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All persons here depicted, except public figures depicted as public figures in the background, are figments of my imagination and any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
In the beginning, it hadn't even been that. As the new girl in a room with five girls who had been together the two previous years, Connie wasn't brought any pleasure at all. Many nights, after lights-out and the brief visit from the hall monitor, only four of the six beds would be occupied. Two would have two girls apiece, and two -- always including Connie's -- would have only one. Connie might bring herself the pleasure, or she might wait until she was absolutely alone.
The schedulers at St. Wigbert's tried to put the girls from one dorm room in the same classes. But the only girl from her room who took Gym Mondays and Wednesdays with Connie was Michelle. She kept staring at Connie's boobs in the shower. They were both still small, but they were nearly same size now. Connie thought Michelle very rude to stare. Still, Michelle had been through two years with the other four girls; Connie was an outsider. Connie wasn't going to pick a fight.
"Connie," said Michelle as they were both walking back to the dorm from gym Wednesday of the second week. "Could I ask you something?"
"Yes, Michelle." Connie couldn't afford a feud; she would grit her teeth and bear it.
"Where did you get that tan?"
That was a much nicer question than she'd been expecting. "My parents own a vacation cabin. I spent almost all summer there. I'd lie out in the sun while I was studying."
"They let you go topless? I wish my parents would." There seemed to be admiration in Michelle's voice.
"Mostly, they weren't there. I didn't go topless around either one of them. And it wasn't as if anybody else could see, either. I kept a shirt near me in case the mailman or somebody came by."
"I'd go crazy. You don't need other people at all, do you?"
"I like conversation; I like friends." Except when the friends betray her as Kristen had the year before, but she wasn't going to say that. Anyway, Kristen had been much closer than merely a friend, and nobody was going to get that close to Connie again.
"You don't sit with us at meals."
"I can't at lunch. I have plane geometry then." There were two lunch periods, and most juniors ate in the second one.
"How about dinner?" Michelle seemed to have forgotten Connie's first dinner with her roommates.
"You want me to join you tonight?"
So she did. The others, if not particularly welcoming, were not offensive either. "Thank you, Michelle," she said as they were walking back to the dorm. Michelle smiled at her.
One place that Connie didn't want to walk with the other girls was church. Connie went to the early service, and the others went to the later one; most of the student body did. When Connie was back in the room, it was all hers. She took off her shoes, pantyhose, and panties. Lying under the sheet on her bed, she opened her blouse and loosened her bra. Then she played with her nipples, pulling them, rubbing them, twisting them gently. She prolonged this until she needed a finger in her genitals. Even then, she stroked around the sensitive point as long as she could resist rubbing it directly.
The fourth Sunday in her room she'd reached the point where she couldn't resist any more when the door at the foot of her bed banged open. She froze, but it was only Michelle.
Michelle glanced at the sheet over Connie, gave a searching look up and down the corridor, and closed the door quietly. She walked over to her bed and pulled off her sweater. "I'll be gone in a minute," she said. She put on another sweater, checked herself in the mirror, and left. Somehow, all the desire Connie was feeling before Michelle had come in had evaporated.
Connie got up and dressed fully. Although she stayed in the room awhile, she was one of the first girls to lunch. Michelle was there, but the conversation was innocuous. After lunch, though, Michelle called to Connie as she was leaving. They talked about schoolwork until nobody was anywhere near on the walk.
"You know," Michelle said, "I had that bed, the one next to the door, for two years. I slept with my head at the other end, though. It doesn't give you much privacy, but it gives you some. If you want me to, I'll help you move the mattress today."
"You slept there. I thought it was Cathy's bed." Cathy was the girl who'd been in the room the year before.
"No. It's the worst bed. When we knew Cathy wasn't going to come back, Joan and I flipped for her bed. Joan won, and I got Joan's bed." The mattresses and pillows were identical. Anyway, Connie doubted that they were returned to the same frames after summer break. (Having come early to St. Wigbert's to take some tests, she knew that the mattresses didn't stay on the beds over summer.) The only thing objectionable about that particular bed was its location. It gave the least privacy. Both Michelle and she avoided actually saying that, though.
"I don't know. Can't the person coming in see as much, maybe more?" When Connie was playing with her nipples, she lifted the sheet a bit. She didn't want anyone to see that from the hall.
"Well, it's your decision," Michelle said. "You don't listen much to others do you? Sometimes I envy your ability to live without others; sometimes I think it must be hell."
Well, it was hell as often as not, but what choice did Connie have? "I don't avoid people. I eat with you guys now. I did the first night, and I just didn't feel welcome."
"You never visit other beds." And nobody visited hers either, but saying so might sound like complaining.
"If I visited yours, would you pull back the sheet, or would you make me get out?"
"I'd pull back the sheet," Michelle said. "Why don't you try Tuesday night and find out?"
Connie couldn't see what was special about Tuesday; this was Sunday. But she waited. On Tuesday night, two girls went visiting. It was now or never. Connie got up and went over to Michelle's bed. Michelle pulled back the covers, and Connie slipped in. Michelle's nightie was pulled way up under her shoulders. Connie didn't know what was expected, so she started with what she'd learned from Kristen, except for the kissing.
She stroked Michelle's boobs. When the nipples got hard, Connie moved down in the bed to suck them. When she rubbed Michelle's labia, they were already juicy. When Michelle stiffened, Connie moved on to her clitoris. She alternated between the clitoris and the labia until Michelle pushed her hand away.
While Michelle lay there beside her, Connie raised herself quietly and pulled up her own nightie in back. She lay there listening to the rustling from the other two beds. Occasionally the springs of one of the beds squeaked, as they would if she sat on it. That this sound was infrequent showed how careful the girls were being.
She lay unmoving when Michelle's hand touched her. It pulled the hem of her nightie above her waist. Michelle stroked her boobs only briefly and didn't kiss them at all. When Michelle reached her labia, Connie raised her knees a little to give her better access. She could feel the slickness as Michelle stroked her labia. Then the rubbing concentrated on her most sensitive point. She would have got there much more slowly, but Michelle's technique was enough to take her over. Shortly afterwards, she climbed out of the bed and returned to her own.
Wednesday, Miss Frazier the gym teacher called Connie a slacker. She had to run laps after all the other girls got out of class. By the time Connie had taken her shower and dressed, all the other girls were gone. Michelle got up from the grass and joined her as she left the gym. "Thank you, Michelle."
"Thank you. You're good." Well, Connie wasn't good at gym. Michelle must have meant the previous night.
"You want me to visit again?"
"Sunday? Would you? I'd like that."
