Mr. Richard “Ricky” Harrison stood in the front of the class with his hands on his hips, shaking his head in dismay. That particular Friday’s class was more chatty than usual. The topics encompassing the evening’s sock-hop ricocheted around the room like ball bearings in a pinball machine.
Raising both hands upward, he said in his loudest voice, “Wiggle, shuffle, rubber-neck around – sure!” He pointed at the clock above the doorway to punctuate his message, “and the clock moves.”
The students paused long enough to stare at him, and when he smiled the entire class laughed and enjoyed the joke. When he caught Eva’s eyes, his smile widened, and it seemed to Eva that he was looking only at her. She blushed and enjoyed the thrill of his attention.
Forty-seven minutes later the dismissal bell rang and the students rose from their desks and headed toward the door.
“Eva, may I see you a minute?” he said, motioning her toward his desk.
Eva waited while he joked with a few of the boys as they passed his desk and filed out of the room.
“You know, you’re a very good student,” he said when they were alone.
Eva smiled. “Thank you, Mr. Harrison. I like English.”
“I can tell,” he said, nodding. “I’m thinking of choosing a class assistant to help me. Are you interested?”
“What would I do?”
“Help me grade papers and enter grades in the grade book mostly. Naturally, you’d get extra credit for helping, not that you really need it.” He smiled and sat on the edge of his desk. “Are you going to the dance tonight?” he asked.
Eva shrugged. “I’m not sure. Maybe. It depends on how my aunt’s feeling. She’s having a baby, and I try to help out around the house as much as I can.”
He nodded as if he understood and then said, “I’m quite sure a lot of the boys will be disappointed if you’re not there.” He winked at her.
Eva felt herself blushing.
“So, are you interested?” he asked.
“In being my assistant,” he said. “I know you’re quite capable of handling the task.”
“When would it be?” she asked.
Eva frowned. “I’m not sure if I can,” she said. “I usually have to get right home to help my aunt Loretta, like I said.”
He put his hand on Eva’s arm and leaned forward. “It wouldn’t be every night after school, honey,” he said. “Just occasionally, and you’d have plenty of advance notice so you could arrange things at home.” He removed his hand from her arm, leaned back, and flashed his most appealing grin. “Why don’t you think it over? I know that you’re the perfect girl for this job.”
They soon settled into a weekly routine. Every Wednesday after school Eva would come to Mr. Harrison’s room, and he would give her a stack of papers that he had graded and his grade book. She would enter the grades into the grade book for him while he sat at his desk working, gazing out the window, or looking at her. Whenever she noticed him looking at her Eva would smile, and he would return the smile with one of his own. It generally took her about forty-five minutes to enter the grades into the book after which they would usually chat for ten or fifteen minutes before she left for home.
Eva told him about her parents’ death and her aunt Loretta and her plan to become a veterinarian someday, although she didn’t know how she would ever be able to afford to go to college. He told Eva about his wife and their baby daughter and his plan to be a famous novelist someday, although he was having trouble finding the time to write.
She found he was easy to talk to. He listened to her ideas and treated her as if she were an adult. Within a few weeks, she found herself confiding in him. Eva told him about her painful and still smoldering rage over her parents’ senseless death and her resentment of having to live with her aunt Loretta who, although well-meaning, was unreliable, fickle, and lazy, no longer even looking for a job. Harrison reciprocated by confiding in Eva about his wife’s annoying habit of constantly humming children’s tunes and his disappointment that his daughter had not been a son and how his wife didn’t seem to love him anymore.
With his coaxing, Eva finally admitted to him that she knew boys found her pretty, but she was just not attracted to any of them because they were all so immature. She just couldn’t bring herself to pretend otherwise, she told him. Harrison finally admitted to her that he thought that she was the most beautiful young woman he had ever seen in his life and that he thought about her constantly and that he had to have her.
“What about your wife?” Eva said uncertainly as he put his arms around her waist and stared deeply into her eyes.
“She doesn’t care about me,” he hissed, leaning his face closer to hers. “She doesn’t understand what I want, what I need. I have to have you, Eva,” he whispered eagerly, his breathing stimulated. “You are so, so gorgeous—you’re like a beautiful Greek goddess. I love you; I adore you. Don’t say no to me. Please don’t refuse me; I couldn’t stand it if you said no to me now.” Taking her wrist, he moved her right hand downward toward his crotch, and she immediately felt the bulge in his trousers as he placed his lips over hers and kissed her passionately.
Eva let him move her hand along his manhood until eventually she began stroking him without his urging. As she returned his kiss and found his tongue she stroked him harder and faster until she felt the wetness on his pants and understood the sigh of ecstasy that escaped from his mouth. The thrill and excitement of the moment was a new experience for Eva and she savored it while holding on to him as tightly as she could.
He was the first person she had hugged this tightly since her parent’s death. His were the first arms to encircle her the way her mother or father had. Enclosed in his arms she felt a warmth and safety she had been denied since the horror of her parent’s accident.
For months Eva continued to see Mr. Harrison every Wednesday. She surrendered her virginity to him. She learned everything there was to know about his sexual habits and preferences and fully explored her own as well.
He began lying to her; little, white lies at first, and then larger ones. Eva could always tell when he was lying to her because he would unconsciously twist the wedding ring on his finger while he talked. He mentioned divorcing his wife and marrying her, but Eva didn’t believe he was serious, and she realized she wouldn’t want to marry him anyway. He was an exciting, mature man, and a talented sexual tutor, but his formidable ego, as Eva confided to Jessica, made “a little bit of him go a very long way.”
May arrived and the school year meandered to an end. Eva was astonished to learn she had avoided a broken heart with her ambivalence toward Mr. Harrison when he was abruptly fired from the school for sexually molesting an underage female student: Sandra Shiffer. Mrs. Shiffer had found out about his philandering with her daughter, and she wasted no time filing a lawsuit against the school, which was ultimately settled out of court for an undisclosed sum of money. Eva chided herself for not thinking first of seeking “an undisclosed sum of money” for herself and Aunt Loretta. She pondered for several days whether or not she would have actually had the heart to turn him in even if she had thought of it.
How much is an undisclosed sum of money? Eva wondered.
The next two years of high school were uneventful for Eva. Her grades were mostly average. She ignored the boys who chased her constantly, and she spent most of her free periods alone in the library. The librarian, Mrs. Steeves, attempted to befriend Eva, but she abandoned the undertaking when Eva made it abundantly clear that she just wanted to be left alone.
“I’m not hurting anything here, am I?” Eva challenged her one day.
Gradually, Eva began realizing that she was thinking about and truly looking forward to being an aunt in seven months. She had no idea why that pleased her.