The Mentor Ch. 01bypetitmort©
Eve was late. She was late and she always hated it when she wasn't punctual. She prided herself on being organized, having her act together. No head-in-the-clouds reputation for this writer-to-be. She wanted to show the world that a creative person could also be efficient, get things done, be on time. Now she was late. Shit.
This wasn't just any meeting either. It was her first meeting with the professor from her most important class: creative writing. Professor Brett Michaels -- THE Brett Michaels -- had scheduled one-on-one meetings with each student in his advanced short story seminar. He was going to critique the writing sample she'd submitted to get into the class. She felt excited about the prospect and, frankly, a little nervous.
She walked purposefully along the cobblestone walkway, past the neo-classical facade of the administration building, towards the stately brick building which housed the English Department. Students scurried to their classes or stood talking in small groups. Eve hurried up the steps and pulled open the heavy door.
Eve was a junior and relatively new to the University having recently transferred from a two-year school in her home state. The semester having just started, she'd yet to meet a lot of people or make many friends.
She had decided to transfer mostly to take advantage of the writing program. In particular, she was anxious to take classes with Prof. Michaels, the celebrated author, who had recently joined the faculty. She had read almost all of his books and short stories. She found him brilliant, a scintillating speaker and, in a word, hot. She had worked hard on the writing sample she had to submit to get into his class, and was thrilled when she got in.
Ascending the marble stairs towards Professor Michaels' office, her boot heels echoing in the stairwell, she wondered if she'd dressed appropriately. She was wearing a Merino wool skirt that hugged her nicely-shaped ass and showed off her long, lovely legs. A crisp cotton blouse--with several buttons undone--outlined her generous bosom. It was a dressier outfit than she'd normally wear around campus, and she now wondered why she'd chosen it. But there was no time to think about that now. She tucked her silky blond hair behind her ears and continued on.
Finally, she arrived at the office door, #201, and knocked.
"Come," the voice inside declared. It was authoritative, perfunctory.
She opened the door slowly and peered in. Professor Michaels was sitting behind a large walnut desk in front of an enormous window overlooking a stand of maple trees. Two large bookcases flanked the walls on either side. He spoke without looking up.
"You're late," he said simply. "In the future, please be prompt."
She stepped into the office, flustered.
"Yes, of course. I'm sorry. I had a bit of trouble finding your office."
He peered at her over his reading glasses. He was around 40, with a full head of brown, wavy hair swept straight back.
"Sit down. Please."
He regarded her with a look that seemed to bore into her. His intelligent, appraising eyes were deep brown, his face clear and handsome.
She sat in a Windsor armchair opposite his desk, placing her book bag on the floor. She looked up and he was still looking at her. He returned his gaze to the papers in his hand.
"I've been re-reading your story in preparation for our talk."
She swallowed. She didn't know what to say so she just nodded.
"Before I give you my opinion," he said. "I'd like your assessment."
"My assessment?" she asked, eyebrows raised. She hadn't expected this.
"Yes," he said, waving the paper in his hand. "What does the writer think of her work?"
Eve blinked and looked down at her boots.
"I don't know," she muttered. "I guess it's pretty good."
"You guess it's pretty good," he parroted. "Surely you can do better than that?"
His tone was playful, but it wasn't letting her off the hook.
"I mean, I like way the story unfolds. The plotting is okay. I think the characterizations are a bit ... thin."
He looked at her for a long moment.
"I agree with your assessment."
He rose from his chair, removed his glasses, and gazed at the woods outside. He was tall and fit, even better looking in person. He spoke slowly, choosing his words carefully.
"I think the characters are indeed underdeveloped, and there's an overall timidity in your writing that you must learn to overcome."
Eve listened intently. He turned to face her.
"And yet, on the whole, I must say I think you have tremendous potential as a writer."
Eve allowed herself to breathe again.
"Thank you," she said softly.
He leaned on the desk, raising his eyebrows.
"Unfortunately, that potential is not very evident in this story."
She felt as if he'd kicked her in the stomach.
"Now, don't mistake me. You have a wonderful style. Your exposition is graceful. Your ideas are first rate. The skills are there. The ability, or the willingness, to use them to their best advantage alas is not."
