The Outsider Ch. 23bycaligula97236©
Chapter 23 -- A collar from Mrs. Peters
Ruthie struggled with another issue during March. She realized something she really had not wanted to think about. Increasingly she was attracted to Jen. Whenever the two women were in the room together it was very hard for Ruthie to keep her eyes off her roommate.
The two roommates continued their nightly ritual of "unwinding time" at the window. "Unwinding time" was a chance for Jen to relax and look across the Pacific Ocean towards her home in New Zealand. For Ruthie "unwinding time" was something she always looked forward to with anticipation, but for her there was no relaxing. Her hungry eyes were always fixated on Jen's body and her mind was running wild with sexual desire.
Ruthie was keeping a strange secret from Mike, one that she could not have articulated even to herself. If Jen had shown even a hint of attraction towards her, Ruthie would have done anything her roommate wanted. She wanted Jen to hold her in her arms and take charge of her. She started having submissive fantasies. Seeing her roommate's attractive body during "unwinding time", or sitting at her desk, or lying on her bed, or standing at her wardrobe...aroused feelings that she had not experienced since she had last seen her ninth-grade teacher Mrs. Sylvia Peters...and that was nearly four years ago.
The conflict in her mind grew. She deeply cared for Mike, but was not attracted to him. Her feelings towards Jen were much more sexual, but she did not like Jen's standoffish personality. So...she loved one person, but her sexual fantasies focused on a different person.
By the second week in March, Ruthie's counselor started to be curious about the relationship she was having with her new roommate. She noticed that Ruthie became nervous and blushed whenever she asked about Jen and how things were going with her. It was not hard to figure out that Ruthie was attracted to her. Hartman was curious whether there was any chance Ruthie was going to attempt to express her feelings and, if so, how Jen would react.
The counselor knew that bringing up the topic of Jen would greatly complicate her sessions with Ruthie, because she was about to open up the issue of her client's sexual orientation. However, that might explain some of the problems she was having with Mike. She started with asking Ruthie about her feelings towards her roommate, to which the student responded that it was nice that Jen was compatible and that it was nice to be living with someone who was a lot quieter than Shannon and who respected her. When Hartman got her client to talk about "unwinding time", her suspicions about Ruthie's feelings towards Jen were confirmed. Finally she got Ruthie to admit that she enjoyed looking at Jen's body and was attracted to her.
Hartman asked Ruthie if she had ever expressed her feelings to her roommate and what she hoped might happen in the future. Ruthie blushed but shook her head. For once she was realistic about a relationship. She knew that Jen was going to be leaving in May, that she was desperate to go back home, that she was not particularly friendly, and anyhow, she had a boyfriend. Hartman correctly figured that out of courtesy, Jen indulged Ruthie in conversation and tolerated her, but did not much care for her. Well, at least someone other than Mike was being courteous to Ruthie...better than what she had the semester before...
The week before Spring Break started, a couple of Dr. Hartman's clients canceled their weekly appointments, leaving her several spare slots in her schedule. She decided to offer one to Ruthie, with the idea of spending the extra time getting her client to talk about her life in high school and her last year in middle school.
The counselor already knew about Ruthie's move from Lincoln to Salinas and some of the unpleasant experiences that followed. However, Hartman wanted to learn more about that time in her life, because she was convinced her client's first year in Salinas was crucial to the way she developed throughout high school. She also was curious about Ruthie's romantic interests in middle and high school, because not once had the student mentioned anything about dating anyone other than Mike.
Hartman started with Ruthie's last two years in high school, with the intention of working her way backwards through her client's life. Before she met Mike, Ruthie had not gone out with anyone for a year and a half, not since the Junior Prom. Not one single time did she go out with anyone during her senior year in high school.
So what happened at the Junior Prom? She rebelled against her mother to go, sneaking out of the apartment and knowing there would be hell to pay when she got back. Starting with that ominous beginning the evening got progressively worse. She wore her best dress, but it was not a prom gown so she was viciously ridiculed. The guy she went with did not care in the least about her dress, because what he had in mind was being rewarded afterwards. He had a bottle of rum and several cans of Coke in a cooler in the back of his car, with the idea of getting Ruthie "loosened up" after the dance was over. After the dance they "went for a drive". She was totally scared of what was going on, but was just as afraid of going home, knowing that her infuriated mother was waiting for her.
