My English Professor, Part III #shortfiction

The Reveal

I sip my tea. It’s perfect. Just the right amount of tannin and sweetness and warmth that I cling to.

“Do you remember when we to Brooks Tavern?” I ask, carefully watching his reaction.

He stiffens, averts his gaze. “We went there many times, Sara. You’ll have to be more specific.”

I smile. From his initial reaction, I know that the first thing he remembered was that night.

“I was thinking of that final day of term before Christmas break two years ago,” I say.

He settles into his chair with his cup of tea. His face is a study in neutrality. He glances briefly at me before shrugging his shoulders. “As I said, we’ve been there so often. Was there something special about that night that I don’t remember?”

I grin, almost maniacally because I know he remembers and is trying to pretend he doesn’t. “I kissed you.”

He raises his eyebrows. “You did? I don’t recall.”

He’s a bad liar.

“Are you certain? Because I’m positive you kissed me back.”

He shakes his head. “I’m certain I’d remember that.”

I settle back in my chair. Hear Professor Pavolitz say goodbye to Ana Bres, the administrative assistant in his peculiar sing-song tone. The old wooden steps creak with his departure.

Giles’ eyes never meet mine. Even as I try to catch his gaze, he angles his face away.

“I’m in love with you,” I say. The words feel free on my tongue and I relish saying them.

Now his eyes jump toward mine. What is it I see in them? Hope? Fear? Sadness? Rejection?

“Sara, please. I just ask that you don’t continue down this path—”

“Because, why? Giles, please tell me.”

He shakes his head, looks away. He stares too long at an imprint, La Boheme, that hangs on his wall. “You ask too many questions. Why can’t you just let things be? Let me go to England? Forget me?”

I lean forward, hope prodding me on. “Because I love you. I will always love you. I will love you until the day I die.”

He closes his eyes as if my words pain him. The smile falls from my lips.

“Do I disgust you?” I ask, my voice faltering, trembling, because that would be worse than anything I could imagine, especially after all of these years.

He shakes his head. His eyes are sad, his smile too. “I can’t live here anymore, Sara. Don’t you see? I have cancer.”

And the bottom of the world falls out from under me. I am tumbling down, reaching at stars, cliffs, anything to halt my fall, but it’s too late.

more to come

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