"This is the most heinous piece of writing I've ever read."
"I know, as your tutor, I'm supposed to be encouraging and up building and make you love writing, but I have to tell the truth. You are awful. You are very, very bad at writing. If there is any job out there that you can get without having to write one single word, I suggest you pursue it wholeheartedly."
Autumn sat back wearily in her wooden chair, covering her face and sighing tiredly. Uncovering her eyes moments later, she saw the dejected look upon her student's face. Despite being the same age as her, she still felt as though she'd scolded an innocent five-year old, and instantly regretted it. Sighing again, she sat up straight and tried a different approach.
"Look, maybe I was being too hard-"
"No. No, you're right. My writing is…terrible."
"Hey…" she replied, reassuringly, though not doing a very good job of it. "It's not…so bad. You just need to work on your grammar a little." she said, somewhat confidently. "And your spelling. And your punctuation. And your usage. And I'm not sure you know the difference between a semi-colon and a colon." she finished, realizing she should have stopped earlier.
"Maybe I should just find a different major." he said hopelessly. Autumn couldn't help but swoon a little when he sighed. Aside from the joy of helping others learn something she loved, and her desperate need for money, Autumn had more than enough motivation to tutor Dave Holland. She saw him first from pretty far off-across campus actually, but figured that the college's campus was far too large for her to ever see him again, or at least in any capacity that would effect her life. Which is exactly why she was shocked to find out that the fellow English Major who had requested her help (through a mutual teacher) was none other than Dave Holland himself. It would have been a true fairytale romance, had Autumn spent all of her time since first laying eyes on him, dreaming of their initial encounter, their first date, their wedding…instead she refused to let him, a complete stranger, encompass her thoughts and actions, instead focusing on her education first and foremost.
Her first actual encounter with Dave consisted of her running late to their planned meeting at the library, fresh out of her midday dance class. She donned only a black tank top, with her brightly colored sports bar underneath and black legging that starched to her mid-calf. Half-heartedly throwing a sweater over her shoulders and her shoulder-length dark hair into a messy bun.
Greeting the librarian by name, she ran to the back of the library where she was scheduled to meet the person whom she was supposed to tutor. She attempted to get some information from the teacher that referred her, Mrs. Myers, about the student that she'd be tutoring. At the request of said student, Mrs. Myers could not reveal anything aside from the meeting time and place. Autumn sighed, hoping that she world not find herself tutoring another air headed bimbo who just needed a passing grade to get into the most remedial of courses. She'd done that once and hoped never to do it again.
Rounding her last corner in the library, to the area just behind Religious History (were very few, if any students, actually ventured…event eh religious History majors knew better than to go there), she found sitting contently, with his back to her, none other than Dave Holland. If she were dumbstruck a month prior from over 45 feet away, she found herself nearly speechless with him sitting four feet away from her. Her eyes widened at the back of his head, and before she could attempt an escape, he whirled around and faced her, which did little for her own concentration. From 45 feet away, she could not properly analyze his features. From her vantage point, she could not help but notice his strong, brown eyes, narrow nose and face and high cheekbones.
Realizing the she was staring, she diverted her gaze to the nearest rack of books, and hoped that she looked like a lost student rather than his new tutor, if that was what she was. Feeling that his gaze had not moved, she peered at him from the corner of her eye.
"I'm sorry, are you Autumn Pearson?", he asked once meeting her eyes.
"Um…" she began, attempting to find a quick lie to get herself out of the situation. Finding no such lie, Dave continued.
"If you're not, then I'm wondering why you're carrying her backpack." he said, smirking.
Autumn bit her lip, realizing that her name was written in sparkly fabric paint on the straps of her backpack. She meant to remove it, but for the sake of not having her property stolen, she left it alone.
"Err…yeah, that's me." she said, rounding the table and setting her things on top of it. Awkwardly, she took a seat across from him, hoping he'd break the ice again. When he didn't, she spoke meekly and focused on a spot of ink on the table instead of his face. "So, you are…"
"Dave. Dave Holland." he said, extending a hand across the long wooden table. Autumn stood and shook it, before settling back down again.