Sunday? If she was good, why did Michelle want to wait 'til Sunday? But she didn't ask. Michelle was a friend, somebody who would wait for Connie when the others left. Such friends were valuable; Connie hadn't had many in her life, none at all at St. Wigbert's. She'd been the girl the teachers liked and her fellow students didn't.
Ironically, just when she had made a new friend, the teachers no longer liked her as much. None of them, except Miss Frazier, were giving Connie a hard time, though they gave her less praise than she had received the previous year. They knew she'd skipped a year and were understanding about her having to struggle to catch up with the others. They were more understanding than Connie was herself. Aside from French, where all the girls were starting together, and history, which was world history and didn't depend much on the previous year, Connie was behind the others. And she wasn't used to being behind her classmates. Even in plane geometry, where she had the edge of having studied it the previous summer, Connie didn't shine. She studied hard and learned all the proofs, but Mrs. Grover kept asking for proofs which the book hadn't given.
That night, Michelle went to Joan's bed. If Connie could keep track of the almost inaudible footsteps, Deborah was alone. Connie was tempted to visit Deb. She couldn't call a hall monitor; four girls would be really pissed if she did. She could, on the other hand, tell the others about Connie's presuming she would be welcome. They'd all laugh. But she thought she saw a pattern.
She asked Michelle to walk with her from lunch to class. When they were alone, she asked, "Who am I supposed to visit tonight?"
"I don't know. I know who I'm supposed to visit."
"Deborah was alone last night."
"Then it's Liz. She visits me the night after I visit Deb. It's not a good bed, but it's better than yours."
"What bed isn't?"
She caught up with Liz after dinner. "Would you walk with me for a minute, Liz?"
"Sure." They got where they couldn't be overheard.
"If I were to visit you tonight, Elizabeth, would you object? Or would you welcome me?"
"You've been awfully standoffish," said Liz. "What makes tonight different?"
She hadn't been standoffish. They had. But she didn't want a fight, especially a fight she would lose. "I didn't know all the rules. Somehow, they didn't put them in the student handbook."
Liz laughed at that. "Why don't you try and find out?"
She would be the laughing stock of the room if she tried and found out that the answer was no, maybe the laughing stock of the school. But she could tell she wasn't going to get a better answer.
Liz had the bed next to hers, so it was a short trip. When she stood by the head of the bed, she could see in the moonlight that Liz was watching her. When Liz didn't make a response, Connie drew back the sheets and slipped into the bed. She held Liz's boob through the nightie. Liz wasn't giving her any cooperation at all. Well, she couldn't return to her own bed. She'd make Liz want her next visit, and maybe she wouldn't make a next visit.
She pulled the hem of the nightie up. She stroked one boob and kissed the other. She liked to pull her own nipples; she'd do that for Liz. She was in the midst of giving Liz's boobs all the attention she could when Liz grabbed her hand and moved it to the labia. She played with those for a while. When she moved on to Liz's clitoris, she shifted so she could kiss her other boob. When Liz stiffened, Connie stroked harder and sucked more deeply.
"Ah!" Liz said. The bed rattled. Connie got up as fast as she could while keeping silent. She walked the few steps back to her own bed and stood beside it listening. There was no sound from the hall. Liz owed her one. Should she go back? No. It would be too dangerous. She climbed into bed.
That morning, after wakeup, all the girls but Connie gathered around Pat. They sang 'Happy Birthday to you' to her.
"Happy birthday, Pat," Connie said on the way to breakfast. "Sorry I didn't say it earlier, but I didn't know. You didn't miss much having me not among the singers."
"Thanks, Connie. No reason you should know."
But Connie caught up with Michelle after breakfast. "I didn't know it was Pat's birthday. Do you celebrate all of them?"
"Will you tell me when the next one's getting near?"
"That will be Joan's in November. I'll look up the date."
"And when's yours?" Connie figured that Michelle might feel strange about telling her just before.
"You don't need to worry about me. Liz and I have birthdays in the summer. Miss the singing. On the other hand, my mom still buys me a cake."
The next nights, she waited until the others had begun their visits. Then she visited the girl who was alone. She did her best in each case, and that seemed plenty good enough. She didn't think the others were giving her their best; actually, she had enjoyed her own services more. But the girls did start to give her social acceptance. The list which she kept in her head ran: Liz, Joan, Pat. Then it was Sunday, and she was back to Michelle.
When she stood beside Michelle's bed, the sheet was raised in silent invitation. If Connie had taken her time with snotty Liz, she was going to take more time with friendly Michelle. She held one boob while she kissed all over the other, only moving her hand to Michelle's labia when she'd spread lots of kisses over the boob. Again, she stayed away from Michelle's clitoris for a minute, rubbing the labia well away from it. Then she touched it once and returned to the labia. When Michelle stiffened, Connie had an idea. She kissed Michelle on her mouth and rubbed directly on the clitoris. She felt Michelle's gasp, but no-one heard it.
She lay there holding Michelle as she recovered. At Michelle's push on her shoulder, she lay down flat. Michelle still rubbed her most sensitive point too soon, but she did kiss her boobs while she was doing it. After Michelle had taken her over, Connie lay there for a minute. Then she got up to go back to her own bed.
Connie had looked great the first week in plane geometry, knowing all the definitions and axioms. She'd been adequate for a while longer. That Monday, she came away from a test knowing that she'd done miserably. She couldn't figure it out. She knew every proof in that part of the book, had worked hard memorizing them.
She came back to the room right after dinner and headed for the shower as she usually did. The other girls from her room came into the shower room a minute or two later. That was unusual. Everybody seemed to be staring at her. "See," Michelle said. "I told you so. She went topless! Her parents let her."
"She did no such thing," Joan said. "She's just dark. She's Italian, after all."
"Connie, turn around," Michelle said. Connie did. She wished she could hide. "Look at those white buns. Sure she's dark, but that on top is suntan." Connie got out of the shower, wrapped herself in her towel, put her nightie over it, and escaped to the room. She was in her bed when the others came back.
"Did your parents really let you go topless?" Deb asked.
"They have a vacation cabin. What they did was let me stay there by myself. Nobody was around, and sometimes I studied topless." She decided not to mention the times she went totally naked. 'Topless' impressed these girls. Dancing naked by yourself might strike them as weird.
"That's awesome," said Deb. "I wish I could do that."
And, when Connie visited Deb that night, she remembered those comments. After breakfast the next morning, Deb managed to get a minute when they couldn't be overheard on their way to English class. "You may be only fifteen," she said, "but you are good." Actually, Connie wasn't fifteen yet.
