A/N: Hey, guys, this is my debut on FictionPress. Exciting, no? Well, originally, this was going to be a one-shot, and I was writing this for the heck of it, just for the sake of getting ideas out. However, the story got bigger than me...in a sense, so I decided to divide this up into three parts. They're not as even as I would like, but they're all a bit on the long side. Just somewhat of a disclaimer before I go on. I've never had a crush on a teacher before, I had no idea where this came from, and this short story was originally going to be much darker in my head. Anyway, I'll shut up and I hope you enjoy the story.
Warning: There are some circumstances of heavy cursing but nothing worse than that, I can assure you.
A Question of Morality
It was another Sunday evening dinner in the Glenn household. Mrs. Glenn had fixed an amazing meal with fried chicken, smooth mashed potatoes and gravy, and Pillsbury biscuits. With an ambitious French silk pie for dessert—only, that wasn't homemade, it was bought at Kroger's. It was rare any more that the matriarch would whip up such delectable dishes, but when she did find the time, she really pulled it off. She worked as a nurse, so she wasn't always available at home due to the hours.
And if Mrs. Glenn was busy, Mr. Glenn was extremely so. He was a lawyer, an industrious one at that. Forty-hour work weeks were part of the norm for him. However, he proved himself a devoted family man, resisting the temptation of twenty-something-year-old secretaries and up-and-coming interns. Indeed, he never entertained the thought of abandoning his family or risking his marriage for an impulsive affair. He was a man of values, and that showed through his work.
Their older son Randall, twenty-one, was home for the weekend before he headed back to Washington State University later that night. He was a college basketball star, maintained a 3.7 grade point average, and was naturally adored by his family. Almost lavishly so.
As for seventeen-year-old Sylvia, Mr. and Mrs. Glenn thought that she ought to apply herself more, particularly in extra-curricular activities, of which she had little to no interest. She participated in poetry club, but apparently, that didn't count. It wasn't a sport or a service organization, so why did it matter? Besides, Randall had been in an excessive amount of activities during his high school career. In her opinion, she shouldn't have been held to these very high standards. Twirling her brown hair, she focused on eating her chicken without any regard to the rest of her family's conversing. It wasn't blonde or red, nothing that stuck out. Not black. Brown, just brown, plain, unnoticed brown.
"So, Sylvia, I called to ask about your grades a few nights ago"—ah, Mom had finally turned the conversation over so it was about her at last and not about Randall's latest triumph at the game—"And apparently, you're getting a D in algebra?"
Sylvia stared at her mother with stony brown eyes in a deadpan look. "Yeah, so? I'm not that great at math."
"Well, you could see about a tutor. Don't they have after-school tutoring?" Dad inquired, though more concentrated on his green beans more than anything else.
She sighed huffily. "I'm passing, aren't I?"
"Pfft, barely." Randall joined in the discussion. "Math is easy. I don't understand why you're getting a D in it, sis. I mean, when I was in school—"
Oh, no. Not again.
"When you were in school, you were perfect, right? Valedictorian and football hero? Bravo, Randall, bravo," Sylvia sarcastically sniped.
"Now, Sylvia, don't start," Mom brought up sternly.
"You know what? Guys, stop. It's just a D. I'll get it up somehow. I'll ask for extra credit. I'll do whatever. I mean, let's look on the bright side. I'm getting As and Bs in everything else."
"Yeah, but that D…Mmm-mmm-mm. That's going to take your GPA down to at least a 3.6 or 3.5. Didn't you used to get 4.0?"
"Shut the fuck up, Randall, that's none of your business!"
"Sylvia!" Dad raised his voice. "Language."
"Fuck this!" Sylvia lost her temper and shoved her plate aside, angrily stomping up the stairs to her room.
Why did they care so much about her grades? Why did they matter? In the long run, being a family was all that mattered. But, to the Glenns, they seemed more obsessed with being the perfect family. She had always somehow felt that she was adopted, that her real mom and dad lived in somewhere happy like Wisconsin. Or maybe they were rich and lived in some New York high-rise.
There were times in which Sylvia wished she wasn't related to her annoying brother and her parents who were preoccupied with work all the time. In fact, this Sunday evening was the first time in a long time for them to sit together to eat as a family. Her mom and dad could be on the brink of divorce for all she knew, as little time as they had to themselves, much less with each other. Time kept moving, kept causing this chasm to open wider and wider and to divide the closeness she once had with her family. Maybe she was depressed. Maybe she was frustrated at being ignored except for school-related issues that her parents insisted on discussing at the dinner table. And tonight, in front of her impeccable jerk of a brother.
Or maybe she was just being a brat, being seventeen and hormonal and all that jazz. She didn't know. After all, she'd brought all this up with a therapist her mom used to have her see, but she couldn't get any answers. She was just diagnosed with OCD and generalized anxiety disorder for all her trouble. In other words, the therapist had thought she was a neurotic mess, too. Not like that helped. She had been prescribed on Prozac, but she gave up those pills when she "accidentally" flushed her renewed prescription down the toilet one day.
Her parents never noticed, disregarding almost everything else when it came to her as well. Their jobs, always their jobs and their careers and their salaries and their appointments. Work-related matters had driven a wedge between her and her parents. Oh, but Randall, though, they just loved him.
All this Sylvia mulled over as she lay spread-eagle on her bed, gazing at the ceiling. Any more, school was the one place she could find refuge in, ironically enough. For many teens, high school was a proverbial hell to go to every day. But, there, at least she had friends to confide in and teachers—actual adults—who recognized and appreciated her talents. Even her algebra teacher liked her despite the bad grade she was currently receiving. Mrs. Hill wouldn't give up on her, offering her some after-school help the other day. So, yes, she was going to get her grade up one way or another. One D and her parents honed in on that, concluding she was slacking off already. In general, no. In algebra, she admitted to herself, she could improve. But, Mrs. Hill would help her, and she could take solace in that.
Poetry club offered her an outlet to express her full spectrum of emotions, including the frustration she often felt at the hands of her family not paying sufficient attention to her. The other day, when she told her dad that the teacher who started the club would submit her poem for a contest, Dad dubiously asked, "Since when did you start writing poetry?"
They were too busy to know what her hobbies were. Yet, they somehow knew all of Randall's. How was that fair? Well, once upon a time, her parents had been college sweethearts who were rather bohemian in their schools of thought. Her mom aspired to become a painter and her dad a musician. What ever happened to those ambitions? No, instead, they went for the practical jobs.
No wonder her mom told her once, "There's a huge market for writers, Sylvia. Competition's fierce. Maybe you should consider being a doctor. There's a shortage of competent doctors, you know."
Pfft, as if she was so brilliant at biology, which she wasn't. English was her strong suit and so should it be forever and ever amen. If her parents couldn't accept that fact, then she would probably consider running away. Disown her own family and legally change her last name to Poe. She'd always liked his array of works anyway.
She managed to sleep that night. Fitfully.