She leaned back in her chair, blinking.
He paced behind his desk, looking for the right words.
"You say your characterizations are thin. That's putting it rather mildly. They're practically anorexic. The main character ... Cynthia ... she's a bit of a blob moving through a fog, isn't she? Tell me, are there elements of you in her?"
Eve raised her chin, trying to suppress the defensiveness she felt building inside her.
"Yes, I based the story on an experience that happened to me a couple of years ago."
Prof. Michaels nodded, leaning on the front of the desk.
"So you know her. Deep down. You have a sense of what motivates her, what makes her tick?"
"Yes," Eve shrugged, "as much as I know myself."
"You know what she wants, what she fears. You know her private thoughts."
"Then where are they?"
Eve again cast her green eyes towards the floor.
"This is a common mistake among young writers. Especially when writing semi-autobiographical work. It's a form of hiding. Self-protection."
Eve looked at him, nodding.
"You need to summon the strength to reveal yourself. To reach down, past the layers of armor and artifice, to the truth that lays beneath."
He leaned forward, placing his hand on hers.
"It's not easy," he said softly. "I know from personal experience."
Eve smiled, appreciating his acknowledgement.
"For example," he continued, walking to the bookcase. "She's attracted to her dance partner, her best friend's boyfriend. She desires him but refuses to act on it for fear of betraying her closest friend. She wants him, but she can't have him. A good premise, but how does that make her feel?"
Eve thought a moment.
"Sad...Rejected...Frustrated?" she offered.
"Of course. Frustrated as can be, I should think. Perhaps even angry. She's with him day in and day out. Rehearsing together. Breathing the same air as him. Feeling his body against hers. She wants him, and yet she cannot act on her desires."
He returned to the chair behind his desk.
"You say this is based in part on your life?"
"When this happened to you, how did you feel? Did you just think: 'Oh well, this is an unfortunate situation', and that was it?"
Eve shook her head.
"What was your inner dialogue at the time?"
"Well...I remember wondering what was wrong with me. Why he picked her instead of me."
"Good. And did you fantasize about him?"
Eve shifted slightly in her seat. This wasn't where she expected the conversation to go.
"Fantasize? What do you mean?"
"Did you think about being with him? Sharing his bed? Being intimate with him?"
"No. He was my best friend's boyfriend."
"And you never thought about him...touching you?"
He picked up a small figurine from his desk, a Japanese doll. After a long pause, he spoke.
"You know, Eve, when I began as a writer I sometimes found it easier to write about surface things. You know, not to dig too deep. But as I grew older, and became more discerning, I realized that it was only when I peeled back the onion, when I stripped away the layers of defense, and illusion, only then was I writing about what was real. And that, in turn, made my writing more interesting, more authentic."
He placed the figurine down on the desk, gently.
"I believe we writers have a responsibility to hold up a mirror to the world. And that starts by holding up a mirror to ourselves."
Eve was struck by the way he said "we writers." He had a way of being critical without clear-cutting her confidence.
"I think you have the capacity to be a good writer, perhaps a great one. But great writing requires more than just writing well. It requires you to be brave. It requires courage."
Now it was Eve's turn to look out the window. She took a deep breath. Finally, she turned to him.
"I did think about him that way. I did want to share his bed. To take her place. I wanted to be intimate with him. And I felt terribly, terribly guilty about those feelings."
He leaned back in his chair, smiling sympathetically.
"Of course you did. It's human. That's what makes us complex creatures. We're full of conflicts and contradictions. If you're able to bring those feelings, those secret thoughts into Cynthia's character, then you're starting to add dimension and depth. Do you understand?"
"Yes. Yes, I do. By showing the flaws, I can create a more realistic, three-dimensional character."
"Exactly. And by combing the corners of your own imagination, and your own subconscious, you can infuse your characters with all the facets that make people real ... interesting ... human."
Eve nodded. This resonated with her. She knew intuitively that her portrait of Cynthia lacked depth. She had been too careful about making Cynthia likeable, because she identified so closely with her. Cynthia was like Eve, and Eve was like Cynthia. They both were "good girls". They didn't want their dark sides showing.
"Here's what I want you to do," Prof. Michaels said, touching the tips of his fingers together.
