Writing fiction doesn’t pay much, and you give up a lot when you try to be a writer. Money, the things other people have, even family—you can pretty much kiss all that goodbye. But there are compensations. Your life’s maybe not as wide as most people’s, but it’s deeper, and sometimes it’s more interesting. You’re always trying to explain and describe things to yourself, and so you see things other people miss and feel things most people are too busy to bother with. I know, because when this story takes place, I was living in an unconverted loft in a seedy part of the city, right smack up against the L tracks. So close that I could stand at my window in my underwear and stare eye to eye with the people riding to work in the morning and coming home at night, and I could see their eyes didn’t go very deep. I was writing mostly porn at the time, and I knew they were reading it, but you couldn’t tell from their eyes. I was also teaching a survey course poetry at Crane Community College to pay the bills, and that’s where I met Emma. It was a summer session, a small class of maybe 20 students in a funny kind of miniature lecture hall, a semester’s worth of work crammed into six weeks, and I was just there as temporary help—an adjunct instructor—because none of the real faculty wanted to waste their summers teaching kids who were just trying to blow their way through a survey course. Emma was a returning student in her mid- twenties. She’d dropped out of her regular four-year college for whatever reason before graduating, had done whatever she’d dropped out for for a few years, changed her mind and now worked in an office during the day and took courses at night to finish her degree. I liked returning students. They know why they’re in college and they take it seriously. They’ve also been out in the real world long enough that they come into the classroom with some real questions, but they’re still naïve enough to think that they’ll get some real answers. Still, I never expected to connect with Emma. She seemed a bit too vain, a bit too good-looking and fashionable to have any intellectual ambitions, and her glowing tan didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in her academic dedication. She was tall, very nicely built, with a lush and sumptuous woman’s body—long brown hair and brown eyes, and she always dressed well. She took care of herself. She looked like a girl whose main interest was men, and who knew her own worth and thought pretty highly of herself. I had her pegged for an upper middle-management husband in a year or two, two kids and a McMansion, and incipient alcoholism starting about age 40 when she learned about her husband’s affair. That is to say, she seemed like a perfectly normal suburban girl to me. In light of what happened between us, that’s important to keep in mind. She wasn’t a freak, or a loser or a geek, or neurotic in any meaningful way, and in fact the work she turned in was very good. She knew how to use semicolons, which is a rarity these days bordering upon the freakish. She was a very smart girl and could have coasted through the class but she really wasn’t interested in being smart and apparently had never found much use for it. What she was was something else that I still don’t know how to define. Sensual? Sexual? Feminine? Submissive? Obsessed? Some of my former students tell me I’m intimidating at the beginning of the semester, and I do like to start out pretty tight and relax as I go along, so maybe that’s what got her. Or maybe it was when we started talking about Beat poetry and the sexual license and drug-use of the Beats. Maybe my own acceptance of these kinds of behaviors came through. But soon Emma was coming down the steps of the lecture hall after class to hang around the lectern with a few other students to continue the discussion or just schmooze as I put my notes away. Sometimes I’d end up walking her out of the building. By that time almanbahis she knew I wrote and was published, and when she asked me one night after class what kind of stuff I wrote, I stopped wiping down the white board and told her: “Romance”. That wasn’t entirely true, because as I said, what I was really writing at the time was pornography, BDSM mostly, savage and passionate and very graphic, pouring all my own sexual frustrations into it. I wasn’t proud of this, and normally I avoided the question altogether, but that night’s lecture had been about Kerouac and Ginsberg and Burroughs, drugs and sex and homosexuality, and Emma seemed to have a breathy, spellbound look about her that I wanted to be a part of, so I told her. A community college poetry instructor doesn’t get many chances to impress his students. Then she asked me if I published under my own name and I did the unthinkable. I gave her my pen name—my porn name—and I told her my stories were on the web. I even told her where to find them. It was an idiotic thing to do and I’m not sure why I did it. I guess I knew that I was an adjunct instructor at a crummy community college and would never have the money and prestige someone like Emma would respect, but I wanted her to know who I was inside. I wrote porn, but when I wrote it I poured my heart and soul onto the page and I knew