"Sylvia, wait up!" her friend Kayla yelled out for her in the middle of the school hallway. "I just heard the news."
"What news?" Sylvia stopped walking for a moment to turn toward her best friend with a confused look on her face.
Kayla shoved a copy of USA Today up her nose, or so it felt like. "You won the Pulitzer for poetry!"
"Shut up! I did not. Especially since I want to write full-length novels instead."
It was true. After all, there had been another Sylvia in the poetry business before. She'd ended up cooking herself alive in the oven. No thanks. The minute literary critics started comparing her to that hot mess, she would retire from poetry for good.
However…As she glanced around her, she noted that the other kids were staring at her, whispering and pointing. Not in gossip or in making fun of her.
They hissed things like, "Wow, she's famous now," and "Who knew she was that good?"
Soon, a whole crowd grouped around her and Kayla, checking to see if that bold-printed headline was real. Hm, that was weird that it was such a major news story. Didn't journalists normally write about more serious things like fighting in the Middle East and global warming? Sylvia fought back a grin, proud of her achievements. Why didn't anyone tell her?
"Can I get an autograph?" her other close friend Corey asked her, overenthusiastically nuzzling her neck. "My little Sylvia is way better than that other Sylvia. I mean, I never really liked Sylvia Plath that much anyway. Too self-loathing. Now, Robert Frost on the other hand…"
"You get gayer by the minute, Corey, I swear," she joked but was appreciative of the high praise. Wait until the poetry club organizer and British Lit teacher got a hold of this!
As much as she tried not to feel this sensation, her heart thrummed in her chest. She couldn't help it. It was difficult to suppress the feeling when she was looking into his eyes and seeing pride. Pride at seeing his protégé succeed so marvelously at what she did. At seventeen years old, the youngest Pulitzer Prize winner ever. In the history of the Prize, and that dated back several decades. It was thanks to this man.
"Thank you so much!" She pushed back the crowd of intrigued teenagers a little too roughly in her single-mindedness to reach him. To…
Sylvia woke up. No. God, no. Why? She couldn't shake the idea of him for five minutes, could she? What she felt, what her body felt, was morally wrong. Now, she wasn't that much in the way of religious, but she did have values. She did have morals. What she entertained could threaten her sanity and her reputation as well as his.
She chewed the inside of her cheek thoughtfully as she turned on her radio to wake her up more. Why this song?
"…Strong words in the staffroom
The accusations fly
It's no use
He sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like that old man in
That book by Nabokov"
Slamming the off button on the radio, she shuddered. Damn it. Out of all songs for her to hear on Monday morning, it had to be the Police song about perversion, didn't it? Not the "Every Breath You Take" one, no, but that other song. The one that was more relevant to her. And why should it have ever been that way?
Mom drove her to school later that morning since she didn't have a car. She wished she could, but she didn't have a job. That was the only way she could get a car, if she saved up money for it. So her parents had made her agree to that…against her will. And guess who got a flashy Ford Mustang for his sixteenth birthday.
Given the very slight argument she had with her family last night, the tension was thick in Mom's 2004 Toyota Prius. They didn't talk, and Sylvia didn't even apologize for her indiscretion last night at cursing violently in front of her older brother. Not like she cared. Randall probably laughed it off more than anything, like the pompous ass he was.
She pressed her face very close to the glass of the window, staring at all the other cars that were ahead or passing them. Gray, beige, white, black…Did no one believe in driving colorful vehicles in this town? Oh, a rust-red truck drove by, never mind. Still, white, beige, and black seemed to be popular model colors.
The day looked gray, of course, as this was a Monday. Mondays never seemed to agree with her, particularly after experiencing a spat with her brother….well, all of them, to be honest. Good thing Randall was back at college at one with his fellow egotistical brethren. She had written so many poems about her idiot brother, darkly cynical ones that involved her watching him fall down the stairs and getting food poisoning after eating Chinese.
"You could have done the dishes last night," Mom brought up just as she saw the indomitable brick high school building ahead of them. "I know you were upset with us, but I still like for you to help out around the house."
"Yeah," Sylvia replied gruffly, fiddling with a loose string from her red hooded sweatshirt.
"And I would have liked it if you'd gotten along a little better with your brother. I know he's given you a hard time…"
No kidding. When she was a freshman and he a senior, he'd done considerably more cursing at her than she did toward him last night. He was lucky she didn't do it more often. The way he'd laugh her off around his friends and call her a loser. Well, not everyone could be fortunate enough to be football stars therefore the big men on campus.
"I don't care. I don't regret my words, and I'm not apologizing."
Mom shut her eyes briefly as she pulled up to the front lot. "Sylvia Anne…"
"Later, Mom. This has been a good talk," she commented acidly, shutting the car door with slightly more force than necessary once she got out.
The nerve of that woman to place Randall on a higher pedestal than her…and what ever happened to never playing favorites with your children? Clearly, Randall managed to be one step ahead of her when it came to everything. Grades, job, life…Whatever he did, he could excel in it in order to humble her and make her feel like a failure. All she had and was gifted at was her poetry. And poetry wasn't as popular as it used to be. Sylvia decided she was born in the wrong century. She should have been born in the Victorian era, when people at least eagerly waited for the next poetry volume by someone famous.
She barely focused on the void of hallway ahead of her when someone poked her in the back. "Hey, you."
For once, Sylvia grinned. "Hey, Corey."
Corey Richards and Kayla Hansen were her two best friends on the planet. Corey was the empath of the three of them, always there to lend a sympathetic ear. He was gay, but that never bothered her, though her staunch Republican parents on the other hand…It didn't matter to her one way or the other what his sexual orientation was or that he just so happened to have three piercings in each ear as well as a tongue piercing. If anything, those attributes were what made him cool to her along with his easygoing personality. She admired him for being comfortable with who he was. If only she could be half as blessed in that category.
"So, how was your weekend?" he asked after her while they walked over to her locker further down the hall.
She shrugged. "Got into a little disagreement with my brother, but you know how that goes."
"Oh yeah, douchebag older siblings, I hear you. My older brother is like that too, but he does have his redeeming qualities."
Sylvia snorted. "Well, I doubt Randall has a good bone in his body. You know, if he just broke a bone playing basketball, I'd be happy."
"Awww, Sylvia, you don't mean that," Corey mockingly whined though attempted not to laugh. "You're so sweet and nice, you'd never wish that on somebody."
"Believe me, Corey, I'm not that sweet at home. Especially when my family pisses me off like they did last night. Always about my grades. Well, jeez, I have my poetry. Isn't that enough?"
"It is for me, honey bunch." He hugged her from behind, so they walked very oddly down the hallway, a few feet from her locker. They attracted strange, even repulsed glances but other than that, no one paid any mind. For the most part, they were the outcasts. That was why they were a group of cliché three rather than six or seven like many of the popular sects in the school or who Sylvia preferred to accuse of as being a cult.
"Can you be any more of a stereotype?" she joked with a sly smirk thrown in his direction. "Get off me."
