JeffMango

Ms. Harshwhinny's Tragic Life

Jul 26th, 2019
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  1. >You are Victoria Harshwhinny, though practically everyone in your life knows you by your surname only— the terror that stalks the halls of Canterlot high, an absolute SS officer of pre-calculus, the demon of detention
  2. >If only they knew how pathetic your life actually is
  3. >Today is a Monday, which means you’re up early in order to get to Canterlot High an hour before students start filtering in
  4. >Your alarm wakes you from a warm, easy sleep, and you find yourself once again situated in your cold, dreary one-bedroom apartment
  5. >The place is far from luxurious; the room is hardly big enough to fit the queen-sized bed you sleep on, and beyond the bedroom there's only a kitchenette, single bathroom, and a living room that feels cramped even when it's just you
  6. >Even on a teacher's salary, you could easily afford a bigger place
  7. >But you don't really want one
  8. >Living in someplace so cramped makes it that much harder to realize how alone you
  9. >You've been a Ms. your whole life, and at this point you've given up on any hope of finding a husband
  10. >Which isn't to say you don't sometimes entertain feeble hopes; lying on your couch throwing back glass after glass of red wine at midnight on a Friday, you've often allowed yourself to imagine a single scene or two of moving into a new, bigger apartment with the love of your life
  11. >Of course, you have no idea what he'd even look like
  12. >At this point, you hardly care
  13. >As long as it's *somebody*, you feel like you could fall for pretty much anyone who showed you a little warmth
  14.  
  15. >Once you reach the school, you sprint from your car to the building, holding your work bag over your head as rain lashes down on you
  16. >The sky is a bleary gray, and you find your mood plummeting as you step into your homeroom, brush some water from your purple blazer, and slump down behind your desk,
  17. "Bleh," you groan to yourself
  18. >"Ah..."
  19. >A voice from the corner of the room catches your attention
  20. >You look up, surprised to find one of your students is already present
  21. "Ms. Sparkle! You're even earlier than usual."
  22. >"Y-yes."
  23. >Twilight is fidgeting with the pages of her textbook, flipping back and forth at random
  24. >"I actually h-had a, um, question about our homework. Problem forty-seven."
  25. "A question about the homework? I thought I set the due-date for Friday."
  26. >"Y-you did. I just got bit of a head start. Never too early to start a new topic, heheh."
  27. >Twilight fidgets with a lock of her hair, blushing
  28. "I see."
  29. >Now that you have a student in the room, you're suddenly way more aware of how disheveled you must look after a sprint through the rain
  30. >Reflexively, you straighten your posture and run your fingers through your hair, trying to fix it
  31. "I certainly applaud your dedication. I can see why you're my top student."
  32. >"Really? I-I am?"
  33. >Twilight clenches her hands in front of her chest, beaming
  34. "Oh, far and away. I'm surprised you need my help at all."
  35. >"Oh, well, I just wanted to d-double check. Heheh. After all, you're so smart, and so confident, and it really seems like you're so p-passionate about mathematics..."
  36. >*...and so hot ohmygod...*
  37. "What was that?"
  38. >"N-nothing! I just r-really like you. As a teacher.."
  39. >You blink twice, stunned
  40. "I... I see."
  41. >You're really desperately trying to straighten out your outfit now, and a flustered look is creeping into your face
  42. >How damnably unprofessional you must look
  43. "That means a lot to me, Ms. Sparkle. You are one of my absolute favorite students as well, I hope you know."
  44. >Twilight goes glassy eyed and falls silent
  45. "Ms. Sparkle?"
  46. >She doesn't respond
  47. "Ms. Sparkle, are you okay?"
  48. >"H-huh? Oh, yes! Fine, very fine."
  49. >She takes a deep breath and begins furiously twirling her stray lock of hair around her finger
  50. >"So, um, that question... if... c-could I..."
  51. "Absolutely! Apologies, I'm a bit distracted this morning."
  52. >"Y-yeah, me too. A lot distracted, even."
  53. >She stands up and walks over to your desk, swaying slightly as she does
  54. >You run your eyes over your student, only realizing now just how strange she's acting
  55. >As Twilight reaches your desk, you realize that a sheen of sweat is standing out along her forehead, and her hands tremble as she hands you her assignment
  56. >"Could you m-maybe check my work on the problem first?"
  57. "Certainly, give me a minute."
