“That’s it for today, people. Remember, I need 5,000 words parsing an element of symbolism in chapters 11-12 by Wednesday’s class, please. Ms. Baker, can I speak to you for a moment?”
“What’s up, Doc?”
“Amusing. I wondered if you had chosen a theme for your essay this week?”
“Actually, I have already finished a rough draft.”
“Oh, have you? I see. It’s just that I always enjoy your insights, and I had a particular thesis that I would be interested to see you work with.”
“Well, I really like what I’ve got going now.”
“Doubtless. It’s just that, as a freshman, I’m not certain you always have the clearest idea about the level of work expected here.”
“You’ve given me high marks so far. Is there a problem with my work?”
“No, not at all! It’s just that I’d like you to consider that you are, after all, paying quite a lot of money to come and learn from me. And I wonder if you are taking full advantage of that fact.”
“Okay, I see that. I can get a bit of tunnel vision with my own thoughts sometimes. All right. Shoot me an email with your idea. Thank you.”
“We are talking about somewhat abstract conceptualizations of symbolic themes. I’d like to discuss it face to face.”
“Professor, I don’t think I have time right now. I have to be over at Sherman Hall in twenty minutes for my next class.”
“We could meet later, if that works for you.”
“Uh. I guess I could do that. I’m supposed to study with some friends for a mid-term from 4-6:00, though.”
“Why don’t we meet after that? We could have dinner.”
“I know time is a precious commodity for students. Two birds with one stone.”
“I just…am on a pretty tight budget. I mean, if you don’t mind meeting in the dining hall. I only eat off my food card, I’m on a scholarship.”
“Oh dear! That will never do. Why don’t you come over to my place? I live just a few blocks off campus. You can get a home-cooked meal, and I’ll introduce you to the nihilism of the broken clock face in Chapter twelve.”
“I don’t mean to offend you or anything, but I’m not really very comfortable with that.”
“Totally understandable. A young woman, on her own for the first time. Eighteen years old—”
“Actually, I’m seventeen. I graduated early.”
“Seventeen!? How delightful! Well, an attractive young woman such as yourself naturally needs to be careful. But I assure you, it is perfectly common for professors and students to socialize outside of class. There is no need for you to worry. It’s simply an opportunity for an extended conversation about this week’s essay.”
“I, um, thanks. But, no. I think I’ll just stick with the essay I’ve already started.”
“Are you quite sure? I make a mean Bolognese! Unless you are a vegetarian?”
“No, I just…Thanks, but no. I really have to get going, professor.”
“The problem, Ms. Baker, is that I’m worried for your academic future here.”
“Well, your essay from last week…”
“What about it?”
“I have it here. It’s excellent, really.”
“Thank you, I thought so.”
“But well beyond what a seventeen-year-old girl is capable of writing.”
“It’s clear you have plagiarized this essay.”
“What?! No! I did not! That took me days to write!”
“I wanted to give you an opportunity to prove me wrong, by giving you a theme to ensure you didn’t plagiarize this week’s work as well.”
“Professor, I absolutely did not copy that essay from anywhere. That is my original work.”
“I wish I could believe you, but you are strangely resistant to the idea of receiving a specific theme for this week’s essay. Have you already found someone else’s work you plan to pawn off as your own?”
“I’m not resistant to the idea of the theme: tell me what it is and I’ll write it!”
“I have made an offer in good faith for you to clear your name, but you rejected it.”
“I just rejected dinner!”
“So you say. Are you aware of the disciplinary action on this campus for plagiarism?”
“No, why would I be? I’ve never plagiarized anything!”
“You will be expelled. This is taken very seriously, you know. The charge will follow you to all institutions of higher learning. However, there is a very simple way to prove to me you are capable of the level of work shown in last week’s unusually impressive essay. Simply join me for dinner in my apartment at 7:00 tonight. I will give you a unique theme for you to use. Et voila! Problem solved.”
“But I didn’t do anything wrong!”
