Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Blood Bather: Chapter 2

The Blood Bather
Chapter 2

            Audra remembered trying to explain the hierarchy that exists in sororities to her new friend Belinda in her Victorian Studies class just that very morning; how the president as a senior soon to graduate with her "MRS" (and become engaged to her handsome pre-med boyfriend Micah Ballantree), how Audra as a junior is now the vice-president with the likelihood of being the president next year, how she was paired with a freshman when she was a sophomore and how her freshman - now a sophomore - would soon be paired with her own "little", a freshman, as soon as rush week got underway, creating an unified chain of sisterhood through the years.
            "It's like the military" Belinda had breathed, stunned. "Yeah, but more deadly," cackled her boyfriend Edward, the requisite skinny emo kid from a small town that had come to university and fallen hopelessly in love with the first pre-Raphaelite redhead that had spoken to him. Belinda was stunning, though, Audra had to admit. And so nice. She was pleased to have taken this course if only to meet new people on campus like Belinda. Ironically, the Greek crowd could be oh-so-xenophobic.
            "Oh, you're just jealous, Eddy. No one invites you to any bikini keggers or lawn raleighs", Belinda quipped. "No," he acknowledged maturely, "but that is certain to change now that we know Audra". Audra smiled without showing her teeth and dropped her gaze. It wasn't the first time men had asked to be invited to a Greek party but it was getting very old. He seemed like the type to give his heart to a sorority and have it stomped on. If he did anything to upset Belinda, Audra would feel responsible.
            Audra was an international relations major, but had decided to spread her wings and take this class to satisfy a humanities requirement. It had proven to be a good choice. The professor Dr. Elzbeta Nadasdy was actually the department head of Ancient Languages, and typically only taught graduate level work. It was a treat to get a lecturer of her calibre. It wasn't only her skill as a teacher, she was exquisitely beautiful too. She stood 5'5" with waist length black hair that hung loose and slightly wavy at the ends. Ink black eyes in a heart shaped face of burnished gold, with a smattering of dark brown freckles across the bridge of her nose that was somehow girlish. A curvy figure that moved like with the grace of a ballerina. Her waist to hip ratio was perfect. The air of health, sophistication and sensuality that surrounded her was intoxicating, and made Audra feel like a girl next to a full grown woman, almost a type of jealousy, despite knowing that she was younger and thinner. In small but important ways, this woman was every man's fantasy. Predictably, the class had attracted more than its fair share of red-blooded males, despite the fact that it focused on corsetry, falconry, Spiritualism and books by the Bronte sisters.
            It was only because Audra was listening so intently that she noticed a small noise, the sound of a chair scraping to her immediate left. Then the deep audible sigh. Then the smell of stale food. Oh no. The unformed man.
            Audra looked to her left and gazed upon a truly pathetic sight, Darryl. If Dr. Nadasdy was the epitome of womanhood, then this poor person was her polar opposite. Not just in gender but in every way possible. Here was a boy who stood at a man's height, carrying far too much weight in his middle. He looked like an overgrown school yard bully with a giant lincoln green backpack full of god-knows-what and a slightly dingy nondescript uniform of white shirt and powder blue jeans, with a baggy seat. Jagged red stretch marks irrigated the pasty white skin of he belly when his pants fell low or his shirt pulled up, which for some reason happened a lot. They are your clothes, Audra thought irritably, why don't they fit. 

Darryl sported a full head of greasy black hair deeply in need of a haircut. He had a defeated air and a small nasal voice that still managed to be monotonous.
Darryl was shy and sensitive but overly convinced of his own genius. He had a theory about everything. He had all the right answers and while he did not talk too much, but still the room shifted uncomfortably when the put up his hand to answer. He had the phenomenal ability of putting everyone at unease. Often he could be found wandering the quad seemingly muttering to himself, gently touching the fuzzy toque he wore even on warm days. Audra was not sure why or even when she began calling him the unformed man, but it just seemed to fit.
            Darryl did not always have bad breath, but today was especially bad. Something must be making him nervous, thought Audra. That was what always happened when she took her cat to the vet, he would get bad breath from stress. Or fart.
            "Hi Audra" he wheezed, as he sat down revealing plumbers butt and a good bit of butt hair. The visual shock and miasma of smell took her a moment to recover. Audra made eye contact and nodded, while imperceptibly holding her breath. Then her eyes glided to the professor to indicate she was taking the class seriously. Darryl was not to be so easily swayed.
"Did you have a good summer, Audra?"
In return she smiled and nodded that yes, she did, bringing a small silk neckerchief to her nose. It was infused with her perfume and she inhaled deeply. "We'll talk after, okay, Darryl?"
            He seemed satisfied and lean over - another big sigh and resultant air pollution - to unpack his giant bag with little to no room to maneuver in his chair. He pulled out paper and pens and a pencil case, only to have it crash to the ground. The room turned in their direction and Audra quickly ducked to retrieve it, thereby killing two birds with one stone - staying out of sight and fixing the problem.
            "Here." she said, handing it back to him. Darryl took it and stared at her hand without moving. They were almost touching, linked by a pencil case. She forced the case over to the surface of the desk and let go.
"Thank you" Darryl breathed, very quietly. Not nasal at all.

Audra looked up and was startled to see that the professor was stopped - stone still - not speaking; ink black eyes boring hard into her own. She was momentarily taken aback. There were like dead shark eyes, full of something, some malevolent emotion. No, not emotion. Instinct. Like when her cat was terrified and his pupils expanded to cover the iris entirely. She knew in those moments to avoid him or she would get a nasty scratch. Audra's mouth went dry. Then the professor blinked and continued to speak, smoothly as though there had been no pause and the moment was gone.

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