  58. >You scan her work quickly
  59. >For about a minute, the only sound in the room is that of rain drumming on the windowpanes and the slow, dull ticking of the room's clock
  60. "Ms. Sparkle, this is... extremely inadequate."
  61. >Twilight gulps
  62. >"I-it is?"
  63. "You've made three major mistakes in the first line alone. The derivative of x^2 + y^2 is not x + y, this is a basic property you should know by now. And you tried to divide by infinity on line six. And I think you drew your integrand backwards."
  64. >"O-oh no. It sounds like I really m-m-messed up, didn't I?"
  65. >You can hear the trembling in Twilight's voice
  66. >When you look up, you find that your student has beads of sweat rolling down her face, and her breath is coming in short, nervous puffs
  67. >A heavy red blush is spreading over her cheeks, and her hands are wringing the hem of her skirt between them
  68. >"Please, you're not going to p-punish me... are you? Please don't make me s-sit with you all afternoon in detention. Please don't make me c-come to your house and mow your lawn, all day, out in the sun, j-just to earn enough extra c-credit to fix--"
  69. "Ms. Sparkle, get ahold of yourself!"
  70. >You slap the paper down onto your desk, making her jump
  71. "This work is unacceptable, I must admit that. Especially from you. But you seem to have completed each other problem perfectly."
  72. >"Oh."
  73. >You slowly raise a hand and place it on Twilight's shoulder
  74. >She shivers
  75. "Ms. Sparkle. If I can be perfectly honest, I think I see what's going on here."
  76. >Twilight lets out a nervous squeak
  77. >"Y-you do?"
  78. "I do. And I want you to know, it's perfectly okay. I understand."
  79. >Twilight's eyes are shimmering now
  80. >"You do? You really do?"
  81. "Of course. It's my job as an educator, after all."
  82. >"Ah..."
  83. "It's quite clear to me that you're suffering from an extreme case of test anxiety. It's made you unable to focus on your work."
  84. >Twilight's face goes blank
  85. >"W-what"
  86. "I've seen the symptoms before, but yours is clearly out of hand. This won't do, especially not for my star student."
  87. >"W-wait. Um, actually, w-what I was trying to say is, well, you know how..."
  88. "You don't have to worry around me, Ms. Sparkle. Here, I'll draft a referral to Ms. Hugger in the counselor's office. She'll provide you all the help you need."
  89. >"I, but, n-no! This actually has nothing to do with anxiety at all."
  90. >You tighten your grip on Twilight's shoulder and stare firmly into the watery purple depths of her eyes
  91. "Ms. Sparkle. You can be honest with me. There is absolutely no weakness in admitting you have a problem."
  92. >"I agree, but I--"
  93. "Mental health issues can happen to any of us, Twilight. Even to our best and brightest."
  94. >You try to give her a reassuring smile, but it ends up looking more like an encouraging grimace
  95. >"Yes, b-but... but what I really wanted to say was, um... ah..."
  96. >Twilight looks down at her feet, sighing
  97. >She's deathly pale now; poor girl
  98. >"I understand. Thank you, ma'am."
  99. "No need to thank me. It's only what a professional would you."
  100. >Wielding your pen with a sword master's grace, you scribble down a referral note and slide it across the desk to her
  101. "It's okay to ask for help, Ms. Sparkle. I look forward to helping you in any way I can."
  102. >Twilight takes the note glumly and slinks out of the room
  103. >Her nerves must really be getting the best of her, you think to yourself
  104. >You're glad you were able to help her
  105. >Still, though, now that she's gone, your homeroom is awfully quiet...
  106. >You sigh to yourself, and pull out a stack of papers you still need to grade
  107. >The life of a proper, professional schoolteacher rarely offers a break, and besides, a bit of work is an excellent salve for creeping loneliness
  108. >Most of your students would probably be surprised at how much contemporary slang you're able to keep up with
  109. >You learn most of it from just listening to them; contrary to what they probably think, you hear a *lot* of what they say behind your back
  110. >Lately, however, it's become completely impossible to keep up with the millennial lingo
  111. >Maybe you're finally reaching that age where you can't help but be out-of-touch
  112. >Are your 40's the point of no return?