"Oh, I try not to be a stereotype, you know that." Corey crossed his arms, watching as she opened her locker to put away her bag and collect her books. "I love to work out and pat other guys on the ass…Oops, wait, I'm only in drama club, not the football team."
"Hahahaha, yeah. There's probably one or two who'd love to go out with you, Cor."
"No thank you, I prefer to be single at the moment. Besides, I have to be here more for you as your spiritual advisor."
"Spiritual advisor, oh, sure. Now, let's get going. We'll be late for Brit Lit." Realizing that she said that last sentence rather too cheerfully, Sylvia literally bit her tongue. She then remembered that she forgot to get her copy of Jane Eyre from her locker, which she promptly opened back up again. In quite a rush, she grabbed it and shut the door in record time.
"That's true." Corey overexaggeratedly licked his lips. "Can't disappoint Mr. Jacobson, now can we? OK, I'm not trying to be gross or anything, but that man is fiiiiiine. If he wasn't a teacher, I'd seriously try to get my hands on him."
Sylvia turned away from him momentarily to hide her blush.
Mr. Jacobson was new this year as an English teacher who taught British Literature, English III, and Creative Writing. He had a lot on his plate, teaching three classes, but he surely was capable of balancing them on his schedule. He was fairly young too, for a teacher, age twenty-eight or so. Half of the teachers in this school looked like the walking dead. Mr. Jacobson, on the other hand, was alluded to often in student conversations, particularly among those of the female persuasion. This most likely accounted for why most of Sylvia's British Lit class consisted of overly giggly girls.
However, she honestly wasn't that attracted to the man. She didn't see anything special and was disgusted with the majority of her class for not signing up due to a desire for literary enrichment or thought-provoking classroom discussions. As for why she was in poetry club at the moment, well, she'd participated in it actively since freshman year before Mr. Jacobson arrived. And she had no intentions of quitting. It was purely coincidental that he took over the supervisor position from Mrs. Yates, who was currently on maternity leave.
There was no way she paid attention to his vivid, expressive blue eyes and the manner in which he'd run a hand through his thick black hair. Nope, while the vapid girls sighed away, she remained alert to the topic of a given group discussion.
As for Corey being in the class, Sylvia had forced him to sign up with her. After all, she needed moral support in some form or other, and Kayla hated English besides. She was more the science-y type.
"You would not," she scoffed at Corey's boast.
He chuckled. "Yeah, you're right. I wouldn't. Besides, it's all the girls staring at him. I'm just going to be holding out for the right man who is legitimately gay. But, hm, Sylvia, I've seen your eye wander to him a few times."
"And he always seems interested with what you have to add to a discussion."
"He's a teacher, Corey. He's supposed to pretend he's riveted by what his students say, no matter how stupid it is. Like with what Allison said the other day…"
And so Sylvia and Corey whispered about Allison until they got to class. Once again, all the blonde and/or noticeably brunette girls sat ridiculously close to the front, and the two friends resignedly retreated to the back again. Sylvia bit back a condescending snort at seeing what the girls were wearing. A couple of them wore revealing tank tops under unzipped Hollister hoodies, showing off their assets. As she personally did not possess bountiful assets to carelessly show off, she refrained from wearing such attire. And even if she did have a C cup or even a B cup, she would not have gone around wearing trash like that. So much for them appreciating British literature. Mr. Darcy apparently paled in comparison to Mr. Jacobson.
Sure enough, he showed up with his welcoming grin that made the girls swoon. Sylvia bit her lip but otherwise did not react. Corey's responding grin was so wide that a plane could easily have landed on his braces-filled teeth.
After the humdrum morning announcements (besides poetry club having a meeting tomorrow) and the pledge, Mr. Jacobson announced, "OK, class. Today, we'll be discussing chapter thirteen of Jane Eyre that I had you read over the weekend. So, get your books out in case someone points out a particular page number."
"How much do you wanna bet that none of these sluts actually read the chapter?" Sylvia murmured out of the corner of her mouth to Corey.
"All of my life savings…and my car insurance."
She snorted in laughter but didn't expressly reveal her smile in case Mr. Jacobson theorized other intentions that it could hold. Not like she would seduce him, of course, that was much too low-brow for her. Since when was the idea of seducing an issue? No matter…
As Sylvia so bluntly predicted, none of the other girls seemed to recall chapter thirteen particularly well, save for two of them. These two, Allison Gordon and Cristina Kelly, were ardent Jacobson disciples. They simply ate up every word that passed through his lips and followed every command (assignment) he had to offer. Not to mention Allison, though the typical dumb blonde, demonstrated to be insightful on occasion. Sylvia just liked to be snide about the vast majority of her grade. Again, the whole concept of being an outcast was not lost on her. Thus, she satirized on the behaviors and mannerisms of her peers.
"Now, I'd like to bring up another point. Why does Rochester interview Jane like he does? Yes, he is holding a conversation with her, but he's also conducting an interview at the same time. Why do you think that is? Anyone?"
Neither Cristina nor Allison had the answer, as was displayed through their slumped shoulders and an exasperated sigh from Allison. Up until that point, they'd been raising their hands non-stop, most likely for the opportunity to merely speak to The Hot One. Sylvia smirked yet politely, coolly raised her hand.
"Ah, Sylvia, I see you got this one. So, enlighten me."
At this point in the class period, Mr. Jacobson had furiously written down on the whiteboard the answers that some students gave to his questions. Most likely because yes, indeed, these would be on a future pop quiz or test coming soon. He avidly poised his dry-erase marker near the board again, waiting for her answer. Somehow, the way he approached his teaching, so enthusiastically, did draw her in. He radiated a certain glow that was pure energy, feistily dynamic. Hm, well, he didn't really light up like a Christmas tree, but his effervescence could shine through at times. Sylvia felt the best teachers were like this, whether attractive or homely.
"I think it's because Rochester is trying to figure out Jane as a person. He's a gruff man, so my guess is that he has some trust issues with people in general. So, he shuts most people out and only lets them in once they can pass his tests. He wants to like her, he really does, but he just isn't sure of her yet. He's a bit wary but drawn in at the same time."
It also didn't hurt that she happened to own the book and had read it at least three times. What a literature nerd she was.
Mr. Jacobson smiled. "Nailed it right on the head. That's exactly right. Did you hear that, class? Rochester, as Sylvia just pointed out, is a guarded individual who has many secrets he keeps close. And his faith in mankind as a whole is often tested. That's why he feels the need to test Jane in turn. However, despite his cautiousness toward her, he is interested in what she has shown so far to him in terms of her personality."
