Christina grabbed her things and left the dorm. She didn’t wear a bra, but she didn’t think anyone would notice.
The early morning office meeting with Professor Kelly was scheduled for 9 am sharp. Christina waited in front of the office. The professor wasn’t there yet.
By 9:13, the professor walked briskly down the hall carrying a stack of papers and her purse. Professor Kelly was a tall voluptuous woman that moved gracefully. Her presence was commanding. She could be stern if necessary, but she was mostly friendly. Even in her middle age, the students considered her to be the ‘cool’ professor on campus.
“Sorry I’m late,” the professor said.
“No problem at all.”
Professor Kelly struggled to reach for her keys while her arms were full, but she managed to open the office door.
“Please, come in. Make yourself comfortable.”
The professor put her stuff down in the messy office and she sat behind her desk. Christina sat across from her.
“You seem busy this morning,” Christina noted, looking at the mess.
“I’m always busy,” the professor replied. “Try grading midterm essays for over a hundred students.”
“Yikes. I can imagine.”
Professor Kelly leaned back in her seat to relax from the already busy morning.
“So, what can I do for you, Christina?”
“I was hoping to get your advice on some things.”
The professor nodded. “Let’s hear it.”
“I’m almost finished with my degree in English and a minor in Women and Gender Studies. I’ve already spoken to my parents and I want to pursue a Master’s in Literature.”
“You sound like you’ve made a firm decision.”
“I have,” Christina replied. “I want to become a full-time novelist someday. I think a Master’s degree would help improve my credentials and writing abilities.”
“Don’t you know that most novelists live tortured lives and are destined for poverty?” the professor joked.
Christina gave a faint smile, “I’m aware of the potential consequences.”
“What kind of novels do you want to write? Any ideas?”
“I have some ideas that I’m working on. Stories about women’s lives. The struggles they experience. Different cultures. Things like that.”
“So how can I help?” the professor asked.
“Well, to be honest, you’re my biggest writing influence. I’ve read all of your novels. I love your writing style and themes of female empowerment.”
Professor Kelly gave a faint smile and nod. “That’s very kind. Not many students have read my novels.”
“That’s unfortunate. You’re amazing.”
“And I’m assuming you need some tips,” the professor said, eyebrow raised.
“I was hoping you could give me some pointers on a possible thesis paper.”
“So you want me to be your mentor.”
“Something like that,” Christina nodded.
“I don’t have a problem with that. You’re a wonderful student and a great person. I enjoy mentoring students.”
“I hope it’s not a burden, though.”
“Not at all,” the professor replied emphatically. “I became a teacher for this very reason. I feel like this is my contribution to the world. You’ll know exactly what I mean when you become a successful novelist someday.”
“You’re the best. Seriously, you have no idea how happy this makes me.”
“I’m glad. But I have to warn you, I’m always busy. I teach a lot of classes and I mentor a lot of students.”
Christina nodded. “That’s fine. I understand.”
The literature class had an emphasis on women of color.
It was a mid-sized classroom with over 50 students. Most of the students were white females. The professor gave a lecture on the assigned reading, and the students simply listened.
“Pecola is a very complex character, as you’ve all read,” the professor lectured. “She is someone with a deep longing to become something. Perhaps one of you could share your thoughts as to why Pecola wishes to have blue eyes.”
The room was silent for a split second. A few hands were going up when the professor spoke again.
“Christina,” the professor said. “Why don’t you enlighten us on the reading?”
Christina quickly sat up straight. “Okay.”
“Why did Pecola wish to have blue eyes?”
“Because the perception is that having blue eyes is beautiful, and not having them is considered ‘ugly’ in a way,” Christina replied thoughtfully.
“Is it really that simple?”
Christina looked slightly dumbfounded. “Well, that’s what the book implies.”
“Did you read the book, or did you look at the cliff notes online?”
Professor Kelly’s voice was slightly raised, slightly annoyed. Christina was sitting in the middle of the room and other students turned to look at her.
“I read the book,” Christina replied, not mentioning that she also read the cliffnotes online like most other students.
“Then give me the right answer. Why did Pecola wish to have blue eyes?”
“Because society views blue eyes as being ‘beautiful.’ And Pecola wanted to be accepted and to be beautiful.”
“You’ve said that already. Is that the best you’ve got?” the professor asked with a slightly stern voice, eyebrow arched.
“Did I give the wrong answer?” Christina asked, almost sinking into her chair.
