The Longest Five Minutes

Submitted into Contest #131 in response to: Write a story that includes (or subverts) the enemies-to-lovers trope.... view prompt



The itch is there, I imagine it almost before it becomes a reality and I know that soon it will spread deeper. Not wider or further around my thigh, but deeper, moving in towards my groin begging to be rubbed, scraped, excoriated until it has been completely erased.

Apart from the scratching sound of pencil on paper the room is quiet and unbearably warm, all heaters turn towards me, as you’d expect, seeing as I am the only one with no clothes on.   Six pairs of eyes look at me, well not really at me just parts of me. My right leg for those at the front, my left leg for those at the back and I think, although I can’t be sure, the pervy looking guy with the dodgy comb over is sneakily trying to sketch my boobs. I might be wrong of course, but the truth is he reminds me of my brother, and no one likes to think that their brother is painting them in a life drawing class.

‘Five minutes till the break,’ she says. I’m not sure whether I can last a whole five more minutes without moving. In fact I’m not even sure if I can last the next five seconds. The itch is growing in intensity, a nagging madness begins to cloud my vision as I wonder if it is humanly possible to stay in this same position any longer. I yearn for the freedom of a dog, who can squat on three legs and scratch away to his heart’s content, balls akimbo, bits aired to the world and no one seeming to care. The clock is behind me, and I wonder if possibly for the second half of the session they could move it into my sightline. Then again perhaps seeing the second hand clicking round, inexorably slowly, might just tip me over the edge.

I’d signed up for the life modelling job by accident, after a bad evening drinking, when my essay came back marked as a fail and I’d drowned my sorrows in the bar with a whole group of people who had suddenly become my new best friends. Can’t remember their faces now and after the way I lost my inhibitions following the sixth gin and orange I don’t think I’ll be going back to that bar in the foreseeable future, and therein lies the rub, I lost my inhibitions. If I’d only gone back to my halls of residence a little earlier; remembered that there was a new curfew following the alleged attack on a student last month; that the main door was now locked after midnight, then I might have been more circumspect, but I’d forgotten. I vaguely remember staggering across to the Students Union block and thinking perhaps someone might be able to let me in and then falling asleep on a bench. 

About three o’clock the student patrol, a bunch of do-gooders who think they own the place, found me and managed to get my hall unlocked and I collapsed in my room and didn’t wake up for another six hours when the sound of my phone pinging madly brought me round.

‘Jaz, where are you?’

‘You should be in a tutorial.’

‘We’ve said you messaged us and you’ve got a migraine.’

‘Best stay out of sight for the rest of the day.’

Pulling the duvet over my head I decided that one should always take the advice of one’s real friends and promptly went back to sleep. When I finally surfaced that evening there was another set of messages on my phone, thanking me for my interest in helping the Art Department, and would I like to pop over today or tomorrow to discuss whether I’d be suitable and rates of pay. It took me all of five seconds to scroll back and see where I’d messaged in the early hours of the previous morning, saying I’d seen their notice on the Student Union board and I’d love to pose for the life drawing class on a Tuesday evening. Alcohol fueled, inhibitions gone, I clearly was a danger to myself.

The pervy guy with the comb over suddenly looks directly at my boobs and then moves his pencil swiftly across a page in his notebook. I see him peering surreptitiously at the tutor and I am convinced my fears are well founded. 

Anyway, I’d taken myself in hand and feeling guilty about too much alcohol and missing my tutorial I felt duty bound to at least explain to the Art Department that I had made a big mistake and was probably the wrong person for their life modelling class. I scooted over to see them between lectures the following day. Skinny with fried egg boobs and short cropped hair, surely they’d want someone a little more Rubenesque, I’d thought. But they were super excited to see me, said my face had amazing contours and that I’d be perfect and could I start the following Tuesday. Two hours, £10 an hour, cash in hand. Twenty pounds for two hours sitting doing nothing – well with my current desperate financial situation it was a no brainer.

Pervy comb over man is discretely turning the page of his notebook as the tutor walks round, I can see him and I know he’s got a different sketch somewhere in that book, not the one of my leg on the sheet he is discussing with her. I see her point to my knee and then to his drawing and he nods. Ha, as if he cares at all about the proportion of my knee. 

