For Want of a Teacher’s Assistant – S.C. Hennessey

You’re not supposed to admit you like that kind of attention. You’re not supposed to humanize the woman who is being betrayed. In fact, find something about her to laugh at, quickly, so that it feels more natural to know you’re better than she is. Find something to make light of, but not too obviously, because you don’t want him to think you’re a bitch. Just find the softness, find that one little spot that will draw him closer to you

You tried while he was still playing it cool, but now he’s let on that he’s losing it. He wants you. So take him: isn’t he rightfully yours? Isn’t he offering himself to you? Aren’t you more worthy and more capable of satisfying him? Take him. Let him take you.

Let it happen as a coy gesture— a hand on the knee. Let his large palm, warm from the fist he makes when he’s stressed out, let it rest on your knee. Friendly. Compassionate. In no way inappropriate. But let it turn you on. Let it be you who sweeps him away with a bold gesture.

Don’t move your leg, or he’ll think you’re uncomfortable. Take charge. Move his hand to your thigh. Let him know you want it and you’re not afraid to take it. Let him know that you’ll be everything he needs. Then the sideways glance. The pining. Both of you spending that quiet moment meditating on the last moment of guiltlessness. The moment is swallowed by your insistence that his hand be closer still— under the wool of your skirt. He smiles. You smile.

You look ahead, prop one elbow on the window and lean your smiling face into it to let him know you’re waiting, and you’re ready. The drive is long. The desire sparks as the dotted lines break away into your driveway. You can hardly wait to invite him in to divide the folders resting at your feet. Sly, suggestive, but still purely business. You need to use the restroom, and–oops, where did your pantyhose go? And— oops, did you take your underwear off with it? And now— oops, you’ve rubbed your leg right up against his while you sit at the coffee table. Make a casual joke about a long day. Rest (Lean?) back into the couch and let him turn to face you and you can tilt your head to him to wait for him.

He can joke back, or maybe rest in silence.

Maybe he’ll place his hand back on your knee and notice the now-bare skin. Maybe he won’t have to wait for you to slide his hand up your thigh. Maybe he’ll kiss you.

He turns. He smiles, but looks away. You can see him seeing her in your place, and you’re furious that he’s rejecting you—  not because of you, but because of her. So you nudge him with your knee and ask what’s wrong. Lean forward and jostle him with your elbow. Playful, warm, and caring. He stares at the folders and says he’s just worn out from the day, that there’s a lot of work ahead.

You want to find a reason for him to touch you. You want to ask if there’s something on your back, or if he can help you take off your necklace. You want to manufacture a reason for him to breathe you in.

He looks at his watch, and you know you are losing him. You look at his hands and want a reason to pull one up your skirt and the other to the zipper at the back of your shirt. You want them both to work into you, holding you, feeling you and all the desire he’s drawn from you, and you want your warmth and your embrace to be the release of his ache. You can see that he aches, it’s so clear on his face, in the darkness of his eyes. You want to bring him into you and prove that he can be safe in you. You want him to know your pleasure, explore your body. You want him to step out of his Dostoyevsky life and into your Harlequin Romance— to ravish you in the face of dwindling sunlight and time ticking that needs to be spent on reading, writing, homework, working out.

You want him to taste you and taste the life you could offer him, if only he would first turn away from his own and come into you.

You can’t find a reason to invite his touch. You can’t find an innocent provocation that would draw his hand back to you. He turns to you. Quickly.

He leans into you and kisses you. His lips are soft, but his tongue is probing. His hands find you, but one finds your arm and the other your ribs, his thumb pressed into your breast. You want to give in to this, but it’s not suave like you wanted, it’s not measured like you wanted. It’s not confident.

He withdraws his tongue, but keeps his lips pressed hard into yours. He doesn’t move his hands, but he lifts his thumb away from your body. There’s a slow escape of air from his nose as he releases your arm and ribs and relaxes away from your lips. He doesn’t look at you.

He stands up. He picks up his coat. He digs for his keys even though they don’t need to be out of his pocket to start his car. His girlfriend’s car. He says he’ll pick up the folders later. You want to touch him. You want to know that your touch can mean something.

While his hands had been pressed on you, your hands were frozen on your own legs. You can’t find a reason to stop him, but you can’t touch him without permission. He’s already taken steps toward the door. He’s bending to put his shoes back on. All you can do is walk over to stand by the door to see him out. Polite. Not weird or dramatic. Just manners.

He drops his keys. You bend to pick them up. As he stands he hooks the lanyard with a finger and tugs them out of your hand. He thanks you. You think he leans in. You think maybe he’s going to kiss you again. You want him to kiss you confidently. Take your butt in one hand and your back in the other and pull you into him, kiss you passionately, and pull you tight enough to feel how hard you’ve made him. You want him to show you how badly he wants you.

He asks if you’re okay. You realize you’ve been staring at his shoulder without saying anything. You say you’re okay. Just tired. He says he is too. He’s using his teacher voice. He says goodnight. In his teacher voice. He lets himself out. You say goodnight, almost too late. To his back, and maybe too quietly. He doesn’t nod or turn. He doesn’t stop or even pause. He goes to his car. His girlfriend’s car. He puts his keys in his pocket. He gets in and drives away.

You wish you had worn lipstick. You wish you had managed to leave your mark so that he couldn’t forget that he’d kissed you. You wish that you had found words—words enough so that he would own what he did, so that you could rightfully exclaim that this is bullshit. This isn’t middle school. You don’t want to be kissed shyly. You don’t want to put his hand on your thigh and then wonder if he was even turned on. You don’t want to sit on the couch where he mashed his face into yours and wonder if you should drink some wine or go out for a beer or do some homework. You don’t want to feel too embarrassed to get off thinking about him coming back to take you on the bed, not saying a word, not even taking off his clothes, just taking his cock out and pressing into you, already wet, already waiting for him to prove how much he wants you. Waiting for him to dedicate himself to you, just for that moment, just in that bed, just for the time it takes for you both to get off, moaning and grunting at each other with no need for words, only for tongues and teeth, for palms and fingernails. You want him to stare into your eyes with confidence and satisfaction as he thrusts his hips in small strides because he’s man enough to know how to get you off and gentleman enough to want to get you off first before he presses deep and fast into you to come. You move from the couch to the chair you ceded to the cat. The cat is unhappy. You’re unhappy. You pick up the unhappy cat and put him in your unhappy lap and close your eyes. You think back to his lips.

S. C. Hennessey is a horsewoman (more a practitioner of horsemanship than part horse-part woman), an artist, and a member of the Nez Perce tribe. She is a freelance cake decorator and clothing and jewelry designer, and currently holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Lewis-Clark State College. She hopes to pursue an interdisciplinary masters, ideally culminating in a thesis entitled “Beyond the Skittles: an examination of the actualized sensory intersection whereupon one may taste the rainbow”.

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