Ruthie's date drove her to one of the hills that overlooked the road between Salinas and Monterey. At that point she knew that it was too late to get out of what was about to happen: the choice was either "doing it the easy way" or "doing it the hard way". She was terrified, but also was vaguely curious to see what her mother's church was so stressed out about, so she did not put up much resistance. Not only had she never had sex before; she had never had any alcohol before. Yes, the booze did indeed loosen her and made her relax. It didn't take much for her to get totally drunk.
Her memory of what exactly happened in the back seat of her date's car was very convoluted. She was intoxicated, sick, and disoriented. She remembered that it took him a very long time to work up an erection and all the while she was getting dizzier and dizzier. He pushed her onto the seat, pulled off her skirt and panties, and mounted her. He had trouble getting in. He thrust and grunted. Ruthie felt pain, but nothing else.
So, that was it? That was what everyone was making such a big deal about? Then she blacked out.
A few minutes later she was awake, stumbling around, and throwing up on the gravel road. She did not remember much of the trip back to Salinas.
By the time she returned to her mother's apartment, Ruthie was sober enough to dread what awaited her as soon as she went back inside. She expected her mother to slap her face to pieces, but when she went back in, Doña Lisette was crying. She didn't ask for an explanation, because it was very clear what had happened.
Ruthie's mother did not speak to her for several weeks afterwards. She never spoke to Ruthie about what happened that night, because she was overwhelmed with shame. She never forgave her daughter and from that point forward always looked at her with bitterness and hurt. Although they never spoke about Junior Prom night, both women felt the memory of that squalid incident weighing on them every time they were together.
Hartman tried to figure out if what happened to Ruthie legally constituted rape. She didn't resist because she was drunk, and it was obvious she was drunk because her date had planned ahead to have sex. The counselor would have considered that rape because of the rum, but she knew a lot of juries would disagree. Ruthie was aware of what was likely to happen when she agreed to go with her date in his car following the dance and, drunk or not, she did not really resist. At least she did not get pregnant...had that happened then her life really would have been messed up, because there was not a chance her mother would have allowed her to have an abortion. As bad as the trip to that gravel road had been for Ruthie, it could have been a lot worse. Hartman pointed that out to her client, who responded by listlessly shrugging her shoulders.
Ruthie's Junior Prom experience, which started out as an attempt to rebel against her mother and ended so badly a few hours later, proved to be a traumatic turning point that eliminated any chance she could have friends or positive experiences during her senior year. Instead she became more of a recluse, shut up in her room as much as possible during her final months in high school.
She had another reason to isolate herself during her final year, because Gerardo already had graduated. For the first three years in school Ruthie could count on Gerardo's fist to keep any potential tormentors at bay, but during her senior year that protection was gone. The only person with whom she had any interaction in school at all was her cousin Rosa. Ruthie was aware that her situation put Rosa in a dilemma, because Rosa wanted to be as nice as possible to her cousin, but she had her own circle of friends and Ruthie definitely did not fit in. So, Ruthie tried to impose as little as possible and retreated to her books and her fantasies.
By the middle of her senior year she became aware that she was the top-ranking candidate for a university scholarship from her class. That piece of good news encouraged her to live for the future and write-off high school altogether. She read, she studied, and she focused on how much better things were going to be as soon as she could get out of Salinas.
Dr. Hartman became increasingly interested in her client's past as she unraveled the events that had formed her character. So far there were four that she was aware of: the death of Ruthie's grandmother, the move to Salinas, Junior Prom, and most recently, her interactions with Mike and Shannon. She was aware that there was still a gap in her knowledge of the girl's past: what, if anything, happened between the move to Salinas and Junior Prom. It was very likely the fiasco of Junior Prom was triggered by something else, because if Ruthie had developed any self-esteem prior to the end of her junior year, there is no way she would have allowed her date to take her out of Salinas and get her drunk so he could have sex with her.
