Old School TiesbyStorm62©
Two unrelated real events brought together and romanced up provide the basis for this little tale.
Dave thought her name was familiar when he got the letter asking him to attend a job interview. When he saw her he knew she was the same woman who ten years previously had been a student teacher for his last term at school. He did well in the interview and she stood and shook his hand at the end saying that he'd got the job and that confirmation in writing would follow in a day or so.
"Excuse me for asking." Dave said as he stood ready to leave. "But you are the same Miss Victoria Henderson who taught English for a term at Ashton Moor High School aren't you?"
She looked at him surprised but nodded.
"Yes, I did teach for a short while, but I gave it up because it was obvious that all the girls hated me and all the boys just stared and learnt nothing." She looked hard at him. "You do seem familiar Dave, is there any reason I should remember you?"
Dave looked down for a moment then looked back into her deep blue eyes.
"Probably not. I have to admit to the staring, but you gave me a tremendous boost one afternoon, said something that has helped me ever since."
She motioned him to sit again. He did, wondering whether this was a good idea.
"I think I recall you now, but tell me anyway."
He nervously began to recount what she had said.
"A group of us, three boys and a girl were talking about something, I can't remember what now, but Lisa asked you what you thought we'd be doing in five years time. You said we'd probably all be married. We all laughed and John said that I wouldn't be because I was gay. You just took one look at me and said there was no way I was, that just by looking you could tell, that I was more masculine than most of the boys in the class."
"How did that help?"
"I'd always had trouble getting a date, I couldn't talk to girls, they were scary creatures." She smiled. "Anyway, Lisa must have told half the girls in our year. After that I had no trouble getting a date, even after I left."
"I still don't see how that was my doing."
"I was the only one who saw the wink, Miss Henderson. You were lying."
Now she laughed.
"So how did that help you then?"
"Suddenly I realised that not all females were scary, that they didn't all think I was out for one thing only. That was a huge boost to me."
"But you were! You all were."
"I was only sixteen; the world was suddenly full of desirable females. I'm sure girls felt the same way." Dave looked away for a moment.
She looked him straight in the eye.
"Yes, we did. And you think I took pity on you?"
"No, more hoped. Anyway it gave me a new outlook and for that I thank you now." He got up to leave again. "I'll never mention it again to anyone here. Thank you for the job too."
As he left Victoria Henderson sat back and let her mind wander back to those days as a student teacher. That one term had been enough to convince her she wasn't teacher material. There had been too many young men, full of testosterone, full of the naivety of youth. She wasn't much older than most of them and the temptations had been enormous. The girls hadn't liked her because they saw her as a threat, and the boys! The boys had only one thing on their minds and it wasn't the lesson. She smiled to herself. Dave had been the one who had caught her eye though. She did remember that incident. The others had always been teasing him and he always took it with a shrug. To this day she didn't know why she'd said what she did, or why she'd winked at him as she said it. Victoria sighed. Water under the bridge. He was still kind of cute though. No! She admonished herself. He was now an employee of the company and she was a representative of the company, nothing could happen. She picked up his file and put it away.
Dave soon settled into his new job. It wasn't complicated, just checking and filing reports as they came in, but he was conscientious and gained a reputation for reliability. His six month probation was nearly up when he was asked to do a special report and e-mail it to 'Miss Henderson'. He completed it and sent it off, finding her company e-mail address in the computers contact file. Pleased with himself he went home. After turning on his home computer he checked his inbox. As he did he noticed that his server was offering valentine day greetings e-cards. Mischievously he decided to send one to Victoria; after all, she didn't know his personal e-mail address did she? So it would still be anonymous. He added a flirty message and sent it.
He was a bit worried the next day at work, but no summons to see his supervisor arrived and he relaxed. He got home and checked his e-mails as he always did. He'd got a reply from Victoria! The message was one of curiosity and was also a little bit flirtatious. He replied in kind without thinking too much. The next day he worried all day again, but when he got home once more there was another message. This exchange of e-mails went on for nearly three weeks. Then on a Saturday night, when he'd had a little too much to drink, he sent Victoria a message that went beyond flirting. That Sunday was agonising for Dave as he realised what he'd done. As he lay awake that night, unable to sleep, he decided he'd better confess first thing in the morning, before she opened the e-mail, and take whatever happened.
Victoria was a little surprised to see Dave outside her office when she arrived.
"Hello David, I didn't think we had a meeting today. You finished your probation a couple of weeks ago." She smiled as he jumped.
"Yes, yes I did. This isn't about that."
"Come in and tell me what it is then." She said, opening her office door. Dave reluctantly followed her in. "Sit down." She indicated the chair.
"I think I'd better stand."
"What is it then?" Victoria said, sitting at her desk and turning on her computer.
"Errrr, can I ask you not to open your e-mails Miss Henderson?" Dave stuttered.
"Why ever not?"
