Emma loathed Thursdays. Her friends complained about Mondays– they hated the early morning return to campus after a weekend of late night parties and sleepy afternoons, visits home and food that didn’t come out of a box. Emma found the return to school refreshing, though. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy the break. She just liked the structure, the professors, and, most of all, her classes. As a senior Philosophy major, her courses were difficult but full of discussion, always offering something new.
While other students panicked at their increased workloads, Emma thrived. Thursdays, though– Thursdays were slow. After a three hour lecture in the morning, Emma was done for the day. For most of her college career, she’d held a full time job in addition to her classes. When she’d started dating Danny two years ago, he’d had some rather strong opinions about that. He had rather strong opinions about lots of things, she thought, remembering their first semester together.
* * *
Dr. Daniel Strauss became an adjunct professor in the spring of Emma’s sophomore year. Although she disliked math, her degree required a statistics course, so she’d ended up in his packed 101 session. Already in advanced classes, Emma scoffed at the idea of taking an intro class; having a teacher only a few years older than herself did nothing to improve her opinion. From her seat in the second row, she took in his laid back stance and youthful appearance. He seemed easy going, making small talk with those who had arrived a few minutes early. He was only twenty-seven, having graduated early with his bachelor’s degree and heading straight to back to school for his doctorate. It was his first year actually leading a class, but he seemed comfortable in the role. While other girls batted their eyes at his sun-bleached hair and lanky frame, swooning over him, Emma slumped in her seat and prepared for an hour of doodling in her notebook.
While she remained attentive in her other classes, she skipped the math course as often as she went, blowing off the lectures and zoning out when she did decide to show up. Her first test came as quite a shock; she spent the first few minutes staring blankly at the pages, face flushing as she realized how little of the material she knew. Affecting a cheerful demeanor, she quickly answered as best she could, turning in her test first and whizzing out of the classroom with what she hoped was the air of a woman with things are her mind much more important than a failed math test.
Her attendance afterward became much more steady, but the material increased in difficulty and she was forever playing catch-up thanks to her weeks of negligence. After bombing the second exam, Emma could barely contain her panic as she bustled out of the room, smile firmly plastered under wet brown eyes. As he returned the tests, Dr. Strauss made the same sort of speech as he had after the first– praising the high marks, berating those he knew hadn’t studied, and offering repeatedly to help anyone who needed it. His office hours were posted on his door, his email address was listed on the school’s web site and his phone number was on the syllabus. Emma, however, was much better at avoidance than she was at math, and managed to keep her eyes firmly locked on her suddenly interesting text book as he repeated his offer at the end of class. It was her own fault for skipping in the first place, she berated herself harshly, so it was up to her to dig her way back out.
After dropping a stack of papers at the end of class one Wednesday afternoon, Emma found herself alone with the professor after a shortened lecture.
“Emma,” came his voice from the desk in corner of the room. Startled, she almost dropped her papers again as she looked up. That he was even aware of her name came as a shock. “Emma,” he repeated, “why are you failing this class?”
Put off by his bluntness, she stuttered an excuse, feeling her face flush and rushing to get to the door.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that,” he voice came again, ignoring her attempt at escape. “Why are you failing this class? I’ve talked to your other professors. You never miss their classes. Your records are outstanding. So, please, tell me why.”
This time it came out as more of a command than a question, causing Emma to make the mistake of looking up into his clear dark eyes, and this time she did drop her papers again, eyes swimming as the panic she’d held in check since that first test day boiled over and threatened to spill down her cheeks. “I can’t… I just…” she stumbled, struggling to suppress her emotions, growing even more upset as waves of guilt washed over her. Closing her eyes, she took several deep breaths, shoving everything back inside and composing herself. “I’m sorry,” and now she spoke clearly, fully in control once again. “I’ll do better.”
“What’s your schedule after this class, Emma?” Dr. Strauss asked as she again walked resolutely towards the door.
“I have another class after this Mondays and Wednesdays; on Fridays I have a two hour break before work,” she replied, too intent on leaving to wonder why he asked.
“Excellent,” came his voice as she maneuvered past the last few desks, speaking just as calmly as if she’d still been looking at him. “We can study an hour on Friday afternoons. Bring your notes.”
“Yes, sir,” she squeaked as she finally made it through the doorway. What just happened? she wondered as she found her car, opened the door and tossed her books into the passenger seat. Can he even require me to stay after? And where had that sir come from? Her face flushed to think about that silly affirmative. Required or not, though… embarrassed or not… she knew she would be there.
“Where are your notes?” Dr. Strauss asked as he walked towards her desk two days later. Emma had sat awkwardly, pretending to organize her things as the rest of the students filed out. Before she could hide the notebook she carried, he was over her shoulder. “Hmm. These look like song lyrics, a rather lopsided heart, and the loveliest E I’ve ever seen. However, none of it looks like statistics.” Emma felt her face flush as she fumbled with her pen. “I don’t usually take notes.” He glanced sharply over to her before maneuvering a desk catty-corner and taking a seat. “Well, it’s time to start. As long as we’re meeting, I retain the right to see your notes whenever I ask. There will be consequences for empty pages. Is that clear?”