"Well, Dave, what seems to be your concerns?" she asked. She had yet to see any of his writing, so as to gauge what kind of English student he was.
"I'm not quite sure. I don't think my writing is as good as it can be. I don't know why…" he said, his words trailing off and fading away. He wrung his hands nervously, looking away from her.
Autumn was somewhat struck by his candidness regarding his writing. Most of the decent looking guys she'd met so far on campus were already so full of themselves, that they were convinced that they didn't need any sort of help, depending on their looks to get them ahead in life. The fact that he was not only humble, but hands-down, without a doubt, GQ-cover handsome, only made him more endearing.
"Well," Autumn began, snapping out of her daze. "Do you have any of your work that I can take a look at? A recent essay, or report or anything?" she asked.
"Not with me. Maybe I can run to my dorm…" he suggested.
Biting her lip again, Autumn's eyes quickly shifted to the clock on the nearby wall (and was surprised that it still worked in such a secluded part of the library) and winced. "No, the library will be closed before we'd have time to get anything done. How about I give you a short assignment, and we'll go from there." she suggested.
"Sounds good, what's the assignment, chief?" he said, leaning forward eagerly.
Autumn smiled at the nickname and continued. "I want you to write a one page essay on…yourself. Anything at all; your favorite color, your childhood pet. Anything that gives me a glimpse at who you are as a person. Handwritten, if you don't mind." she said, jotting notes down in the small notebook she carried with her.
"Gotcha. So, when do I get this back to you?" he asked.
"I don't know, whatever is fine with you." she replied, finding herself more at ease in his presence than a few moments ago. She was glad for that much; if she had to spend as much time with him as he just had, she couldn't very well have been blushing for so long.
"Is Thursday alright?" he asked, meekly.
Thinking hard, Autumn thought about her schedule on Thursdays. They were nearly identical to her schedules for that day, and she was unsure whatever or not she could fit another activity into her already busy day. "I guess…Thursday would be alright."
"Great!" he said, standing up quickly. "Thanks a lot, you won't regret it!"
Dave did not realize, however, that he would only serve to be only half right.
On the one had, Autumn did regret it. She regretted it very, very much. Eyeing his initial paper, she was appalled at the number of simple grammatical and spelling mistakes he made. She did not want to tell him right away, and opted for the silent approach that she'd seen many teachers do when faced with nearly hopeless students. She graded the test in front of him, pointing out each mistake and how it could be remedied for the future. He took all her advice in stride, admitting when he needed help and asking questions when confused. He was in no way a difficult student to work with, but Autumn felt herself spending more time on a student that was not improving than she would have on someone that was. And, although she was shy to admit it, the fact that he was paying her rather generously kept her faithfully coming back every Tuesday and Thursday.
In addition to her hefty pay, she found herself genuinely enjoying Dave's company. He proved himself, despite being a terrible writer, a truly intelligent person. He expressed interest in science and math, but still majored in English. She learned that he had two younger sisters, whom he loved more than anyone else and a golden retriever named Jamie. She also found herself divulging parts of her own life to him. She told him about her 14 year old brother, who was a general pain in the neck, but admitted to beating up a bully that picked on him without his knowledge. She told him that she was taking the dance class for fun, and nothing else; a distraction from her more pressing classes, and he replied accordingly, wishing that he could have the same passion.
As much as she didn't want to, in the months that followed, she found herself falling for Dave. He was nearly everything she liked, and only a few things she did not like. Her likes were as follows: he liked to read, he liked to cook, he loved his family, he hated carrots and the sight of feet. Her only qualms were that he could not write to save his own life or anyone else's. If he were a complete idiot, she reasoned, she would have no problem brushing aside her feelings for him. She was never attracted to idiots, and never would be.
But Dave was far from an idiot Dave was smart. In some ways, he was smarted than her. She sometimes found herself envying his intelligence. She wished, more than anything, that she could inject him with some knowledge of the English language, knowing he'd be ideal if he did.
