SUGAR AND SPITE
When the alarm on the bedside table rang, at exactly six o’clock in the morning, Therese’s eyes immediately opened wide, as if she didn’t get any sleep throughout the night.
She let out a loud groan, disappointed in the night’s lack of rest, and frantically pulled away the sheets, stepping out of the bed. She absolutely adored being able to study at UCLA, one of the best universities in the country; however, things were becoming a little repetitive after three years of studying for the same beloved, yet deeply yearned for BA in Fine Arts.
She didn’t want to seem ungrateful, especially when considering the two hundred grand of student loans she was sitting on in order to afford that school; still, she was also slowly – and painfully – realizing how difficult it was for artists to truly make a living out of their work, and that awareness had started to agonizingly build up a tingling sense of anxiety inside, which screamed “GRADUATION” in capital letters.
What separated her from graduation was merely a year and nine exams, all of which she was quite excited to prepare.
All but one.
“Critical issues in Fine Art” was one of the few modules she had yet to embark on and, although the sound of it was quite appealing to her thirst for knowledge of everything-art-related, that module had a reputation for being taught by the actual worst teacher at UCLA, and rumor had it she only had that job because “she’d slept her way through", or at least that’s what her friend Genevieve always used to say about this Abby person, whenever the topic came up.
According to Gen, who’d taken the module before, Abby Gerhard was the most boring lecturer ever, and she wasn’t even particularly clever, which made her lectures the plague of the degree. Some kind of paying-your-dues thing.
Fair enough, Therese thought, as she was getting ready for the first lecture with Abby Gerhard of her entire academic career.
She wasn’t particularly happy about wasting a module she thought would be incredibly interesting; however, every cloud has a silver lining, and hers included being able to pretty much exploit three full hours to catch up with something else instead of paying attention to the otherwise useless lecture.
With that thought in mind, Therese jumped in the shower, fantasizing about the work she would have anticipated later that day.
With a steamy Americano in her hands Therese sat in the outer circle, the farther from the lecturer, next to Genevieve.
She fell onto the seat, shaking, trying to shake off the coldness of the 14 degrees typical of the beginning of November, when the temperatures drop dramatically.
Genevieve turned to her with what could only be defined as sarcastic excitement. “I’m so happy to start this module, again! You know how they say, all good things come in threes… I’d say this would be the right fucking time to let me pass this exam. Ugh. I’m so sick of it.”
Therese laughed, and she was just about to reply with the same snarky tone when she was interrupted by a literal celestial vision.
The most gorgeous creature she’d ever seen in her life was standing right in front of her, just a few miles away, and she only noticed having her mouth agape after solid minutes of staring.
Therese was absolutely shook, and slowly started realizing this sort of blonde Greek divinity in front of them did not match Genevieve’s recounts of Abby Gerhard at all.
Where was the horrible, frizzy dark hair? What about the button nose, and the awful taste in clothing?
All she could see was this tall, graceful, absolutely alien blue-eyed woman, with golden locks, perfectly sculpted cheekbones and an incredible, unbelievable body, wrapped in the most sophisticated pair of black pants and beige silk blouse she’d ever seen.
She had confirmation to her doubts by Gen, who only got her head up from her laptop to exclaim “who the fuck is this?”.
Therese had the brief impression that the stunning woman had turned her head to look at them, just for the fraction of a second, and then her gaze went suddenly neutral.
She cleared her throat, and everybody in the room stopped and stared.
“My name is Carol Aird. I am here to cover Professor Gerhard, as she has taken some time out of the university. Therefore, I will be teaching you this whole academic year.
I don’t know if or how you are used to work with Professor Gerhard, but I want to see very hard work and a high rate of participation from you, and I’d expect nothing less. You were given an opportunity to study this degree at this university, and I won’t let you waste it.
If you are not intentioned in investing a huge deal of your time and your efforts in this, the door is right behind you. That being said, we may begin.”
Everyone in the room kept staring quietly for a solid minute, nobody dared to move.
The silence was only interrupted by the rustling of paper and the sound of fifty laptops turning on at the same time.
“Great! I’m never going to pass this exam” Genevieve uttered, throwing her hands in the air.
Therese found herself completely unable to find the words, nor the appropriate reaction to answer back.
Professor Carol Aird.