“The novel deals with themes of how society can influence women’s perception of beauty and value. Furthermore, it underscores the African-American experience in this country and how they are perceived. Pecola wished to have blue eyes for those very reasons, because she was a black child living in a white society.”
The professor continued. “Now, do you see the difference between your answer and my answer?”
“Yes,” Christina replied meekly and embarrassed.
“Good,” the professor said, turning her attention to the rest of the class. “I’d like everyone to finish the reading by Friday. Be prepared for more discussions.”
The students packed their things and left the classroom. Christina was stunned that she had been grilled so hard. She tried her best to hide her emotions. She slowly packed her things and waited for everyone to leave.
When the other students had left, Professor Kelly was still by the desk closing her laptop and gathering her things.
“Did I say something wrong?” Christina asked, walking up to the front desk.
“What do you mean?”
“Those questions. Your tone. You seemed mad at me.”
“Do you have a problem with the way I run my class?” the professor asked.
“No. It’s just… it was…”
“Don’t take things so personally,” the professor replied in a softer tone. “I wasn’t trying to give you a hard time. But if you want my help, then I expect more from you. I’m willing to sacrifice my time to help you, but you’ve got to show me something. You have to prove that you’re worth the extra attention.”
Christina nodded. “Okay, I understand.”
“You want to be a writer? It’s a brutal world. Critics and readers have no problem tearing you to shreds. If you want to toughen up, this is the place.”
“You’re right. Thank you. I’ll come better prepared next time.”
“You were perfectly prepared today. You always are. I know you understand the material. But you’ve got to speak and write like a professional. If you want a Master’s degree, you’re expected to work harder than everyone else.”
Christina nodded again. “Thank you. I’ll keep that in mind.”
“If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got another class to teach in an hour.”
“I appreciate this, Professor.”
“I’m glad. Don’t let me down, Christina. I have a lot of faith in you.”
The professor packed her laptop and books and promptly left the classroom. Christina stood alone in the room for a moment, still reeling from the humiliation.
The following class was the same result.
Despite studying harder and reading more closely, Christina was given another tough time, courtesy of Professor Kelly’s rigorous socratic method.
Everytime Christina said something right, the professor kept finding new ways to stump the student in front of the class.
Christina tried to keep a brave face despite the fact that her confidence was shattered in front of her peers. Other students tried to raise their hands to provide answers, but the professor only wanted to hear from Christina.
It was the worst experience Christina had ever felt as a student.
She was on the verge of tears when class was over.
She composed herself in the bathroom so the other students wouldn’t see her cry. She planned on skipping her next class so she could lay in her dorm room and listen to Sia’s latest album.
Instead, she sucked up her emotions and refused to wallow in self-pity.
She marched straight towards the professor’s office. She was determined to have a say. And she wasn’t leaving until she got satisfactory answers.
There was another student inside the office. The door was closed.
Christina waited anxiously. Half angry, half shocked over her treatment. She remained baffled that she had been abused in front of everyone. She no longer cared that her mascara was slightly smeared around her eyes. She wanted answers.
The door opened and the other student left. Christina marched inside the office without being invited first.
“Christina, did we have an appointment?” the professor asked.
“No, but I think you owe me an explanation.”
“I don’t owe you anything.”
“Why did you treat me like shit during class?” Christina asked, trying her best to maintain composure. “I spent hours reading that book, and nothing I said was good enough. You made me look like an idiot.”
Professor Kelly gave an understanding nod. “Please, have a seat.”
“Do you think I’m too stupid to go for a Master’s degree?” Christina asked bluntly, sitting down. “Is that what you’re trying to tell me?”
The professor sat behind her desk. “Frankly, I think you’re one of the brightest students in my class.”
“It doesn’t seem that way.”
“I’m always truthful with my students. Being honest is part of a productive learning environment. Believe me, I’ve been doing this for a very long time.”
Christina wiped around her eyes. The tears were gone. The emotions cooled. She began to relax.
“I just don’t understand why you’ve been treating me like this. I thought you wanted to help me.”
“I am helping you,” the professor replied. “You lack confidence, in my opinion. It’s something I’ve noticed about you, the way you speak in class, and the way you write your assignments.”
“I think I’m a pretty confident person,” Christina replied with a half shrug.
“Then why are you crying in my office? I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. A lot of great authors are discouraged because they can’t handle criticism. I don’t want you to fall victim to that.”
“I can handle criticism for my stories.”