They were studying sonnets in English. That morning, Miss Douglas assigned them to each write a sonnet of her own. Andre had figured that Connie should write 365 quatrains before moving on to the more elaborate forms; Miss Douglas started them on sonnets. Connie didn't worry. She might not have reached 365, but she'd written enough quatrains to have some experience in iambic pentameter and rhyme. She wrote several drafts, and then copied the sonnet into her "diary." She was ignoring the dates these days, just using it to keep her rhymes private. Of course, this rhyme couldn't be kept private; she turned another copy in to Miss Douglas.
Thursday wasn't a good day. Mrs. Grover returned their tests. She returned them in the order in which she had them in her pile, highest grades first. Connie's paper was the last one to be returned, and it shocked her. She knew she had done poorly, but a 46! To make matters worse, Kristen was in the same class, and got an 83. It wasn't great, but it was in the top half of the class. Joan came to her after dinner. "Maybe you shouldn't come by tonight," she said.
"Why?" Did Joan know about Connie's grade in Geometry? And why did that matter?
Joan looked embarrassed. "I've started my period."
Oh. Well, Connie's would start soon. All the girls in the room had almost the same schedule.
The next morning, Miss Douglas had the poems to hand back. "You did very well, Connie," she said. "Did your father teach you how to write poetry?"
"No, ma'am. He says others teach poetry; he writes it. And he says he's the worst person to teach me."
"You must have inherited his talent, then." It was more likely writing a hundred quatrains first, but Connie wasn't going to tell her that.
"Heather," Miss Douglas continued. "Your sonnet was even better written than Connie's. I enjoyed reading it back in college, before you were born. Did you have to steal one that is in the textbook?"
"We were supposed to get them from somewhere else?" Heather asked. "We have all those poems in the textbook. I didn't know. Where were we supposed to get them from?"
Miss Douglas looked exasperated. Connie couldn't blame her; Heather was being utterly blonde. "You were supposed to write it yourself. An original sonnet. Well, you didn't do the assignment. If I thought you'd deliberately stolen it, I'd take you up before Miss Perkins. Students have been expelled for plagiarizing. Since you took it from the textbook, I'll treat it as if you didn't know that you were doing wrong. From now on, girls, when I tell you to write something, you are supposed to compose it with your own efforts. You can't copy someone else's work."
When geometry class was over, Connie threw herself on Mrs. Grover's mercy. "Those proofs weren't in the book. I've read all the pages we've covered up 'til now." She'd read them three times; she'd read ten pages ahead. Those proofs weren't in the book. How was she supposed to learn them? Where had the other girls learned them? "What am I doing wrong?"
"Connie," Mrs. Grover said, "I graded on what you put on the test paper. It was a fair grade for that work, a generous grade for that work. You didn't even put down the givens for some of the problems."
"I'm not asking for a better grade. I'm asking where I should have found those proofs."
"Found them? In your head. You are supposed to create your own proofs. You have to use the methods Euclid established, but the particular proofs are supposed to be your own creation."
A light dawned. Connie was being as silly as Heather had been. You write your own sonnet; you write your own proof. And Connie had an advantage in writing sonnets. She'd done rhyming and rhythm before. She'd need to practice writing her own proofs, too. "Thank you, Mrs. Grover."
"You're welcome," said Mrs. Grover, looking puzzled.
That evening at dinner, Heather told her table about Miss Douglas's comment to Connie. "Suck up!" Heather said loud enough for Connie to hear, loud enough for her whole table to hear.
"What Heather doesn't mention," Joan said, "is that Miss Douglas caught her cheating and let her off. Nothing that Connie did could have made Miss Douglas go easier on Heather, unless Connie cheated herself. And Connie wouldn't have gotten off. Connie knows things, and the teachers know that. Heather is so scatterbrained that they'll take anything she does for a mistake."
The girls as Heather's table looked annoyed, those at Connie's table looked like they agreed with Joan. Heather couldn't pick on a girl from their room. Connie's situation had around 180 degrees. At the time she was developing a little popularity with her roommates, her schoolwork was going down the toilet.
Well, she had experience with schoolwork. And, for that matter, she was doing very well in English and all right in French and history. She was only doing badly in the two math classes, and only doing horribly in plane geometry. She put a solid hour in that night practicing making up her own proofs for the material on the test. She went back to the book for models. It wasn't easy, but she made progress. Before that, she'd just been floundering.
If she'd been back at the cabin, she would have rewarded herself for that progress. Why not? It wasn't as if the girls would tell; they kept more important things secret. Of course, she was messy down there. She concentrated on her boobs, only moving to the most sensitive spot when she had excited herself as much as she could on the boobs. She pushed the string out of the way and rubbed herself to a climax.
She took that as her pattern. Study until she'd finished her assignments, do an hour catching up on geometry, take her reward in bed. The Tampax she removed on Friday morning was completely dry, so she didn't put in another. On Saturday, she got all her assignments done for Monday. On Sunday, instead of goofing off as she would have on other weeks, she studied the geometry she hadn't gotten in the past and reviewed French. You could always spend more time on languages.
By Sunday night, she was ready for a major reward. As soon as the lights were out and the hall monitor had stuck her head in, she started playing with her boobs. She planned to take her time and build up to major enjoyment. She was listening for her bedsprings to make sure that they didn't let others know what she was doing. What she heard, however, were the other beds and the rustling of feet on the floor. Oh great! The others were starting up again, and nobody had told her. Who should she visit? Would they think her a snob or a puritan if she didn't visit anyone?
Was she supposed to visit Joan, who she would have visited if the periods hadn't interfered, or whoever would be scheduled tonight if she'd kept visiting? Damn! She counted. Well, that would be Joan, too. Walking over and finding two already in the bed wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
She crept over to Joan's bed. Joan pulled back the sheet. Connie got in, raising her nightie as she did so. Joan raised hers, and Connie started stroking her boobs. She was a bit impatient for Joan to get started on her, but Joan had the biggest boobs in the room. Connie liked stroking them. She even leaned over and rubbed her small boobs against Joan's large ones.
She brushed over Joan's labia. She sucked on Joan's boobs while she stroked between her labia. When Joan acted like she was close, Connie started stroking her clitoris. Joan gasped and stiffened. Connie stroked once more, and then removed her hand. She kissed Joan's boobs and lay back.
Connie was wound up. When Joan started rubbing Connie's labia and her most sensitive point, Connie pulled on her own nipples. When she felt she was just about to go over, she pulled the top of her nightie into her mouth and bit down. She was absolutely silent as she went over.
After a few minute's rest, she got up and returned to her own bed.
