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Thanking One’s Third-Grade Teacher
A story by XXscribbler
“MALLORY” was inscribed in flowing script on the brass door-knocker. Craig stood there, slightly nervous. Miss Mabel Mallory, his third-grade teacher, his hands-down all-time favorite, whom he’d not seen in the intervening seventeen years. She was absolutely seminal in his education, yet he had never come back to thank her. Now, with his brand-new doctorate in hand, he’d finally made the pilgrimage. He took a deep breath, held his plastic bag of goodies behind his back, and knocked. As he waited, he wondered whether he’d come too informally dressed – just tennis shorts and sandals, and of course a formal tee-shirt – meaning that it had a pocket.
Long moments later, the door opened: a late-forties, early-fifties-ish woman stood there in a floor-length white terrycloth robe, her hair hidden in a turban of white towel. Her translucent Irish-white skin was damp and glowing – obviously she was just moments out of the shower. Craig was startled: she was TINY, maybe five one and a half tops, whereas he remembered her towering over him. That, he realized immediately, was just a memory of relative sizes – after all, at age nine he’d not been about to tower over much of anyone, himself. The narrow, slightly middle-eastern nose was the same, though – despite her rather pretty face, that nose and her skinniness and long black hair had earned her the students’ behind-her-back nickname “Wicked Witch of the West”, usually encoded, with flocks of giggles, as “WWW”. She wasn’t nearly so skinny as he remembered, either – whether memory-glitch or a bit of accumulation over the years he couldn’t decide – in any case, she looked decidedly strong and healthy. But the voice was absolutely right – it sent goosebumps down his arms.
“Yes? How can I help you?” He waited, grinning down at her. She did a perfect double-take, sputtered, then whispered “Craig?” He nodded. “Ohmygod it IS you! I’ve wondered all these years what happened to you!” She flung her arms around him, hugged him ferociously. Awkwardly, he managed to return the favor. She flushed brilliantly, stepped back to hold him briefly at arm’s length, scanned him up and down. “Boy, howdy, haven’t YOU grown up into a fine looking specimen! Nice beard! Runner’s legs, too.” Then “So, what’re you doing like this, suddenly appearing like Hamlet’s ghost after all these years?”
No accusation, just curiosity.
“Oh, I just got my first real job, a professorship at State, it’s only a three hour drive from here, so I just thought I’d come by and say hello, and also thank you, see what you are up to, then do a little bit of bragging, and then blame it all on you afterwards!”
She practically dragged him in, leading him by the hand through the living room and into the kitchen: the décor was simple but not severe – tasteful, not the least bit fussy, and obviously high-quality everywhere. In the brightly daylit kitchen they sat at the small walnut table: Mabel was clearly hugely pleased to see him. If needed, her smile was the final proof of her identity – THAT hadn’t changed an iota since last he saw her.
“You must excuse the robe – I just finished my Saturday-morning ten mile race-walk” she said. “I don’t usually run around dressed like this so late in the day.” She offered to make tea, he accepted, she put on the pot, stood across from him, beaming. Craig started to explain, ready to launch into his pre-planned thank-yous, but she stopped him: “Wait. While the water gets going, let me go change into something a bit more formal. After all, this is an OCCASION, you know! Back in just a minute.”
She reappeared as scheduled. The thick, formless terrycloth had been replaced, much to Craig’s surprise, by an elegant – and expensive! – kimono-style blue silk robe, obviously a single layer of fabric, complete with intricate bird motif artwork and gold border. Although modestly constructed and draped, it clung to her like paint, the hem falling just at the bottom of her knees. The towel was also gone: her hair, still the long black thick mane that he remembered so clearly, was rolled up behind her head and pinned with what seemed a silver letter-opener, exposing an elegant slender neck that he didn’t recall at all. He was a bit disquieted – Miss Mable Mallory wasn’t turning out – at least today, and for the moment – to be quite the plain mother-surrogate, authority-figure he recalled.
He complimented her on the robe: she patted the material, apparently completely un-self-conscious, and told him “I got it in a little village in rural Japan a few years ago, on a teachers’ continuing-education junket. It’s considered quite the formal item over there!”
She stepped to the counter and stretched upwards on tiptoe to get her tea canister from an upper shelf: the motion exposed lovely calves, tense with the momentary effort, muscular from her years of race-walking. She set the tea on the counter, canlı bahis glanced over her shoulder at him, smiled again and said “This requires using my GOOD china. I keep it down here, out of harm’s way.”
She bent forward, folding from the waist, legs rigid. The hem did what geometry demanded and rose abruptly to the middle of the backs of her thighs – his eyes took in the expanse of perfectly-smooth skin – translucent, no trace of sunlight exposure, not a hint of cellulite. And as it tautened over her bottom, the clinging silk demonstrated nearly conclusively that she was sans-culottes beneath the robe. However utterly innocent this all might have been on Mabel’s part, it got to Craig in a way he’d certainly never expected. Although he tried, he knew that he hadn’t managed to keep all of his surprise from his expression and body language: she seemed oblivious to both his reactions, and to the situation overall. It crossed his mind that the fact she was, apparently, still “Miss Mallory” could have a lot to do with that.