it showed. It was powerful stuff. I guess I wanted her to know that about it. And on top of that, I had to admit I was attracted to her. That’s not uncommon when you teach college, but this was an unusual attraction. I’m a sexual dominant by nature. That doesn’t mean I walk around with a whip and Nazi jackboots on, but I have a special sensitivity for women who are attracted to my type. Emma gave no sign of being submissive, but those labels are misleading anyhow. There was something about her, something I felt—maybe the way her pupils dilated when I grew stern or irritated, or the way she toyed with her hair during lecture—but I felt it. In any case, I was there for the summer only, so what did I care? If she read my stuff and got shocked, then the hell with it. At least I’d have the pleasure of scandalizing her. Odds are she wouldn’t even remember my pen name or wouldn’t bother looking up my stories anyhow. There happened to be an hourly exam during the next class session, so I really didn’t get to talk with her before then. I just passed out the blue books and they got to work. She kept her head down and began writing, and I leaned against the lectern and kept a casual eye on the kids, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off those long legs now, or the heavy thrust of her breasts against her cotton tee, the way she twisted her hair in her fingers as she concentrated. One time she looked up and caught me staring at her, and she seemed to hold my eyes a bit longer than necessary before returning to her test. There might have been a slight smile on her lips or I might have imagined it. The students turned in their bluebooks one by one and filed out, and Emma kept her eyes down discreetly as she slid hers onto the pile, but when I got back to the office I was using, I turned to hers first, and on the second page, outlined in a square of pencil with hearts in the corner it said. “I read your cheerleader story! It was incredible!!! Is it for real??? –Curious!!! M.” The “curious” was underlined three times. I sat there in the office with my heart in my mouth. I knew the story she meant, of course. It was a toss-off—no real plot, written for a BDSM site: a teasing college cheerleader is abducted and tied up in the deserted gym by the football coach who slowly strips off her clothes and does all sorts of thoroughly rude and nasty things to her, which she of course loves. It wasn’t my greatest piece of work, but the parallels to our current situation gave me chills. I graded the other tests quickly, hardly concentrating as I turned over almanbahis yeni giriş various responses in my head. By the time I got to Emma’s test, I went to her little message, and where she’d written, “Is it for real???” I wrote in red pen, “As I’ve been telling you all semester, one writes what one knows.” It was a good test but no better than a B. I gave her an A minus and, with my hand almost trembling, wrote. “This grade is negotiable.” I left the tests outside my office where the students could pick them up The next class she came in wearing a short sleeve blouse that was a bit snug and opened perhaps just one button too low, revealing the slopes of her breasts. She was wearing a skirt too. That wasn’t unusual—a lot of the kids came to class straight from work, as did Emma. Maybe I’d just never noticed before. She didn’t sit in her usual place either, high up near the aisle. The lecture hall was a miniature auditorium that had seats and tables bolted to the concrete floor, rising in steep tiers, and Emma slid into a seat in the center of the fourth tier up so that her knees were on a level with my eyes. Her placement was so blatant it was almost comical, and I might have laughed had we been alone or further along in our relationship, but at this point there was nothing between us, and when I’d look up from my lecture and see her knees casually apart and the hem of her skirt up as she idly scratched her thigh, I’d actually start to stutter. She wasn’t taking notes though she pretended to be. I could tell. She’d doodle on her pad, or lean back and stretch and push her shoulders back, straining the buttons on her blouse. She’d cross her legs and pull her skirt up, and her knees and the bottom of her thigh seemed to itch a lot. Whenever I’d look up at her, her head would be down, but she did everything except fellate her pen and put her hands between her legs. When the class ended, I said, “Emma? Could I see you for a few minutes?” She had to wait while I explained some other students’ grades to them, and then she gathered up her books and slid out of her chair and came down to the podium. Maybe my description of her behavior and clothes made her sound cheap, but I assure you, she didn’t look cheap. She was beautiful—perfectly made up, just the faintest hint of perfume. “Yes, Mr. Devlin?” I collected my notes. “So you read that story?” Her eyes lit up with a smoldering glow. “Yes. I read more too. You have a lot. That beach one and the one about the girl in the basement, and the clothes, and the one with the girl who gets kidnapped…” I nodded, then looked her in the eye. “You know, I only told you about those stories because I trust you.” As I said, people tell me I’m an intimidating