Connie caught up in plane geometry. She didn't shine there, but she knew what was going on. She decided to maintain extra effort in that subject. English class went from studying poetry to studying the essayists. Connie was still in the top five of her class, if no longer far-and-away the top student. In French, the memory which had served her so well in the past was serving her again. This looked like a solid 'A.' The only major where she still had trouble was algebra. Even so, her grades so far looked like she might squeak by with a 'B.' She was virtually certain to get at least a 'C.'
She established a new pattern. She would do as much as possible of her homework before dinner. After dinner, she would shower and change into her nightie. She would lie face down on her bed reading her geometry book again and checking out the problems. When she was sure that she had mastered a new idea, she would pull her nipples through the nightie. She needed those boobs to grow. And, as long as she remembered to be gentle, it felt good. Usually, the other girls were watching TV or running around; she didn't have any company to worry about.
And, when she visited another girl in the night, she was more than ready for the visit. Whatever she did to prolong the joy of that girl, she didn't need the girl to reciprocate. It was time for the direct stimulation that seemed to be the only thing those girls knew.
On the second geometry test, she got a 78. There were only a few girls between her and Kristen. The extra attention she gave to geometry seemed to be paying off.
One Thursday after dinner, when Deb mentioned that she shouldn't visit that evening, Connie only said, "Okay." She knew the schedule now, and her period started that night anyway. She went back to giving herself the stimulation that her roommates were no longer providing. She did, however, try to keep quiet when she was doing it. Whether she succeeded, she couldn't tell, nor whether other girls were doing the same.
When Saturday lunch was breaking up, Michelle spoke to her. "Walk with us, Connie."
The whole room walked around the campus for a while. They talked, but nobody had anything special to say to Connie. Still, she was part of the group, and they accepted it. When the other girls went back to the dorm to watch TV in the common room, Connie returned to the room to study some more. Her entire quatrain for that day was about the walk.
Sunday was dreary. It was autumn, a little early for the leaves to fall, but plenty of rain fell instead. Monday was more of the same; the gym class stayed inside. Tuesday was nice. Tuesday the girls walked and chatted after dinner, and Connie went with them. Again, her presence was accepted.
"Connie," Michelle asked when they were heading back to the dorm, "why don't you come to church with us?"
"I go to the early service."
"Yes. But why not come to the later service and sit with us?" Several other girls chimed in with agreement.
"All right, I will." She even considered watching TV with them, but all the other rooms in the dorm were there, and she still had extra work to do on geometry.
Sunday, they ate breakfast at their usual time. Connie, as usual, was wearing her church clothes, but she headed back to the dorm with the others instead of going to church. In the room, several of the other girls changed clothes. "Come on, Liz," said Joan. "Are you going to wear that to church?"
"I'm feeling tired," said Liz.
"Yeah, but Connie stayed behind to go with us." Connie didn't see how this was much of an argument, but Liz seemed to. She changed and was ready when the others were. They filled one pew. The later service had more townspeople as well as many more of the girls. It wasn't what you would call crowded; all the people from both services would fit in the front half of the church, but Connie actually preferred the smaller group. Sitting with her room, feeling that they saw her as a part of their group, more than made up for that.
That night, she visited Deb. She did everything which she'd learned on herself. She lay there for minutes afterwards before Deb reached over to her. The anticipation had left her very eager. Deb didn't need to stroke her long before she went over.
Either she had aced the geometry final, or she was fooling herself. Algebra was a disaster, and the other exams came between those two. There really wasn't a break between the quarters. When Mrs. Grover handed the geometry exams back, Connie's was the second. 94! "You must have done great," Kristen said to her. Connie showed her the paper. "94; great! You're really the mathematician."
Connie couldn't understand Kristen. She'd betrayed Connie, but she was talking as if they were friends.
When the grades for the quarter came out, Connie had Cs in both math classes and As in English, French, and history. Mrs. Grover nearly apologized for the grade in geometry. "You've done much better, Connie. There is no reason you can't get an 'A' for the year. But you must remember how bad your grades were in the beginning of the quarter."
"I remember." She couldn't possibly forget. Even so, when she called home, Andre was pleased. It wasn't as if he'd been a genius in math, himself.
Joan, who had received 3 'A's and a 'B,' was the star of the room. Connie especially envied her 'A' in algebra. Still, as Michelle pointed out, "Three 'A's is great. I'm proud of both of you. Joan's average is higher, but Connie is taking five majors."
Of course, Joan got another 'A' in gym, while Connie got another 'C.' But none of the girls really counted that.
The test result in geometry, though, showed that Connie had caught up there. She had to do the homework, but she didn't need the extra cramming. At first, she just read a novel from the library in that time. Still, the novels that stocked the school library weren't the sort she wanted to read. She walked and gossiped with her roommates, but she didn't want to watch TV with them. She decided to push algebra and French. She was good in French, but she wanted to shine.
"I wish I had your talent for math," she told Joan one day. "I don't want an A in algebra; I don't even want a 'B'; I just want to feel certain I won't look like a complete idiot in class."
"Trade you explanations in algebra for help in French," Joan responded. That was her lowest grade, a mere 'B.'
"C'mon. You really need help in French."
"I really do. I worked hard for that 'B.'"
And they started trading help. Connie found that Joan needed less help on the current stuff than she needed review. And, while she needed it much less than Joan did, the review helped Connie as well. Mostly they worked when the other girls weren't there; in good weather, they even worked outside. One day, though, Connie came to Joan with a question. "This is impossible. What do I do with this 'Charlie weighs 123 pounds'?"
"But it tells us that he weighs 123 pounds."
"Connie. You're the operator of an elevator in a twelve story office building." Connie wasn't, and couldn't see what the point was. "On the first floor, five people get on the elevator. On the next floor, one gets off and two get on." Joan went on like that until she got to the top floor. "Now," she said, "how old is the elevator operator?"
"How old? You're crazy. There's no way I can figure that out."
"Let me give you a simpler question then. You're the operator of an elevator in an office building. How old is the operator?"
A light dawned. "Fourteen. Going on fifteen."
"One of the important things you learn in math is to ask what information is necessary."
"Connie," Pat asked, "are you really not fifteen yet?"
"Not 'til January."
There were several comments around the room. "We knew you were young," Pat said, "but you were a freshman last year."
"It figures," Michelle said. "Look at her tits. She's Italian, and Italian women have big tits. But Italian fourteen- year-olds don't." Connie wasn't sure. Her boobs were growing very slowly. Her A cups still didn't touch the boobs when she put her bra on. (Girls at St. Wigbert's all wore bras, always.) And Helen's boobs -- if larger than Connie's -- weren't as big as Joan's.
