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This letter is a sidebar to the “Grounded in Toronto” series that features Eleanor Burton.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, merchandise, companies, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. All characters are 18 years or older when in sexual situations.
December 5, 2017
My dearest Eleanor,
I know that what we had is over, but the memory of what we had, however fleeting, helps carry me forward.
I wish that we could start over, now knowing you, your thoughts and desires, the subtle curves of your body, and the secret places that I could touch with my fingers and tongue that would elicit the arching of your back and a gentle sigh from your parted lips. Part of me believes that if we started over that I could convince you to leave Camille for me – it’s a dream that I’ve replayed in my mind more times than I can count.
There is so much that was left unsaid – my hopes and dreams for us, together. Was there something I could have said or done that would have changed your mind?
You’re the famous writer who has received accolades from around the world. I’m just a student. Yet here I am writing to you, professing my love for you once again, and capturing my thoughts for the both of us so that the freshness and richness of our relationship can be preserved, as if an insect trapped in amber.
You know about my background, my childhood in rural Indiana and adolescence in suburban Chicago. The confusion in high school, when my conservative parents pushed me to date boys and I feigned interest to placate them and my friends. My coming out in college, and the vistas that admission opened up for me with my sexual awakening. And then you.
You came into my life and roared through it like a freight train, knocking down all of my preconceived notions about women, relationships and love. I’ve rebuilt my life, hopefully stronger, after the carnage caused by our whirlwind romance.
My story with you started with my senior year at the University of Nevada-Reno. It was an exciting time for me, with the looming completion of college and the prospects of a new job in a new city somewhere. It was late August and the thermometer had topped 100 degrees for the past five days. I was walking across campus, sweating and cursing under my breath. I never enjoyed the hot, muggy days in the Midwest, and even though the heat in the desert was a “dry heat,” that was little solace for the intense sun of the afternoon. My blouse was sticking to my body, and as I entered into the air-conditioned building for class registration, the cold air caused me to shiver. I negotiated my way through a crowded hallway to the large conference room staffed by university personnel that allowed students to make last minute changes to their on-line registration. I was focused on one class that was now open again for last minute additions. It was called “Introduction to Women’s Literature” and was being taught by you, Eleanor Burton, a famous author of lesbian themed fiction. I’d read your semi-autobiographical novel “Grounded in Toronto,” and was smitten by your writing and by you. Your photo on the back of the dust cover showed an attractive, confident 40-ish woman with long honey blonde hair that was up in a chignon. It also indicated you were married to Camille Durand, the woman depicted in the novel as your lover and then your wife. I was lucky enough to get the last remaining spot in your class. Little did I know that you would upend my life.
I moved into my apartment that same week, planning to spend the weekend unpacking and seeking out old friends. I was living at that time with three other girls. We were friends from high school and roomed together for the last two years. It was typical student housing, a shabby apartment building that had seen better days twenty years ago and was now relegated to a transient student population. I didn’t care. I was 21 and had my whole life in front of me.
I’d come out my first year of college and already had a series of girlfriends, but none of them filled that void in my heart. Sure, they were cute and were fun in bed, but none of them possessed the intellectual firepower or the real world experience to hold my interest. I was sure that a special woman was out there for me and that it was my duty to find her.
Classes started the following Monday. Fortunately my first class of the day was at 8 a.m., when it was a crisp 70 degrees and sunny. I was angling for a teaching credential and was rounding out my course load to get the proper distribution of credits. I had an introductory economics class first and then the class that I was really looking forward to attending at 10 a.m., your class of course.
The economics class as expected was boring. It was literally a “check the box” for me as part of my class distribution, so I numbed myself for the lecture. casino şirketleri I couldn’t have given a rat’s ass about supply and demand curves or elasticity of demand. After the lecture was over I sprinted to the “Introduction to Women’s Literature” class so I could get a seat up front. It was to no avail. The first two rows of the small lecture hall were already taken so I settled for a seat three rows back from the stage. As I was settling into my seat an acquaintance, Louise, from my English Literature class the previous year, sat next to me.
