Saturday, March 10, 2012

Flash Fiction Friday: "Don't Stand So Close To Me"

Over in Flash Fiction Friday Land,this week's task is to write 1500 words or less about, or involving, St. Patrick's Day. My story is "Don't Stand So Close To Me".

She was late. I told her it looked bad. I told her we couldn't let anything seem amiss. But she was late anyway. She strolled in, ironic Lucky Charms T shirt worn tight, sweatpants that were somehow still form fitting, and her deep brown hair pulled back into a devil may care ponytail. She took the blue exam book from me without a sound, turned to sit near the front and began writing. I tried to shoot her a look as I gave her the book, but she only smiled. It made my blood boil, the way she didn't care. She lived that way, heedlessly, like Fitzgerald's Daisy, not caring who or what she broke.

She was beautiful. They are all beautiful at that age, of course. But she was special, like she wasn't even human, as if a UFO had left her as evidence of a different, more perfect race. She looked artistic, like blown glass or spun silk, every angle perfect, every part in proportion with every other, the Golden Mean made flesh. Air smelled better after she had moved through it. I watched her as she worked, hair shielding her pages from her neighbor, her hand moving in her distinctive little girl script. She had to appear like all the other students, but I knew she wasn't.

She was forbidden. Being with her broke my employment contract, the canons of professorial ethics, and my own moral code, which held that in matters of the heart between adults, all's fair, as long as the power balanced equally, as long as both parties can refuse. When we were apart, I told myself, lectured myself. "You're no Humbert," I'd hear in my own head. "When she calls, don't pick up." But I did, God help me. I did. I always did, and I always buzzed her in, and we always ended up in my bed.

She was addictive. Two times a week, sometimes more. I was enraptured, unable to refuse. On the floor, in the bed, one night even on the balcony. Whatever activity she wanted, we did, from nearly the full Kama Sutra all the way down to her sitting on my floor, painting her toenails while I graded papers and watched the Mavericks game. We seldom talked. We had so little in common, what would we talk about? But she came in, helped herself to my food, and showered, and then she called the tune. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn't stop.

She was dangerous. She would do things, foolish things, things that would set off alarm bells in my head. One morning I saw her in a student lounge with an Oregon State shirt that I knew came from my closet, but I never had the nerve to confront her about it. Another morning she shut my office door and insisted that I pleasure her, right there, with a colleague just on the other side of the wall. But of course, I complied. I always did.

She was magnetic. A hulking frat boy in the front row, wearing a Fighting Irish T shirt featuring the traditional leprechaun with the shillelagh, got up and handed in his test. I watched him look at her longingly as he straightened. It was something I was familiar with- hotel clerks, wait staffs, passersby. She turned heads, male and female. I couldn't help but feel a moment of male pride, looking up at his athletic physique. He didn't seem the real bright type. "The closest you'll get to Notre Dame, son, is the beer from Ireland you're going to drink tonight," I thought.

She was mysterious. I didn't know how her school was being paid for, what her other classes were, where she lived, anything about her family. She seemed to have no feelings at all, other than the ones our activities brought her. When I questioned her one night about the grumbling I heard when I scheduled the exam for St. Patrick's Day, she shrugged as she began dressing to leave. "I don't care," she said. "You're going to give me an A anyway." She was right, but it was more damning to hear it said aloud.

She was finished. She waited until the appropriate number of students were finished, and then she got up, busying herself with putting away her pen and pushing in her chair. She picked up her water bottle and her purse, walking to the front to hand in her test. I looked up at her, no makeup, unshowered, and I was helpless. I thought about the first time I allowed myself to consider an affair with her. I feared it would wind up disappointing me, like when my father took me to meet a Star Wars actor at the mall, and it turned out it was Warwick Davis, who played an Ewok in Return of the Jedi. Some things are better anticipated than experienced, but she was not one of them.

She was gone. She was out the door and down the hall, off to heaven knows where, away until my phone rang late at night or she rang my bell at 1am. Foolish and male, I would always, always answer. I didn't dare look at her test paper until the final student, a diligent Chinese girl who always spent the entire hour, handed hers in shyly and walked quietly away. I listened to the silence for a moment before finally opening her paper. "I don't know why you make me do this," she had written, over and over again, for the first three pages, then finally an elaborate scrawled signature and a P.S. "Give me an A minus this time," it said, "so no one gets suspicious."


  1. Involved in a dangerous relationship, and clearly on a personal and professional downward spiral. I believe it's also fairly certain though that he's got a big smile on his face...

    Clever use of the prompts and great character piece. Brava!

  2. Very nice. Clean and flowing and descriptive.


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