  113. >Or maybe it's that damned internet
  114. >It seems like they have some new nonsense to spout practically every week
  115. >Lately, Rainbow Dash has been muttering "bruh" every time you finish writing a new formula on the board
  116. >It stopped getting laughs from the class a long time ago, but she persists in continuing
  117. >You'd give her detention for it, but then Coach Spitfire would be on your case for making her miss practice
  118. >The favoritism that Spitfire shows to that girl...
  119. >How dreadfully unprofessional
  120. >Anyway, it's been two days since you finally gave Twilight Sparkle the courage she needed to go to therapy
  121. >Today's an average Wednesday, which means you're on lunchroom duty
  122. >Easily the worst part of your job, it means patrolling the tables full of chattering students, making sure none of them are choking, getting into fights, or dealing drugs under the table
  123. >As usual, you make sure your route takes you by Gilda's table as many times as possible
  124. >In your life, you've only ever met two students who genuinely, physically terrified you
  125. >Gilda is one of them
  126. >Over six feet tall, swollen with muscle, dressed in patchy leather and torn jeans, and with a mean streak as wide as her sneering mouth, she's also the only student you haven't been able to successfully intimidate into staying in line
  127. >Usually your presence and reputation at CHS's resident hardass are enough to cow even the toughest delinquents, but Gilda's responded to even your harshest threats with a smile and a wink
  128. >Trying to give her detention is the one time you've felt faint from a student's presence alone
  129. >Currently, you're just passing Gilda and Rainbow's table, facing away from the two girls but keeping a sharp ear tuned on their conversation
  130. >You're ninety percent sure Gilda's water bottle is filled with vodka, but you don't have enough evidence to bust her for it yet
  131. >And you're a bit scared to confront her...
  132. >You wince at your own cowardice
  133. >"Goddamn, what a unit," Gilda whispers just as you pass the two of them
  134. >"Who?" Dash asks, her mouth half full of sandwich
  135. >"Ol' Harshbooty over there," Gilda says
  136. >You slow down, suddenly aware of both girls' eyes on your back
  137. >However, you try your best to act like you haven't heard them
  138. >After all, students talking about you behind your back is just part of the job, and you're not surprised to know they complain about you
  139. >"Huh," Dash says. "Now that you mention it, she's pretty stacked. Especially in the back..."
  140. >You feel heat rising in your face
  141. >Complaining about your teaching is one thing, but are they...
  142. >Are they insulting your body!?
  143. >"Hell yeah," Gilda agrees. "It should be a crime, there's no way a teacher should be allowed to be that fuckin' thicc."
  144. >You grit your teeth, surprised to find your eyes are starting to burn
  145. >It's been a hard enough week, and now these two have to mock you just because you've gained a some pounds in the last few years?
  146. >You half want to turn around and chew them out
  147. >But that would require admitting that you heard them, and that they hurt you
  148. >"Pretty great, yeah?" Gilda asks
  149. >"Man, now I can't stop watching that ass..." Rainbow Dash sighs
  150. >Something inside you snaps
  151. >Your face flushes red and hot, and you make a beeline for the cafeteria exit
  152. >Since the faculty lounge is most likely also full, you head instead for the third floor, where you know there's a bathroom that pretty much nobody uses
  153.  
  154. >When you get there, you lock yourself in a stall and leans against the wall, holding your face in your hands
  155. >You lost the ability to really cry over a decade ago, and you haven't re-learned it since
  156. >But still, you get out a few choked, dry sobs before you compose yourself
  157. >You feel so humiliated
  158. >Your own students, mocking your body
  159. >As hard as you work for them, all they can do is laugh at you
  160. >Is this your life?
  161. >Alone, worked to the bone, the laughing-stock of your entire class?
  162. >You slump down onto the toilet, resting your weight on your knees
  163. >By your estimate, there's probably about twenty minutes before your next class starts
  164. >Maybe you'll just stay here for a bit
  165. >You could use some time to yourse--
  166. >The bathroom door is kicked open with a bang
  167. >Your heart nearly explodes in your chest, and you hold deathly still as two sets of feet tramp loudly into the place
  168. >"You sure we'll be alone in here?" Rainbow Dash asks
  169. >"Yeah man, nobody ever comes up here," Gilda answers
  170. >The burning shame you felt earlier immediately turns to icy dread
  171. >What are these two doing here!?
  172. >They walk past the stall you're hiding in, not noticing you, and then you hear them stop at the far end of the room, next to the window
  173. >The window clicks and then screeches as they unlock it and push it open
  174. >Then you hear the snap of a lighter, followed by the faint, acrid scent of tobacco smoke
  175. >Those two delinquents are smoking on school grounds!