"I want you to rewrite your story. Expand it. I want you to work on the characterization of Cynthia. Take us into her mind. Find ways to dramatize her inner life, her most private thoughts. Think you can do that?"
"Of course," Eve replied, trying to sound confident.
"Good." He stood up, smiling.
"So, I'm afraid our time is up. Next time, please be on time and we'll have more time for our discussion."
Realizing the meeting was over, Eve started to collect her things. As she moved to the door, she felt his hand touching gently against her back.
"Bring her to life by looking at YOUR life. I look forward to seeing what you come up with."
At the door, she turned to him, her face just a foot from his. She felt his hand, still touching her. She felt a surge of electricity race through her body.
"Thank you...so much," she stammered.
"Not at all. See you in class."
He smiled at her, his eyes warm and twinkling.
And with that she stepped out the door and into the hallway, where another student was clambering up for her appointment with the professor. Eve heard the door shut behind her and she was suddenly standing alone in the middle of the empty hallway.
Eve's head was spinning. Walking back to her dorm, she replayed moments from their meeting.
My God, Brett Michaels thinks I'm a promising writer!
But he thinks I can't write characters with any depth...
I can't believe how handsome he is in person...
He thinks I lack courage as a writer...
He said "we writers"...
When he touched me, I thought I'd have a heart attack...
Eve couldn't keep a constant thought in her head. The one thing she knew -- she was going to start work on her story right away. And stay at it for as long as it took.
Back in her room, she immediately fired up her laptop. She opened her story "Bittersweet" and began to read it, looking for weaknesses, opportunities.
Eve had written the story over the summer and had poured her body and soul into it. It involved a young dancer named Cyn who auditioned for, and was cast, as Juliet in a modern dance version of Romeo and Juliet.
Like Eve, Cynthia was gorgeous, blond with slender hips and full, upturned breasts. Her romantic counterpart--her Romeo--was a handsome young dancer named Kyle. He looked like a Greek god, dark with broad shoulders and an athletic, graceful physique.
At the start of rehearsals, Cyn learned the director's intention was to "sensualize" the story, to make it something that the audience could not only understand intellectually, but could feel viscerally. In his vision, the masquerade party was a celebration of pure sexual attraction, the balcony scene was a voyeuristic paean to idealized love; the bedroom scene was a lament to sexual fulfillment, gained and lost.
For Cynthia, a principled woman who was modest by nature, the approach presented a moral dilemma. She was a dedicated artist who wanted to respect her director's choices, yet she had a strong moral fibre as well. She had difficulty shedding her inhibitions. Complicating things, she soon found herself increasingly attracted to Kyle.
The first sign of trouble was when the director said he wanted the bedroom scene, where the young lovers awake after a night of lovemaking, performed partially nude. They rehearsed the scene over and over with Cyn arising from the bed, covered by only a white sheet, with her bare leg and hip visible to the audience. For their pas de deux, the director and choreographer wanted her to drop the sheet altogether, but Cyn refused. Ever the "good girl", she stuck to her guns, leading to conflict with the director.
Meanwhile, at night, the cast would go out together as a group, drinking and dancing or hanging out at one of their apartments. Cyn found herself incredibly drawn to Kyle. He had a smoldering sexiness she found intoxicating. He was so good looking, she assumed he was gay, like most of the other male dancers. Then, to her shock, he ended up hooking up with her roommate Clare, another dancer in the ensemble.
As their first performance loomed, the director and choreographer pushed Cyn to infuse her performance with more passion and sexuality. They devised choreography that placed the two dancers face to face, pressed against each other. Touching and caressing each other's bodies. Inside, Cyn was dying. She longed for Kyle but didn't dare act on her desires.
Finally, on opening night, after giving a triumphant performance, she stood alone on the stage, watching as Kyle and Clare embraced behind the descended curtain, kissing each other deeply, as the applause from the theater faded in the background.
Dammit, it WAS well-written! What does he mean none of my potential is evident in the story, that the characters are paper thin? It's called subtlety, Mister!
Eve sighed and leaned back in her chair.
OK, don't get defensive. Just get to work.
She began rewriting the first paragraph.
