Reading Sundays: THE NON-AFFAIR (Part 6) a short story by Cynthia Sally Haggard

I was a young lady, and wanted to be treated as such, so I wore my church clothes, a black skirt that came to mid-calf and made me look older, the white blouse with the stiff collar Mother had given me as a gift, and my favorite dark-blue sweater I’d knitted myself. I hoped it brought out the color of my eyes.

“I—I—Iwanttoaskyousomething..” I drew in a monumental breath that made me cough. “Iwanttoapplytolawschool,” I leaned to the right to slide the application form out of my briefcase.

“Oh, sure,” he drawled. “Bring it along next week.”

I straightened in my seat, folding my hands softly so that he wouldn’t see that I already had the form.

“You’re going to graduate soon,” he observed. “Perhaps, after that, you’ll allow me to take you to my favorite cafe?”

My gaze fell into my black lap. I couldn’t look at him. How I longed to say ‘yes’ to his invitation, but the heft of his expectations was too painful. I was only a girl, he was my professor; he was a sophisticated man of the world, I was a fish out of water. The thirteen miles from his office to my home seemed aeons away.

The silence uncoiled, lengthening. Unable to bear it any more, I placed both hands flat on his huge desk, and drew in a deep breath.

“Ifyoutakemetoyourfavoritecafe,” I remarked to the desk, “I’llorderthemostexpensivethingthere.”

His silence was deadening.

Unable to hold back any more, I lifted my face to his as a flood of giggles washed over me.

He studied me for a moment, a dull redness creeping along his cheeks. His laugh, when it came, was a series of short, sharp barks. [To be continued.]