Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Three Word Wednesday: Tutored Privates

At Thom G.'s invitation, I'm going to try my hand at his Three Word Wednesday. The idea is that the writer takes the three words Thom offers up for that day and uses them in a story. Today's words are opportunity, quarrel, and service. I also kind of ripped Thom off for the theme of the story, however loosely.

Tutored Privates

"Let's not quarrel," she said in that condescending teacher-to-student way.

It figured, since she was an English teacher, that she'd use a word like "quarrel," instead of "fight" or "argue."

She was looking at me the same way she'd look at a student in class when pointing out he or she had committed the sin of fragment or run-on. Except we were in her bed, naked, covered in sweat.

She'd told me that she was getting married. My tutoring was coming to an end.

It started when Miss Valencia invited me to her house one evening. She said I needed individual attention so I might forever avoid committing the sin of fragment or run-on. I was a too-skinny fourteen year-old who'd kissed two girls and felt one breast. When I felt opportunity in the air, I told myself that it was my imagination, and that no thirty-one year-old divorced teacher was going to have sex with a nervous as hell fourteen year-old. But I started massaging her shoulders, and things started happening.

I once asked one of my uncles, the one I could talk to about anything, what it was like to be inside a woman.

He smiled, thought a moment. "I guess it's kind of like a warm, honey-soaked sponge," he said.

"You've had experience with honey-soaked sponges?."

He laughed and punched me lightly on the shoulder. "Smart ass."

When we started, I couldn't imagine that a honey-soaked sponge could feel that good. Being a Southern Baptist boy, I felt a powerful interplay going on between guilt and rapture. For perhaps forty seconds. I was embarrassed, but she told me that it was my first time, and that I shouldn't worry about performing. The second time wasn't so embarrassing.

The private tutoring lasted for two months. Twice a week, but never on weekends. Then I saw the engagement ring. It was Mr. Lund, another English teacher.

I was mad, I was hurt, and I felt used, like I'd been lured in just to service her.

One afternoon, she caught up with me as I exited the school.

"Can you come over tonight?"


She looked around before continuing. "Just to talk, okay?"


We talked for two hours. She cried. I cried. I walked to the door. She gave me a long hug, looked in my eyes, and said, "Thank you."

The next year, after her wedding, I'd see her and Mr. Lund walking to the teacher's lunch room together. I'd feel a tinge of the hurt, of the anger, of the feeling that I'd been used.

Then I'd smile.


  1. go ahead, rip off all you want if this is the result.

  2. I'll second Larry. Great stuff. And just the right ending.

  3. Yeah, I love the mix of memories and imagination. And the final line's a cracker!

  4. Excellent job. It takes great skill to develop so much in so few words.

  5. Felt for the poor boy but hey, some girl in the future is gonna benefit from that teacher's idle whim and so will the boy ;0) Good writing, enjoyed that.

  6. Love the smile at the end!
    Great place to take our words!! but you know what...
    next time my son's tutor is over... I am not leaving the room!!

  7. Well written. But the idea of kid and his teacher still makes me cringe. Even if he likes it, it's abuse. Not to be preachy but I'm a mom and I love teachers, and I hate the idea of a teacher sleeping with her students.