  176. >You place your hand on the stall's latch, but you hesitate
  177. >"Maaaan, I can't wait until we get outta here," Rainbow complains
  178. >"Don't even know why I bother showing up. It'll be a miracle if I graduate," Gilda responds
  179. >"I know why I'm showing up tomorrow," Dash says, a snicker in her voice. "Gonna be watching Harsho *real* close in class."
  180. >"Fuck yeah, dude."
  181. >Both girls fistbump, and you hear Gilda exhale loudly
  182. >"God, the things I want to do to her..." she says
  183. >Your heart catches in your chest
  184. >Is she *threatening* you now?
  185. >This is absolutely going too far!
  186. >You need to put a stop to this at once
  187. >But your hand is still frozen near the latch, and a very real, intense fear holds you in place
  188. >Dash chuckles
  189. >"You'd never even get the chance," she teases the other girl
  190. >"You wanna bet? I bet you I could get her. And if I did? Man, I'd fucking *destroy* her, you have no idea..."
  191. >Your entire body clenches in rage
  192. >To be talked about like this by your own students
  193. >Demeaning your body, mocking you, and now outright threats
  194. >You throw the bathroom door open and stride out, turning to face the two girls
  195. >Their mouths fall open, both of them containing a half-smoked Marlboro
  196. >For the first time, you see real fear in Gilda's eyes
  197. "Put those out," you say, your voice deathly flat
  198. >Gilda tries to get words out, but you focus on her, letting all your humiliating and rage seep forth from your eyes like caustic radiation
  199. >She looks away
  200. >"W-whatever," she says
  201. >Dash is still standing dumbstruck, so Gilda reaches up and yanks the cigarette out of her mouth, then tosses both into the toilet
  202. "And the rest of the back."
  203. >"C'mon, man..." Gilda tries to protest
  204. "Now."
  205. >"Fine," she grumbles, and upends the rest of her cigarettes into the toilet
  206. >You wait until she flushes them down, then you point towards the door
  207. "Now, get yourselves to class. And if I *ever* catch you up here again, I'll make you wish I'd expelled you. Go!"
  208. >Dash scrambles away, pulling Gilda along behind her
  209. >Gilda looks over her shoulder, meets your eyes...
  210. >...and you stare her down until she blinks
  211. >Both girls disappear out the door, and you slump against the bathroom wall, sighing as the adrenaline rush fades away
  212. >It felt good to finally put them in their place
  213. >Seriously, how disrespectful do you have to be to mock an honest professional's appearance?
  214. >Still... they might have a point
  215. >Are you unattractive?
  216. >It would explain how you've lived four decades without ever finding yourself a mate
  217. >Maybe it's time to look into joining a gym...
  218.  
  219. >”A gym recommendation?”
  220. >Spitfire looks at you confused, slowly sipping from her plastic water bottle
  221. >”What do you need a gym for?”
  222. >The two of you are sitting across from each other in the teacher’s lounge
  223. >It’s the end of the day, and you’re still feeling a little raw inside from your confrontation yesterday
  224. “I… want to lose a little weight,” you say, avoiding Spitfire’s gaze
  225. >She lets out a loud, sharp laugh
  226. >”You? Since when do you need to lose weight?”
  227. >You feel your cheeks turning slightly pink
  228. “I’ve heard some… unkind remarks made about me by my students.”
  229. >Spitfire waves that away
  230. >”Ah, they’re just dumb kids. Who was it? Because I can give them some serious hell for you, if it’ll make you feel better.”
  231. “I don’t think that would be particularly professional. Or helpful.”
  232. >Spitfire shrugs
  233. >”Suit yourself.”
  234. “I just think, at my age, I could stand to start practicing more personal fitness.”
  235. >”Now you’re talking! I’m never one to suggest against fitness. But you don’t need to find a gym. We’ve got everything you need here!”
  236. “I hardly think that would be appropriate.”
  237. >”Why not? The school’s budget buys us all sorts of good stuff. Resistance machines, free weights, plenty of stationary bikes and treadmills…”
  238. “I just, well…”
  239. >The blush in your cheeks deepens
  240. “I wouldn’t want to be seen working out, or whatever you might call it, near my students.”