“Hey, I didn’t know you had signed up for this class,” I said as I lightly poked her side with my finger.
Louise gave me a devilish grin. “I didn’t know that you were into women.”
“I didn’t sign up for this class to pick up someone. I really want to learn more about Eleanor. She’s had an amazing life,” I said with true admiration in my voice.
“Well, I signed up for the class because the instructor is hot,” sighed Louise. “I imagine every lesbian on campus tried to get into this class.”
“Well, Eleanor is beautiful. But her beauty also permeates her writing,” I observed. “She has a way of expressing herself that really speaks to me.”
At that moment, the dull roar of the class reduced itself to stone cold silence as the door behind the lectern opened and you stepped into the room. I can remember that moment as vividly as if it happened yesterday. You were wearing a fitted black jacket with a turquoise blouse, a black pencil skirt cut about four inches above the knee, and open toe black pumps with four inch heels. Your hair was in its trademark chignon. You looked just like I pictured you, attractive, confident and impeccably dressed.
“Hello, I’m Eleanor Burton. I’m a visiting lecturer for this semester. I’m going to spend this semester teaching this class and in my off hours I’ll be conducting research for my next book. I’ve never taught a class before so I’ll count on you to keep me on the straight and narrow.”
“Most of you are hopefully familiar with my work. My latest novel, Grounded in Toronto, was a slightly fictionalized account of my accidental rendezvous with my future wife, Camille Durand. I’ll encourage you to read it if you haven’t already, as it provides insight into my background.”
I spent the next hour in rapt attention as you paced the stage, giving us an overview of the semester and what you intended to accomplish. I had a hard time focusing on what you were saying, as my attention was really on you, and the way you gracefully moved across the stage, using your slender hands for emphasis when you were talking. I had never been captivated by someone before, but you had clearly gotten my attention. Your offhand comment at the end of the lecture is what changed my life.
“Well, it looks like the hour is up. I’m going to be interviewing for a research assistant for my new book. The pay isn’t great, but I can promise you a great experience working directly with me. Stop by my office. I’ve written down my contact information and my office address and office hours on the board.”
I scribbled down your contact information and noted that your office hours began at 1 in the afternoon. That gave me enough time to go back to my apartment to shower and change. I wanted to look my best for you.
It was going to be over 105 degrees in the afternoon. I took a blissful shower, rinsing off the sweat, shaving my legs, and then standing under the shower head just to enjoy the spray of the warm water on my skin. I dried off and looked into the mirror. Relatively straight brown hair that would assume a natural wave when I dried it. Big brown eyes that could use mascara and eyeliner to make them pop. I was blessed with ample breasts, but chose a push-up bra to maximize my cleavage, and picked a floral patterned summer dress that was just low cut enough in the front and the back to look breezy and sexy. I finished the outfit with a pair of white strappy sandals with three inch heels.
As I was leaving the apartment my roommate Sammie was returning. “Hot date?” she asked.
“No, just an interview for a research position with Eleanor Burton.”
Sammie’s eyes brightened. She had heard me talking about getting into her class. “I haven’t seen you in a long time with make-up and a push up bra. You look amazing. I’m sure Eleanor will think that as well.”
“Thanks. I just threw this on.” Both of us knew this was a lie, but I wanted to at least appear to be casual about my visit with Eleanor.
I took an Uber to Eleanor’s office building so as to remain as cool as possible in the searing heat. I was almost shaking with the anticipation of meeting someone I had so long idolized. What was I going to say? Was I going to make a fool of myself? Did I look presentable? I desperately wanted to make a good impression and snag that coveted research position. I checked the building’s directory to get my bearings and then took the elevator to Eleanor’s floor. I wandered down the long hallway, hearing my footsteps casino firmaları echoing on the wood floor, until I reached a frosted glass window on a heavy oak door bearing her office number. I steeled myself for just a moment and then gave two firm knocks on the glass window.
