“Love Song of a Femme Fatale on Scholarship” – Fiction by Maria Pinto

The Seven Deadly Sins, Lust - Erte
The Seven Deadly Sins, Lust – Erte

Dive into the mind of an infatuated freshman with “Love Song of a Femme Fatale on Scholarship”Maria Pinto‘s frisky flash fiction from our Winter 2017 issue.

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SOMETHING ABOUT SEEING TEACHER ON THE BUS, under the yellow light, the ridges of his brown corduroys flaccid, the finger upon which she’d always assumed she would find a gold band if she bothered to look, how the finger tapped at his bony knee, something about the way the finger had a gold band-shaped stripe on it, the stripe pale, a little indented, the way the knuckle hairs had a practiced wither there, how the stripe rendered him vulnerable as a midair-poised ass, hot, pink from slapping, something about all these things taken together made her want to push the moment, to fuck him. She did not interrogate why. She was a freshman; there was only the urgent press of do, do, do.

When he’d boarded the bus at the foot of Crippling Debt Hill, she felt him see her reading from the anthology for his class. He took the seat across from her, but she didn’t feel him look at her again. Her cheeks burned. She wanted to get up and lean over, to dot his face with damp kisses. Instead, she pretended to keep reading till the lines on the page went blurry.

What was he doing on the bus? She’d never seen him on this route. Shouldn’t an older professor at an elite university drive a reliable Prius, at least? Here was proof of the bleak state of education in this country.

The bus made a sudden stop to let a yelling passenger off and everyone lurched forward or to the side but him. She sighed.

In class today, he had said something ridiculous about a poem and she’d felt those words rumbling in her chest all afternoon. These lines know they can never know a woman. Words can never know a woman. The interior of a woman is ineffable, which earned him a laugh from the others. She knew he was not joking, so she didn’t laugh. She felt him watch her mouth as it didn’t slip open to show her teeth. Maybe he was a cad.

On the first day of the semester, his brown-black eyes had lingered on her at the end of every sentence. She’d heard somewhere that everyone thinks a good public speaker is looking at them most of all, but that didn’t stop her from playing with her lip, watching him watch her do it. All the watching felt involuntary.

He was not what you would call handsome. His skin was prone to cystic eruptions and he had the self-thinned hair of a neurotic. But his eyes could pin her to a wall, do that work by just not blinking. Could interrogate the line of her collarbone. Could deconstruct her composure. Could leave her wriggling in her seat. Could problematize her panties.

One day, after class, she’d gone into the unisex bathroom just as he went out, their shoulders almost brushing, and sat on the toilet seat with her head tilted back against the pee-spattered wall, her eyes fixed on the yellow overhead light, burning. She imagined him in there with her. Her lips clenched around his absence. She imagined she could make him feel her as he scuttled to his faculty meeting, just from the force of her lips against his absence.

She’s nearing her stop.

He touches the strip to request a stop. What is he going home to? A basement apartment? A Cape Cod with a sunny paintjob and good bones to build on? Does he get his share of vitamin D from leaning lonely and short-sleeved out the window in summer? Did he keep the good babysitter in the divorce? Has he covered her young pouty mouth to keep his sleeping kids from hearing?

What will he do when she gets up to follow him off the bus, to find out?

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IMG_9077MARIA PINTO‘s work has appeared in Word Riot, Pinball, The Butter, Cleaver, Menacing Hedge, and FLAPPERHOUSE, among others. She was an Ivan Gold Fellow at The Writers’ Room of Boston, in the city where she walks dogs, grows a veggie garden, and does Karaoke. Her debut novel is in search of a home. She’s working on the next. 

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