A Moment in Time
How do I love thee?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet comes to mind each time I see my class of Shakespearean literature students. It has nothing to do with the subject matter, but it expresses the feelings I have for one of my auditing students. She is exquisite, her thirst for knowledge a challenge, and while I wish she was working toward a degree, I’m eternally grateful she isn’t.
Sophia. How do I describe what you do to me, and do I read the quiet glances you send my way when we discuss the intricacies of Romeo and Juliet correctly? At my age? I teach one class a semester, because I cannot bear the idea of retirement. The challenge of opening more minds to the beauty of classic literature beckons afresh at the beginning of each new session. Even the spring class like this one.
At least you are more mature than the dramatic young adults on their first adventure away from home. You came to me asking to sit in on the class, your father is the dean of literary arts. In effect he’s my boss. Another conundrum. Would he approve? Does he even know that you are what you are? You’ve made it clear in class that you’ve had your tragedies. A failed marriage, two children you’ve raised to the age of your classmates. You bring a viewpoint to discussion which is rare and thought provoking.
Today, as I passed back your graded assignments, our hands brushed, and you clasped mine in a firm grip. Shaking it to thank me, and my heart nearly stopped. You held on that fraction longer than is proper and stared directly into my eyes. I hope you accept the invitation I wrote for your eyes only. Meet me for coffee? This afternoon, after class. I’ll be watching, I’ll know. Please do as I hope and give me the answer I crave. Wait for me at the end of our hour, and we’ll begin a new and lovely phase of life
How do I love thee? Enough to hope a spinster like me can find the sweetness of steady caring by accident with a student who isn’t. A woman like me, waiting to find the special link still not quite approved. Thank God I can approach you with out the ethical restrictions which constrain the professor student norms!
Can I Love You
I’m only auditing, but the class is fascinating. Shakespearean Sonnets and Romantic Plays. Hell, of a course name, not recommended for first year students, most of the class were seniors. Classic literature has always fascinated me, and the professor teaching it had and distinguished history of brilliant analytical papers dissecting the meanings of many classic playwrights and poets. When dad asked Isabella Emily Wainscott, Doctor of Literature to allow me to audit her class and she graciously accepted.
Heck, I know she would have ignored my request if it hadn’t been for Dad. He’s her boss, Dean of Literary Arts. We live in a university town, nestled in the foothills of Tennessee. But I digress. Isabella is gorgeous, probably in her early sixties, but her skin is flawless, delicate pale gold.
There must have been some Spanish or perhaps Italian in her background. Her hair is unapologetically streaked with brilliantly silver strands and she keeps it long by anyone’s standards. Elegant waves flow down her back, and she tosses it carelessly when she paces as she lectures. Her eyes are deep brown, and they laugh easily, tiny crow’s feet crinkle at their corners. Don’t even get me going about her voice.
Today she handed me my paper on Romeo and Juliet with her grade in bright red on the front. I’d managed a B+, which astounded me. Me with no formal education, only an interest and passion for poetry. I slipped it into my tote bag, and headed out, but she watched me intently.
What wasn’t she saying? I’d felt the spark when she’d clasped my hand. God, she has to be twenty years older than me. Did I really feel it? Am I dreaming? Do I dare? My father never figured out why my marriage failed. Oliver still loves me, but he’s happy with his wife of almost fifteen years. We parted because although I loved him, I wasn’t in love. I was in denial. You see I love women. I’ve never found one who suited me though. At least until now. Now what?
Scooting into the student lounge I found my favorite corner chair and slipped the paper out to look at it. Flipping through, I saw careful editing markings, and suggestions for tighter phrasing and more appropriate working, but then I read the last remark.
Meet me for coffee? Starbucks, today, 4 o’clock? She signed it yours, Isabella. The script was elegant as the woman.
My heart flipped. She noticed. Was it anything more than a friendly chat, over tea? She often brought her spice scent Chai tea with her, sipping as she lectured. Or did she need to find out if the connection I’d felt the first time I saw her pacing the front of the classroom was real? Did she feel what I did when I shook her hand today? I’d know in a few minutes. The Starbucks was just around the corner.
A Moment in Time
Isabella walked into the Starbucks in student hall, the only one on the campus. She placed her order for chai latte tea, large and then scanned the crowded tables looking for the one in the dim corner at the very back. Damn, not one empty seat, she’d have to wait for Sophia out on the patio.
Walking to the end of the counter she stood, tapping a toe in her wickedly high heels. She’d changed into the sexy crisscrossed leather sandals at the end of her class, why not? She wanted to make an impression.
Sophia took a deep breath and pushed into the crowded coffee shop. She spotted Isabella instantly, her eyes drawn to a delicately arched foot tapping in a deep blue barely there sandal with a pointed stiletto heel. How could she exude such sex appeal, just waiting for her order? She slipped up behind her and went with her heart, slipping her arm around her waist, forgetting everything but the demand of her mind to reveal her feelings. Right or wrong, she took the chance.
Isabella turned at the first touch, wondering who would dare invade her space, and saw the ice blue eyes she’d grown so accustomed to. The eyes which followed her every move in lecture, and more than once, caught hers in an unbreakable bond. Sophia, she’d taken her up on the invitation. Sophia with the perfect oval face, lush lips, and ash blonde hair, carelessly caught in a messy ponytail at the nape of her neck. Sophia who’s generous breasts pressed into her own with a heat akin to a red hot poker, branding her.
“Do you feel it too?” her throaty voice whispered in her ear.
“My God, I never thought I would, of course I do,” Isabella’s smooth lips moved against the perfect shell of Sophia’s ear.
Sophia stepped back, anyone watching would think they were friends who hadn’t seen each other in too long. Such a tiny gesture, but in this town, it spoke of care and consideration. Even in the enlightened atmosphere of the university, whispers could do damage.
“Get your tea. It’s ready.” Sophia nudged Isabella toward the counter.
Isabella shook her head.
“Let’s get out of here. We’re never going to be able to get a private word in. Too many of your classmates will wonder what’s up. Besides, I want to remember this moment in time. This moment when I finally have hope to love.” Isabella pulled Sophia by the hand she wouldn’t let go of and walked out into the green space. Her tea forgotten, the barista’s call an irritating buzz to be ignored. “Let me tell you how I love you.”z, ignored. “Let me tell you how I love you.”