  241. >”Nah, no worries there. All of them get kicked out at four. Only the varsity athletes are allowed to stay, and that’s only on certain days. And even if they are there, they’re focused kids. They’re not gonna stare,” Spitfire says with a coy wink
  242. “I still don’t feel very reassured.”
  243. >”Hey, if you don’t like it here, I’ll pay your first month at a new place! But give our gym a try. I think you might like it.”
  244. “Well, if you insist.”
  245. >”I really, really do.”
  246. >Spitfire wiggles her eyebrows
  247. >Internally, you roll your eyes
  248. >It’s so obvious what she’s playing at
  249. >Spitfire wants you using the gym so she can make a case for an expanded budget next year
  250. >Still, it would be nice to start working out someplace comfortable; you’d probably feel a little awkward in a normal gym anyway, just a regular middle-aged lady surrounded by hulking meatheads
  251. “Can we start this afternoon?” you ask Spitfire
  252. >”Now that’s the attitude I like to hear!” she cheers. “I’ll have the place cleared out for you by four, so be ready.”
  253.  
  254. >Since you’re Ms. Harshwhinny, you’re already heading to the school gym by 3:50
  255. >As promised, there’s a steady stream of student athletes pouring from the changing rooms
  256. >You try to act inconspicuous, but it’s hard not to notice the sweaty teenage girls flinching away from you as soon as you stride past them
  257. >When you get to the locker room, you find it perfumed with the acrid smell of sweat, of cheap perfume, and of shampoo
  258. >You head for the far-back corner of the room, picking a locker as secluded as you can find
  259. >Being a public-school locker room, there aren’t exactly stalls to change in
  260. >You’re meant to just…strip down, in front of God and everybody
  261. >You were a student once too, of course, and it’s not like the concept is something that horrifies you
  262. >But it was a lot easier when you were a youth surrounded by other youths
  263. >Now you’re an adult, in a youth locker room
  264. >That just makes you feel perverse, even though you’re one hundred percent certain you’re the only person in the room now
  265. >The sounds of footsteps have all dwindled away, as students eagerly rush to get home
  266. >So, you finally feel brave enough to plunk your gym bag on the bench and start unbuttoning your blazer…
  267. >Even though you *know* you’re alone, you still feel so vulnerable, here in this open, echo-y concrete space
  268. >You shut your eyes and try to imagine yourself at home
  269. >Slowly, you peel off your work clothes layer by layer, folding your blazer, skirt, sweater, and undershirt neatly and storing them in the locker
  270. >Standing in only your underwear, you slip your work shoes off your feet, peel away your pantyhose, then root through your bag for a pair of battered tennis shoes that you’ve probably owned since your thirties
  271. >As far as work-out clothes go, everything you own comes from a brief fitness kick in your late twenties: old Nikes, a pair of high-cut basketball shorts, and a slightly embarrassing Reel Big Fish t-shirt
  272. >Hey, it *was* your twenties
  273. >You sigh, and bend over to pick up your shorts
  274. >From behind you, you hear a sharp intake of breath
  275. >”Dude…”
  276. >You turn glance over your shoulder and immediately make eye contact with Gilda
  277. >She’s standing at the far end of the row of lockers, sweat-slicked and wearing a shirtless muscle shirt
  278. >Her eyes, though they meet yours briefly, are not staying on your face
  279. >You straighten up, reflexively covering yourself, for whatever little good that does
  280. “Ms. Gilda.”
  281. >”Uh, hey.”
  282. “Isn’t the gym closed?” you ask, trying to lapse into your steely, scolding tones instead of letting the embarrassment show in your voice
  283. >”It… it is,” Gilda says, her posture immediately straightening up
  284. >She keeps trying to focus on her face, but her eyes drift downwards every time…
  285. >”I had a set to finish, so they let me stay. Just gonna get my stuff real quick.”
  286. >You’re actually surprised to notice that Gilda is blushing as hard as you are
  287. >And, because of course it is, the locker she picked is right next to yours
  288. >Feeling naked and raw, you scoot aside and let her pass you
  289. >She slinks over to her spot, her posture drooped and showing an uncharacteristic lack of confidence
  290. >Gilda keeps her eyes focused on the floor, though you see them trailing slowly up your legs and stopping suddenly, right around when they reach your thighs
  291. >What’s she looking for?