"I'm telling you, he thinks you're awesome. You can't do any wrong in his eyes," Corey hissed while Sylvia anxiously noted that her teacher's eyes fleetingly rested on her. Those incredibly blue eyes that threatened to shake her to her core…
No, no, no! Absolutely not, this was unacceptable. She didn't care if their age difference was narrower than that of Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre. Different times, different people, and different circumstances that couldn't work by any means. Sickened at the very thought of her potential attraction to him, she sank her head on crossed arms and stopped contributing for the rest of class. On top of her weariness from snapping at her family last night, she wasn't in the mood. She did not need this. And whether Mr. Jacobson had a girlfriend or not, neither did he. Paying attention to him apart from a strictly business-like way was unprofessional for her as a student and him as a teacher. Tax dollars could not be wasted on a man who ogled at his students. Though Sylvia would not classify him as that type of man…
Right when the bell rang, she sprang from her chair to head on to her dreaded algebra class. She trailed after the departing students when Mr. Jacobson asked, "Sylvia, do you mind if I borrow you for just a minute? I need to talk to you about something."
"Sure," she sighed half-irritably before mouthing to a somewhat befuddled Corey, "Go ahead without me."
Mr. Jacobson shut the door and leaned against it, his keen blue eyes observing her concernedly. "Are you all right? I notice you don't seem to be acting like yourself lately. And your most recent poem you contributed two weeks ago…Well, it disturbed me."
"Great. I like to disturb people with my poetry. It's what I do. I mean, I was never the goth type, but it's never too late to start." Sylvia found herself being rather snippy with him, and she didn't know why. Perhaps it was because she received unwanted attention from him. He was the last person she'd ever want to perturb or unnerve in any way.
To her astonishment, he let out a chuckle. "Maybe disturbed isn't the right word. I would say more so concerned than anything. I have it here on my chaotically messy desk somewhere…Ah, here it is."
He read it out loud:
"I'd like to think I'm not alone
But it doesn't seem to feel that way
When I come home to an empty house
Where no one likes to stay
I need my space so it's fine by me
For a little while
Then, the feeling of abandonment sets in
Cold and lonely on the inside"
Damn. Mr. Jacobson was reading her poetry. And not her best work either. Recalling the poem, Sylvia bowed her head in shame. She had been in a writer's block that week, and that was the one he had to notice.
She stiffened when his hands landed on her shoulders. "Is there something going on between you and your family?"
"Personal matters, Mr. Jacobson, I'm not disclosing. Thanks for caring, but it's whatever. My parents just put in long hours. They can't help it. Besides, that poem was something I wrote in the spur of the moment. It's not even that good. Whatever the real issue is, it's irrelevant."
"It isn't to me," he replied rather softly. "And it most certainly won't be to your parents if you only tell them about it."
"My parents can't be reached. And not just through the telephone either. Leave a message after the beep. They'll get back to you…eventually." Sylvia rolled her eyes. "Can I leave now?"
"I had an idea, actually. If you're too uncomfortable to share whatever's bothering you with your parents, then you can share with me. Don't worry about your next class. I'll send a note along with you. And this is my planning period anyway, so we have plenty of time."
What? Shouldn't he have been going about compiling lesson plans for the English III class? This made no sense to Sylvia, who wanted to run for the door already. What could he possibly offer her in terms of advice? OK, OK, he could be her friend but not anything more than that. In fact, a teacher wasn't supposed to be your friend in the first place. He could potentially violate her, with the door shut and only the two of them standing around, talking. Horror movies had been filmed over this subject. She wasn't about to become the victim.
"It's really not that important, Mr. Jacobson, honest," she firmly insisted. "I should get on going to algebra. I haven't been doing so hot in that class. It's fine. I can handle it."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes! I'm not going to do anything self-destructive or reckless. I'm not the type. Just…Just leave me alone."
"Sylvia!" Mr. Jacobson called out just as she tore out the door because she had run out so frantically that she forgot all about picking up a signed note from him excusing her lateness.
Sylvia distractedly rubbed at her itching eyes during lunch. The cafeteria teemed with catty gossip and students staring disgustedly at their tacos and chicken patties. Some of the popular girls preferred to bring their lunch or go off-campus, as that was the cooler thing to do. Hardly any athletes stuck around campus and ate meatier fare such as McDonald's or Arby's. As for the remainder of them, they either ate free/reduced lunch or full-price, not like either group got their money's worth. At least in Sylvia's opinion.
At the moment, though, she didn't care about lunch as she moodily picked at her limp cafeteria salad. She fumed, yet the itching eyes originated from her tears in the restroom before she caught up with her friends here and pretended nothing was wrong. Nothing was ever wrong as far as she was concerned. No matter who observed her tiredness or her brooding behavior.
"Are you OK, Sylvia?" Kayla inquired after her friend worriedly.
"Yeah, was it something Mr. Jacobson said to you after class?" Corey joined in with this apparent pity party they threw over her.
She shot him a look, vexed that he would mention him in front of Kayla, who almost inaudibly gasped.
"Mr. Jacobson? Did he do anything to you? Because I swear if he did…"
"Yeah, it was kind of weird that he kept you after class. There was no asking you out on a date or anything?"
"No. Guys!" Sylvia huffed. "Please. Your imaginations are on overdrive, I swear. He was…worried about me. He just said that one of my poems freaked him out a little bit. I think he thinks I'm suicidal."
Though he didn't expressly say it, in so little words, he did. He might as well have accused her of self-mutilation, something she'd never ventured to do or contemplated attempting. Her personal life could use some improvement, that much was true, a regular work in progress. But, whose life was perfect, especially with their families? Feuds happened all the time. Parents divorced. Siblings fought. The TV blared more than actual conversations. Everyone had to work, support their families, and raise their children. Did it come at a price? Absolutely. However, Sylvia refused to see herself as a casualty of modern-day America. She would be cynical instead, her method of coping.
Corey's eyebrows furrowed as he raked back his blond-streaked black hair. "Why do you say that? Did he ask you if you took medication?"
"No, no." She shook her head in frustration. "He just wanted to know if that poem conveyed a meaning…the meaning of the distance between me and my family. I basically told him it was none of his business and left. He wanted to hear what I had to say, but I'm not pouring my guts out to a teacher. His job is to lecture and give out homework. Not be my friggin' counselor."
"It is technically that way too, Sylvia," Kayla said wisely, unconsciously adjusting her glasses in a studious way. "That's why many of these teachers chose the profession they went with. They wanted to not only interact with kids but to help them along in case something was up with them."
Suddenly, she aggressively put her plastic fork down, her brown (in the clinical school light, more of an amber color) eyes flashing. Her lower lip quivered just slightly in indignation. Corey and Kayla looked on in nervous anticipation for a hastily explosive reaction.
Instead, she shot back in a smaller, wavering voice, "Then, can anyone explain to me why Mr.—?"
"Let's not talk about him." Corey jumped in to save the conversation and the day.
Kayla rested her hand on Sylvia's arm. "Yeah, that was a while ago, Syl. You need to get over that. Besides, I have Mr. Jacobson for English III. He's a really nice guy. I get the impression that he genuinely enjoys his work and teaching every day of his life. He's in the field for the right reasons, believe me."
"If he's so nice, then he needs to know to leave me the hell alone."
