How To Be a Good Mentor

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For those who’ve read my other stories, Shannon’s back; this is a prequel of sorts. And if you’re new to my work, welcome! Hope you enjoy.

* * *

I was hesitant about whether I should talk to her about this. I mean, the school has a mentorship program for a reason: you’re supposed to be able to talk to your mentor about anything, anything at all, and they’re not supposed to blab about it. But this?

Granted, it was probably the kind of thing that happened to many, if not most first-year teachers. And there was no doubt my mentor and I had a great relationship, almost a friendship already; weird when I thought about it, because the truth was she’d been one of my own classroom teachers when I’d been a senior.

But still. This topic? With this mentor?

So I was uncharacteristically subdued as I came up behind her at the faculty lunch table. She was alone; none of her other friends shared this lunch period. As always, she was munching on some sort of quinoa/tofu/kale/broccoli thing. I felt guilty about the Italian sub I’d be unveiling soon.

I was surprised she didn’t hear me as I came in; it’s not like I’m a ninja, and I wasn’t trying to be particularly quiet. But her slender neck underneath her dark wavy hair, piled like a bird’s nest atop her head, didn’t tense at my approach. She had firm, hard shoulders; I knew she worked out, but right now she sat slack and easy in the awkward institutional chair, her jawline visible from behind as she worked at the quinoa. Or couscous? I let my feet make an obvious shuffling noise, and she finally turned.

“Oh. Hey! How’s it going, Dave?” She smiled up at me, a wad of some orangey sauce trailing from her lips; she’d always been pretty clumsy, truth be told. I reached up and scratched vaguely at my face where the sauce was, and she took the hint with an embarrassed giggle. “Thanks,” she muttered into her napkin. “What’s on your mind?”

I suppressed a sigh as I plopped into the chair across from her, still feeling a little residual awkwardness at being in here. I’m sure there are some people who can take a job at their alma mater and work with their old teachers as if they’d been hanging out together for years, drinking beers and singing karaoke, but I’m not that guy. “Hi, Shannon.” She’d needed to correct me three separate times on the first day of school, my addled brain thinking of her only as “Ms Boyle.” I reached slowly into my bag for my sandwich. “Can’t I come share a happy, quiet lunch with my mentor? Do I have to have something on my mind?”

Shannon smiled again, knowingly this time. “You’re a nice kid, Dave, but a little too expressive. You’ve got a readable face.” She wiggled her eyebrows. “I can tell you’re working on something.”

“I am.” I unrolled the sandwich, glancing up past my glasses to see if she was watching all that processed meat come gooily into view. “You know Lucy Marsh?”

“Know her?” She chortled, a small spray of parsley flying back toward her Tupperware. “I had her twice, but only because she was too fucking dumb to pass the first time. Why? Is she one of yours?”

“I’ve got her in that skills class, the one with like eleven kids.” Special ed teachers like me weren’t supposed to have skills blocks of more than ten kids without an extra aide, but the school played fast and loose with that kind of thing all the time.

“Shit.” Shannon put her plastic fork down and reflected, staring off into space. “I haven’t really seen her since she was a sophomore. Still have massive tits?”

I nearly choked on my first bite of prosciutto. Shannon Boyle had a notably dirty mouth, something I hadn’t really expected when she’d been my teacher. From what I’d seen, the new math teacher Gina was even worse. “Yes, uh, Shannon,” I replied as evenly as I could. “She does, indeed, have massive tits.”

She giggled again. “Christ, Dave, calm down. You don’t have to pretend you don’t notice them; after all, it’s why so many of them dress like they do.” She shoved in another clump of whatever she was eating. “Some girls like being noticed.” I gulped instinctively. Shannon was not overly large in the chest, to say the least. I wanted desperately to change the topic, but given what I had to talk to her about, that wasn’t much of an option.

“That’s kind of the problem with her,” I said slowly. We chewed together, her with a lot less self-consciousness than I. “She’s… well, she’s kind of…”

“She’s hitting on you for a higher grade.”

“Yes!” Shannon had stated it calmly and deliberately. Just that morning, young Lucy had come sauntering in with a saucy little grin and a bit too much eye makeup. “I swear to God, Shannon, her skirt might as well have been nonexistent. It was like one of those field hockey skirts.”

“Ouch.” Shannon ruminated. “She’s got nice legs.”

“No shit. So she comes over to me, like while I was sitting in my chair, and she perches on the edge of the desk. She looks at me and bites her lip.”

“Dude.” She shook her head. “What a slut.”