“How do you know?” the professor asked. “You’ve never published anything.”
Christina briefly looked away. “I have, kind of. Nothing professional. But I’ve posted some stuff online for a story website, you know, for free.”
Professor Kelly showed a hint of interest. “What kind of stories?”
“Trust me, you don’t want to know.”
“That’s exactly the kind of thing I do want to know. If you want me to mentor you, then there’s a certain level of trust we should have. Besides, I’m a little bit curious now.”
Christina gave a faint shrug. “I’ve written adult stuff. Nothing extreme.”
“Really? That’s surprising,” the professor replied with sudden interest. “I’d love to read some of your work.”
“Oh, no, I couldn’t,” Christina replied, shaking her head nervously.
“What are you afraid of? I won’t tell anyone.”
Christina shook her head again. “I can’t. I never intended to show it to anyone.”
“But you want me to be your mentor, right? What better way for me to critique your style than to read your stories?”
It was a losing battle and Christina knew she couldn’t win.
“I’ll send you a link tonight.”
The professor smiled, “I can’t wait.”
“Don’t expect much though. Most of the comments are negative and my scores are kind of low.”
“I got the same reactions when I started writing.”
“Really?” Christina asked.
“I was around your age when I first started. I showed my work to different publishers and I was always told that my stories needed improvement. And guess what I did? I improved my work. I figured out what my deficiencies were and I fixed them. That’s the key to becoming a better writer. Keep working it.”
“I could definitely use a lot of improvement.”
“We’ll discuss that after I read your stories,” the professor replied. “I’ll give you a thorough critique. But in the meantime, I have another class starting soon.”
“Umm, one more thing, really quick.”
Christina searched for the right words. “Most of the stories I’ve written online are lesbian stories. Adult stuff. I just wanted to give you a quick warning about that.”
“Are you a lesbian?” the professor asked keenly with an eyebrow raised.
“I’m not. I was interested in writing about the struggles and discrimination that many women face. That’s all.”
The professor leaned forward. “It’s okay if you are. I won’t tell anyone.”
“I’m not. I promise I’m not.”
The professor leaned back, almost with a sense of disappointment.
“I really need to get going. I wish we could chat all day. But I’ve got to teach another class in a few minutes.”
“Of course,” Christina replied. “Sorry for the drama.”
“I like people who are passionate. And don’t forget to email me with the link.”
“I’ll remember to do that.”
Later that night.
Christina sat in front of the computer with a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows inside. Her eyes scanned the list of stories she had written for an erotic website. She had written different themes of sapphic erotica; interracial, first time, mature, and even an incest story featuring two sisters.
It made her nauseous knowing that the professor would soon be reading it.
She unleashed an unpleasant sigh. Once again, her big mouth had gotten her into trouble. Letting her emotions run free was always her worst habit.
Christina copied and pasted the link into an email. Then she wrote the message:
Here’s the link to my stories. It’s nothing special. Maybe erotica isn’t my specialty, but I enjoyed writing them.
The email was sent. She closed the computer and watched an episode of True Detective, followed by an episode of The Blacklist before going to the bathroom to wash up before bed.
She checked her computer to see if there were any new emails, and there was one from the professor:
I’ve read some of your work. It’s decent. Meet me in my office tomorrow at 8 am. I’d like to discuss some things with you.
– prof k
Christina didn’t know what to think of the cryptic email. The professor was always a tricky woman to understand.
Part 2 of 3: The Obsessive Professor
The air was cool in the early morning, forcing Christina to wear a bra. The last thing she wanted was for her nipples to be poking through her shirt while meeting with the professor.
It was 8:21 by the time the professor finally showed up. There was no apology. Professor Kelly simply strolled down the hall carrying a box of her things.
Pleasantries were exchanged and they sat down in the office with the door closed.
“I’ve read several of your stories,” Professor Kelly stated, leaning back in her chair. “They were mildly entertaining, but with obvious flaws.”
Christina nodded. “Okay.”
“What you lack in your writing is a sense of realness. Your characters don’t feel natural to me. Your love scenes felt too clinical.”
“Was it that bad?”
The professor shook her head. “It wasn’t bad. Just flawed. We can fix that.”
Christina looked uncomfortable. “I’ve never shown those stories to anyone. Not even my best friends.”
“I’m glad you’re sharing this with me. Our secret.”
“Our secret,” Christina smiled.
“I brought something for you.”