"I was a freshman last year," Connie said, "and an eighth- grader two years ago. I was a sixth-grader the year before that."
"I have no hope," Joan said. "She can teach me how she studies French; she can't teach me how she's that smart."
"It's not being smart," Connie explained. "French isn't a matter of thinking, like algebra is. French is a matter of remembering."
"Anyway," Joan said, "textbooks often give you just the information you will need. Life isn't like that. So, sometimes, the textbooks or tests give you more information than you'll need. Then you have to see what information you'll need. See?"
"I think so."
Connie did better in algebra, though not great. Joan was doing better in French, too. Instead of working hard to keep her grades above the 'C' level, she was working hard to keep them close to an 'A' level. She looked like she'd end up with another 'B,' but she appreciated the help. "I could feel myself slipping, Connie. It's not like that any more." Connie appreciated Joan's help, which she needed much more than Joan did hers, too.
One day, Mrs. Grover used a new word in class. Connie looked it up in the big dictionary in the library and almost missed it. Mrs. Grover hadn't pronounced the second 'a' in 'algebraist.' Connie was back doing a daily quatrain, having started and stopped several times. Often the most important event in the day involved a disaster, either one which occurred or one which she avoided, in algebra. And she still couldn't get a decent rhyme for 'algebra.' 'Algebr'ist,' on the other hand, showed promise. Connie found that a lot of rhyming was like that; you found the rhymes and put them in the back of your mind until the ideas needed them.
Joan's birthday was coming up, and Connie had an idea. She played with it, then took another trip to the library. The atlas shocked her. She hadn't known the words 'bras' and 'jambe' before she entered French class. She had known what 'tetons' meant, however, since a family vacation to what Andre called "The Big-tit Mountains" and the Great Salt Lake when she was six. (It was the last vacation her family took together.) She found, however, that the Grand Tetons were in Wyoming, not Utah. That called for a revision.
When Joan's birthday dawned, Connie joined the circle singing 'Happy Birthday to You.' It was before it dawned, as a matter of fact. (In November, the wake up call roused the girls before the sun was visible.) When Joan had thanked them, Connie cleared her throat. She held a paper on which she'd written her verse and read:
"The west boasts of its grand tetons
She handed her the paper.
Joan was pleased. The other girls were impressed. Connie realized that she'd be expected to come up with another quatrain for the next birthday. Well, it didn't have to be as good. For that matter, the girls would think anything keeping precise meter and the ABAB rhyme scheme was better.
She still hadn't met Andre's suggestion of a year's worth of quatrains. It had been well less than a year since he'd suggested it, and she had skipped nearly as many days as she'd done it. Still, she felt ready for something more, if not for sonnets. She took up limericks, using 'There was an old man in Nantucket' as her model. These were more fun, and feminine rhymes were both an interesting challenge and an opportunity for humor.
There were 82 juniors at St. Wigbert's, 14 rooms. Most subjects had three classes, third-year Latin had only one and that was small. The rooms tried to get along with one another, but there had been bad blood between her room and Heather's since before Connie had joined her room. Connie wrote six limericks, one for each of the girls in that room. None of them was what you'd call complimentary.
"You know," she said one Saturday, "I shouldn't."
"Shouldn't do what?" asked Liz.
Connie read all six limericks. "Yes, you should," said Michelle.
"Let me see that one about Jennifer," said Deb. "She's in Latin with me." Connie handed it over.
"What I was thinking of," Connie said, "was each of us taking one and reciting it where people know that girl. I want Heather. But still it would be nasty to do that."
"Nasty," said Joan, "but fun." They divided them up. When one of them was in a class with Tracy, except gym, so was most of Tracy's room. And Tracy starred in gym. Where they could, though, they scheduled the readings where only a few girls from that room would be in that class. Connie figured that the entire junior class would hear about at least one of those girls.
"They'll strike back," warned Joan.
"Let them," said Michelle. "We have Connie. They can take all the revenge they want, but they can't write poems like hers. Connie, why don't you start on another set? Just in case."
"I will." In fact, she had.
This was a new feeling for Connie. She was not only accepted by her roommates, she was one of their stars. The present state of her class work, while not quite as good as the year before, was getting on, too.
The other room retaliated, they rather had to. But Connie had had days to prepare the ammunition; these weren't the first limericks she'd written, and far from the first ones she'd read. And the girls in the other room tried to retaliate individually. Asking Heather to write her own verse was ridiculous.
Soon, the whole school was reciting the better -- and the nastier -- of the limericks. Which meant that the teachers and the administration heard about it. The entire room was called into Miss Perkins's office. She gave them a week's detention and ordered them to stop the poems. "And you, Connie. I'm afraid you've fallen into bad company."
"But," said Connie, "it was my idea.... Ma'am." She got another week's detention for insolence.
Since detention meant doing homework or other study under the eyes of a teacher, Connie wasn't sorry for herself. She would have been studying anyway. Her friends, though, missed their favorite TV shows. Even they thought it was worth it. "No more new poems, I'm afraid," said Joan. "But everybody knows the old ones. Those girls won't be allowed to forget them until graduation."
If Connie wasn't growing the way all her friends thought an Italian girl would -- at least wasn't growing as fast as she'd like to -- , she was growing taller.
She called home. "Helen, don't buy me any clothes for Christmas."
"They won't fit. I've grown!"
"Do you want to come home for Christmas break?"
"I'll let you talk to Andre."
Andre agreed. "Of course, Princess. This is your home."
She had real doubts as to how much it would feel like home. Even when her parents were getting along most of the time, they used to quarrel at Christmas and New Years. Well, she could hide out in her own room. She made plans for a study blitz. She'd go back over the French vocabulary to make certain she knew it all, and she'd go forward one lesson, as well. That book was enough to pack, even though she wasn't going to pack many clothes; they didn't fit.
She had a scheme for English. She'd been a star in sonnets because she had more experience writing rhymes than her classmates had. She should write something over Christmas which would give her practice for future assignments. She didn't know what that would be, but Joan should. Her sister was a year ahead of her.
"Well," Karen, Joan's sister, said, "nothing guarantees that Miss Douglass will follow the same pattern as she did last year. In my freshman year, a student was caught copying the paper of an earlier student. She was expelled."
"I'm not going to copy," Connie explained. "I just want to know what I can expect."
"Connie isn't going to copy," Joan said. "She writes better."
"All right," Karen said, "here's what I remember...."
It wasn't much, but right after Christmas, they were going to start reading short stories. The previous year, Miss Douglas had assigned reports -- "Something like book reports," Karen said -- on three short stories of the student's own choosing.
