I caught her eye from the other side of the room. I smiled, and she smiled back. She was talking to my friend Hugo, who wore more pink than any girl I knew. He was hosting a pre-second-semester party for his friends (who, incidentally, were nearly all queer). I could see him gesturing to me, and eventually he waved me over.
“Heidi, this is my friend Rosie,” he said to her, then said to me, “Rosie, Heidi.”
“Hey,” I said, more shyly than I would have liked.
“Hi,” she said in a Spanish accent, and smiled.
“I’m going to go and get drinks,” Hugo announced, suspiciously like he had no intention of returning.
“So…” I began the small talk, “are you at university here?”
“Yes, I am doing my honours in Spanish this year. Are you?”
“Yes, I’m in my first year. I have been doing a huge variety of papers this year so I still don’t really know what I am studying yet.”
“What are you most interested in?” Her accent was incredibly sexy.
“I really love the Arts – Anything that involves writing really, and any languages,” Especially Spanish, apparently.
I made a mental note to pick up a Spanish course in the coming semester.
“That’s the same with me,” she agreed, “but I spent my entire first year doing Biology, which was interesting enough but…”
I made a finger-down-my-throat gesture and she laughed, nodding.
We talked for a while about subjects we had taken at school and, as far as I could tell, we had all the same academic interests. I knew I was flirting because I was doing the all of the weird I’m-so confident-and-mature things that I do when I am trying to impress women. I was being overly verbose, and using any opportunity to utilise my wit. I couldn’t help it. Thankfully, I didn’t seem to be making a fool of myself, in fact, I think it was quite the opposite.
“So, where are you from?” she asked, and I could feel the conversation taking another step forward.
“Oh, this really small town called Cranbrook. It’s south of Perth.”
She stared at me.
“You have no idea where it is do you?” I grinned, “It’s okay, no one ever does.”
Her face fell into her palms.
“What? It’s not that bad!” I exclaimed.
She looked at me in disbelief, “That’s where my whole family is from! I go there every year for Christmas!”
She shook her head, “No, really.”
“Well, what’s your family name? There is a one hundred and ten percent chance that I know them.”
“Wallace, they own –“
“Yeah, a vineyard, really close to where I live! So you are related to Eva?”
“She’s my cousin, you know her?”
“We were really close friends when we were little. We went to different boarding schools when we got older, so I didn’t see her much after that.”
“Yeah I think she went full boarding somewhere ages away, she was never around when I visited. Except on Christmas, of course.”
We sat in silence for a bit, neither of us believing this crazy coincidence. No one knows Cranbrook, I am not exaggerating. It boasts a population of around 300. And that would be a generous estimate.
“So how come I never saw you around?” I asked, almost with a hint of disappointment that I hadn’t met this girl before.
“My mum grew up there, but my family lived in Spain for my whole life. My parents moved back there to help my auntie out with the vineyard so I decided I would move back with them and just go to university here in Australia.”
I nodded in understanding.
“This is so weird,” I stated, to no one in particular.
“So weird,” she echoed.
We were interrupted by my friend Carrie, who was sufficiently drunk. She pulled me up and made me go and help her set the speakers up, which evidently was too difficult for her to do alone. When I looked back at Heidi, she was texting. We didn’t talk again all night, and the next time I looked for her she was heading out to take a phone call.
It started to get late, so I left. I still hadn’t worked out what courses I was taking and I had to try and figure it out by the time uni started on Monday, which was only a day away.
I spent the whole next morning on the internet scrolling through the entire list of papers offered at my university. I already knew I was going to continue with intermediate French, and I definitely wanted to try to do some more English papers. A Cinema Studies paper stood out as interesting as well. But I suddenly had a new-found interest in Spanish. I had done it for a few years at school, but had never really kept it up. The only problem was that I hadn’t done Spanish in first semester, so I didn’t have the prerequisite. I wrote an email to the course coordinator explaining that I had done a bit of Spanish at school, and I was also doing intermediate French which might help my general understanding of Spanish grammar and vocabulary. I sent the email and forgot about it until I received a reply on Wednesday – after I’d already chosen all of my courses.