"Because." He took a deep breath. "Because it's been me sending you those e-mails. And the one that I sent Saturday when I'd had too much to drink, is a little, well, racy."
"Oh, it's too late for that. I accessed them from home yesterday." She smiled. Dave's shoulders slumped. "I knew they were from you anyway Dave, but thank you for your honesty." He looked up in shock. "Don't look so surprised, you gave me your e-mail address when you applied for the job."
"I did? So why haven't you had me sacked?"
"Why would I do that?" She saw the surprise on his face. "It was nice to read ALL of your messages. Everyone here sees me as some sort of ice maiden, but you don't seem to. Why is that?"
"I suppose I still see you as that student teacher who helped me out. Will I get into trouble for this?"
"I don't think so, but it might be better if you used my home e-mail address." Victoria pushed a piece of paper across her desk. Tentatively Dave picked it up and carefully opened it; still a little afraid she was pulling his leg, but it was just an e-mail address. "I'll look forward to your next message then." Victoria smiled.
Dave stumbled out of the office and found his way to his own desk, his head spinning. He hardly dared to believe it; she actually seemed to be enjoying the attention. Somehow he managed to get through the day after he got his mind back onto his work. He went home and turned on his computer; he had mail. Victoria had replied to Saturday's message. He sat and tried to think what to write back, but nothing came. When he'd thought she didn't know who was sending them it had seemed easy; now however he just couldn't think. A long forgotten piece of advice came back to him. "Write as if you are talking." Where had he heard that? At school.... And then he remembered; it had been Victoria. He smiled to himself and began to type, a totally different sort of message to the ones he had been sending.
Victoria was wondering if she had done the right thing by encouraging Dave, but his messages had been witty and intelligent and fun to read, although that last one had been a bit near to the knuckle. It was the teacher in her, the one that couldn't cope with a class, but could recognise a talent for writing however it manifested itself. There was a ding from her computer, she had left it on with the e-mail alert enabled and had sat down to look through some reports. It could be from anyone, she thought, after all lots of people have my e-mail address. Nevertheless she felt her heart beating a little faster as she hurried over to her machine. This is stupid she told herself, I should not be applauding him, but he has such a sweet way with words. I don't remember that from my days teaching him, I wonder how he developed it. It was from Dave. She opened it up. It was a bit longer than usual. She began to read....
The e-mails passed to and fro between them for many months. Sometimes Dave just wrote messages or replies, but sometimes he included a story he'd written. Victoria looked forward to reading those. More and more he asked her advice on what he called his 'long story'. It was something he'd been writing on and off for many years, but he was close to finishing it now, well the basic storyline anyway. Victoria was more than happy to suggest alternatives or additions. There was a huge info dump in one chapter that he wasn't happy with and she tried to think of some way to spread the information out without destroying the pace of the rest of the piece, but nothing came to either of them, so it stayed in.
Then one day Dave got a message asking him to come round to Victoria's flat. Puzzled, he typed a quick reply and then made his way over there. He rang the bell and was let in.
"Thanks for coming over Dave. I have some things I need to ask you and some information too." Now his curiosity was piqued as well. Victoria showed him into the lounge and went to make coffee. "The first thing I need to know is are you happy at the company?"
"Well, yes, I suppose so."
"Good. Then there is a post coming up that I think you should apply for. You can do the job, and I want to make your position safe."
"Why? What's happening?"
"They want to make some changes, and some of the jobs in your office are going. But if you get this new post, you'll be all right. Here are the details and an application form. Just don't mess up the interview, because I won't be there."
Dave had a nasty suspicion forming in his mind.
"Why not? What's happening to you?"
"My post is going completely. But I don't mind because I want to go back to teaching."
"You do?" Dave asked in surprise. "Why?"
"Yes. Helping you has reawakened my desire to teach. I want to try teaching again, all the problems I had before should have gone."
"Oh, I don't know. The boys will still stare and the girls will still see you as a threat, you're still a looker you know." He grinned.
"Thank you for that unsolicited praise." She laughed. "But I'm better equipped to handle that now. My ice maiden will help there." She paused. "The truth is, I've been thinking about it for a couple of months, and now they want to lose some middle management, me, the time is right for me to try again."
"I wish I could say I won't miss you, but I will. Is there no other post you could fill?"
"Maybe, but I want to try this." She smiled at him. "Anyway, we can still keep in touch can't we?"
"Sure. I still need help."
"No you don't, but thanks for thinking that." They both grinned.
Dave wasn't sure about what was happening; it felt like Victoria was trying to push him away.
"You said 'questions' when I came in, what else is on your mind?"
This time she looked away for a moment. When she looked back he could see that she was blushing.
"I've always wondered, those 'secret' e-mails, did you mean what you wrote in them?"
He sat next to her and took her hand.
"I meant every word, even the smutty ones." He hesitated, but this seemed as good a time as any. "You see Miss Henderson; I've had a crush on you since that wink."