“Now, now, Ms. Baker, there’s no need for tears. You need to understand how things work here in the real world. We can go through the formal procedure wherein I accuse you in front of the academic tribunal, and you can attempt to defend yourself against the word of a tenured, published and, dare I say, beloved English professor. Even if you are cleared of the charge, the accusation will remain a blot on your record. I am trying to save you from that ugly scene. I am your friend.”
“Ms. Baker, I want to help you. But you are making it quite difficult. I, too, have places to go and people to see. So, either you agree to meet me tonight, or I will send this fraudulent essay of yours to the disciplinary board.”
“The real world, huh?”
“C’est la vie, mademoiselle.”
“Okay. Fine. Dinner. But I do have mid-terms tomorrow, so I can’t stay long.”
“You say that now, but you may find after a bowl of homemade pasta and a glass or two of Lambrusco, some scintillating conversation about the glorious nuance of English literature can sometimes cause one to linger late into the night.”
“I don’t drink. I’m seventeen.”
“In the real world, mademoiselle, beautiful young women drink wine as they please. Many things in the real world fall at the feet of beautiful young women if they are also clever enough to pick them up. And I believe, Ms. Baker, that you are a clever young woman.”
“I used to think so.”
“Tut! Tut! Such a long face! I’m not such an ogre that spending some time with me should cause such distress. I promise that you will enjoy yourself. I’m at 4892 View Ridge Drive number 8. I look forward to it.”
“Sure. See you then.”
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The 2nd worst part about this creeper is assigning a 20-page double spaced paper on symbolism. 750-1000 words would make him less odious (I’m kidding.) I hope she audio records his sexual harassment, reports him to admin, and burns his house down (but maybe that’s just me.) The pedantic quoting of French idioms makes me hate him all the more. Great stuff.
Thanks! He is awful in so many ways, isn’t he? While I wish she had done just as you suggest, I’m afraid she just stopped attending his class, scraped by with a 2.0, dropped out of college altogether, and lost her way for a decade or so. C”est la vie.
This dialogue is strong... almost too strong... where did you get it from, huh? It feels like someone giving you a hug, and you're ready for them to let go, but they keep squeezing, harder and harder, and something cracks, and by the time you realize what's happening, you've taken your last breath. Would love it if you could check out mine! I went a less gutwrenching route.
Thank you! Although I hope your ribs are OK. My ribs are sore from laughing at your excellent work on this prompt.
Excellent job. The creep factor is accentuated by the lack of scene descriptions; we can only speculate what she must be feeling and how big the bulge in his trousers is at the moment, which makes for a vivid, heartbreaking piece. I wonder how this would play out in reality. Hopefully she's smart enough to report him. Personally, I would've loved to see her intelligence held against her even more. She is smart enough to be in uni at 17, so I expected the professor to mock her a bit more about reaching such heights at a young age only to fal...
Really well written! The dialogue is so realistic I want to punch the creep right now
Oh man, this was aggravating and disgusting; so it was absolutely perfect! He’s sooo sleazy, but clearly confident and intelligent with his sleaze, and her uncertainty of how to handle the situation was so heartbreaking, yet so real. I’d love to see a continuation, if only for him to get his just desserts, haha. Great job!
Wow! This started out so innocently. I had no idea the professor was going to turn into this manipulative creep. Sadly, your dialogue/characters/situation are all too real. This is such a well-written - and very important - piece.
Thank you! I hope stories like this soon become unimaginable fiction. Not quite there yet...
I honestly should have read this sooner! This dialogue was great, hope it was yours <_< The character interaction was great and you really gave them characteristics and highlighted a really strong moment. The professor speaking French, ugh... my creep/snob radar almost blew a gasket. The most interesting part of the piece, is where it ends. Such a cliffhanger. I actually wanted to know A LOT more! This was superb.
I hate creeps like this. Which essentially means I love your writing because it brought those emotions to the surface. This is a story that I've heard a sad many times, but your approach is fresh and heartbreaking and guttural. I can almost assume there's elements of truths to it, it's executed that well. This could earn another shortlist.
Thank you so much! There’s elements of truth to every story, isn’t there?