  292. >If she’s trying to mock your body to your face then she’s about to witness a level of wrath she won’t even be able to comprehend
  293. >You step back, folding your hands over your chest and resigning yourself to just let your underwear-clad body all hang out
  294. >Gilda fishes her school clothes out of her locker, stuffs them quickly into her bag, and then turns to head off, deliberately avoiding looking at you
  295. >But just as she gets to the end of the section of lockers, she pauses
  296. >”Gah…”
  297. “Is there something wrong?” you ask, your voice having regained its edge, despite the fact that you’re standing around in a white-lace bra and matching panties
  298. >”Nothing. You just look nice, whatever.”
  299. >With that, she shoulders her bookbag and storms off
  300. >You’re left stunned, and it’s nearly a fully minute before you remember that you need to dress yourself
  301.  
  302. >You quickly pull on your workout clothes, stumbling slightly on the cold concrete floor as you try to make sure you get everything on before any more errant students pass by
  303. >The last thing you need is for your pupils to have all seen you in your underwear…
  304. >Gilda’s words still flash through your head
  305. >You look nice?
  306. >Clearly she was just trying to avoid further punishment for being in the gym after hours
  307. >Still…
  308. >You can’t deny, there’s something warm and bubbly building in your chest
  309. >Though that warm feeling quickly extinguishes itself once you feel your body settling into your workout outfit
  310. >Everything is too small
  311. >Your shirt is achingly compressive around your chest
  312. >And your shorts, well, they’re kinda just tight everywhere
  313. >Mostly laterally, where the waistband digs into the squishy curves of your hips
  314. >But they’re also embarrassingly tight across your butt, where the thin polyester is pulled taught across your buttocks, and rides up far too severely within your crack
  315. >You place a hand to your face
  316. “What in God’s name am I doing…” you ask yourself
  317.  
  318. >But, of course, a few wardrobe issues aren’t going to stop you
  319. >You slip your feet into your old Nikes— those still fit, at least —and then you slink into the gym, feeling blobby and stupid in a young woman’s clothes
  320. >In fact, as you think about them more, Gilda’s words are just starting to make you mad
  321. >How dare she lie to you, just to get on your good side!
  322. >You don’t look nice at all!
  323. >You look like a tanned pear crammed into a teenager’s clothes, you’re a wreck!
  324. >If she had any decency, she’d have told you what a hideous, bulbous wreck you really—
  325. >”Hey! Vicky, you ready?”
  326. >You bristle upon hearing your first name, then realize it’s just Coach Spitfire
  327. >She’s strolling out of the athletics office, hands in her pockets and a weirdly relaxed posture for an educator
  328. >You’ve always been suspicious of her, and the way she seems utterly unfazed by the hell that is education has only strengthened that suspicion
  329. “I suppose. I didn’t realize I’d have a trainer.”
  330. >”Of course! Somebody’s gotta show you the ropes!”
  331. “I’m quite capable of finding them on my own…” you mutter
  332. >Spitfire clearly didn’t hear you
  333. >She strolls right up next to you and gestures towards the expanse of the gym
  334. >The place is a high-ceilinged building which was once a basketball court, and now is dotted with complex, spidery workout equipment and platforms full of discs made out of absurdly dense metals
  335. >You gulp
  336. >”We got anything an aspiring badass could want for herself! Lemme guess, you’re feeling squats today, right?”
  337. “I wasn’t feeling anything in particular, however…”
  338. >”You know, something just tells me you’d really dig some squats. C’mon, follow me!”
  339. >You try to protest, but you realize quickly that you actually have no idea what exercise you were hoping to do
  340. >Maybe you should just trust Spitfire?
  341. >After all, this is her job; if she’s at all professional, she should know exactly what direction to steer you in
  342. >So, you follow along behind her and let her lead you to a platform equipped with a tall, rectangular steel rack
  343. >There’s a metal bar at shoulder height, and Spitfire gives it a confident slap
  344. >”Here ya go! Just pop this on your shoulders and start pounding out squats.”
  345. “That… doesn’t quite seem like adequate instruction.”
  346. >”Oh?”
  347. >Spitfire saunters up to you, close enough that you can smell the mingling of sweat and cologne on her body
  348. >She places on hand on the bar, and the other hand comes to rest on a friendly spot on your side
  349. >”You want some help?”
  350. “That… would be appreciated.”
  351. >”Hey, don’t worry. I do this all day.”