“Come in,” said the voice on the other side of the door.
I opened it to find another student in the guest chair of her office. She was godawful cute.
I decided to dive right in. “Hi, I’m Rachel. I’m here to discuss the research position you mentioned in class this morning.”
“Welcome Rachel,” you said in a melodious voice. “Can you wait outside my office for a few minutes while I finish with Tiffany?”
I nodded my head and stepped out of her office. I closed the door and waited by it. Usually I would have been checking my phone, but the interaction with you, however brief, had jarred me from my normal routine. Rather, I stared at the opposite wall, studying the paint chipping away from its surface and the cracked molding running along the floor. I needed to calm my mind. Minutes seemed to slip by as I continued to hear muffled voices and laughter through the glass window. Finally the door opened and Tiffany stepped out.
” … so I’ll be sure to let you know tomorrow. Thank you Tiffany.”
The perky little blonde waved. “It was a pleasure to meet you Professor Burton. I hope to be working with you soon.”
My blood started to boil. I was jealous that this bouncy cheerleader blonde was about to snag my research position. But just as I was focusing my anger on her your voice interrupted my thoughts.
“Come in Rachel.”
You were standing in front of your desk, arm extended to shake my hand. I had to marshal all of my will power not to stare at your body, but to focus on your face and to shake your hand. I tried so hard to look only at your face that my hand missed yours and instead I lunged forward and grabbed your right breast.
“Oh my God. I’m so sorry Professor Burton.” I tried to smooth your blouse but that only made matters worse as it appeared I was trying to fondle your breast. This initial meeting couldn’t have gone worse. I wanted to leave and then cry all the way back to my apartment. But you showed your true colors as an understanding and generous person.
“Don’t worry Rachel. Most people try to grab my left breast when they meet me.”
I choked out a laugh, but wanted to kiss you for providing the levity to allow me to escape this most embarrassing moment. We had the most delightful conversation, with you probing into my background and my qualifications to be a research assistant, and me being able to discuss your prior work and your expectations of this position. It felt like we were the only two people in the world. I did have a chance to study you – – your elegant hair, flawless skin, impeccable make-up and clothes, and your luscious breasts, with just enough of a hint of them from behind your blouse to elevate my blood pressure. I was enthralled with just the sound of your voice and even then felt myself hopelessly falling for you. You kept the conversation focused on the position, and when we were about finished a knock came on the door signaling the arrival of another applicant. I remember the parting handshake, the soft skin of the palm of your hand and your scent, and the scent that stayed with me to this day. I walked out on a cloud and don’t remember if I said goodbye or how I got back to my apartment.
“So how was your interview with Eleanor?” asked my prying roommate Sammie.
“I think it went well. But when I went into her office to shake her hand I missed her hand and grabbed her boob.”
“No,” my roommate said in abject horror.
“What did she do?”
“She was gracious as she was beautiful. She laughed it off and then we had a great conversation. She’s amazing.”
“Sounds like you already have a crush on her.”
I didn’t want to admit it, even to myself. “No, I just want to learn from her.”
“Right,” my skeptical roommate uttered.
The next day dragged as I was looking forward to seeing you again during your next class. After my snoozer economics class I was early for yours. I settled into my same seat and Louise again sat next to me. I was so excited during your first class I didn’t get the chance to study my seatmate. Louise was a hottie with short cropped red hair, tasteful piercings of her nose and upper lip, and a tattoo of a serpent on the side of her neck. She was wearing a red tank top and shorts, with her white bra straps and cups clearly visible as they covered her full rounded breasts. In another life I would have been all over Louise.
“So did you apply for the research position?” the vivacious redhead asked.
“I did. I went by her office the other day and am waiting to hear from her,’ I said hopefully.
“Well, good luck to you. I can’t believe how smart and attractive she is.”