“She goes, ‘Can Gaziantep Elden Ödeme Alan Escort I ask you a personal question, Mr Dole?’ I could hardly say no. So she leans in, and her top… well, it was pretty low-cut.”

“Shit.” Shannon’s eyes lit up. “She’s a smooth operator.”

I didn’t answer at once, remembering: I’m as male as the next guy, and even though I’ve got no interest in a teacher-student sex scandal and don’t particularly like Lucy, there’s a reason men get hard when they see massive breasts. Her cleavage had beckoned like a goddamn treasure cave, complete with a dragon waiting inside to devour me. “Right. Well, so then she kind of whispers to me, and says she’s not sure if her skirt meets the dress code. ‘My mom threatened to keep me home, Mr Dole,’ she said. ‘But I told her I’d miss my skills class, and I love going to my skills class.’ I didn’t know what to say.”

“You say that her skirt is too short, and that her mom was right.”

“Well, it’s harder for a guy to say something like that than for a woman.”

“True.” She scraped some orange-sauced green things to the corner of her Tupperware. “What did you say?”

I shrugged. “What could I say? I told her it wasn’t an appropriate question, and that if she wanted to come in early, she should have some kind of academic question for me to answer. She kind of got all huffy at first, but then she just smiled and got up and stretched, like, right in front of me.” I paused as I remembered the sight, glorious and firm, as Lucy Marsh jiggled fitfully right in front of me. Her top had ridden up to reveal the glint of her pierced navel. Her belly had been smooth and tanned. “I said she should leave.”

“Killjoy.” Shannon swallowed, then looked seriously at me. “Dave,” she pointed out, “you should think long and hard about asking her out.” She shrugged. “The word is she gives excellent head.”

“Jesus! Shannon!”

“I’m just kidding,” she giggled, primly snapping the lid back onto her container of nutrition and gazing at me thoughtfully. “I’ll bet she’ll just go away if you ignore her, Dave.” She swept a thing of dental floss from her purse and went at it, as if I wasn’t even there. “Pretend she’s not getting to you. I mean, treat her like any other student. She’ll get the message.” She stared thoughtfully into space. “Want to hear a story, Dave?”

“Sure.” I had work to do on my sandwich; we only had another ten minutes for lunch. Shannon settled back and began with the kind of relish that implied she’d told this story often.

“So I was in my second year here, teaching three sections of modern US history and two of Early World. I think this was…” she frowned. “Five years ago, maybe? I think it was when you were here, or maybe just after you left; I don’t know.” My ears pricked up in mid-soppressata. “Anyway, it was around then. So the Student Body Council used to do that thing, the Valentine’s Day fundraiser, where they sold carnations during the lunches?”

I remembered. I’d been the SBC Treasurer, after all. We’d made money hand over fist. You’d let kids write out a message, seal it in an envelope, and then write their crush’s name on the outside. They’d drop it off with five dollars, and on Valentine’s the SBC brought the envelopes around to the recipients, with a red or white carnation. It was all in good fun; it was the same thing we’d always done around the holidays, with candy canes. I nodded.

“So I’d gotten a couple the year before, just innocuous little notes from nerds and kissups. But I’d been a first-year teacher, and I was only like your age, so I probably looked like a student.”

“I can relate.” I’d recently grown a scruffy little beard in order to avoid being mistaken for a kid. That, and I wore ties every day. Alas, though, my pitiful beard was such a sorry-ass thing that the effect was, I knew, pathetic; there were fifteen-year-old sophomores in the building with better facial hair.

“Right? So I didn’t think anything of it. Then one of those SBC kids came by with another flower for me, and I big white envelope, and it had my name and room number on the outside. I opened it right there in class and damn near lost it. Like, my head just about exploded.”

“Really? What was in there?”

“Well,” she said slowly, “there were a couple of things. A poem, for one, very nicely done in silver ink on some cardstock. It was very complimentary toward me.” She took on a distant look, smiling faintly as she remembered. “Very complimentary. I loved it. I looked it up later on a plagiarism website, but it seemed to be original. It was signed ‘Secret Admirer.’ Then there was a note, saying about how much the sender loved me, and wanted me to be happy, and how beautiful I was; stuff like that.”

“The usual.” I was watching her closely, and she surprised me with a frown.

“No, actually. Not the usual. I’d have expected being told I was hot, or sexy, or something like that. But this one said beautiful.” She sighed. “Maybe it’s nothing, but it really made me happy at the time. Jesus, I was young.”