"Come on. Lighten up. You got poetry club after school tomorrow. It'll be pretty awkward to come in angry at him. Especially since he's only looking out for you. Just like we are." Kayla smiled after her very just statement.
Sylvia pondered over her words briefly before nodding. "Yeah…Yeah, you're right, Kayla. I just really wish he didn't choose the crappy poem for us to talk about."
All three of them laughed off their troubled thoughts, Corey's and Kayla's being over their best friend and Sylvia's being over her convoluted emotions brewing because of what she was currently dealing with.
Dinner later that day passed with Sylvia warming up a microwave TV dinner at five-thirty with her parents finally coming home and eating at eight. It was unfortunate that there were no true family meals any more and that all they tended to do was disagree. She sat up in her room, dutifully finished up her homework, and wondered why her parents no longer seemed to care. They worked too much, so they were probably tired a lot of the time. But, something seeped underneath the surface. Perhaps thoughts of considerations for a trial separation? Plans on throwing her back in the therapy sessions again? What about those nights all alone while they drove to Washington State forty-five minutes away to watch Randall's games every now and again?
It was like she was dead to them. Between their careers and their precious relax and recharge time at home, they barely had time to say "hi" to her any more. She wrote another poem to read aloud for poetry club the next day. It was deeply personal, granted, and seemed hypocritical after her lashing out at Mr. Jacobson. But, it was something she felt she needed to write. And her compatriots would most likely understand the inner turmoil that often haunted her.
Barely saying hi any more
Too stressed out to remember that simple word
Always moving forward
Other patients, other clients
That require your utmost attention
I wonder what you keep on your desk
Pictures of your children?
Is it one or both?
The demanding schedules must occupy your time
Living in clockwork each day
Sometimes home at eight
Rarely home by five
I fix dinner
I watch TV
I must be in the wrong house
Is 548 Cherry Drive where I belong?
Or is it with the spiders from Mars?
Am I important?
Or am I always going to be brushed aside?
I wish things were the way they once were
Instead, we're strangers
You're the landlords
I'm the renter
When she volunteered to read it during poetry club the next afternoon, the rest of her writing peers' eyes were glued to her face and figure as she boldly put a voice to her words. Her face heated up in partial embarrassment that she actually put her heart out there for all to see and partial shame in wondering if he approved of it. It hadn't been an easy poem for her to jot down on paper. In fact, her hands imperceptibly shook as she arrived at those last lines.
She mused over the possibility that maybe her parents no longer saw her as their daughter, just someone who lived with them under the same roof. Randall was their offspring. She wasn't. She was the one brushed aside, as she addressed in her poem.
When she finished, breathing out a heavy sigh of relief, everyone clapped. Not for the sake of politeness but for real appreciation for her creativity and the gamble she took.
Sylvia smiled shyly. "Thanks, guys. I don't know what got into me, wanting to read this to you. Maybe I feel this is my outlet for expressing myself."
"That was really powerful," Alyssa Lees, one of her good friends in the club, commented in near-awe of her. "I mean, wow, my parents are divorced. I don't think I'd want to write about a poem about it, much less read it out loud to everyone here. That took…That took some serious balls, Sylvia."
The twelve other students laughed.
Tricia Larson added, "No kidding, girl. That was good. You capture the essence of what you're feeling so well. I know I'm just working on putting my emotions down on paper. Then again, I'm more of a nature poet so…But, still, you make this look so easy."
"Now, you're all just being incredibly sappy," Sylvia teased. "It's definitely better than 'Cold and Lonely', I know that much. It could be my personal best."
"That's pretty good then. I say you need to go pro," Holly Jenkins encouraged.
"Forget about Sylvia Plath. Sylvia Glenn, that's a real poet name." Alyssa grinned.
"Stop it. Stop it before you make me barf from all this Brady Bunchbull you're pulling on me." She waved all the compliments away as she settled back down in her desk that was part of the circle of desks that made up their club. It wasn't much, not exactly huge or popular like debate team or Key Club (both meant to dele out brownie points to those filling out college applications), but it was a creative outlet for all involved. It definitely had helped her see through some rough patches in her life.
Mr. Jacobson, who hadn't said anything up to that point, wrapped up the meeting. "Well, I'd say this has been a successful meeting. A couple of weeks from now, next time, we're going to discuss what we'll be planning to do to raise money for prom."
Opinion was clearly divided. Some of the girls seemed to light up eagerly while most of the others groaned.
"Why?" Tricia asked disappointedly. "Isn't it the juniors' job anyway?"
Lifting his hands in a "what can you do?" response, Mr. Jacobson answered, "Not my decision. Or jurisdiction, considering I'm the new guy here. The junior class officers apparently put their heads together last week and decided that it would be up to some of the clubs to pitch in. Shockingly, the football team wasn't asked to help with the effort from what I understand it."
"Stupid," Alyssa grumbled. "Everyone knows football's where the money is. I suppose they meant clubs, not organized sports."
"Exactly, Alyssa. But hey, guys, look on the bright side. At least this means we don't get thrown under the bus like so many other arts programs at other schools. We're very fortunate to be still carrying on. See you one week from next Tuesday, OK? Stay inspired!"
Prom. Really, was that what it came down to? Pfft, Sylvia wasn't interested in attending. She knew the basics when it came to junior and senior prom.
Number one: solos weren't allowed to take prom pictures, as their ugly single faces couldn't be plastered all over the yearbook or their parents' desks or mantles.
Number two: solos could not be in grand march unless they wanted to make utter, popular crowd-pleasing fools of themselves.
Number three: creative girls weren't allowed their shot at pointless adolescent love.
Number four: she, Kayla, and Corey were most certainly not welcome.
And number five: it was a damn pointless tradition.
Despite the pessimistic thoughts running through her mind and her inner griping at the total worthlessness of prom continuing throughout every school in this increasingly downhill country, she was pleased with today and how it turned out. The club meeting turned out better than she predicted it would. Here she thought it would be awkward and with her refusing to participate, which would have been odd of her. Instead, she placed herself right in the spotlight and felt completely exhilarated over releasing her pent-up emotions. Cryptically, so that she could address Mr. Jacobson's unnecessary worries and to connect with her fellow poetry-loving peers in one fell swoop. Now, he wouldn't lower himself to build his stress levels up regarding her along with interrogating her. As a high school teacher, that shouldn't have crossed his mind. It was her burden, not his.
As Sylvia took her time in gathering up her things while the rest of the club quickly made itself scarce, Mr. Jacobson approached her. She could sense it and carefully glanced behind her shoulder to confirm her instincts. A light, fluttery sensation tickled her chest.
For, he was smiling, borderline beaming down at her like the sun on a pleasantly warm spring day. It was too bad this was the middle of winter with no leaves or flower buds in sight, not a hint of green. That was what she was feeling. Winter didn't exist at the moment.
"That was very brave of you," he remarked kindly, his light eyes twinkling. "I'm assuming that poem was extremely personal and came from a deeply emotional place. That's what real art is, you know. I'm proud of you."