At home, she asked Andre about short stories one dinner time. "Prose isn't really my favorite reading," he said. "I'll look through my books to see what I can find."
A few hours later, he knocked on her door. The load of books he gave her, mostly piled on the floor beside her door, didn't compare with the books of verse he had around the house, but it was more than he could carry, let alone what she could read over Christmas.
Several of her Christmas presents were gift certificates to local stores. After Christmas she stocked up. She looked through the books Andre had given her. Some of them didn't appeal at all. Two rather light books could serve for the sources for her reports. Another wasn't the sort she'd dare write a report on. She'd take it with her, however, to read for herself. Between the clothes and the books (she had to take the French book back, too) her suitcase was going to weigh a ton. It got worse; Andre gave her another two notebooks when he learned that she was writing reports. "Always have a spare," he told her. "When the last thing you wrote in one sickens you, you can write something else in the other."
In the event, Andre drove her back. She didn't have to struggle with the suitcase at all. All she had to do was yell "Man on the floor" while he carried it up the stairs.
Everybody was complimentary about Connie's clothes, but Joan had got her ears pierced. That was the main subject of conversation. She could wear stud ear rings. Of course, if she'd worn dangling ones that called attention to the piercings, Miss Perkins would have been down on her like a ton of bricks.
"I'm glad all of you had nice vacations," Pat said after the second day of class. Her bitter tone implied that she hadn't.
"Pat! What's wrong?" Deb asked.
"Billy said I didn't know how to kiss."
"Tom says I kiss like a dream," Joan said. "Want lessons?"
Pat wanted lessons. While Liz stood so that the door would bang into her foot, all the rest lined up for lessons. "Should Connie learn?" Liz asked. "She's just fourteen, after all."
"She's one of us," Michelle answered.
When Joan's tongue entered her mouth, Connie's met it. It was like kissing Kristen had been, except they were standing there dressed. "Connie doesn't need lessons," Joan said.
"She's Italian," Michelle pointed out. "She probably knows more than the rest of us do, two years younger or not."
Connie relieved Liz, who went for her lesson. After that, the girls practiced. Liz didn't come back to the door, but Michelle relieved Connie after a while. Even so, Connie didn't get her share of practice.
She visited Michelle that night. When Michelle stiffened, Connie kissed her while she kept on rubbing. Her tongue was in Michelle's mouth when she gasped. Michelle reciprocated. It was the most pleasure Connie had received since the magic times by herself in the cabin.
Connie had bought back two collections of short stories for English (as well as a third collection for her own entertainment). She had brought back the rough drafts of reports on five of those short stories. What Miss Douglas actually assigned was reading a chapter on short stories in their lit book. Connie wasn't as far ahead as she had hoped to be, but she already was much more of a reader than most of her classmates. She learned enough of what Miss Douglas wanted in a report that the drafts she'd brought back didn't look acceptable. Having memorized her French vocabulary did help, though.
The real surprise was gym class. The first two classes on basketball showed that Connie was even worse at shooting baskets than she had been the previous year. Guarding, on the other hand, was starting to get easier. She was taller, if two years younger, than most of her classmates. Connie decide to concentrate on getting rebounds and passing the ball to the girl on her team who had the best shot. Since the other girls tended to shoot rather than pass, Connie got the reputation of a great team player. She wasn't about to sign up for the school team, much less play in the pick-up games found in the Hartford parks during the summer, but Connie was doing quite well by the standards of a St. Wigbert's gym class.
Algebra continued to be a struggle despite Joan's help. But it was suddenly her only struggle. Even there, her grades were in the eighties.
The Bishop came to St. Stephen's. This wasn't the only church with that name in the diocese, and the attendance was sparse on St. Stephen's day since the school was nearly empty. Still, he came. He confirmed Connie and a group of others. He preached a sermon which was much praised by the congregation. Connie didn't see why, but she didn't say so.
Her first report in English got an A. For the second report, she used a story from one of Andre's books. The report she'd done on it over Christmas break looked laughable now, but she noticed while writing the new report that she used a few ideas and words from the old one.
The weather was lousy; it was cold and very blustery.
The girls in her room were regularly practicing their kissing techniques now. Some girls, Joan and Michelle in particular, kissed Connie when she visited. Liz never did; Pat seemed tentative.
The weather broke one Wednesday. It wasn't warm, even for January. But it was bright and still. Liz spoke to them as they left lunch. "Walk together after dinner." Such a statement meant that they needed to discuss something out of teachers' earshot. Aside from the night monitors, the teachers didn't seem to much care what they said. Still you didn't want them overhearing some of the conversations.
After dinner, they did walk. It was still windless, if getting cold in the dark. "Well, Liz, what's on your mind?" said Joan. "I don't want to stay out here too long."
"It's Liz with an 'i'," said Liz. "It's not lez."
"That's what I said."
"Yeah. But that's what I am. And I think we're getting too far the other way. I don't mind the visits. Where are the boys, anyway? But I think this kissing bit is going too far. I want to know where Connie got it."
"Well, I have doubts, too," said Pat. "I don't blame Connie, though."
"I think you shouldn't," said Michelle. "After all, you were the one who introduced the subject."
"That's right," said Joan. "Think back. You complained about Billy."
"The truth is," Michelle said, "that I don't see Brian most of the year. I don't want to miss out on anything, and I don't want another boy. Not that I could get one up here. I want to go back to Brian the best kisser I can be. And I really don't want Brian learning on another girl. That means, beyond the simple question of getting a little pleasure to make the winter bearable, that I have to know what pleases me. Because I want Brian to learn that from me. Does any of this make sense?"
"It makes gobs of sense," Joan said. "We aren't turning gay. We don't run around with each other when boys are around. It's just that boys aren't around. Liz, do you want out of the visits?"
"No. It's just that there's a middle ground."
"It's okay to do it, just not to do it the most pleasant way possible?" asked Joan.
"That's not what I meant."
"That's what it sounds like. And Michelle is right. It's not enough to get satisfaction. I want to get as much satisfaction as I can. Because, for me, it's not substituting for a minimum satisfaction. It's substituting for the man who will give me the most satisfaction that I can get."
"That's the trouble," said Pat. "The most satisfaction can only come from love."
"That's not what she said," Deb broke in. "I can't give you the satisfaction of love. I'm only a substitute. But I should give you the most satisfaction that I can. And you should give me the most satisfaction that can substitute for the love which isn't available up here. Will you do that?"
"I'll do that," said Pat.
"Liz?" asked Joan.
"As long as it's a substitute." They went back to the room.
