michael

Part One: In Class

I wanted to talk to her the first time I saw her, but I didn’t. We had the same journalism class, and she always sat in the same seat, right up front. She was always on time, always prepared, and always awake. Somewhat different from me, I must say (and from most of the rest of the class).

She usually wore slacks and a sweater, and I never saw her wear jewelry or makeup.

She seemed pleasant and smart, but nobody ever talked to her. This was probably partly because she was a “teacher’s pet” type, but I think mostly it was because people thought she might be an alien.

She had ordinary human features, with a strong jaw and prominent cheekbones, and a fairly deep voice (which probably had a lot to do with my attraction to her – I’m a sucker for a woman with a masculine voice). Her hair was blond and shoulder length.

But her eyes were an odd gray color, and her skin was gold. Not gold like human tan, but pale gold like the gold crayon I’d had in the set of 64 that I’d grown up with. Her skin was absolutely without blemish or irregularity, as if she’d been spray-painted, and she apparently had no hair at all on her face, arms, or hands.

Okay, as you’ve probably been able to tell, I’d been studying her pretty closely. She didn’t react to this, unlike most girls. Even when I moved my seat so it would be next to hers, she just gave me a quick smile.

I could hear some other people muttering comments, mostly about a “freak ghetto” being established in that part of the room. I ignored them, and Sharon didn’t seem to notice. As always, her attention was focused entirely on the lessons.

I knew her name was Sharon, because the professor called on her quite often — usually when he’d grown tired of our meanderings and wanted to get the correct answer so he could move ahead with the lesson. I knew that her last name was Golden and that she lived in U-town because her full name and address were written, in very precise handwriting (of course), on the cover of her notebook.

 
Then, one day, the heavens aligned in some unusual way and I was actually a minute early for class.

There was a note on the door, saying that the class had been canceled for the day. I stood glaring at it for a moment, then I went down the hall to the men’s room. I wasn’t mad that the class had been canceled, just that nobody was there to appreciate my punctuality.

As I came out of the men’s room, I ran into a friend (well, an acquaintance, really) and we talked for a minute or two, and then I walked back down the corridor and past the classroom. I noticed that the note had gone missing from the door (which was probably somebody’s idea of a joke).

I glanced into the room as I passed, and there was Sharon, in her usual seat, notebook and pen on the little desk in front of her. She was the only person in the room. Waiting patiently for a class that was never going to start.

Well, okay, I was never going to have a better opportunity to start a conversation with her.

I went in and sat next to her. She turned and smiled at me, but she looked somewhat perplexed. “It’s odd,” she said slowly, looking around the room, “that so many people are late all on the same day.”

“The class was canceled,” I said. “There was a sign on the door, but I guess somebody took it down.”

She nodded thoughtfully, then she frowned. “Are you sure?” she asked. “I don’t want to get in trouble.”

I nodded. “I saw the sign before it was taken down.”

She nodded again and closed her notebook.

“Would you like to go get a cup of coffee?” I asked. “Together?”

She smiled. “That would be nice. Thank you.”

I held out my hand. “I’m Mike.”

Her handshake was firm. “I’m Sharon.”

 
The cafe was a regular student hangout, across the street from the campus. The college was in a busy commercial area of the city, but I did wonder how much business the place did between semesters. Pretty much everybody I ever saw there, employees and customers, was a student. There were about fifteen small, round tables — most inside and a few out on the sidewalk.

Sharon took a table (outside, which would not have been my preference) while I went to get our coffee. When I brought the steaming paper cups back, she thanked me as I sat down. Because she always dressed so properly, I thought that being a gentleman and buying for both of us would be a good move (also, it was the first opportunity I’d ever had to be a gentleman in that way).

As I sipped my coffee, she asked what other classes I was taking. I thought this was just making conversation, since we didn’t really know much of anything about each other, but she asked a lot of follow-up questions, as if she was adding data to a mental list of all the classes, professors, prerequisites, and so on.

She was particularly interested in a class I was taking on the psychology of art, and I offered to show her the textbook.

She stood up. “I appreciate this. Let’s go.”

 
Dorm life wasn’t really an option for me, so my parents had rented me a tiny apartment — basically just a room in a rooming house. It wasn’t on campus, but it was just a couple of blocks away.

“I hope you don’t think I lured you up here for immoral purposes,” I said, attempting a joke as I closed the door behind us.

She smiled pleasantly. “That would be fine,” she said. She reached down and took the hem of her sweater in both hands, pulling it up over her head. Under it she wore some sort of feminine undershirt thing (it may have been a “chemise,” but I’m not completely sure), which she also removed, laying it carefully on the back of a chair, next to the sweater.

Her skin seemed more and more improbable the more of it was revealed. Even her nipples were exactly the same color as everything else.

Naked to the waist, she unbuttoned her slacks, then she paused and looked at me, still smiling, apparently wondering whether she had misinterpreted the situation, since I hadn’t moved a muscle.

I burst into tears.

 
More to come.

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