guy. I don’t notice it. I’m big and strong, and I know I have a lot of anger inside, and maybe that shows when I’m being serious. But I’m not mean, and I don’t mean to scare people. But something inside me felt Emma starting to respond. I couldn’t say what it was—whether her breathing changed or something in her eyes or the attitude of her body, but she seemed just a little bit scared. “Of course,” she said. “I wouldn’t tell anyone else, Mr. D. I mean, I don’t think anyone else would understand.” “No. They wouldn’t.” I snapped my briefcase closed and gestured for her to follow me. “But you understood, Emma? What did you think of them?” We walked up the stairs of the lecture hall. She was just behind me. “Well, they’re very good stories. I mean, you know. They’re very good. I just wondered… I mean, they’re not real, are they? Those things the men do in there, the things they do to the women…” We were at the head of the stairs now, at the exit. I snapped off the lights, leaving just the spotlights shining down on the empty lectern. “They’re real enough, Emma. They’re all based on things I’ve done. Things I do. I’ve changed the settings. I’ve changed almanbahis giriş the characters—their names, their ages. But why do you ask?” We were standing by the open door to the corridor. It was late, almost ten o’clock and there was no one around. Even the parking lot was deserted. Emma was standing with her back to the cinderblock wall, not knowing where to put her eyes. “Darkness stirs my soul,” I quoted. “Desires whose name I cannot speak. His flesh is within me, his raging lust upon me. I am his anger and his joy, his sickness and its cure. He shames me with my pleasure and tames me with his rage, till all dissolves between us and he sees me as I am.” “Who wrote that?” she asked nervously. I ignored her question. “Is that how it is?” She didn’t answer. In the darkness I saw her breasts rising and falling. “Is it?” I repeated. Again, no answer. That was answer enough. I put down the briefcase and swung the door closed. The hydraulic door-closers hissed softly and then the lock caught and clicked firmly shut. I knew no one would be coming in here till after midnight, and suddenly we were in this enclosed space together, a magical circle of sexual threat. Things began to work in our bodies we had no control over. A certain amount of light still spilled from the glass panel in the door into the darkened auditorium, but that just made the real world feel that much farther away. I put my hand on the wall next to her head and leaned over her. I had no doubt about her now, and I knew my eyes were glowing as I stared at her. I knew who she was like a fox knows a rabbit. “You’ve been like this all your life, haven’t you?” I asked. “The things that were in those stories, they’ve been exciting you since before you even knew what sex was.” The rabbit looked at the fox and saw there was no point in lying. “How did you know?” “Because I’m the same way.” I took the books from her hands and tossed them on a table. “Come here. Away from the door.” I led her a few feet into the auditorium, away from the square of light from the door. She was still standing with her back to the wall and I leaned over her again, keeping her trapped. Her eyes were shining with something between fear and excitement, her lips parted and glistening. “Lift up the front of your skirt,” I said. “What?! Mr. Devlin—!” She looked shocked. “Just do as I say. Lift it up and it hold it at your waist.” There was a moment where our wills collided and we just stared at each other, but I knew in my heart that she wanted this. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew. I felt my will overcome hers and felt her give in, like a fist closing over her. Her hands went to her skirt and she began to gather up the fabric. “All your life you’ve been dying for someone to know,” I said to her. “You’ve needed to tell someone, you’ve prayed for someone to treat you like this. You’ve ached for it, Emma, haven’t you?” Her skirt was gathered above her panties now, and my right hand made contact with her bare thigh, midway between knee and groin, smooth and warm as the summer sun. She closed her eyes. Her nostrils flared. “No,” she said. “No.” “You’ve dreamt about a man who would show you what you are inside, who would make you feel what you’re capable of feeling, because you know there’s so much inside, don’t you? You know there’s so much more…” My fingertips slid up her thigh, slowly working around to reach the inside as I approached her crotch, stroking first one leg, then the other, petting her as if she were a frightened animal. My body was very close to hers now, almost touching her. I could see her breasts rising and falling in the dim light. Suddenly she put her hands on my shoulders and her skirt dropped over my wrist like a curtain. I kept my hand where it was between her legs. “No,” I said quietly. “There are rules here, Emma, and the first one is: you don’t touch me. Not without permission. I touch you, but you don’t touch me, understand? Now pick up your skirt.” She took her hands off my shoulders and lifted her skirt again, revealing her snug panties and the smooth plane of her belly, tanned as dark as her legs.