The next event Hartman learned about was the evening after Bible study Ruthie realized she no longer believed in God. Ruthie was much more eager to talk about that than she had been to talk about the Junior Prom. She gave Hartman the same details she gave Mike, going on and on about why she became so hostile towards the Christian message. OK...so there's another question answered, thought Hartman, why Ruthie wasn't getting any support (or input, which would be a better way to put it) from her church at the end of her junior year. Ruthie, in her own mind, had formally rejected anything her church would have had to say about her behavior and relationships, which was precisely why she rebelled and went to the prom against her mother's wishes.
Hartman invited Ruthie to another extra session, with the hope of exploring a specific event in her life. The counselor was interested in her client's first crush...her first feelings of love for another person. Ruthie blushed and fidgeted. She talked about her first kiss when she was 12, which happened just a couple months after she arrived in Salinas. It was with one of Gerardo's friends. At the time Ruthie was hanging out with her cousins, because her mother had not yet been able to change her work schedule to stand watch over her during the afternoons. Ruthie spent her time at her cousins' house and there were plenty of other friends coming over as well. Ruthie kissed on a dare from Rosa, with a kid who was definitely interested in her. The kissing dares went on for a couple of days.
Doña Lisette was horrified when she found out what was going on. She screamed at Rosa and Gerardo, berated her brother for running "den of fornication", and severely punished Ruthie, forcing her to sit at the dining room table for five entire evenings. Each night Ruthie had to sit four hours without moving. The first night she badly had to go to the bathroom after she had been sitting for an hour. Her mother denied her permission to get up, saying that it was "God's punishment" for being such a slut. For three hours Ruthie sat in agony, desperately waiting for the night's session at the table to end. Those were three of the longest hours of her life.
The incident motivated Doña Lisette to push much harder to get her work schedule changed and get Ruthie away from her "degenerate" cousins. Three weeks later Ruthie's mother managed to alter her schedule, and the girl's afternoons hanging out with Rosa and Gerardo came to a quick end.
So...Hartman was curious. What happened at school? Was Ruthie interested in that friend of Gerardo that she kissed? Ruthie blushed and fidgeted...before finally answering "not really".
"But there was someone you liked? Someone else, maybe?"
"Maybe...you'd like to talk about him?"
Ruthie blushed more and ran her fingers through her already disheveled hair:
"I...it wasn't a 'him', Dr. Hartman..." Ruthie took a deep breath. "This is kinda embarrassing...to have to talk about..."
"You don't have to talk about it, Ruthie. But if you're here trying to figure out why your life has gone the way it has, you do have to be aware of yourself and what things in your past might have affected you."
Ruthie sat quietly, working up the nerve to share something with Hartman that she had never spoken about to anyone. She stared at the floor...
"I...you know when I was like...in my freshman year of high school...I had a thing for my English teacher. I'd have all these fantasies about her. Her name was Mrs. Peters. I'd guess she must have been about 40 when I had her class. She was tall and thin, always well dressed, very severe, and had this big yardstick in her hand when she was teaching. The other kids hated her, but she had this way in class that no one ever messed with her. She was the only white teacher in the school the kids took seriously...'cause she had this way...I don't know how she did it...but this way of always being in charge, even around the gang-bangers. She knew how to make you feel really small...just by looking at you in her special way...and she had these sarcastic comments...and the kids were afraid of her...but I really liked her..."
Ruthie paused...trying to think about how she could put her disjointed memories together to express them coherently.
"She was totally different from any woman I knew. You gotta remember that I had been going to my mom's church for a year, and they were totally into the submissive and serving woman...you know that it was Eve's fault that people sin and bullshit like that...so women were 'sposed to be on a guilt trip over Eve's screw-up and always do what guys told them...and here was Mrs. Peters...she was totally the opposite of what they were teaching in my church...walking around with her big yardstick and cutting into anyone who messed with her. She was totally in charge...and it was the first time since I moved to Salinas that I ever saw someone like that. I mean...I was just as afraid of her as everyone else...but I really started liking her."