The itch is becoming even more unbearable. I begin to hatch a plan. As soon as time is declared I’m heading out to that small grubby cubicle where on a Tuesday evening I remove my clothes, to hack off my leg. Then I can leave it behind and they can all draw it to their hearts content. Well maybe I’m exaggerating, but once they’ve all gone for coffee I’m definitely slipping back in here and checking out that notebook.

‘Break time,’ I hear the tutor’s voice.

‘Oh sorry,’ it’s pervy man. ‘Can I have a couple more minutes, just want to get that knee sorted.’

‘Ok with you, Jaz?’

The tutor is talking to me. My body has gone into a sort of numb cramp and my mouth seems to have stopped working.

‘Fine,’ I say before I realize that this was completely the wrong response from someone who wants to hack their own leg off to get rid of an itch.

I watch as his hand passes backwards and forwards across the page, the smoothness and fluidity as his fingers seem to hold the pencil with an airy lightness. The rest of the class begin to move off. Bugger, I think, they’ll be a queue for the loo and I wonder how obvious it might be if I try to scratch my groin. Hacking off my leg no longer seems an option.

‘All done, thanks. Do you need a hand with your robe? You look like you’ve stiffened up.’

Pervy comb over man comes towards me. Grabbing my robe I stand and promptly fall over. Both feet have gone completely dead and I know that once the blood starts circulating the pins and needles will be intense. I am aware that someone is putting the robe round my shoulders, helping me move my hands through the sleeves and then doing the sash up at the back. Considerate, I think, looking up at a pair of brown eyes with a glint of a smile. 

‘Here sit on this chair for a moment, do you want me to massage your feet?’ Pervy man’s comb over doesn’t look so bad close up, he actually has quite a lot of hair, but it is very light and tufty. ‘Sorry about the hair. Had it all shaved for charity a couple of months ago and it’s growing back really odd. My sister’s a hairdresser, she says it’ll be ok eventually. Do you want me to rub your feet.’

‘No ..’ it comes out a bit like a squawk. ‘Thanks..’ I manage to mumble belatedly.

Pervy (not combed over) man looks embarrassed. ‘Didn’t mean to sound weird, just you know, sitting still all that time. I imagine you’ve got pins and needles.’

Inspired I know exactly what to say next.

‘Can I see your sketches?’

‘What of your knee? You could look at the real thing anytime you want to?’

Ha, I thought, got you.

‘I like to see what people have done, how they’ve progressed, makes the job more interesting.’ Codswallop – I am here for the money and nothing else.

Pervy (not comb over) man hands me his sketch book. Brave I think, bit of a risk letting me look. It opens to the page with my knee. Well, I say my knee, to be fair I wouldn’t have recognised it in a lineup of knees. I think I’d better ask before I continue my investigation.

‘Can I see the rest?’

He hesitates, definitely a moment of hesitation and then turns the page. There it is, the sketch that he shouldn’t have been doing, but it wasn’t my boobs.

‘Sorry,’ he looks sheepish. ‘It’s the dimple, I couldn’t resist, you won’t tell, I might get asked to leave the course and I was hoping, well I was wondering, umm, if I might take you for a late supper – maybe after next week’s lesson?’

I look at the picture of the dimple in my elbow and wonder how ridiculous I might appear if I try to contort myself to see if he’d captured a true likeness. I suddenly realize that if sketching elbows is pervy it might be something I could accept if it comes with sparkly brown eyes and tufty hair that will one day grow out.

‘Yes,’ I splutter slightly and contemplate whether I should have agreed to the foot massage after all.

‘Can I get you a cup of something from the kitchen? Tea? Coffee?’

It isn’t till he’s disappeared out towards the hubbub of noise coming from the kitchen I realize my itch has vanished.

January 30, 2022 12:00

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Kevin Schenk
15:19 Feb 12, 2022

What a nice finish, very cute! I liked it!


Caroline Jenner
11:29 Feb 15, 2022

Thanks Kevin


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Heather Z
18:09 Feb 09, 2022

Oh wow, this was so original! Loved it! Very unique take on this prompt. Looking forward to reading your next submissions! I could totally envision “Percy comb-over guy.” Glad he turned out to be a cutie!


Caroline Jenner
11:59 Feb 11, 2022

Thanks Heather


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Kate Winchester
14:16 Feb 07, 2022

Hahaha, this was great!


Caroline Jenner
20:14 Feb 07, 2022

Thanks Kate


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