“So, you showed,” I said, truly surprised. Charlie always did whatever she wanted despite my reasoning or threats.
Glaring, she said, “Like I had a choice, Dr. Day.”
I crossed my arms. “It’ll be good for you. You might even like it. And what’s with the hair?” My body looked like it’d just tumbled out of bed. “And are you growing a beard? It looks terrible.”
“Your body is mine now. Remember? And I think you look hot like this.”
She added, “But you don’t give a flip about my body. You let my hair get all frizzy. Here. At least put it up and not sweat all over it.” She pulled my hair up into a braid of some sort. I had to admit, it felt much better.
“Okay, no more stalling,” I said. “Time to work.”
After only two minutes on the treadmill, I was sucking wind. My God, she was so out of shape.
“Wow, Dr. Day! This treadmill stuff is so much fun! I’d never believe I’m saying this, but I think I like working out.”
Just then I stumbled, trying not to throw up.
But I wasn’t going to give up. This body just needed a little time to adjust.
After ten minutes, I couldn’t take it anymore and hopped off. Wheezing, I breathed out, “Okay, you win. We don’t have to work out in the mornings every day.” My back was aching and I had the worst side stitch.
“Oh no, Dr. Day, you can’t give up now. I totally like this more disciplined regimen. And besides…do you really want me to let YOUR body go if you don’t work out with me?”
I shot her a side glance. “Fine. You drive a hard bargain. How about we meet in the middle? We’ll work out Monday, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Weekends off.”
She agreed. I shook my head. I wasn’t looking forward to work out days. Hopefully, it wouldn’t take me forever to not feel like coughing up a lung whenever I hit the treadmill.
Next, I gave her a few directions on when to arrive and what to say in class. I hoped she listened to me. I couldn’t tell because she was just smiling at me in a goofy way.
When I settled into Charlene’s seat, the class was all here, waiting, but Charlene hadn’t shown up yet.
“Wow,” Susan said. “This is like a first, Charlie. Dr. Day is usually sitting at his desk, scowling at us. I wonder what’s up.”
I shrugged, trying to quell my anger at her tardiness. “Maybe he took a long hot shower. He does have a meticulous schedule.” I laughed a little, hoping nothing bad had happened to Charlene.
“I’d heard Dr. Day was here actually,” Thomas interjected. “Zane saw him coming out of the girl’s bathroom. He was so embarrassed when a girl kicked him out.”
My eyes narrowed. “Please tell me you’re joking.” I should have made Charlene use my PTO until this curse wore off. She was going to make me lose my job or get arrested!
Finally, ten minutes later, Charlene bounced in as if it was a normal thing that’d I’d show up late to a class I was teaching. I was going to have a serious talk with her.
“Hey, guys! Sorry I’m late. I forgot my phone at the gym and yeah, like I couldn’t be without this Power Point that I made for you.
“But then I realized that, like, you don’t want a boring Power Point. I said to myself, ‘Dr. Day, you wonderful, smart, handsome professor you…why don’t you give your students the day off so they can get a head start on that research report about the very exciting jungle expedition.’
“So, I’m making this proclamation–you may have not only this day but the whole week off! And when you get back, I’d love to see a nice shiny report in my inbox by midnight next Monday.”
The whole class erupted in applause.
“Uhhh…Dr. Day?” I yelled. “Can I see you after class?”
Charlene cocked her head. “Oh, I don’t need to see you, Charlie. You have the week off, too.”
“You’re going to see me whether you like it or not,” I said under my breath.
“Oh my God, Charlie. I think I’m in love. He’s like the coolest professor on the planet. I wonder what made him change.”
People were still cheering and Charlene was taking bows, winking and doing all kinds of unprofessional goofy gestures.
She WAS going to get me fired. Geeze. What was I thinking?
As soon as class ended, Charlene bolted, and I couldn’t find her. Unfortunately, Professor Woods caught me down the hall and practically forced me to go to Charlene’s next class. Thankfully, Ancient Metals was my specialty. When no one in the class would answer her questions, I’d go ahead. I really liked Dr. Woods as a colleague. She didn’t deserve the ungrateful students who looked as if they were really bored.
“That is correct, Charlie. You must have been doing a lot of studying.” Placing a hand on her hip she asked, “Now can anyone tell me what is the early period of the Bronze Age?”
I waited for several awkward beats before answering. The girl next to me was so rude, just looking at her phone. I also heard yawning behind me. So, I raised my hand again. “Um…that would be Chalcolithic, if I’m not mistaken.”
“Well done, Charlie. At least someone in here did their homework. Please take the rest of the period to go over your notes, class. We will have a quiz on Wednesday.”
Poor Professor Woods. I’d be really tough if my students treated me like this. I would have given them a pop quiz right then.
“Yo, Charlie. Smooth move there, brown-nosing with the teach,” Zane said.
“Brown-nosing? I did no such thing. Being prepared for class is what we as students are SUPPOSED to be doing. Have you even started on your research paper for Dr. Day’s class?” Zane was by far my laziest student. He barely made the required B to attend the expedition.
“Naw, I haven’t. But hey! Why don’t we go out for coffee and maybe you can give me some tips on how you went about yours. I’m assuming you’ve started. Right?”
Since all this madness happened, I haven’t even talked to Charlene about what she needed to do. We basically missed a whole week out of our lives. Was it fair to force her to write that paper based on results she never viewed? “I…uh…haven’t started on it, actually.”
“Then it’s a date. I’ve got work today, but I’m free tomorrow. We can go to Simbucks, get a coffee, and talk about our results. I know I could sure use the help.”
I bristled. No way should Charlene want to go on this study date with Zane. He was well beneath her in intelligence and in my opinion, not good enough for her overall. She needed someone that would push her, not bring her down. “Sorry, Zane, but I’ll pass. I work better alone.” His face fell at my words. But I didn’t feel sorry for him. He was just trying to use Charlene for her brains. I hoped she appreciated the favor I’d done in thwarting him.