Your lecture on the struggles of women to break the ‘glass ceiling’ in business was güvenilir casino enlightening. The hour flew by again. At the end of the class you announced, “Rachel, can you stay after class for a minute?” A shiver went up my spine. Did she pick me?
Louise gave me a look of admiration as my name was called. I walked down to the front of the lecture hall as the other students were filtering out. Soon it was just you and me in the cavernous lecture hall.
“Rachel, I wanted to discuss the research project with you. If you’re comfortable with the topic the job is yours.”
I was excited. “Great, what’s the topic?”
“It’s about breast cancer. I’m writing a book about a cancer survivor and the rebuilding of her life after surgery.”
That topic was of interest to me. I had an aunt who recovered from breast cancer. I had participated in a few fundraisers for research and had some familiarity with the treatment options. I told Eleanor of my interest and experience with the topic.
“The job is yours. Can you start this afternoon?”
“Sure, I’ll stop by your office at 1.” You acknowledged that the time I proposed was fine, packed up your materials and left. I stayed behind, wanting to see you walk out of the lecture hall. It was time well spent as I studied your confident gait as you exited the room. I couldn’t believe that I was going to be working directly with you on your next book.
I was at your office at 12:45. I sat outside your door, not wanting to disturb you until our appointed hour. I could hear your voice through your door as you were finishing a telephone conversation.
” … so it’s going well here. No … I’m not running away from you …”
” … a bit of a rough patch … sure we can work it out …”
” … love you …”
I was sure you were talking to Camille and the fragments of the conversation that came through the door indicated there was a bit of turmoil in your marriage.
I knocked on your door promptly at 1 p.m. You welcomed me in, showing no signs of distress from your conversation with Camille, and explained the nature of the research project.
“The character I’m creating has recently had a routine mammogram and has been diagnosed with somewhat advanced breast cancer. I need you to find out how doctors identify the stages of breast cancer, what treatment options are available and the long term prognosis for the various types of breast cancer at its various stages. I want my character to go through treatment as well, so you’ll have to give me a description of the symptoms and side effects of chemo and radiation.”
“Can you give me an overview by next week so we can decide what additional details we’ll need? After that, we’ll work on the setting. Right now I’m thinking about Minneapolis, but I’m flexible on the venue. Text me if you have questions.”
“No, none that I can think of right now.”
You gave me the information on how I could access the university’s research tools and shared drive and a general timeline for the project.
“Let’s meet one week from today at 1 p.m.” You came around the desk and took my hand and placed it between both of yours. Again you reinforced the feel of your skin and your scent.
“Thank you Rachel.”
My heart rate was up and my mind went completely blank. I couldn’t even force out a “you’re welcome.” Instead I smiled at you and then left your office, wondering if my failure to acknowledge your thanks made me look like an ungrateful fool.
I spent the next week immersed in the research project you’d given me. I researched the various types of breast cancer, their stages, the recommended treatment options and the long term prognosis. I organized my research into electronic folders and wrote an overview to tie my research and conclusions together. I put it on the University’s shared drive and sent you an e-mail with a link on Sunday morning. I didn’t know if you were going to spend your Sunday reading my materials, but I wanted to give you a day to review my research if you were so inclined. I was really happy with the work product. Probably the best of my life. I also learned a great deal about a topic that was of great interest to me. And most importantly, of course, the research was for you.
I’ve taken the time in this letter to write about the research I conducted and the rewards from it in an attempt to impress on you that I actually did something other than pine over you. But I must in the same breath tell you that you were on my mind every minute I was poring over medical journals or reviewing a web site. I did pine for you. I would have researched anything just so I could have an hour a week alone with you. During every class of yours after I took on this research role I glowered at the other students with the knowledge that I, and I alone, would have one uninterrupted hour a week with one of the most desirable women in the world.
My passion for you and the topic you selected came through in my work product. However, given my insecurities, I went to my appointment with you with a fair amount of anxiety. I didn’t know if you had reviewed my materials and if so, whether you deemed them useable. I knocked meekly on the glass window in your office door.
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