"I was having all these fantasies anyway...you know...my thing with running around the apartment naked...and then I read a story on the Internet in the library about this middle school principal who got fired because he was paddling students (all boys, I think) in his office in their underwear. The whole idea of standing in a vice principal's office, just in my underwear...totally fascinated me...and then I started having all these fantasies about it. I wanted to be a bad girl and go to the principal's office and strip down to my underwear and be all scared while I was waiting to get paddled...and then I saw something else...on the Internet...It was at the public library...and I was waiting for a computer...and this guy got off but I guess he must have forgotten to log off...and there was this website he was looking at...from Europe...and it was showing these schoolgirls getting punished by teachers...and the girls were totally naked...and the teachers were hitting them with canes. I couldn't believe what I was seeing...and I started going through the pictures...some of the teachers were guys and some were women...but the girls were always naked...and I was thinking it'd be really neat to live wherever they punished girls like that. And here I was...really getting into the pictures and looking around...and then the guy's session timed out and the computer logged him off. I was totally upset about it...'cause I wasn't paying attention to the name of the website, or else I would've tried to find it and look around some more...but seeing those girls...all naked and getting their butts whipped...I can't tell you what it did to how I was thinking about things..."
Ruthie fidgeted and started talking faster.
"So the next day I go back to school, and there's Mrs. Peters, walking around with her big yardstick and threatening some gang-banger with detention and being all sarcastic with him and making him look like a total idiot. And I started thinking about her and her yardstick and that country where they'd take schoolgirls into the principal's office and make 'em take off all their clothes and beat them in the nude...and then I was wanting that to be me and Mrs. Peters. I wanted to be in her detention and I wanted her to punish me. I would have loved to have stayed after school...and she'd pull up my dress and pull down my panties...and use the yardstick on my bare butt. Later on I fantasized about her making me get completely undressed, pulling down the blinds, and having to do chores around the classroom in the nude before she spanked me with the yardstick. I'd fantasize about her paddling me too...like those kids that got that vice principal in trouble...but I'd be totally naked while she was doing it."
Hartman reflected about her client's situation...how something as simple as reading an article and spending a few minutes looking at a pornographic website on a library computer that had been left up purely by coincidence...how that could have had such an effect on her client, her sexual fantasies, and how her teacher got mixed up in those fantasies. She commented:
"I'm going to guess you were a good girl in her class. One of her best students. Never once got in trouble."
"She liked me...was a lot friendlier to me than she was to most of her students...she spent time going over my papers and assignments after class. She was paying attention to me, but I was really shy...but I always wanted to be around her...and I'd come into her room and help her clean up...I think she was wondering why I'd want to spend my free time helping her in her room, but she let me come in...and then for the second half of the year she appointed me student aide for the class...I helped her get field trips organized and stuff like that...and I was doing everything I could to make her happy...but at the same time I was having all these fantasies about her punishing me...you know...hitting my butt with her big yardstick...She'd lay out my assignments on her desk and show me what I was doing wrong and was telling me that she expected me to do better. She'd say 'Ruthie, I know you can do better and it's what I expect from you. Please don't disappoint me with your next paper.' And I now know that she was just trying to get me to write well so I could do better in my other classes...but I really wanted to please her...I mean...I would have done anything she wanted."
Hartman wondered about Mrs. Peters...wondering if she really was so oblivious to what her student was feeling towards her. She doubted that, because Ruthie was unable to hide what she was feeling at any moment. It must have been obvious to the teacher that the girl did indeed have a crush on her. The thought crossed Hartman's mind that perhaps Mrs. Peters felt something for Ruthie as well...maybe not love...but perhaps appreciation that among all those hostile students there was one who stood out, who really cared for her. Hartman was sure that Mrs. Peters never took advantage of her student, because if she had, that would have come out in her client's narrative. Nevertheless, it was interesting that Ruthie's teacher let her come into the classroom after hours and appointed her the class student aide. She would have liked to talk to Mrs. Peters to get her perspective on the student, but knew that overcoming the confidentiality restrictions of the school district would take up too much of her time. Ruthie was not the counselor's only patient, after-all.