  352. >Spitfire winks at you
  353. >You stiffen, and let her demonstrate proper squat posture
  354. >”See? It’s not that hard,” she says, easily blasting out five squats with the bar
  355. “Of course. The concept isn’t hard. It’s just the, um, weight I’m a little worried about.”
  356. >”Nah, don’t worry!” Spitfire assures you. “I’ll be spotting you, so if anything happens, I can grab you.”
  357. “I see.”
  358. >”So go for it.”
  359. “Right.”
  360. >You step up to the bar and place it atop your shoulders
  361. >Immediately your legs start to quake
  362. >For an empty bar, this is kinda heavy!
  363. >You follow Spitfire’s advice, and squat down slowly, sticking out your butt and letting all the weight settle on to your thighs and core
  364. >Spitfire is standing somewhere behind you
  365. >Even though you’re the one working out, she sure is breathing heavily…
  366. >”Yeah, just like that,” she says
  367. >You grunt and straighten back up
  368. >Spitfire breathes out heavily
  369. >”Again.”
  370. “Right. Correct me if my posture is wrong.”
  371. >”Don’t worry. It’s perfect…”
  372. >Spitfire sounds extremely out of breath now
  373. >You figure she must have pushed herself hard during her training sessions with the varsity athletes; you feel a brief swelling of admiration inside your chest
  374. >That’s extremely professional!
  375. >You let that bubble of pride fill you up, and crank out three more squats
  376. >Now it’s starting to get hard
  377. >Your thighs are quaking, and beads of sweat are rolling down your forehead
  378. “Am I done yet?” you groan
  379. >”Nah, not yet. I want to see more.”
  380. >Hmm, she’s a good coach
  381. >She’s motivating you!
  382. >You squat down again, this time feeling a tension in your butt that you didn’t expect
  383. >Spitfire gasps
  384. >Slowly, you straighten up again
  385. >Sweat is pooling in some slightly embarrassing places along your body, staining spots in your shirt that you’d rather not have stained
  386. >It’s also dripping down your legs, making your entire body seem to shimmer beneath the gym’s flourescent lights
  387. >With a yelp of pain, you straighten back up and drop the bar back into its rack
  388. “That’s… all.. I can… do…” you pant
  389. >”Great work!”
  390. >Spitfire slaps your back, leaving a wet handprint between your shoulder blades
  391. >”Next, I’m thinking we should do, um…”
  392. >She takes a quick moment to think
  393. >”Some cardio, definitely. Burpees, that’s what we need to do.”
  394. “I have no idea what that is.”
  395. >”Oh, don’t worry. I’ll teach ya~”
  396. >Spitfire’s voice has taken on a strange, girlish edge to it
  397. >Her passion for exercise is impressive
  398. >Mentally, you take notes; you definitely need to start trying to inject such a level of passion into your teaching of mathematics
  399.  
  400. >As it turns out, a burpee is just hell on earth
  401. >You start by squatting to the ground— which already hurts your poor, tortured thighs —and then you kick your legs back into a pushup position, do a pushup, and then spring up and jump as high as you can
  402. >Each one feels like it’ll kill you, and somehow you manage to do four out of five
  403. >And, well…
  404. >Each one makes your breasts slap painfully against your chest
  405. >You never really thought they were that big, but this much movement is starting to really hurt them…
  406. >You should buy a sports bra if you’re going to keep doing this
  407. >Spitfire, ever the considerate coach, has her eyes right on your chest
  408. >In fact, she hardly looks anywhere else
  409. >She must be worried about you potentially injuring yourself, and you appreciate that greatly
  410. >But still…
  411. >”And now, jump!
  412. “Ah!”
  413. >You spring up to the ceiling, and your chest cries out in pain
  414. >When you land, you sink to your knees, panting and slick with sweat
  415. “I can’t… no more…”
  416. >”It’s only been twenty minutes! C’mon, Vicky, you got more in you!”
  417. “I really don’t… I think… we should wait…”
  418. >”That doesn’t sound like a winner talking. Sounds like a loser.”
  419. “Well, maybe I am—“
  420. >”Sounds unprofessional~”
  421. “…what’s our next exercise?”
  422.  
  423. >Spitfire leads you to an empty platform, with only a mat
  424. >”Lunges.”
  425. “And what’s the purpose of this?”
  426. >”Oh, it’s just a common lower-body exercise.”
