While I switched my laptop on, Charlie looked around at the photos I had on my walls.
“This is really cool.” She said, looking at a picture of my friends and me at university. “Your house is really nice.”
“Thank you.” I was feeling very unnerved about having her here, because a major part of me was still saying that she shouldn’t be. “Well, there’s the story. I’ll print it for you and you can go.”
“Can’t I read it here? It would save paper.”
“No Charlie.” I sighed and turned to face her, running my fingers through my hair. “You’re going to have to go I’m afraid. Try to understand that it’s making me uncomfortable having a student in my house.” Her smile dropped, but she nodded and backed away from the laptop.
“I’m sorry for making you uncomfortable. I’d never want to do that.” She looked truly apologetic, but I was glad I’d said it, because there was something about the way Charlie was being around me that made me feel like I should put a barrier up. She was very friendly, and normally a friendly attitude is welcomed with students, but I had a feeling that Charlie was unaware of student/teacher boundaries.
“Now I must warn you that I don’t want this circulating round the students. You have to read it and then give it straight back.” I turned to look at Charlie, who was looking rather subdued and watching the printer dish out sheets of paper. “Charlie?” She glanced up.
“Sorry. Yeah don’t worry, no one else will see it.”
“Thank you. Now, isn’t there something you were supposed to be telling me?”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, it was nothing.” The printer finished printing, and Charlie stepped forward to take the sheets.
“Hey, wait a minute. The deal was you tell me what all the grinning was about before you get it.” Charlie blushed and I wondered why. I thought back to what we’d been talking about in the wood. “Did I say something funny?”
“You said that not many things make you scream.”
“I was just thinking about... about what might make you scream.” It was a few moments before it sunk in what she had been thinking.
“That’s inappropriate Charlie. You shouldn’t be thinking about things like that... especially about me.”
“I can’t help it. It’s the way you make me feel, the way you look at me...” She stepped a little closer, and I realised what a mistake I’d made by inviting her to my house. She liked me, and it was my fault for being so lax in formalities around her.
“Charlie, I didn’t mean to make you feel... I don’t think I’ve looked at you in any particular...” I was flustered, because I knew that part of me had secretly wanted her to like me, because I liked her. That fact came crashing down on me like a ton of bricks. I did like her. Here she was, standing so close to me, telling me she liked me, and I felt the same. But I couldn’t do anything about it, because it would be illegal. My heart twisted and I took a step backward, feeling my legs collide with the desk.
“You do. You look at me like no one has ever looked at me before. I know you like me Summer.” She was so close now I could feel her breath on my skin.
“Charlie, please, leave. I can’t do this. I’m your teacher, that’s all.” Her eyes welled up, and she touched my face with her hand.
“But I really like you Summer.” I felt tears come to my eyes too, but I gently pushed her away and turned away to compose myself.
“Go, please.” My voice sounded weak, and it was a struggle to keep myself standing as my legs turned to jelly.
There was a silence, and then I heard the door open and close. I turned, and saw Charlie had gone. The story lay on the printer still, and as I saw this I let my knees give way, falling to the floor and sobbing. Why was this happening to me? It was partly my fault for liking her in the first place, but I’d thought I concealed that fact pretty well. Suddenly I didn’t feel very happy or grown up at all. I felt like a small child, lost and confused. Lonely. And tomorrow, I was going to have to go to school and pretend everything was normal. Unless I told my head of department that Charlie liked me and that I wanted her to move form and class. But the selfish part of me knew I couldn’t do that. If that happened, she might tell all her friends how close we’d been, and there could be an enquiry and I might lose my job...
It looks like I have a big decision to make.