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There was no denying that Rachel Jance was depressed; cocooned in a melancholy haze of grayness for the last month or so. She once enjoyed what her friends and colleagues thought was a great marriage with an equally great looking husband. They met in college but they held off on starting a family, and before she fully realized, that delay became indefinite. Rachel used the excuse that she wanted her husband to focus on his career. For the first 5 or 6 years, everything seemed wonderful.
But Rachel could never shake the nagging feeling that she was living a lie. And that lie was dragged kicking and screaming into the light one afternoon several months ago. Her husband came home from a business trip unexpectedly and found her in bed with another woman. She reluctantly came out that day as a lesbian, but Rachel was devastated by the hurt she’d already caused. She simply didn’t want to admit that her marriage was (and had always been) a sham.
The now 34 year old insurance agent packed her things and left the beautiful house she shared with her husband and moved into an apartment across town. Rachel considered moving far away, but in the end she decided to stay. Her hometown of Lanark had around 100,000 residents—not too big and not too small. She counted on the familiarity of her surroundings to get her through her depression.
Since her divorce, Rachel became somewhat of a recluse. She avoided small talk with her colleagues at work and her friends quickly became distant once news of her sexual predilections reached their ears. It was as if a curse had been cast upon her. It followed her like a dark cloud and she was resigned to accept this as punishment for infidelity and sexual deviancy. But as they say: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And over time, Rachel found her strength in running.
Today Rachel Jance was in a funk. She was in a funk that could only be cured by a nice long run. Running (and fitness for that matter) didn’t always come naturally for her. The runner’s high that Rachel looked forward to each morning was cultivated over several years.
In high school, Rachel struggled with her weight. Back then, she was a quiet, somewhat chubby and awkward girl. Pennock High School was typical of most high schools in the Midwest. It seemed like the teachers and the entire student body had this ridiculous over-inflated sense of school pride—all rooted firmly in athletics. Sports were everything and the jocks and cheerleaders could do no wrong.
It was already late morning and Rachel missed going on her usual run when she discovered that the persistent pain she’d been feeling in her heels for the last few days was due to the fact that the soles of her shoes were worn out. She scowled at the reflection in her dresser mirror as she gathered her shoulder length chestnut hair in a ponytail.
Rachel started out slowly, modifying her diet and setting small distance goals as she worked to improve her stamina. In the end it all paid off. She was average height and boasted a very lean, very sculpted body with smallish breasts and shapely hips. Her facial features were arguably handsome, and if she were to cut her hair, she could easily pass for a soft butch woman. She sighed as she zipped up her light windbreaker and headed out the door for the nearby shopping center. It was a silly notion. Rachel Jance wanted a butch woman, but she certainly did not want to be one herself!
Run Amok was a sporting goods store at the Lanark Lakeside Shopping Center. After deciding on the new Spiroaire trainers, the sales assistant boxed up Rachel’s new shoes and told her that they would be waiting at the register when she was finished shopping. The shopping trip was supposed to be a quick in-and-out, but Rachel soon found herself browsing through a small section of books about running. Her eye was drawn to one book in particular: “The Healing Race: A Runner’s Guide for Meditation.” The slender young woman thumbed through the pages while her eyes skimmed the paragraphs, desperate to find something to distract her from the depression she was feeling.
The book seemed a little corny but somewhat intriguing. After skimming one last paragraph, Rachel decided not to buy the book. She started to head towards the front of the store when she heard a voice calling her name. The voice was distinctly familiar; gruff and acerbic. Rachel turned to see who was calling her name, and suddenly the young woman’s breath caught in her throat and her eyes widened in shock.
There stood an eerily familiar figure from Rachel’s past; her high school gym teacher, Miss Crawford. It had been at least 15 years, maybe more, since she’d last seen her. It was clear that the young woman was stunned as a lump quickly formed in her throat.
“Rachel Jance, is that you?” Miss Crawford wondered aloud.
Rachel’s first instinct was to lie and tell the other woman she was mistaken. She was hardly in the mood to re-connect with her past, but at the moment it seemed canlı bahis that her past was determined to re-connect with her.
“Yes.” Rachel heaved a gusty sigh and her mouth stretched in a tight lipped smile indicating her obvious discomfort.