"If you want me to, I can write another paper-"
"No! I mean, that won't be necessary." she said, smiling convincingly.
"I feel like I'm wasting your time. I mean, you're doing so good as a tutor, and I'm-"
"Well." she said, not looking up from his paper, riddled with corrections. "The proper word to use is 'well'. I'm doing well as a tutor."
"See! I can't even speak a simple sentence!" he said, dramatically settling his head on the hard desktop.
"Hey, calm down, okay? I have an idea." she said, snapping out of her brief haze to look him in the eye.
"What?" he said, feigning dejection.
"I'll let you know later. Right now, I have to go talk to Mrs. Myers." she said, scooping up her things and leaving him at the table alone. Confused, he grabbed his things also and followed her out of the building.
"Why do you have to talk to Mrs. Myers?" he asked nervously. He feared briefly that is plan was beginning to crumble and all it took from Mrs. Myers was the wrong statement and he'd be doomed.
"Nothing big, I just need to ask her something." she said, walking up the stairs to the classroom. Dave followed her the entire way, stuttering his suggestions that she wait until morning to inquire of the teacher. She hoped that Mrs. Myers hadn't left for the night and was glad to see that the lights were not out. Walking into the room, and successfully leaving a bewildered Dave alone in the hallway.
"Mrs. Myers, may I have a moment?" Autumn asked, nearing the teacher's desk in the front of the large room.
"Of course, "the teacher replied, looking up from her work. She removed her wide-rimmed glasses, and fixed her slightly mussed brown hair. "What I can I do for you?"
"Well, I was inquiring of a student whom I'm tutoring, David Holland." she said, hoping that the name would ring a bell.
"Ah yes, Mr. Holland. One of my brightest students." she said, smiling.
Autumn was unsure of how to respond to that. If he was a "bright" student, she surmised that maybe he was excelling in a lower class. "May I ask, what level is he in? I mean, what English is he studying, per se?"
"Well, I believe his class is second only to yours, Ms. Pearson. Quite talented if I may say. If you'd like to see some of his work…" she started, already advancing over to her file cabinet and sifting through the papers inside. Finally, she pulled out a few sheets of paper, staled together and handed it to the young lady in front of her.
Autumn's eyes scanned the paper before she realized what it was. "He wrote this?!" she asked, panicked. The paper had been the same one that her own class had to write an objection to for their latest assignment. It was regarding the play Our Town, which Autumn personally hated. She admitted, in her assignment, that the paper itself was so well written, that she could only agree with every point made by the author, realizing defeat.
"Yes, he's one of my more talented students. I can't tell you how overjoyed I was to hear that the two of you were meeting to study. He's quite enjoyed the study sessions you two have been having." she said, happily. Before she could discern the look upon Autumn's face, the young girl dashed out of her room, slamming the door behind her, still clutching Dave's paper.
Outside of the classroom, Autumn stomped towards Dave's sitting form and shot him a glare, knowing he would not mistake it.
"Autumn…" he began, standing clumsily, and backing away from her.
"Care to explain?!" she asked, holding up his now crumpled paper. Before he could answer she went on, in a rage. "Are you crazy or something? Are you trying to drive me crazy? I mean, you act like you can't write, and then it turns out that you really can? Not only can you write…Dave, you're brilliant! This…", she said, motioning to the paper in her hand. "…is amazing! You are seriously great!"
"I'm not finished! If indeed you are the magnificent writer that this paper, and Mrs. Myers says you are, then why in the name that of all that is good and holy did you employ me to "tutor" you? Are you a stalker?" she asked.
"No, not really…" he said, humbly.
"How are you "not really" a stalker? It's not something you do halfway!" she said, covering her eyes with her hands as she usually did when she was upset. "I can't have a stalker right now! I really can't…I've got finals coming up, and can't seem to nail a pirouette, and sometimes I get these headaches…"
"Were you expecting something in return? Is that why you paid so well? Because I'll have you know right now that I cannot be bought!"