The thaw was as bad as the previous weather had been. For one thing, it only thawed during the day. So the pools of water on the walks at sundown were sheets of ice in the morning. The girls moved from classrooms to dining room to dorm as quickly as possible.
Even her roommates spent more time on their homework. They watched TV first, but the set was turned off early. Connie did her homework first, wrote her quatrain second, studied the stuff she was emphasizing third. When she'd done a good day's studying, she changed into her nightie and took a book to bed. The only studying she did late at night was her trade of help on French for help on algebra with Joan.
One night, when Joan came in from watching TV, Connie wanted to finish the story. "Give me a few minutes, will you?" she said. "I'm at a bad stopping point."
"What are you reading?"
Connie ignored her until she'd finished the story. Then she marked the place and handed the book to Joan. "When I knew we were going to be studying short stories, I asked my father if he had any collections of short stories I could take back to school. This is one."
Joan looked through it. "Wow, he lets you read that?"
Andre didn't think anything was too salacious for a teenager. He tried to censor what she read for bad grammar, but not for sexual content. "Yes. He lent it to me." More than that, he had thought of it as suitable for a report. Andre didn't really understand St. Wigbert's.
"Can I read it after?"
"Now, that would shock him." Connie laughed. "He'd say, 'say. "May I read it after you have finished?"'" Actually, he'd use 'Princess' in that sentence, but Connie wasn't going to admit to that.
"May I read it after you have finished?"
"Sure. Just don't let it get out of the room, or show it to a teacher. I didn't mean you should say it, just that is what he would say."
"Are all the books you brought back like this?"
"No. I asked him for books when I knew we would be studying short stories. The other two I brought back are for reports. Nothing that would shock Miss Perkins."
Joan borrowed the book. Then the other girls borrowed it. Between the book and the grades, the girls were beginning to look on Connie as something more than the younger girl they were graciously letting into their charmed circle. They were starting to look up to her.
The grades for the second quarter added to that. Connie got 4 'A's in majors. She got a 'B' in algebra and even one in gym! She got on the school honor roll.
Gym class went from basketball to ballroom dancing. The girls made fun of Miss Frazier's choice of dances to teach. They would be well prepared for an 18th century cotillion, if they ever were invited to one. This was Connie's second session at those dances, however. They didn't feel as strange as they had the previous year.
Every year, for Valentine's Day, St' Wigbert's held a dance. Connie had been a wallflower at the last one. This year, the administration invited three boys' schools, but didn't allow the girls' regular boyfriends to come up by themselves. This led to a boycott. "Do you think I shouldn't go?" Connie asked. "I don't have a steady to invite, but maybe I should support the girls like Deb."
"Well," said Joan. "I'm going. Tom's going to be there, along with his whole school."
"Go ahead," Deb said. "Miss Perkins is spoiling my fun, but I don't want to spoil yours."
In the event, more boys showed up than the actual number of girls at St. Wigbert's. With the boycott, there was a remarkable imbalance. Joan introduced her Tom to Connie after the first dance. They danced the next one together since Joan, like all the other girls, was prohibited from dancing twice in a row with the same boy.
The dance was pleasant. Tom took her back to where Joan was standing before asking Connie, "Do you have someone special here?"
"No. I'm just a student at this school."
"Would you mind some introductions?"
"Just be sure, Tom," said Joan "that they are taller than she is."
Connie had a partner for every dance after that. They were mostly seniors, as Tom was. The juniors were boys for whom Tom was doing a favor. The conversation was mostly about how old- fashioned the dance music was. Connie, who had been in eighth grade the last time she had heard modern dance tunes, and less interested than her agemates even then, agreed with the boy. She, not having much to offer on that subject, didn't do much more than agree.
Later, Joan told her that Tom had written what a great hit she was with the boys. The boys had been great hits with Connie, too. Of course, the girls all complained about the chaperoning; but the dance had been perfect from Connie's perspective. She didn't feel ready to go park with boys she'd just met.
Joan asked if Karen could borrow the book of short stories. All the girls in their room had read it. "Sure," Connie said. "Just bring it back and don't let teachers see it."
One of Karen's roommates, however, got caught. Miss Perkins gave her a week's suspension and confiscated the book. Karen was very apologetic about that, but the girl hadn't told where she'd got the book. Connie felt she had to tell Andre on a call home. "I'm real sorry, but I don't know how to get the book back."
"Do you remember the title?"
"No. It was some stories from the New Yorker.
"That! Remind me to never send you any D. H. Lawrence."
"You have Lady Chatterley's Lover?" Why hadn't Connie seen it if he had? It wasn't at the cabin.
"I may have it somewhere around here. But Lawrence was a poet who made his living writing novels. I'm sure that your teachers wouldn't approve of his verse. Surprised they let you see the Bible. Do they use Bowdler's edition of Shakespeare?"
"St. Wigbert's isn't that bad." It was pretty close though.
"That's good. I don't mind you reading the stories; no girl was ever seduced by a book. But I don't want you reading some junked-up version of The Bard."
"So, when you worry about your daughter's purity, you worry about the purity of her ear?"
He laughed. "It's not like that, Princess. You already talk like a schoolgirl."
"Good night, Princess."
"Good night, Andre." She had been real tempted to call him 'daddy' this time after that 'talk like a schoolgirl' bit. But he had been a sport about his book, and he didn't like to lose books. That was why he put nameplates in them. That thought made her suspicious. Yes, checking revealed that there were nameplates in the two books of his she still had, one of them a paper back. Had he neglected to put a bookplate in the one that had been confiscated? Had he put it in, but Miss Perkins hadn't noticed? Well, Connie couldn't ask.
The weather got worse before it got better, with a cold drizzle interrupted by more heavy downpours than actual clear spells. When it finally cleared, however, most of the snow had disappeared. The air was bright. "Walk after dinner, Connie?" Michelle asked.
"Look," Michelle started when they were out of earshot of everybody, "what Joan talked about so long ago?"
"Yes?" Joan had talked about so many things, did Michelle mean last week or last year -- before Connie was in the room?
"We're a substitute for boys, for the men we're going to be with. But we should be the best substitute we can."
Now Connie knew the subject. "That seems like a good idea."
"Well, you're a very good substitute. You like to take your time, don't you? Slow to get to the cunny, even slower to get to the trigger?"
Connie could see what those words meant. This was how grown- up girls talked, not the clinical terms she had learned from books. "I only do what feels good when I do it for myself."
"So you would rather I did it like that when you visit?"
"You do what seems best to you." Connie didn't really want to talk about this. For one thing, the subject was embarrassing; for another, she was afraid her pseudo-medical vocabulary would sound laughable to Michelle.
