere to the classic standards of beauty as prescribed by his friends. Sure, women like Cheryl Tiegs and Cybil Shepard and Farah Fawcett were pretty, but were they intelligent?

And since Nathan's second grade year of reckoning, he'd developed several crushes of varying degrees. Karen was sharp and funny. Since he'd known her for so long (since kindergarten), Nate felt very protective of her. That's why, last year, he'd punched Ronny Redman in the ear after "R Dub" had hit Karen with a rock-filled snowball and made her cry.

There was also Fiona. She played soccer with the boys at recess, and whenever she returned to the classroom after a chilly time outside, her rosy cheeks melted Nate's heart. Her effortless skill on science projects only iced the cake.

But Nathan Ryan Andrews held a torch, one so heavy and white hot that he could barely hoist it with two hands, its flame singing the hair on his arms. And the torch he hoisted...was for Lindsay.

Lindsay was wonderful. She was at least four chapters ahead in Math and already reading at the gold level in the SRA series. She had bright red hair, almost orange, and Nate could barely speak to her, even though they often took the same route to school in the morning. He'd frequently walk a little bit behind her and to her right, since that way, she'd see his good side should she glance back.

Sometimes he'd inconspicuously orbit her at recess, playing out conversations they could have and how they'd end with Nate walking away, Lindsay and her friends erupting in laughter at Nathan's witty, yet insightful, comments. And once, he'd actually gotten to ride in her car, when her mom saw him returning from school in the rain, felt sorry for him and gave him a lift home.

Nate had only talked to Lindsay's mom, which was sort of okay for the five minute ride. She'd asked him polite questions as he took in the smell of the automobile which harbored him and his future wife and mother-in-law.

Snapping back from his daydream state, Nate realized that he'd been pacing around the entire recess with no destination. It was cold, and the snow was beginning to soak through his boots and even both pairs of socks. Nathan hoped he hadn't appeared mildly insane, as occasionally his lips moved when he was deep in thought.

He looked toward the backstop and noticed Karen approaching. She stopped at least ten feet from him, which seemed strange.

"Hey, Nathan."

"Hey, Karen."

"Guess who likes you?"

"I don't know. Who?"

"L..." Before she could finish the word, an ice ball glanced off Karen's neck, opening a small gash below her jaw. Her eyes welled with tears.

Nathan's head darted around and spotted the rapidly retreating figure of R Dub, who sprinted clumsily through the snow toward a small group of boys.

Launching himself toward fleeing culprit, Nathan closed the distance to four feet as the recess bell rang.

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