I forced myself to take another bite. “Was there anything else in there?”

She looked up, her dark eyes meeting mine. “Oh yes.” She took a precise sip of her water. “Two small envelopes, numbered 1 and 2. The note said to open them in order, so I did.” She suddenly looked suspicious. “Did you hear about this at the time? It made major waves; if you were here, you’d have heard about it.”

I shook my head. “Doesn’t sound familiar.”

“Huh.” She shrugged. “Well, whatever. Envelope number 1 had a photo of a bed, just a normal bed in a normal bedroom, normal sheets. But it was nighttime, and there was a candle on the windowsill, and there were — get this — rose petals on the bed.” She chuckled. “Like, a teenage boy’s bedroom, with all the clutter you’d expect on the bedside table, and then this romantic setup… it was too much. But very flattering. The note with that picture said something about how he wanted to relax with me, make out with me, et cetera.”

My mouth had gone dry, despite the oil and vinegar on my sub. “And the second envelope?”

She arched an eyebrow. “Well, see, that’s why I almost lost it. It was a picture of a penis.”

I’d expected it, but it still made me gasp. “No way.”

“Oh yes.” She took some more water; her face was pinkish. “A real, live, honest-to-God dick. Like, all hard and shit.”

“No way.”

“You said that already,” Shannon went on calmly. “It was a pretty good shot, actually, framed well and in focus, with plenty of detail. All I could see was the penis andthe balls, then the pubes and a little of the abs, like, up to his belly button.” She shivered. “It really was quite hard, Dave.”

“Huh.” I swallowed. There wasn’t much more to say.

“Exactly.” She sighed. “The note with that picture was a little more explicit. Weird, though: it was still… well, I don’t know how to put it. Polite? Gentlemanly? As polite as it could be, anyway, telling me how much he wanted to fuck me.” She looked away. “Really hard.”

I had to know. “How did it make you feel?”

“Me? After I got over my shock?” She looked at me long and evenly. “I shouldn’t really tell you what I did when I went home that night, Dave. Wouldn’t be appropriate.” She chuckled. “Bad mentorship.”

“No doubt,” I replied immediately, concentrating on my sandwich. Two bites left. “So what’d you do?”

She shrugged. “Some of the kids had seen the photo, so I didn’t have a choice. I told Mr Oliver, he told the assistant principal to do something about it, and then presto. No more Valentine’s Day flowergrams for the SBC.”

“Ah.” I swallowed. One more bite. “So that’s why they stopped it.”

“Yup.” Shannon paused again, staring into her water, then sighed. “But more to the point, I always figured it was Craig Metcalfe’s dick. So things were… well, awkward between he and I after that.” She shrugged, then started putting her things away. “I ignored him. It went away. End of story.”

“Huh.” I was obscurely disappointed. “Why Craig Metcalfe?” Craig was a roofer now, though in high school he’d been captain of the water polo team. Shannon blinked.

“I — I don’t know,” she admitted. “He was always flirting with me, and all the gossip said his dick was huge. I didn’t give it much thought; the, uh, the coloring seemed to match.” She hesitated then, looking at me sideways, then decided to speak. “Thing is, well… it worked.”

“What’s that?”

She shrugged. “It worked. As a valentine. It was precisely the right approach for me.” She got to her feet, her compact muscular body quick and decisive in its movements. I tried not to stare. “I’m off. I need to pee before class. Gonna be okay with Lucy?”

“Lucy? Oh, uh, sure.” I shook my head. “I know what I need to do. I just needed to vent.” I smiled up at her, always tentative. “Thanks, Shannon.” She grinned back.

“Don’t mention it.” She nodded, then she was gone, that symmetrical ass of hers wagging impudently in its tight skirt, and I realized I was annoyed. Annoyed at Craig Metcalfe, as unfair as that was. The truth was, I’d spent hours over that shot, getting my cock just right in the camera frame, fiddling with the timer, even setting up the lighting.

But I felt a thrill, too. Because she’d told me it had worked. My valentine to my teacher had worked.

* * *

Shannon Boyle was an absolutely smoking woman now, but when she’d had me in class six years ago she’d been… different. No less hot, really, but there’d been a little more weight, softer curves, a gentleness to her that had driven a certain kind of nerdy, soulful male student into fits of distraction. I think she’d been in her second year of teaching when I had her in modern US, and her occasional fumbles with classroom management (rougher kids ran all over her) and classwork (she’d had a habit of forgetting to collect assignments) had seemed, to me, endearing.