Rachel figured she must have looked pretty startled to see her old gym teacher. A minute or two of awkward silence stretched and swelled between them and suddenly the young woman’s mind regressed. “If you can pinch an inch, you can stand to lose a pound!” It was probably Miss Crawford’s favorite saying, and the sound of the older woman’s caustic voice haunted Rachel Jance to this day. She hated gym class and she hated Miss Crawford the most.
“What a surprise to see one of my former students looking so well!” Miss Crawford said. “It’s been ages but it seems like only yesterday! Well, how are you?”
“I guess I’m doing all right.” Rachel flatly replied. She was the furthest thing from being all right.
Miss Crawford was quite a slender and stunningly athletic butch woman in her early 30s when Rachel was in high school. Now she looked to be in her mid to late 40s. She was somewhat tall and slender as ever with very short, very pale strawberry blonde hair styled in the same bowl cut she’d had many years ago. Other than the obvious deep seated lines etched into her equally muted face, she looked the same as always.
She was wearing a light colored t-shirt and nylon running shorts which emphasized the coltish appearance of the butch woman’s legs. Rachel recalled how daunted she was by Miss Crawford’s menacing appearance and voice. And it was no secret that she was a lesbian. As a matter of fact, Miss Crawford was often the subject of jokes and rumors. From Rachel’s perspective, knowing this made the gym teacher seem more frightening and somewhat fascinating.
They stood there talking for the longest time and Rachel was shocked that her former gym teacher spoke to her as though they were good friends instead of teacher and student. Miss Crawford was still teaching at Pennock High but now she was also the PE department head. Rachel wasn’t really interested in what Miss Crawford had to say, yet for some strange reason the young woman felt compelled to confess that she was recently divorced and that she was still feeling depressed about it. The conspicuously butch older woman dutifully listened as Rachel spilled her heart out.
“I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through such a rough time.” Miss Crawford replied. “It must be very difficult losing someone you love to divorce.”
“But that’s just it—I didn’t love him; not really!” Rachel blurted out. She was so emotionally worn she could barely think straight. At this point, her mouth moved faster than her brain. “He—he found me with another woman. She was a former co-worker…I lied to him…”
Rachel could hardly believe how sympathetic her former teacher seemed. For some reason, she kept thinking of her as this formidable task master; sovereign ruler of the Pennock High gym and locker rooms. That cutting, authoritative voice which often cowed Rachel into submission seemed different. The voice was softer now; engaging and solicitous.
“This is a wonderful surprise,” Miss Crawford said. “I always enjoy running into former students, although I wish it were on better terms.”
“Yeah, I definitely wasn’t expecting this.”
They talked for several more minutes before Rachel remembered the shoes she came to buy. “Listen, it’s been great catching up, Miss Crawford, but I just came in for a new pair of running shoes…”
“A fellow runner, that’s fantastic!” Miss Crawford gleefully replied. “You know, there’s a beautiful trail that goes through Nicholas Preserve. The lake view is wonderful—”
“I run that trail all the time.” Rachel replied. “I’m pretty familiar with it.”
“We should get together soon for a nice long run.” Miss Crawford suggested. “And please—you aren’t in high school anymore, my first name is Kit.”
“Okay, sounds great…”
Rachel said goodbye and the two of them exchanged phone numbers. Kit made her promise to stay in touch, but Rachel wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to. She silently cursed herself for giving her number to her former gym teacher like that. Although Miss Crawford inspired her to take up running and stay in shape, she was always so cold and brusque. Still, there was something about this butch older woman. Rachel’s cheeks went flush as she saw Kit walking away. She couldn’t take her eyes off of her…
The heat of summer came on full blast during Memorial Day weekend. An azure cloud-studded sky stretched endlessly over a mosaic of various shades of green leaves and vibrant blossoms. Rachel wasn’t looking forward to the long weekend because it reminded her of the last few years when her former husband stood out on the deck of the beautiful house they once shared, tending burgers and ears of sweetcorn on the grill. Those happy memories were lies! Rachel finished bahis siteleri tightening her shoelaces as she fought back the tears threatening to spill down her cheeks. She was hurting again, and running was the only way to soothe the pain.