“Yessir,” she mumbled, flipping to a blank page and opening her text book. He nodded once, re-assumed his friendlier attitude, and began the lesson.
Things went well for the next several weeks, until Emma was nearly even with the rest of the class. She was plenty smart enough for the material; it had just been a matter of intimidation with a subject she’d given up on too early and her ego getting in the way. Now that she was caught up and comfortable, the lessons went quickly. She even found herself zoning out again, scribbling in the margins of her binder. She’d become less intimidated by Dr. Strauss as well; he made her feel at ease, never reminding her of her past absences. They still studied together, but it wsa fun and silly, and most days didn’t feel like work. She forgot he was still paying attention– close attention.
Friday afternoon came again. She turned her book to the day’s notes, carefully taken for their study session. They’d become so routine, and he hadn’t asked to see them in weeks, but she still made sure she had something written down for the days they did meet. He didn’t move from his desk when the last student left. “Show me your notes for this week.” She hesitated, since he usually came to sit near her, then brought him the day’s pages of numbers and formulas. “This is today’s lesson. Show me Wednesday’s.” Emma felt a flush rising from her neck to her face as she flipped the pages back, revealing a few scattered notes amid a sea of curly-cued letters and doodles. She suddenly felt very conscious of how awkward she felt, standing in front of his desk in the front of the recently filled classroom. “And Monday’s?” Her hands became sweaty as she flipped to pages filled with simple butterflies surrounding illegible scribbles supposedly copied from the board. Dr. Strauss moved his eyes from the paper to her downcast face for only a moment. “Right then,” again with his one resolute nod, “we’ll continue today’s lesson in my office. Follow me.”
He stood, his chair chair scraping the ground, and walked toward the door. Emma could hardly breath, but she couldn’t help but follow.
* * *
Being an adjunct professor doesn’t afford one many favors, and Dr. Strauss had been stuck in a basement room with one other adjunct who didn’t have classes on Fridays. He shot Emma a quick glance, a small request for permission before shutting the door behind them. He gestured for her to have a seat, although he chose to lean against the desk in front of her instead of blockading himself behind it. “If I recall correctly,” and his tone betrayed no trace of doubt, “I promised that there would be consequences, should you choose to fall behind again. Is that correct?”
“Yessir,” she whispered. Again, that nod, and he squatted in front of her, balancing on the balls of his feet so they were eye level, obligating her to meet his gaze. “As I thought. Well, you did not, it appears, remain attentive, and now it is time for a reminder. You are going to stand in that corner, right there, for the next fifteen minutes, and think about what a waste of time and money this class is if you choose not to pay attention and complete the work properly. Then I am going to spank you, and then we are going to discuss this week’s lessons.”
He maintained eye contact for several moments as she worked to find a response. Then he took her hand and pulled her gently from the seat, walking her to the corner by the door. Mutely she allowed herself to be guided. She found her nose in the wall, and the professor’s voice her ear, “The door is unlocked.” He squeezed her hand gently and went to his desk. She stood frozen, heart beating in her ears and palms clammy. “The door is unlocked.” Well… he had offered her the option of leaving. So she would leave, she decided. Only she didn’t. She spent most of the fifteen minutes silently willing her feet to step toward the door, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. He had taken so much time with her, put in so much effort, and part of her wanted to be punished for not living up to his expectations or her own standards. His carefully chose words as he scolded her echoed… “choose to fall behind…” “choose not to pay attention…” Closing her eyes, and mumbling a silent prayer to anyone listening, she made another choice.
All too soon she was called from her corner. Dr. Strauss took the seat she had used earlier, pulling her between his knees and looking up at her face. “Have you been spanked before?” he asked, and she nodded. “Recently?” and this time she shook her head, no, no not recently, she hadn’t been spanked since she was six years old, but he didn’t ask about that, he just continued, “Alright. I’m going to take down your jeans, and then I’m going to begin.”
Within a minute, he was doing just that- his hand descending over and over again on her blue panties, her squirming and gasping for air after the first volley. She tried her hardest to remain quiet, but little squeals escaped as his hand found its mark. Her hands spasmed in front of her, sometimes grabbing the chair and then touching the floor, finally settling in a vice grip around the professor’s leg. As her backside’s new red blush began to escape the line of her underwear, her eyes suddenly began to fill and hot tears to run down her cheeks. A moment later, Dr. Strauss scooped her up and held her head to his chest, stroking her hair and mumbling soothing nonsense words until she calmed down. She clung to him like Velcro, a reaction he hadn’t anticipated but didn’t mind at all.
* * *
He didn’t check her notes again the rest of the semester. He was confident that there was no need, and he was right, of course. With his help, she had passed the freshman level class at which she had turned up her nose originally; Daniel couldn’t quite hide his pleasure when her curly brown head popped into his office the first Friday of the next semester. With no more math to study, they went out for coffee… and then they started going to dinner. And slowly their relationship evolved– and she didn’t hear his opinions on being a work-a-holic until much, much later.