Many an adolescent night had been spent wondering what she looked like naked. Of course, she wasn’t alone: I was an average, horny boy, so I used to picture nearly every woman I knew naked. There was Mrs Grant, the Spanish teacher, who jiggled and shook so powerfully in her white sweaters. Ms Temple, down in Guidance, who called everybody “honey” and who you could never be quite sure wasn’t flirting with you; she still worked here, still as hot and flirty as ever. And Ms Linnea, the PE teacher; my God, but she’d been fine. A tall, lean woman in sweats and a tanktop, she’d been fodder for many locker-room conversations among all of us guys.

But, to me, Ms Boyle had always been different. Special. She’d been young and fresh-faced, with an air of naivete that made me want to protect her. Of course, she’d also been busty and worn skirts, which made me want to fuck her. Hence that valentine photo, so out of character for me.

I’d perched my camera, a clunky digital in those days before everyone had smartphones, on my dresser, then taped a flashlight to my desk for sidelighting; a trip to the internet had told me to soften and reflect the harsh light with a piece of white cloth, so I’d sacrificed a pillowcase and then not told my mom about it. I’d lined everything up carefully, taken a series of test shots in my tighty-whities, and then it had been time to go: I’d thought about Ms Boyle, looked at her picture in last year’s yearbook, and with the steadiness and reliability of any 18-year-old penis, I’d gotten hard in about nine seconds.

The camera had a timer, but I’d had to go back and forth to take subsequent shots until I was sure I’d gotten everything perfect. Once I had, I’d stared at the result with a mixture of pride, fascination, and embarrassment. It’s not every day a guy studies his own dick, and I didn’t really have a sense about how it should look. But the lighting made it look like a goddamn tower, like a great big fleshy chimney, the brown birthmark on the right side now looking a little like a pumpkin; it only did that when I was hard.

And, apparently, she’d liked it.

The poem, too, seemed to have been a hit, but then I’d figured it would be. I was a good writer even then. I’d had my aunt do the calligraphy, telling her it was a homework assignment and claiming Shakespeare had written it. All in all, a solid Valentine’s success. Until the foolish little muppet had opened the dick picture in class, in front of her students.

I’d been lying to Shannon when I’d told her I hadn’t remembered the incident. It had been the major scandal of the year at East Seaborne, and the principal Mr Oliver had gone on the warpath. He’d called the cops, a detective had frowned and called the superintendent, and a letter had been sent home to parents. There was a minor story in the news a couple days later, but in the end the administration had decided there wasn’t much they could do. Short of compulsory cock and/or bedroom inspections of the entire male student body, with Ms Boyle checking out each one, there would have been no way to figure out whose penis was in the photo. Unless someone blabbed.

I hadn’t. Not to anyone. And, geeky as I was, there was nobody in the school who could vouch for what my dick looked like, other than the cross country team in whose locker room I’d spent a few years changing. There had been a girlfriend of unimpressive blowjob technique, but she’d moved away the year before and now went to school somewhere in Nowheresville, Kansas.

So I knew I’d get away with it. It had given me a secret thrill, at the time, to know that the lovely Ms Boyle knew what I looked like erect. I’d wondered whether she’d pondered my dick, plus the flowery bed, and lain awake at night thinking about what they meant. Today’s lunchroom had given me at least a partial answer to that: she had.

I assumed she’d given Oliver the pictures, now moldering shredded in some landfill or buried in a file somewhere in the disciplinary office, East Seaborne’s version of a cold case.

Feeling strangely lightheaded, I packed up my stuff and got ready to move on to my next class. Lucy’s class. The school had a rotating schedule, so I saw her at different times each day. I wondered what she’d do after our morning encounter; certainly she’d make sure her jacket was off, her boobs on full display for me and the other guys in the room. Of eleven kids, nine were boys; the other girl, Elizabeth, was a mousy freakshow who lived a life of total silence in the corner. That left a river of testosterone, all of which Lucy Marsh lapped up with smooth, easy self-assurance; the girl knew exactly what she had, that was for sure. I was confident I wasn’t the first male teacher she’d tried to vamp for a better grade.

My room was the worst in the building, bar none, buried deep in the back corner of the lunchroom; I’d attended school there for four years, and never had I known the room even existed. The furniture was hardly inspiring, but I’d made an effort with some paint and plenty of projects hung on the walls. My desk was a massive thing, a hand-me-down from a bank or post office, and as I walked in I saw Lucy lounging behind it, her feet high on the desk. “Hi, Mr Dole!” she chirped as she caught sight of me.

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