You have your hand on the back of his neck when he first sees her. You’re walking him to the exit. When a kid gets suspended you have to stay with him until he’s through the door, then it’s his parents’ problem. So your palm is on his skin, feeling the heat of his neck, when he first puts his eyes on her.
When you got assigned a high school, the guy at the security agency warned you not to become close with the students. These kids aren’t your buddies, he said. Told you you shouldn’t try to relive your high school years, thinking maybe you can get it right this time around, get the football quarterback to like you this time around, convince the head cheerleader not to pants you at homecoming this time around, get the yearbook editor to not mix up your senior photo with the janitor’s staff photo before he goes to print this time around.
They were afraid you’d get conned. Afraid the kids would cozy up to you, make you think you’re cool with them, and before you know it they’re running drugs and guns and smuggling exotic birds through the halls and you’re looking the other way solely because they promised to let you come to the big party after the game.
To be truthful, you do treat this job kind of like you’re back in high school, in that you try to keep your head down and avoid getting noticed very much.
At about ten yards from the doors, she comes walking in. The other kids have already cleared a path, rubbernecking to see the suspended kid get sent home, so when she enters the school and starts coming toward the two of you, you feel like you’re his best man, and you’re both watching the bride walk down the aisle.
His neck goes hot under your grip. You feel his goosebumps rise. You have to raise your arm as he grows taller, or maybe he’s floating a few inches off the ground.
You want to let go but can’t. Not just because it’s regulations to keep the offender in hand until he’s vacated the premises, but because you want to feel love’s birth. You never had anything but unrequited crushes in high school. You fetishized girls you couldn’t have, and knowing you couldn’t have them was the main attraction. It was never an honest love. Having your hand on that kid’s neck is as close as you’ve ever come to experiencing love at first sight. You feel the weather in his body change under your grip. Your palm is a layer of skin away from his brain-stem, right at the very instant when the chemical signals letting him know he’s fallen for someone have begun their transmission.
She walks past you, turns her head just a few inches and holds his eyes. As she passes, you both stop, you both turn, you both watch her walk away. As this kid falls in love, you two are one person.
She looks back at you once before she turns a corner and disappears.
At the front door, you let go of his neck. You turn and face each other, not knowing how to put what just happened into words. You’re only a few years older than him, but you feel like his father, like he has your blood running through his veins, and you have his. You feel like you need to say something wise.
“Enjoy your 5-day suspension,” you tell him.
He nods, then steps through the door and goes on his way.
Happy At First Sight Day!