Your situation has been considered and you have been allowed special entry into the second semester beginner Spanish class. I trust you will read through the first semester textbooks and try to grasp the material which was covered, though I am sure that this will not be too difficult considering you have studied Spanish to some extent at school.
Professor Kristen Cortés, Spanish Course Coordinator.
Well, I still wanted to take Spanish, so I quickly headed onto the StudentWeb and dropped one of my least favourite English papers in order to pick up Spanish. I was then prompted to sign up for a Spanish tutorial class, so I picked Stream K, which fitted nicely with both my timetable and my non-earlybird sleeping pattern.
I went to my first Spanish lecture the next day, and I figured I probably didn’t really need to buy all the first semester textbooks – it would be a waste of money when all I needed was a bit of refreshing. Stream K tutorials were scheduled for Thursday afternoons, so I had my first tutorial as well, straight after the lecture. I did a quick detour to the bookshop to get the tutorial workbook, but I knew it would make me a bit late. I walked briskly (no one runs at my uni, I don’t know why, maybe everyone’s scared they’ll look stupid?) to the Languages block and rushed into my tutorial room.
“Sorry, I’m la–” I stopped and all my breath escaped me.
The thing about tutorial classes, especially language ones, is that they are really, really small, and therefore if you walk in late, you disrupt the class and everyone looks at you. Which I don’t usually mind. Unless I walk in and get an absolute shock because Heidi is my Spanish tutor and I go bright red while everyone’s eyes are on me. Which is exactly what happened.
She looked just as surprised as I did, but dealt with the situation in a normal way – the sort of way that escapes my capabilities when an awkward moment is thrown at me like that.
“Rosie, I didn’t realise you were doing Spanish this semester,” she smiled, “take a seat, we’ve just started on page 12.”
My thought was, Holy shit she’ll think I’m stalking her. Just that. Repeating over and over in my head. Teamed with me standing there awkwardly.
After what seemed like a good few minutes of me being frozen on the spot, I came to my senses and took a seat. I took my workbook out and stared at it absently, trying with all my will-power to pacify my flushed face. Obviously my classmates had no idea why it was awkward, but there was no doubt that they knew it was awkward.
I seriously considered changing tutorial streams, but I knew that the only other ones that didn’t clash with any of my lectures were at eight o’clock in the morning. I’m sorry, I told myself, but no amount of awkwardness is ever going to be enough to get me up at seven in the morning. And it was final in my head. This entire semester was going to be awkward, unless, of course, I made it not awkward. I had to be mature about this. My tutor was a girl who I had maybe had a small crush on but who definitely didn’t like me. That part was okay. So maybe the awkwardness came purely from the unexpectedness that two lesbians who had met earlier at a party would suddenly be thrown into the much-less-relaxed environment of a university tutorial class. Made worse by the instantaneous change from a “potentially friends” relationship to a “teacher-student” relationship.
Oh my gosh. I was over analysing this. It. Was. Going. To. Be. Fine.
“Rosie, do you know the Spanish verb for to run?” Heidi probed gently.
Huh? Oh yes, I do. I can conjugate it in both the past and the present tense as well. What is it again? Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
“No, I don’t,” I stumbled.
Maybe it wasn’t going to be fine.
When the minute hand ticked onto the hour, I couldn’t get out of that tutorial fast enough.
“Wait, Rosie!” I heard her call, and I stopped mid-departure.
“Yeah?” I turned around and walked back to her.
“Hey, it was nice meeting you on Saturday. I’m glad you’ve chosen to do Spanish, it’s a great language. You didn’t do it in first semester though?” She smiled, normally.
“Yeah I really wanted to do it, so I emailed the course coordinator,” I replied, awkwardly.
“Mmm,” she mused, “but I noticed that you didn’t know basic verbs, I can give you some books for extra help if you need it?”