She blushed from the compliment and a dash of something else. "Thank you. It came from a spur of the moment. Like that one lousy poem I can't believe you remembered. I hated it. That's not the one you submitted, was it?"
He shook his head, his smile widening a fraction. "No. I sent in 'Confessions of a Teenage Melodrama' to the contest people. I'll find out in a few days whether or not you'll be in the running for top ten and notify you of it. Third through first places receive cash prizes."
Sounding almost sing-song when he said this, Sylvia could hardly resist rolling her eyes again due to him being such a Pollyanna-esque goofball. Seriously? Cash could not possibly be in the cards for her. Only when she became a doctor and produced a substantial amount for her salary would she be truly successful in the eyes of her family. Randall was currently declared pre-law, so he was destined for greatness, as sure as the sky was green and the grass blue. If he would only stop posting those drunken pictures of himself on Facebook, he might have a future.
"Pfft, no offense, Mr. Jacobson, but I don't think that's gonna happen. It would be nice to get the paid recognition, but I'm skeptical."
"Why?" His eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "I'm not saying this just as an ego boost, but you are one of the most talented writers I've come across. Your poetry says more about you than you would care to mention yourself. The way you express yourself is mature and precocious. Not to mention you threw in a David Bowie reference in this poem, which I appreciated."
She laughed. "Yeah, I like that album. But…There's no point. Especially since I'm either going to be a doctor or an accountant in the future…"
"I'm sorry, but I honestly can't picture you as an accountant."
As much as she suppressed it, Sylvia burst out laughing, more fully and pronounced than before. "An accountant with apparently well-developed English abilities and major lack in mathematical acumen, wouldn't that be ironic?"
He proceeded to more solemnly gaze down at her. "You're not serious about pursuing either of those fields…"
"It's what my parents want."
Sighing exasperatedly, she proceeded to turn away from him, conflicted and torn yet again. She didn't know what the future held for her. The pursuit of a literary career was within her grasp. All it took was this minor achievement in this young poets contest, and she could get some attention from publishers. They might be familiar with her name if she won. It would be the start to something promising, something that could blossom and flourish into a career she would love to undertake. She'd prove her parents wrong, and she would most definitely keep to a solid work ethic unlike spoiled brat Randall who felt he was entitled to everything. Only in a perfect world…
Mr. Jacobson's hand tentatively patted her shoulder. "Sounds like, if what I'm hearing is true, that your parents aren't too supportive of what you want to do."
"They don't care. They barely even know that I do this as a hobby, yet I take it seriously at the same time. I don't know"—here, her voice became smaller as she turned shrinking violet—"I don't think they love me anymore."
"That's not true," he gently assured. "At least I wouldn't think so. You need to show them your talent then, be more open about it. I'm sure they'll be very receptive and—"
"How can they be that way when they blatantly love my brother more?!" Sylvia snapped, tears brimming in her eyes.
Here she went again, fighting back the sobs and the anguished cries. What was wrong with her? What caused her to react so hostilely like this for the past few days? She doubted she could be PMSing, so perhaps all her dilemmas had been cumulative. And now, she exploded from that pressure, right in front of a teacher she admired and respected. The feeling couldn't be mutual then, what with her juvenile behavior of not being able to contain herself. She'd succeeded before over the past couple years this kept occurring. It was the moments when her parents didn't quite understand her plight as the outcast. The moments when they would ask her if she wanted to come along to Randall's games, she would refuse, and she was left to her own devices. These usually included watching an obscenely ridiculous amount of television and listening to brutal rock music. Alone. Always alone. It was no wonder she stood on the edge of sanity sometimes. And she would fall into depression in these moments, too.
Ashamed of her outburst, she turned away from him, not wanting to meet what she guessed to be sharpened, stern eyes. Most teachers wouldn't stand to be yelled at by their students like that, even if it wasn't meant to be directed toward them. In Sylvia's case, she vented on herself more than him.
"Sylvia…Sylvia, look at me."
She wouldn't. She couldn't. Brushing as much hair in front of her face as possible and lowering her head, she concealed herself away from him. Her back was toward him, so there was no merit to this, only that she would feel safer that way.
She didn't expect what happened next. Mr. Jacobson walked around her and turned to look at her, to gauge her reaction. Sylvia still wouldn't yield. She tightened her crossed arms, hunching her shoulders. All the while, tears once more streaked down her face. Story of her life. Here she thought she'd been having a good day, but it was him who persisted in reminding her of her suffering self-esteem and her strained relationship with her family.
Her breath hitched in her throat when his lean fingers cradled her chin. "It was never my intention to upset you."
"Too b-bad then. You've succeeded," she stuttered, fighting weakly with sarcasm.
His smile was wry, barely flitting across his slightly pursed lips. "I have a theory. Even if your parents display preferential treatment toward your brother, I'm sure they love you equally as much."
"Bullshit," Sylvia hissed bitterly, not caring now that she was causing indiscretions that should have had Mr. Jacobson writing her up a detention.
"If it doesn't seem that way to you, then they should at any rate. You're a bright, intelligent girl, always ready to learn. I see it in your eyes. Like with some of the other more ambitious students in this junior class, you have that tenacity and willingness to do well at whatever you set your mind and heart to. Keep writing. I strongly encourage that. You ought to follow through with what your heart and mind wants, not solely what your family wants for you."
Those pale blue orbs appeared so intense, hypnotically so, that she couldn't look away. She half-wondered then, in curiosity, what he had planned for her. At this point, his hands rested on her arms but more so for support than forceful restraint. It was almost as though he sensed that she could crumble at any minute.
"I may be biased as your English teacher, but I almost think that you should be the preferred one between you and your brother…Older or younger?"
"Older…Pre-law…Basketball star…Huge jock jerk…," she muttered.
"Ah, good point, I don't see the hype," he joked, pulling her somewhat closer. "Especially when the Glenns have an intelligent, talented, creative…beautiful daughter."
"You think I'm…?" she trailed off.
"Yes." Mr. Jacobson proceeded to brush his lips against her forehead. "I do."
Immobile, Sylvia could hardly believe she felt it: the delicately light pressure of his lips. She almost didn't think it was real. This was some dream she was having, a hallucination. She was acutely aware that some threshold had been crossed, and what it led to was forbidden territory. No. No! If he could get away with this, God knew what else he could get away with. Touching? Holding? No, she wouldn't allow it.
Less than gracefully, she stumbled back toward the desks, as though he had performed something more sensual than just a peck on the forehead. Peck or not, he shouldn't have done that. He had to know his place.
Her face paled as she told him, "I better go. I got a ride waiting for me."
As a teenage girl who considered herself intuitive, she thought she could read just about anyone's face when it came to searching for what the responding emotions were. However, when she found her eyes still transfixed on his face, she found the emotions extremely difficult to decipher. Or, maybe it wasn't so much that, as there were too many passing through his face. Disappointment, hurt, resignation, and…and something else entirely that she'd prefer didn't exist. But, if that was what she truly felt toward the situation, why did her face and body flush upon seeing that last emotion there, the one that lingered? He seemed incredibly lucid, so it wasn't as though there would be something amiss with his mind. Otherwise, she would have chalked this up to a diseased part of his brain.
