Acts Of Love

August 15, 1896
Charles Birchwood

I sipped slowly from my glass of single malt, allowing the sweet taste to infiltrate every corner of my mouth. A cigar would have been a nice companion but I did not wish to impose myself further.

“It is an unprecedented request, Charles.” The Dean said.

He leaned back in his chair and stroked his moustache in a thoughtless motion which is often mistaken as thoughtful by so many. I was coming to see it as a nervous tick of the Dean’s and one that seems to indicate a fear of making a decision. I fail to comprehend how a man of so little confidence has risen to his rank within such a reputed educational facility. Politics would no doubt explain much.

“If you prefer, I can have her apply through more traditional channels for next year. I only thought it would be somewhat more convenient for all this way, but if I am wrong…” I said.

“No, no. It is simply a surprise. I have never before had a member of the teaching staff wish to send their wife through the establishment. The only difficulty I see is music is a required course for our young ladies and it would seem a bit of a conflict for you to be instructing your wife.”

I blinked in surprise.

“Surely, you jest. I instruct my wife on a daily basis.” I replied.

“Of course, I meant it would be nearly impossible for you to treat your wife and your other students in equitable manner.”

“Indeed, I have little intention of bedding most of my students, however I do not think within the classroom there is any cause for concern.”

“Naturally. Do you not fill it would cause strife in your home were you to grade your wife negatively?”

“If my wife deserves a negative grade it will indeed cause strife in our home as well as in the classroom. I expect it to be much the same for my other students only their home will not be my home.”

“Quite true. I suppose if you feel equal to the task, I have no objection. I will of course be sensitive to student views of favoritism toward your wife.”

“I would expect nothing less. My wife will find my classroom no different than any other.”

“Then see to it she completes the appropriate registration forms and enrolls in appropriate first year classes.”

He handed me a set of papers from his desk.

“Thank you.” I said.

Realizing our meeting had come to an end much quicker than I expected, I downed the remainder of my single malt in a single gulp. It burned in my throat as I stood and exited the room.

Caroline’s reaction was worth noting.

“You do love me!” She shouted.

“When have I ever given your reason to doubt?” I asked.

She looked at me as though she thought I was joking. Perhaps I have failed to convey my fondness to her on a daily basis, but what man can be bothered to express trivial emotions so often and for so little reason?

“Thank you, Charles.”

“No need for that. Just be sure this is what you want before we finalize it. Once the papers are signed, there is no backing out for you.”

“I know. This means more to me than you will ever understand.”

“My understanding is not as limited as you believe.”

“Nor is mine, Charles. I may be slow to catch on but I always do in time.”

Her face had turned serious for a moment and her eyes glanced at a shirt laying on the chair in the corner of the room. I looked at it for a moment before realizing was the same one Edith had torn buttons from. It was mended.


Paul said...

Melanie, Careful Charles.
Warm hugs,

Anonymous said...

I love the sense of conflict arising. I'm wondering if and when Caroline would confront Edith. As an incoming student, Edith has the authority to discipline Caroline.

Nice writing.