  427. “Haven’t I worked my lower body enough?”
  428. >A gleam shines in Spitfire’s eye
  429. >”No.”
  430. “Well, I suppose I trust your judgement. But, if I’m to be perfectly honest—“
  431. >You stumble as you step onto the platform
  432. “I’m having a bit of trouble walking.”
  433. >”That’s okay. I can help you back to the locker room, if you need it. Newbies always get sore after their first time.”
  434. “That’s reassuring, I suppose.”
  435. >You stand in the center of the platform and let Spitfire guide you
  436.  
  437. >”Forward! Back!”
  438. >With each command, you step forward, placing all your weight on your front leg and letting the burn spread through your poor buttocks
  439. >This is torture!
  440. >But, then again, this is weight loss
  441. >Soon, none of your students will make fun of you again
  442. >You’ll be a goddess of fitness, one who every student of yours will cower before and—
  443. >*RIP*
  444. >The sound, in a gym full of only two people, is defening
  445. >Those tight, ancient workout shorts finally give up, and your lunge stance is enough to split them right along your crack
  446. “A-ah!”
  447. >You gasp in unprofessional embarrassment and sink to one knee, trying to cover yourself
  448. >The shorts only split further, your swollen thighs shredding what little bit tries to stay behind
  449. >Spitfire raises a hand to her mouth, her cheeks slightly flushed
  450. >”Everything I hoped for…” she whispers
  451. >You try to stand up, but your thighs are shaking with fatigue, and you can only awkwardly flop onto the floor, unable to cover your now-exposed derrière
  452. “Please…” you mumble, humiliated. “Help me up.”
  453. >”No problem.”
  454. >Spitfire certainly takes her time, however
  455. >And you find it quite unprofessional how she pulled out her phone first
  456.  
  457. >Thankfully, she supports you and helps you back to the locker room
  458. >You collapse onto the bench and tug at the badly torn remains of your workout shorts, still panting from the exertion
  459. >Spitfire stays standing, running her eyes from your feet up to your sweat-slicked brow
  460. >”So, I’m gonna see you again tomorrow, right?”
  461. “I’ll be lucky if I can *ever* do that again, much less tomorrow.”
  462. >”Hey, you just gotta stick to it! I’ll be here for ya, okay?”
  463. “Understood.”
  464. >You can hardly find the wherewithal to answer her
  465. >You’re sitting here in torn shorts, practically drenched in your own sweat, and you just made a fool of yourself in front of a fellow educator
  466. >It’s hard to not feel like a failure
  467. >Spitfire punches your shoulder
  468. >”Hey, you did good today. It’s awesome to finally have someone I really want to work with. And you really do look *great.*”
  469. >She winks at you
  470. “I… see.”
  471. >Why do people keep saying that to you?
  472. >Do you really look *that* desperate for some token compliments?
  473. >”You know, I’ve only got one class tomorrow. You’re not too busy this evening, are you?”
  474. “Actually, I’m extremely busy,” you say, telling the truth
  475. >You scheduled an exam, and you need to prepare a study guide if you want to have even a quarter of your students pass
  476. >”Ah.”
  477. >A wry smile stretches Spitfire’s face
  478. >”Makes sense. You work yourself really hard, Vicky.”
  479. “The burden of being an educator.”
  480. >”I guess. But hey, come back tomorrow, okay?”
  481. “If I have the energy, I will.”
  482. >You take that as the end of the conversation, and stand up to dress yourself
  483. >After the embarrassment with Gilda earlier, you just keep your back to your fellow teacher this time, undressing yourself a forced nonchalance, and then pulling on your signature skirt and blazer with the same attitude
  484. >Spitfire watches
  485. >She keeps her eyes on you the whole time
  486. >Then she sighs, stretches, and heads out, the picture of chill
  487. >But as soon as she’s outside of the locker room, she turns and punches the wall, wincing at the pain in her knuckles
  488. >”Why can’t I just say the right thing to her…”
  489.  
  490. >You head out to your car, alone
  491. >A grimy layer of salt still lingers on your skin, and you desperately want to get home to wash it off
  492. >You wanted to wash it off at school, but the idea of being stark-naked in the same showers your students use is, frankly, terrifying beyond belief
  493. >So you head home on your lonesome, listening to the nonchalant crackle of the radio
  494. >This really is your life, huh?
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