Professor Kelly opened the cardboard box she had brought. She reached inside to pick up a wrapped package. She handed the package to Christina.
“What is it?” Christina asked.
“Short stories that I’ve written many, many years ago under a pseudonym.”
“Oh, thank you. I’d love to read it. Thanks. Why a pseudonym though?”
“They’re BDSM themed stories,” the professor winked. “I would never publish those under my real name.”
Christina was taken aback. “Oh, sounds interesting.”
“I was a much different person when I was younger. Bondage was my thing. Those stories are loosely based on my real-life experiences. No one in the university knows about it. And certainly none of my students.”
Professor Kelly smiled. “That’s right. Our secret.”
“Well, I can’t wait to read it. I think you’re an impressive writer.”
“Like I said, those stories are based on real life encounters I’ve had with submissive men. And submissive women. Keep that in mind while you read it.”
It was another shock. Christina tried her best to keep a straight face. Submissive men? Submissive women? The intrigue only grew.
“Sounds intense,” Christina said awkwardly, not knowing what else to say.
“Read it. Then you can comment.”
“Can I ask you a personal question?”
“Anything,” Christina replied.
“People write stories for a reason. So why did you choose to focus your online stories on female relationships?”
“Well, I wanted to tell the stories of women who struggle with their identities in…”
Professor Kelly gave a sharp look. “I expect an honest answer. Our secret, remember? Tell me the truth.”
The college student fidgeted her fingers on her lap to hide the nervousness.
“It’s a curiosity. I’ve never done anything like that before.”
“Why not?” the professor asked. “You’re young. Beautiful. And you’re on a fairly liberal college campus.”
Christina blushed. “Long story. I’m from a Catholic family.”
“As am I.”
“Then you understand, you know, the family situation.”
“I’m a grown woman,” the professor replied. “And you’re becoming a grown woman, too. You’re obviously a feminist, right? Doesn’t being a feminist mean we can make our own decisions with our bodies and our sexuality? Our families and society don’t get to make that decision for us.”
“That’s the problem with your stories,” the professor stated. “You lack authenticity. You don’t know what you’re writing about.”
Christina nodded, accepting fault. “You’re right.”
“If you want to become a novelist someday, I suggest that you work on your emotional connections. Your thesis for a Master’s degree should focus on female sexuality. Understood?”
Christina’s eyes widened. “But my family and friends might read it.”
“Won’t they read your novels someday as well?”
“Christina, if you want to be a professional writer, then you have to get used to people reading your inner thoughts. That’s the only way to become brave and confident with yourself.”
Professor Kelly winked at the student. “Then it’s settled, you have your thesis topic. After you’ve read my books, we can meet again.”
“I’m a fast reader. It might take me a week or two.”
The professor reached inside the box again and handed the student a notebook.
“Use this notebook as your private journal,” the professor said. “When you read my stories, write down your feelings. It will help focus your energy.”
Christina held the notebook and nodded. “I’ll do it. Thanks, professor.”
“One more thing,” the professor said.
“Next time we meet in my office, don’t wear a bra. I like when you came here braless the previous time. Women your age should always be braless.”
Christina’s jaw slightly dropped. She was stunned that the professor kept track of her undergarments.
It was a busy weekend of reading.
Schoolwork was the first priority. After all the assignments and essays were finished, Christina laid in bed with Professor Kelly’s book in hand. There were 8 books total. All of them were short paperback stories.
When she started reading, there was an uncomfortableness knowing that it was written by her esteemed professor. She had already glanced through the different books and they were all written from the perspective of a female character.
Halfway through the first book, Christina had read an array of sexual pleasures, thoughts, and feelings- all from the professor’s perspective.
The acts and themes centered around the pleasures of dominance and submission.
It was an eye opening thing to read. Christina had always considered herself a fairly open-minded woman on the topic of sex. To Christina, sex was something that was beautiful and should be shared equally between two partners.
But in the professor’s book, the submissive surrendered to the dominant woman. The submissive receive pleasure through the unconditional surrender.
By the end of the reading, Christina was unsure of what to think. She was slightly aroused, yet slightly bewildered. The book was a sexual odyssey of BDSM.
She needed coffee and fresh air.
Christina dressed in jeans, flip flops, and a stylish tshirt. Braless.
She took another book, the journal, and a pen, and she headed out to a nearby coffee shop. She bought a cup of coffee and sat on a bench underneath the shade of a tree. A few sips of coffee and her mind was clear. The fresh air did wonders.