"I apologize." Mr. Jacobson cleared his throat, bringing one hand to scratch the back of his neck. "I was being too forward. My point is that your parents should value you more and that you could prove it to them through your poetry. And even through what you say to them. Because something tells me you don't talk to them as often as most kids your age talk to their parents."
Kids her age, ha. Now, he was pulling the condescension card in pointing out the contrast between their ages. Grown adult versus hormonal teenager. Teacher versus student. Seventeen versus twenty-eight which, in all fairness, wasn't all that bad except for the tiny fact that she wasn't legal. As her lawyer father could point out to her before he'd sue the pants off Mr. Jacobson, and she wouldn't want to put her teacher in harm's way like that.
"They don't talk to me," she emphasized icily. "If you think I'm going to try repairing a relationship that's damaged beyond all recognition, you're wrong. There's no point to that. Besides, they think I'm crazy."
"Please don't 'Sylvia' me, Mr. Jacobson. Yeah, you incited kissing me on the forehead, but I was the idiot to have let you."
Striding with cold pride as fast as her legs could carry her, Sylvia made for the door. A hand reached out toward her wrist with a gentle grasp.
With mingled bewilderment and hurt, she asked, "What? What do you want from me?"
He handed her the sheet of notebook paper with her most recent poem. "I don't need this anymore. I think it would be best if you give this to your parents and have them read it."
"Yeah, if they have time," she scoffed.
"They will make time once it gets pounded into their heads how much this means to you. I promise." He moved some errant strands of plain brown hair out of her face. "Any parent would do that for their child. Any parent who loves them. Just do this for yourself at the very least."
Guilt overwhelmed her at how she had previously behaved toward him just in these past two days alone. In the past, their discourse had been brief but pleasant with her in such an optimistic mood that it seemed that she could relax around him. And no wonder. As easygoing as he often was, there was no tension that existed between her and him unlike with her parents and many other people. To be putting up a wall in front of him now didn't feel good in the least.
Sylvia smiled cautiously. "I'll try. Thank you."
"No problem. I'm always willing to help you in any way I can." Mr. Jacobson returned her smile with a radiant grin.
From any other man's lips, that might have sounded like innuendo. Conversely, the way he said it sounded so pure that she couldn't help but melt. As long as he wasn't a pathological liar who knew exactly what people longed to hear, she would tolerate it.
Her hand on the doorknob, she turned back around to him. "I'm sorry for how I've been acting lately. I'm…Things could be better at home for one thing. For another, I guess it was me being moody. That still doesn't excuse me smart-mouthing to you. I just…"
"I know. I understand. I'm no stranger to family dilemmas myself," Mr. Jacobson reassured.
"Yeah. Well, I guess I'll just pretend today never happened and go catch a ride with Corey. I'll see you tomorrow."
Unbeknownst to her, as Sylvia left the classroom, he sighed with a hint of sadness. In spite of the contradiction that had taken up residence in his heart, he was resolute in not acting any further than his role as high school teacher. He cared about Sylvia, perhaps too much. In fact, he knew himself it was too much. He highly doubted that time could heal these gaping wounds of the apprehension over losing his job and of having to reject her from his thoughts. Well, if he did the latter, then the former wouldn't be a possibility. She contrasted from her peers so much, though, conducting herself in a much older yet jaded manner than her seventeen years.
Most seventeen-year-olds were too concerned over the next unsupervised weekend party with six-packs of beer and sex in parents' bedrooms. And he supposed their homework, too. But, she always turned in her homework on time, she spoke to him like an equal but still retaining civility, and she held so much creativity. He easily forgot that she was seventeen.
Infuriated with himself, Mr. Jacobson settled down to grade papers. He couldn't think about her in that way any longer. It was improper, and he wouldn't prey on a vulnerable teenager. Unlike some of these sick bastards of teachers he'd seen on the news, he cared about his job and the students without insinuating anything beyond that. It wasn't how he'd been raised. He would push these obsessions to the back of his mind. For, what else were they but obsessions?
Sylvia remained relatively quiet on the ride home, her thoughts drifting back to the school and inevitably Mr. Jacobson. What would have happened had she chosen not to back away from him at that pivotal moment? Her forehead still tingled from where his lips touched. Uncannily, it wasn't out of discomfort but quite the opposite. Excitement.
Though the thrills came, her conscience scolded her for trying to fall so heavily for someone who she couldn't be with. Their current circumstances dictated that they should stay in their respective roles without crossing any kinds of boundaries. Besides that, there was a likelihood that while seeking her attention he plotted to have her pinned against a wall or to fondle her. If that happened, then she would know that he wasn't the benevolent soul she thought he was. Despite what Kayla had said to the contrary, that hadn't stopped her from being suspicious over Monday's talk. Indeed, maybe she should adapt Kayla's philosophies.
Corey's car radio was tuned in to his favorite rock station and as she listened to "Burning Bridge", she became a little more ill at ease. If she kept welcoming his subtle advances, then word was going to break out eventually. Cristina and Allison especially would go out of their way to run her through the rumor mill, especially given that they both crushed hard on Mr. Jacobson. That much was obvious. And since Cristina and Allison were two of the most popular girls in school, everyone else would gossip about it. Then, the repercussions…Oh, she wouldn't trouble herself to imagine that magnitude!
"You're awfully quiet, Sylvia," Corey commented, turning the radio volume down. "Anything up? How'd poetry club go today?"
She almost wanted to laugh at how much like a worried father (a real dad) he sounded, but the gravity of her situation proved much too immense.
"It went really well, probably one of the best meetings for me. I read that poem about my parents aloud, and everyone liked it. I mean, not even the fact that we have to raise money for prom put a damper on things."
Corey wrinkled his nose as he turned right after a four-way intersection. "Yeah, drama club has to, too. So lame. It's just the junior officers not wanting to get up off their asses and raise the money themselves."
"True that," she heartily agreed before continuing, "Then…Then, I talked with Mr. Jacobson. Things got personal real fast. Like, it went from us talking about the poetry contest to me complaining about my family to…to me crying. He was great, though. He gave me comfort throughout. I left after that."
"Hm…something tells me you're leaving something out."
Oh. Right. The part when she realized that she could potentially fall for her twenty-eight-year-old English teacher. How wise of her. Sylvia sank further into the passenger seat as a few snowflakes dotted the windshield of Corey's Tahoe. She questioned if it would be a good idea to reveal that secret to Corey. He would probably take it considerably better than Kayla could, though what she had to tell would be a bit of a stretch for anybody sane. Anybody sane would chide her and order her to rid herself of these thoughts. Immediately.