I wanted to say that I did know the verbs, but I forgot them due to my mind being a little bit pre-occupied with all the awkwardness. But then I would have sounded more awkward, so I said that yes, I did need extra help. Great. Now she probably thought I was not only a stalker, but a stalker at the expense of my own grades.
I walked back to my flat with Spanish: A Fun Introduction For Keen Tweens tucked under my arm, written by someone whose name sounded like she was probably a kindergarten teacher. I tell you, my self esteem was at rock bottom. She’d be giving me conjugation place mats next. Or flash cards with stupid little pictures on them so I could learn what the word for “pink, fluffy teddy bear” was.
Tutorials continued to be wonderfully dreadful. I couldn’t stop thinking about how sexy her accent was, and how so deliciously school-teacher-like she became. It was with my absolute best efforts that I stopped myself fantasising about her hitting my desk with a long wooden ruler and telling me I was a very bad student. And no matter how much I studied, I would forget everything as soon as I heard her voice. In fact, once, on a day that Heidi must have been sick, we had a fill-in tutor, and I think everyone in the class noticed that I actually knew every single answer and could string together Spanish sentences muy bien. All traces of my above-satisfactory Spanish disappeared as soon as we had Heidi back though.
In our fifth tutorial, we had a mid-semester test. Naturally, a written test was a lot easier to concentrate on so I had no trouble answering the questions. I even got a bit carried away in one of the long answer questions – As soon as my answer showed the beginnings of a novel-worthy plot I knew that I had gone out of my depth. I was still proud of what I had written though.
After our sixth tutorial, the last of the third term, Heidi asked to see me after class. She had given everyone’s tests back except mine. We stood by the doorway, and I could see she was holding my test by her side.
“Rosie, your test was concerning…” Heidi sounded serious.
“Oh,” I said, slightly upset, “What was my mark?”
“You got an A plus…”
“Umm, well that’s alright, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it’s really good! But…”
I waited for it.
“…it shows a higher level of ability than you demonstrated in tutorials.”
I couldn’t argue with that.
“Is there any reason for this, Rosie?” she asked.
I had a decision to make now. I could lie and say that I just found the oral part of Spanish much harder than the written. Or, I could tell her the truth. And then, for some reason, I found the confidence that I needed.
I stepped forward, just a bit, looked her right in the eye and said, “I suppose I found myself quite distracted in class.”
For the first time, I felt like I had the upper hand. She seemed surprised by my move, and I waited to see how she would respond. She paused, almost as if for effect, then brushed a strand of hair off my face slowly. Taking the upper hand right back, she leaned forward, slipping her hand right past me, and shut the door. I heard the lock click. The gesture had inevitably lead to body contact and my arm tensed as she pulled hers back.
“Rosie of Cranbrook…” she whispered in her accent, as she twirled the hair at the back of my head around her fingers. We were locked in an intense gaze, our faces nearly touching. Her black waves were slipping out of her hair pin, and I watched the locks drop past her shoulders.
“Yes?” I managed to say between my staggered breaths.
She answered by softly pulling on my upper lip with her teeth. Both our mouths were half open, and our lips were touching. I kissed her lightly and she pressed her hips up against mine. I rested my fingers on her collarbone and slowly stroked them down, unbuttoning the top of her blouse as I went. I stroked down between her breasts, then brought my hand up again and stroked her hair. She put her arms around my waist and pulled me around, then she slowly laid me down onto her desk, our bodies still pressed together. She pinned my arms back on the desk above my head and knelt over me with her body arched towards mine, one knee pulled up into my groin. I could feel myself becoming wet, and I moaned when her knee pressed against the seam of my jeans, putting pressure on my sex. Her hair fell around her face as she lowered her lips onto mine. She kissed me once, softly, then again. The passion increased each time she kissed, and her jeans rubbed against mine as she moved more aggressively. Her hands released mine from their pinned positions one by one and she pulled back slightly.
She looked into my eyes, and with the fullest sincerity, said:
“Rosie… you had me from the moment we met.”
Then she kissed me again.
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