* * * * * *
That night, Eve lay in bed staring at the ceiling, thinking about the events of the day. From the sound of her roommate's slow, heavy breathing, she knew she was asleep. But Eve couldn't sleep. She felt antsy and couldn't turn off her brain.
Had she done enough to breathe life into Cyn's character? What would Prof. Michaels think of the changes she'd made? What did he say to her again? "Comb the corners of your imagination." Dramatize her "secret thoughts". Eve replayed the story over and over in her mind. What were Cyn's secret thoughts? What did she think when she lay in bed at night staring at the ceiling.
Her thoughts drifted back to her meeting with Prof. Michaels. The way he looked at her. The way he understood how hard it was for a young writer to find her way. The way he touched her. It may have been an innocent touch or, perhaps, it was something more. When they stood close, by the door, with his hand on her back, she felt almost as if he would embrace her. Or even kiss her goodbye. What if he had?
She replayed the moment in her mind.
"I've enjoyed our conversation immensely," he said, charmingly. "Rarely has a student so captivated me with her writing."
She responded with gratitude and an appropriate measure of humility.
"I feel I've learned so much from you in such a short time. It's quite remarkable."
"Yes," he replied, "I feel there's a certain affinity, a connection, between us that I don't feel with other students."
Her green eyes gazed at him, searchingly.
"Is that really true? I'm flattered."
"In fact, I'm tempted to cancel the rest of my afternoon meetings so we can continue our talk." He arched his eyebrows. "You know, call in with a low grade fever..."
"I'm feeling a little hot myself," she said with a winning smile.
With that, she felt his strong hand on her back begin to slowly pull her to him, until his face was a mere inches from hers. He slowly tilted his head and kissed her, gently at first, and then more passionately, his tongue finding hers. Her hands caressed his broad shoulders as her breasts pressed against his thick chest. He pulled her closer to him and she could feel his hardening cock.
He pressed his body against hers, pinning her to the bookcase behind her. She arched her back, allowing him access to her breasts. His cupped them in his big hands. They felt so big and firm. He could feel her nipples hardening through the bra and sheer fabric. He unfastened the buttons on her blouse revealing a lacy white bra. He slipped off the blouse and undid her bra revealing her full breasts, already heaving with excitement. He squeezed them in his hands, his thumbs rubbing her nipples. She let out a soft moan.
He kissed her lovely neck and shoulders, working his way down to the top of her breasts. She put her hand behind his head and guided his lips to her nipple, pressing his face against her full, firm breast. He sucked it hungrily, first one then the other, his tongue gliding over the pink areolas. She moaned again, louder, her pussy dripping with readiness. She wanted him, needed him, to be inside her. Now.
She reached down and began to undo his belt, almost frantically. She unbuttoned his pants and slid her hand under his boxers, down his crotch, and over the hardest, thickest, sweetest cock she'd ever felt. She freed it from the confines of his pants, letting them fall to his feet, and began to slowly stroke him.
His hand, meanwhile, was finding its way under her short skirt and beneath her panties to her now completely wet pussy. His fingers slid between the folds and coated them instantly with her wetness. He couldn't believe how wet, and how tight, she was. He pulled her panties down her legs, slowly.
"You're so fucking sexy," he growled.
Her hands reached down to cup his balls.
"Please," she moaned, "I want you to fuck me. Right here."
He lifted her in his strong arms and she wrapped her legs around his torso. He pressed the tip of his cock against her wet pussy. She reached and guided his cock to her hole. He slowly lowered her so the tip popped inside her. She gasped. His eyes fixed on hers, he pushed his cock into her. She cried out as she took his cock completely inside her. She'd never been filled so completely.
Pressed against the bookcase, her arms spread wide, she felt him start to stroke her. Slowly. Deeply. Pulling almost all the way out and then plunging all the way in again. Over and over. Each time he filled her. And each time she cried out. She couldn't believe how good it felt. Over and over, he thrust into her, wanting her, needing her, like he'd needed no woman before. His hands where gripping her ass, her beautiful ass, raising and lowering her onto his hard cock. He felt like he couldn't get deep enough inside her, burying himself to the hilt, making her cry out. She was so responsive it made him want to cum then and there, but he held out.