"Yeah. I am," she admitted. "So, at one point, I mentioned how it seems like my parents prefer Randall over me. Mr. Jacobson said he thought that they should acknowledge me more."
"Yeah, no kidding."
"And…And then he called me beautiful. And he kissed me on the forehead."
At least Corey was the serene type. Otherwise, he would have messed up horrifically on the road by either veering off or slamming on the brakes. That scenario did flash through Sylvia's mind. Thankfully, he did neither of those things, but she had managed to unwittingly chase away his musing smile.
At first, he made to say something but mutely gaped. A whole minute passed with him attempting to grapple with her news.
Finally, he spoke at length, "Wow…I mean, wow, Syl. Holy…I can't wrap my mind around that right now."
She guessed she wouldn't tell him about her internal reaction then.
But, then, Corey redeemed himself by giving a more thorough explanation as to his feelings. "OK, I wish Kayla was in the car right now. She'd say something more rational than what I am about to say which is…That has to be the sweetest thing I've ever heard. Let's pretend he's not a teacher for a second, OK? He basically told you that you being beautiful was one of the reasons Mr. and Mrs. G should pay attention to you more, right?"
"More or less so, yeah."
"And then…Aw, that's just cute. As long as he doesn't go all perverted on you, that is. Then again, maybe I shouldn't be gushing like this. God, I'm a terrible influence on you."
Sylvia laughed. "I don't think you are but OK. Um, yeah…But, I'm worried that he could get a little too friendly one of these times and that he'll cross a line. I kind of thought he did today, actually."
Corey turned off to Cherry Drive, where some of the nicest houses were in town. Of course, it didn't hurt that Sylvia had a lawyer for a father, thus why they lived in the ritzier part. Her house happened to be a quite roomy two-story green house, where that vastness tended to be insufferable whenever she was home by herself. And that was more often than what one might think.
As he slowly reached her house, Corey waved a dismissive hand at what she anxiously pointed out. "Nah, I wouldn't call that crossing the line. Crossing the line was what that creeper did to you in freshman year. That guy deserved a good ass-kicking. But, that's beside the point. Mr. Jacobson is decent—actually, quite cool. If he's crossed the line…Well, has he texted to your cellphone?"
"So, no texting and no sending of suggestive photos?"
She shuddered. "No. If he did that, I would act like I never knew him."
"Hmm…And he hasn't made a show of flirting with you? I know he hasn't in class but when it's one-on-one time…"
"No. He's been the perfect gentleman, if I have to be honest. But, just because he hasn't done any of these things yet doesn't mean he won't ever. His dark side might rear its ugly head and come at me one of these times."
Putting the car in park, Corey turned off the ignition and turned his body toward her to get a look at her. "You don't believe that, do you? If he'd planned on making the moves on you before, he would have done so by now. He seems to be playing it cool and not being this gross freak of a pervert. And that's a really good thing. I was just asking you these questions based off what I hear on TV whenever there's a teacher-student lawsuit thing going on. Nine times out of ten, usually, the teacher wants to fuck the student. And sometimes there're times when the student will invite that behavior in return, so I guess it's half and half. From the sounds of things, I'd say both of you are doing a pretty good job of fighting off your feelings."
"Fighting off my feelings?!" Sylvia freaked out shrilly. "I didn't choose to feel anything toward Mr. Jacobson. In fact, I'd rather I didn't, but I'd be lying to myself if I said I don't feel anything now. I do and….It's because…I can't. I can forget about the reasons why. The sooner I do, the sooner I can remain indifferent toward guys in general until I encounter one my age."
How messed-up was it when she discovered herself infatuated with a teacher when, not quite over two years ago, another one had embarrassed her? She had planned on keeping a scrupulous eye on Mr. Jacobson, waiting for him to slip up and come at her with rough hands and a smug smirk. And if that moment ever happened, she would feel betrayed, like if her best friend would literally stab her in the back.
Her previously tightened hands slackened on her hair as Corey gazed at her with sympathetic eyes. "Tell me what you like about him."
She placed her hands in her lap, shut her eyes, and sighed. "Corey, don't ask that of me. It's already insane enough that I—"
"Look, as your best friend, I know you're the sensible type. Cynical but sensible. Your feelings definitely run deeper than most other girls'. Cough, Allison, cough, cough. All I'm saying is that you probably have some good reasons. So, tell me all about them. I'm not gonna judge you or anything. Just here, right now, in the car."
Sylvia sighed again but appeared determined and unfaltering. "OK. Well, I guess what always struck me the most about him was his eyes. He's got incredible blue eyes and with that dark hair…But, just recently, I'd say I like his hands, too. How he uses them to communicate and express himself. He's just the expressive, easygoing, and open type. The type that's not going to lie, I think. Then, this is where it runs deeper. I like his openness. I like his enthusiastic approach to his teaching. I like the talks we've had and how he treats me like an equal without really crossing any borders. How…How kind he is. He's genuinely that way. We've never seen him lose his temper in class or anything. Then again, no one ever gets in trouble. He knows how to earn respect so that no one goes against him. His niceness is what gets to me. He encouraged me this afternoon to keep writing, no matter how much my parents doubt it as a career for me.
"And then his smile…" Sylvia couldn't resist smiling fondly herself. "His face looks so different when he smiles. His eyes crinkle at the corners, and he just lights up. It's beautiful."
She blushed, glancing downward to hide that and her ever widening grin.
Corey smiled in a way that conveyed he figured she would say words to this effect. "And it sounds like he genuinely cares about you, too. Since he encouraged you to keep writing, that's quite a statement for his personality. Don't be ashamed, Syl. You like a good guy."
"Yeah, a guy too old for me and something like this is only going to endanger him. It'd be my fault if he was unemployed for a long time. I can't follow through with it…"
"True, but hey, it's one hell of a crush, right? Mr. Jacobson definitely has it going on." He grinned broadly. "Get out of my car. See you tomorrow."
As she got out and then watched Corey drive away, Sylvia turned to face her house. Two stories with sizeable rooms, three bedrooms and two bath. Nice furnishings in almost every room, the dining room being a particular highlight. Remodeled once, in 2005, when she'd been around thirteen years old.
Lonely. That's all she could describe it. No cars in the driveway, just her morosely standing there. Time for TV and homework? She thought so.
As customary with every day, she walked into her house alone, clutching the poem that she wondered if her parents would ever set aside enough time to read.
A/N: Yeah, I know that there are times that Sylvia speaks more elaborately than the average teen, so I just chalked up to that she has an above average intelligence, both mentally and emotionally. That's why she's tearing herself up over this. That's why I thought the story would be darker in the sense that Sylvia might not have much of a conscience. However, that's obviously not the case.
I will admit this story will be unrealistic in some ways, but that's because I'm writing a story of a nearly impossible situation on the high school level. More like very impossible, with the teacher exhibiting some interest.
Well, before I ramble too much, I just want to say that parts two and three will most likely be up over the weekend. Probably on Saturday. Until then, I hope you guys like part one, and I would love to read feedback from you. XD