"And another thing, there are plenty of girls on this campus for you to stalk. Really, there are tons of them. Much prettier, and smarter, and more…stalkable. In fact, I can get you some names and numbers…I'm sure they'd be flattered…"
"Autumn!" he said, capturing her attention and holding on to her shoulders as he spoke. "Let me explain. I'm not a stalker, and I'm not crazy, as far as I know."
"Then why'd you do all that? What you did was weird, Dave!" she said, abruptly.
"I know, I know. It was irrational and crazy, and yes, very, very weird." he paused still holding on to her upper arms. Autumn wanted to demand an explanation, but gazing at his bowed head, she refrained, waiting for him to open up again.
"For a long time, people told me I was a good writer, and I guess I believed them, because I wanted to be a good writer. But, I started looking around at my peers; the people my age, who were being published, and everything felt so…transparent. There were people who wrote to be seen, because they had something to say but it wasn't of any relevance. And it infuriated me! I started to hate writing, especially my own and it wasn't long before I stopped altogether. In fact, I wanted nothing to do with it anymore.
"And then one day, the same day I was going to drop Myer's class, I found a piece of paper under my chair. And, at first, I didn't think anything of it, I figured someone left it in haste, and I was about to throw it away. But I read it. I read it over and over, all day. It was like a journal entry, only better written, and it was all about how fake people were, how their writing was a sham, and only for the sake of attention. It was one of the smartest pieces of writing I'd ever read and it was less than a page long! It was like…this author, knew exactly what I was thinking.
"And when Mrs. Myers told me who you were, I almost didn't want to meet you. I thought, 'If she can intimidate me with half a page of writing, what can she do face to face?' But after I met you, you were so…genuine. Like you didn't even realize how good of a writer you actually were. It…I didn't know what to do. I had to find a way to get to know you better, but I thought it'd be weird if I just paid you to talk to me about English. So I started writing all these bad papers on purpose, hoping you wouldn't see through it. I guess that's all gone to waste now, huh?"
When Autumn wiggled from his grasp, Dave assumed it was because she realized what a lowlife loser he was and that she was subtly trying to get away from him before sprinting down the corridor. He was shocked to find her standing in front of him, bend over at he waist, shaking with laughter.
"No, I'm sorry, I'm not laughing at you." she choked out, steadying her footing, and laughing some more. "I'm just really happy, that…that…"
"That you don't actually write like that! It was atrocious!' she said, before bursting into laughter again.
"I don't think it was that bad…"
"Yes! Yes it was!" she said through her teeth. "You had me going there for a while. I really thought you were some awful writer." she finished smiling.
Noting that the hallway was still empty, he pulled her again into their former embrace and spoke directly into her ear. "So, I guess I'm out of a tutor?"
"I'm afraid so, unless there's something else you're really very bad at…" she said, meeting his gaze.
"I can think of one or two more things…" he replied, lowering his head until his lips hovered just over hers. Tentatively, Autumn inched forward, closing the space between them and meeting his lips. Though chaste and brief, Autumn found herself enjoying the feel of his lips on hers. He was so slow and calm about the somewhat abrupt kiss that she nearly fell forward into him when he gracefully pulled away. Pouting momentarily and standing up straight again, she did little to fight the dreamy look that inhabited her features.
"So, Professor, how did I do?" he asked, smiling.
"Autumn was having trouble forming words, and in turn stammered her response. "It was good. You did very, very good-"
"Well." Dave interrupted her, tapping the pad of his index finger on the tip of her nose. "The proper word to use is well."
Just something I thought up in the middle of the night. Not my greatest, but then again, what on earth is? The "well" vs. "good" thing is actually an inside joke with my family. My family has the tendency to say "good" instead of "well", for example:
Sister: "She did good on her speech."
Me: "Well. She did well on her speech."
So, I thought I'd incorporate it because…I'm strange like that. Hope you enjoyed!