Michelle, though, started taking more time on Connie's boobs when she visited. And Michelle wasn't the only one. Her periods became a time of disappointment for Connie, rather than a time for extra satisfaction.
The third quarter grades kept Connie on the honor roll. She kept 'A's in French, English, history, and even in geometry. She kept the 'B' in algebra. "It's all your doing," she told Joan. "If you wouldn't be embarrassed by a 'B' in algebra, I'd tell Mrs. Grover to put the grade on your card."
"A 'B' in algebra is nothing to be embarrassed about," said Joan. It sounded insincere, but she said it. "You've worked hard. And I thank you for your help in French." Joan still had a 'B' in French, but it was a higher 'B.' She had an 'A' in gym, though; Connie got a 'C.'
Connie stayed in school over the Easter break. She studied some. She took five books out of the school library and read one a day. She would lie face down in bed in her nightie after dinner with the pillow under her lower chest and the book propped open at reading distance under her face. She figured it was good for her boobs to hang straight down, and she would sometimes pull the nipples forward to encourage the boobs to grow. As long as she pulled gently enough, the action felt real good. Unfortunately, the books didn't add to that feeling. She knew that nothing sexy was going to be in that library, but it was hard to find anything romantic there either.
The weather was fit for staying in the room except at mealtimes. It was miserably rainy. It wasn't the singing- in- the-rain sort of rain. It was definitely the stay-in- your-room-and-read sort of rain. She even skipped Good Friday service because of a thunderstorm.
When the other girls came back, though, the weather dried. It was spring, and the room took to walking together after dinner. Pat reported on one of those walks, "Well, Billy doesn't complain about the way I kiss any more."
"Did he say you did it well?" Joan asked.
"He didn't talk about it. Now he wants to feel my boobs."
"Nothing wrong with that," Joan ruled. "But not saying anything nice about your kisses is boorish. You should get another guy."
"Yeah! I'm up here nine months of the year."
They even talked about things they could safely have discussed in their room. One Wednesday evening, Pat said, "Ici, nous parlons francais."
Deb had a little trouble with that. "Hey, I'm taking Latin." She wasn't taking French. Michelle was taking both, as Connie had wanted to.
"Mercredi," Connie suggested, "nous parlons francais. Wednesday," she explained to Deb , "We'll talk French on our walks."
Deb could live with that. The conversations hindered their accents as much as helping them. They heard each others' pronunciation with no correction. Their vocabularies, however, did improve. They found themselves looking up words to express their thoughts. One Tuesday night, Pat gestured to Connie to stand in front of the door.
"Allons!" she said. Everybody looked. "La colline"; she gestured towards her right boob. "La feinte"; she patted between her legs. "Les brioches"; she patted her behind with both hands. Occasional additions were made. Between being out of earshot and the code words, they could be certain of not being overheard in embarrassing conversations.
With Joan's help and a lot of work, Connie was keeping her algebra at the 'B' level. She shone in the other majors, even geometry. She did not shine in gym. They had moved from field hockey to soccer without changing the fact that Connie was the last girl chosen when they were allowed to choose teams.
Still, as the year was drawing to a close, she thought she had a chance to take third-year Latin the next year. She asked for an appointment with Miss Perkins. Girls mostly considered themselves lucky to avoid talking with Miss Perkins, but sometimes that was necessary. "Ma'am, I've been on the honor roll for the last two quarters."
"Yes, Connie, but you really have to try harder in gym."
"I am trying hard in gym. I put more effort into the C in gym than I put into the A in history, a lot more effort." Miss Perkins was silent. "So, ma'am, I was thinking about asking to take third-year Latin next year."
"Well, four years of Latin will get you into third-year Latin in college. Two years of Latin will get you into second-year Latin in college. I'm not sure what good three years of Latin would do you."
"I want to know Latin. I want to use it for the English writers who assumed their readers knew Latin. I don't want to take more in college..., ma'am. I took five majors this year, two of them mathematical. Doesn't it look like I could handle five majors next year, ma'am?"
"If you want to, you could probably handle the academics. And third-year Latin won't be crowded. You've done very well academically this year. I can't say the same for your behavior. If we let you take five majors, you won't write any more poems about other girls."
"Can we say 'no more critical poems,' ma'am? I write poems for my roommates on their birthdays. Well, I recite them on their birthdays; I write them before. I think they expect them. Can I ... may I contiue, ma'am."
"All right. I didn't know that. No more poems that the subjects of won't like. And will you promise to bring no more books to school -- schoolbooks excepted, of course?"
"You brought a book from home that was totally unfit for a church-related school. Your father had his bookplate in it. Does he know you took it?"
"I told him that I had lost it."
"Did he know you were going to take it to school?"
"Will you promise not to do that again?"
"Very well, Connie. I'll see if that scheduling is possible. It's complicated, you know; there will be only one third-year Latin course next year."
"Thank you, ma'am."
After she left, she thought that she should have asked for the return of the book, but she didn't want to bring it up again. Why hadn't Miss Perkins called her in long before?
However, Andre drove up again at the end of school. He hauled her suitcase down to the car. "Everything done, Connie?" He remembered to not call her 'Princess' on campus.
"You remember the book of yours I lost?"
"Want it back? Miss Perkins has it, and she might return it to you." They went and asked her.
"Did you know she took it?" Miss Perkins asked.
"It's not like that. You don't have any children of your own?" He waited for her to shake her head. "My daughter said she would be studying short stories in school. She asked if I had any she could read. I got her several books. I figured she took some with her; I knew she returned some to me. I didn't ask which she'd taken."
"You thought that book was appropriate for your daughter to read?"
"Certainly. Most of those stories are very well written. Anyway, I gather that you don't want me to donate it to the school library." She didn't. "Then may I have it back?"
"Yes. Just don't give any more books to Connie to bring to school."
"Well, Princess," he said when they were driving on the interstate, "you'd better read those books by Lawrence this summer. I don't want you taking any more books to school."
"Books by Lawrence?"
"Sure. Remember I told you that he was a poet. I dug out a few for you. It's not that I don't want you rummaging through my books...."
"I understand." He was terribly afraid somebody else would destroy the order, which looked more like disorder to Connie, in which he kept his books. He was always willing to share with her; he just wanted to do the looking himself. Hmmm, D. H. Lawrence. It looked like an interesting summer.
The End Substitutes Uther Pendragon firstname.lastname@example.org 2003/07/30 Thanks to Denny for editing this. Some further adventures of Connie: "Tightrope Summers" The first adventures of Connie: "None Must" Another story about another girl in an entirely different situation: "Youth House" The index to almost all my stories is: Index to Uther Pendragon's website