She started meeting Kit Crawford at Nicholas Preserve. At first they met twice a week, but soon they saw each other every morning. They ran the nearly 7 mile trail by the lake and talked for a few minutes afterwards until Rachel had to leave to get ready for work. Before she knew it, Rachel noticed a remarkable change within. Her stamina was better than ever and it seemed as if Kit had somehow coaxed Rachel’s spirit from a long sleep. She reasoned that maybe because Kit was still a teacher, she simply wanted to guide her former student to a better path.
Rachel Jance had just stepped into her office after lunch and saw a note from Linda, the receptionist, on her desk. A Kit Crawford had called while she was out and she left her number. The dark haired young woman stared blankly at the note and glanced furtively over her shoulder before pulling her office door closed. She heaved a gusty sigh as she sat behind her desk wondering what to do next. It was the second week of July and Kit had been asking Rachel to dinner for weeks now.
“You seem like you’re a bit preoccupied with something.” Kit observed after their usual morning run.
“Just work.” Rachel replied. “Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming I guess.”
“You should take care to relax a little more.” Kit said. “Why don’t you come by my place after work tonight? The weather is supposed to be beautiful tonight…I can fix us a nice light dinner, maybe have a few drinks…”
Rachel sighed again as she reached for the phone and began to dial. Kit answered on the second ring. “Sure I guess I can come by.” The young woman said. “I’m off work at five. I’ll just have to stop by my apartment to drop some paperwork off.”
“Great!” Kit replied. “See you then.”
Before Rachel knew it, the end of the workday came and she was home at last. She quickly shed her clothes and showered before choosing a light summer dress and sandals. She hurriedly ran a brush through her hair, and decided on a simple lip gloss to complete her look. Rachel liked to look her best but she also liked to keep things simple. She was having dinner with her old gym teacher, not going on a date…or was it?
Rachel glanced over at the alarm clock next to her bed. It was time to get going. As she drove through the streets, she realized she wasn’t quite sure what to expect from having dinner and drinks with her former teacher. Kit Crawford seemed like a pretty rugged, pragmatic sort of woman. She just didn’t seem like the type who bothered with things like cooking and entertaining guests. Several minutes later, Rachel finally reached her destination. She pulled into the driveway of a beautiful looking townhouse, stepped out of her car and walked over to the front door. She barely had time to knock before Kit answered and ushered her guest inside.
The house itself was gorgeous; modern and pristine. Kit opened a bottle of wine and poured a glass for Rachel before offering her a seat. A soft and haunting melody filled the air. The volume was low, but the young woman instantly recognized Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria” as she tasted the wine. It was crisp and strong; Rachel took very small sips. Kit looked radiant for a woman her age! She wore a light colored sport shirt and matching knee-length shorts and she was wearing Spiroaire trainers, similar to the pair Rachel bought when they first ran into each other at the sporting goods store.
“I’m so happy you decided to accept my invitation, Rachel.” Kit said. “I noticed you seemed to have a lot on your mind—work and your recent divorce—I wanted to—to reach out and let you know…you’re not alone…” That voice with its otherwise curt intonation faded and the older woman’s mouth twitched a little as she attempted to smile at her guest.
“Thanks for the invitation, Miss Crawford—”
“—Kit, call me Kit please.” The butch woman replied.
“Sorry…Kit. I guess I could use some company—anything to distract from—you know what I mean…”
The tawny butch woman disappeared into the kitchen and returned with a plate of cheese and crackers, setting it on the coffee table next to the open bottle of wine. Rachel felt the sofa cushions sink beneath her as Kit sat beside her. A strange dizzying feeling came over the dark haired young woman as her eyes briefly met Kit’s. The feeling was something like a freefall which resonated in the pit of her stomach. Rachel was mesmerized—actually awestruck—by Kit’s appearance. And even though it seemed like a lifetime since graduation, her former teacher hadn’t aged much at all!
Kit poured herself a glass of wine and swirled it around for a few seconds before drinking. She glanced up at the ceiling and let out a wistful sigh. “I remember when you were in my class,” bahis şirketleri She said. “Junior and senior years, right?”
“Yes.” Rachel replied.
“You were shy back then; a little chubby too—”
“—I hated gym class!” Rachel pushed the words through her teeth.