"An older woman too?" She grinned. He grinned back.
"Not that much older, you make yourself sound ancient."
"It feels like that sometimes." She sighed. "I think I ought to tell you, you caught my eye too, back then."
"I did?" There was genuine surprise in his voice.
"You did. You always stood out from the other boys, more serious, more considerate than the others. I always enjoyed teaching you, then and now." Another sigh. "And then you turned up in my office."
"What are we going to do about it?" Dave asked.
"There's not much we can do is there? I'll be leaving soon and going away to teacher training college. Maybe one of us should have said something sooner?"
"Maybe. We'll still keep in touch though, won't we?"
"Of course! I want to read everything you write, and you need to get that novel published."
"Novel? Oh, the long story. I still think it needs polishing."
"So send it to someone and see what they say."
"I didn't write it for that, I told you."
"Why ever you wrote it, I think its good enough to be published, so try, for me if not for you."
"All right already. You don't need to nag."
"I think I do. I know you need pushing." There was a twinkle in her eye. Dave had a sudden feeling and on impulse acted on it. He kissed her. She didn't pull away as he had feared, but instead kissed back.
They had a small party at the office to say goodbye the day Victoria left. Dave wasn't the only one who knew she'd be missed, but he felt worse than all the others, mainly because he felt he was losing a soul mate. He tried to put on a brave face and failed abysmally. Well-wishers came and went, everyone toasting Victoria and hoping she would be happy. Dave waited until the last moment and asked her how she was getting home, offering to take her. She accepted and he drove her home. She would have been merry but for the fact she was leaving behind so many good friends. He helped her to the door.
"When are you leaving for the college?" He asked, finally allowing the misery he felt creep into his voice.
"Tomorrow. I got lucky with the way the terms fell."
"Will I ever see you again?"
"Of course you will. And once you've settled into your new job and I'm sorted, we can send our e-mails again."
"I'm going to miss you Miss Henderson, who else can I have a sensible conversation with?" He kissed her softly and hugged her.
"This isn't the end you know? Look on it as a new beginning." She whispered in his ear.
"I liked it as it was." Suddenly he couldn't bear it any longer. He hugged her again and then turned away and left, tears starting to form in his eyes. He couldn't let her see him like this. "Goodbye Victoria." He whispered.
She caught his words.
"See you around Dave." She said quietly.
It felt strange for Dave, going into a classroom again, but this was where the writing club was meeting. Since the success of his two novels he had managed to get all his short stories published in one volume. This in turn had led to the invite to speak to this club back at his old school. He would have come anyway, but the fact that Victoria was in charge of the club had guaranteed it. Three years had passed since she'd decided to go back to teacher training college. In those three years she had still helped him hone his first two novels until they were published. The things she'd taught him had made the second one much easier to write, but she had still been the first one to read it, he'd wanted her approval before sending it off to the editor. Though they were still in constant contact, this would be their first meeting for over a year, since she had somehow managed to get a teaching job back here at his old school. Victoria met him at the door.
"Hello Dave. Long time, no see." She said, kissing him on the cheek. He responded by kissing her properly. She looked at him in surprise.
"Sorry about that, but it's been too long." He smiled.
"Thanks for coming; everyone is so looking forward to meeting you."
"How could I refuse my muse?"
"Will you be all right? With the talking I mean. You said you always hated talking in public."
"I've got used to it on the signing tour. Now lead on Miss Henderson."
She introduced him to her club.
"Well people, I'd like to introduce an old pupil from here. I actually taught him for a term before I left teaching for a while."
He received a warm welcome. The members of the club were all interested in finding new ways to write. Before the questions started though Dave pulled out several slim new books.
"This has just been published." He said. "It's a collection of poems, companions to the short stories. I'd like you to share them." He passed them out to the eager novice writers. "This one, however, is special." He passed it to Victoria. She opened it and read the inscription he'd written and smiled at him. Then he began to talk. He told them some of the tricks he had picked up. He even told them about writing an ending if they got stuck and working towards it, explaining he sometimes did this when the characters seemed to be steering the story, that way he had some way of controlling them. He knew Victoria wasn't fond of this method, but she didn't seem to mind about him telling them about it. They asked questions about characters and storylines. He explained as much as he could remember, carefully skirting the fact that half of the women in his short stories at least were based on Victoria. He told them not to be afraid of using real people and situations, but to try and disguise them. The hour flew by and Dave was surprised when Victoria called a halt to the questioning.
"So, are there any last questions?" She asked.
"Actually, I have a question that I'd like to ask you." Dave said, moving to where she was sat.
"All right." She said, a hint of uncertainty in her voice.
"Will you, Miss Victoria Henderson, marry me?" He said, dropping onto one knee before her. There was a cheer from the club, one or two of them having an inkling that Victoria was the subject of more than one story and poem. She looked embarrassed, but held his outstretched hand.
"Of course I will." She said, kissing him.