“Ah, but you had so much potential!” Kit said. “You know, you really came into your own during your senior year! You came to class late—said you lost a couple buttons on your gymsuit—and I gave you a zero for the day…I think right after that was when you decided to take up running…you lost quite a bit of weight and you were the envy of the other girls in your class…”
Kit Crawford’s words stung and Rachel’s cheeks bloomed with an uncomfortable heat. She remembered that day during her senior year all too well. She stood there in the gym, practically toe to toe with Miss Crawford, pleading with her to make an exception for not wearing her gymsuit. The slim butch woman held a clipboard in the crook of her arm shouting at Rachel while her classmates stood there watching as the argument escalated. And before she knew it, the chubby dark haired senior was ordered by her gym teacher to stand near the sideline.
“You know, I’m getting real tired of you girls coming to class late and unprepared.” Miss Crawford snapped. It appeared she intended to make an example out of Rachel Jance as her classmates looked on. “Stand up straight and hold your arms straight out at your sides like this.”
Miss Crawford briefly demonstrated what she wanted Rachel to do. The argumentative senior held her arms straight out at her sides and watched with mounting dread as the gym teacher turned about face and headed in the direction of the girls’ PE office. Several seconds later, Miss Crawford returned without her clipboard. She held in her hands a pair of thick hardcover textbooks which she immediately shoved into Rachel’s outstretched hands. The poor girl grunted uncomfortably from the weight and a few hushed gasps rippled through the gym.
“Straighten those arms out, Jance! They’re just a couple of geometry textbooks…can’t possibly weigh more than a pound or two!”
Rachel issued no reply. She tried focusing on the wall clock over the hall doors.
“I’m going to get my clipboard and finish taking attendance.” Miss Crawford said. “And while I am doing that, you will stand still with your arms out to your sides. If you move, you will spend the rest of the period running laps.”
And with that, Miss Crawford returned to the PE office to get her clipboard while Rachel’s classmates stood there trying their best to avoid looking at the chubby senior, doing her best to ignore the pain already creeping down both of her arms to her hands. Not even one minute in, and Rachel’s palms were getting sweaty and her body started quivering as Miss Crawford returned. The slim butch woman was whistling the tune of some song to herself. It echoed obnoxiously through the gym as she finished taking attendance.
How much longer am I gonna have to stand like this, Rachel wondered. Her arms were starting to quiver so much they were actually shaking. The pain radiated up her back and through her neck. Just when the dark haired senior thought she couldn’t take anymore, the whistling stopped and Miss Crawford turned around. “Put those books down and get in line with the other girls.” She said. Rachel heaved a sigh of relief as she lowered her aching arms. “Hopefully this experience awakens some desire inside to reach your full potential and stop wasting my—and your classmates’ time!”
The textbooks Rachel struggled to hold onto slipped out of her hands and hit the polished wood floor with a loud BANG! The young woman snapped out of her daydream now and shuddered. Potential. What on earth did Kit mean by that? Rachel wasn’t sure if her former teacher was mocking her or delivering a compliment. She knew that she could have ended the conversation and left, but for some strange reason Rachel was drawn by the presence of her former teacher. She decided to stay; she wanted to see where this was going.
“You know, I’d rather talk about something else.” Rachel said.
“I was just reminiscing about the good old days.” Kit replied. “I didn’t think you’d mind.”
“I—ah—we didn’t exactly see eye to eye back then.” Rachel said. “I mean I wasn’t an athlete or anything…”
“No, but not everyone is cut out for sports.” Kit said. She took another drink of wine, draining the glass. “You were talented in other things…and you were as beautiful in high school as you are now.”
Rachel swallowed hard. “Where is this going, Miss Crawford?”
“I’ll bet you never realized that I knew you were a member of the student council. You were also on the debate team during your senior year. I used to enjoy watching you practice in the auditorium after school.”
Kit reached for the wine bottle. “Would you like another drink?” Rachel was unsure whether or not she replied. She watched in stunned silence as the tawny butch emptied the remainder of the bottle in both their glasses.
“You—you knew I was in debate?” The young woman asked incredulously. “I never knew you were interested in anything besides sports!”
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