Boiling water joined the tea in the pot: she set it on the table with her special cups, settled herself across from him. “So?” she said: “Now, tell me what you started to. We have all the time you choose to occupy – all afternoon, the evening if necessary. I’d like to know everything about the last…” She paused, did the arithmetic. “…the past seventeen years!”
Craig reached down into the bag on the floor beside his chair, pulled out two small picture-frames and a paper document. She looked at them, then at him, raised a quizzical eyebrow. He blushed – trying to thank someone for something so important wasn’t a chore he found easy. “You were always my favorite teacher, Miss Mallory…”
She laughed, stopped him with a hand on his arm and said “Craig, PLEASE! It’s got to be MABEL to you now… for goodness’ sake!”
He nodded, re-started. “Mabel, you have always been my favorite teacher. At some point, I’ve told most of my friends and teachers how important you were to my development: then my major professor asked me about a year ago if I’d ever actually thanked you, and I got awfully embarrassed. So here I am. With some of the direct, linear results of our relationship. Some little souvenirs of my life to date.”
He handed her the first frame: a copy of his doctoral diploma, with “To Mabel Mallory, 3rd grade teacher extraordinaire, with thanks” written across the corner.
She smiled broadly, said “Wonderful! I never expected anything less!”
Then came the second frame. She studied it: a certificate from his doctoral university naming him the all-campus, any-topic best teacher for the year just past.
As she read, he said quietly “It was from you, Mabel, that I really learned how to teach. Our role-reversals – you remember those?”
She looked up at him with tears almost ready to fall and nodded, whispered “Of course I do. I don’t know how many people I’ve told about that over the years. You were a VERY special pupil, Craig, and I was unbelievably fortunate to have you in class. If I changed your life, well, you changed MINE too. At the very least you taught me some math and hard science! My, how clearly I remember that first day, when you walked into class with that huge slide rule, its instruction book, and your copy of Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Saga as your own reading materials. I hadn’t a clue how to use a slide rule, and had never read the Saga myself! Frankly, you just about scared me to death. But you forced me to grow right along with you!”
He handed her the third item, a reprint of a scientific article. She recognized the journal – quite prestigious. He reached across, flipped it open to the last page, pointed to “Acknowledgements”. The short paragraph in fine type read “To Miss Mabel Mallory, my third-grade teacher, who showed me the way, and forever changed my life. Without her, this work would never have happened.”
She could hardly breathe, managed to mutter “Thank you!” She discharged her embarrassment and emotion in the act of removing the leaves from the pot and pouring.
Craig picked up the thread, politely eliminating the need for her to say anything while choked up. “My favorite memory, Mabel, is of that first week in your classroom. When I was bored by the little 3rd grade arithmetic problems, you went and got a seventh-grade introductory algebra book for me. It was the perfect thing to do.”
She smiled at him, nodded, and said “I couldn’t have you sitting there being BORED, now could I? If I remember rightly, you took it home that weekend and on Monday you brought in that spiral notebook with all the problems solved. The whole darned BOOK! I remember checking about a dozen and never did find a mistake. But then, that was the absolute limit of my math, too.”
Craig nodded, said “Yep. So then you went to the junior high and got me copies of the introductory geometry, physics and chemistry books.”
That had been a memorable bahis siteleri exercise, and generated their reversal of roles – Miss Mallory had never studied those topics at all. She tried determinedly for the first week – and failed – to keep up with Craig as he devoured and integrated them. That had led to their special private sessions: every day immediately after the final bell, they would sit side by side at two kids’ desks and he would explain to her what he thought he’d learned the night before.
In short order, he’d become both very conservative about believing he really understood something, and extremely good at explaining the new material to her. He told her gently, “Mable, that teaching certificate is a direct fallout of our role-reversal study sessions… having to explain things to YOU, being your teacher, taught me that there’s no better way to learn something thoroughly than to teach it to people naïve in the topic. It’s why I’m a good teacher. You did a very noble and difficult thing, and spent a huge amount of time with me, on all those materials. Changed my life for sure. So, darn it, finally, a much-belated ‘Thank you!'”
Mabel found herself still breathless with emotion – Craig had been her absolutely favorite student in a very long career, and this was getting to her pretty thoroughly. Rather than try to talk, she occupied herself briefly with displacement activities – sipping her tea, then asking if Craig wanted anything else for his own cup, apologizing for not yet offering milk and sugar.
Craig understood her state, considered whether to proceed – there was one more thing he really wanted very much to let her know, but he wondered whether it was a good idea. Finally he decided, reached down into his bag again, brought up a single long-stemmed rose, a perfect blossom partly opened, an almost iridescent blood-red.
Mabel very nearly dropped her cup, stared at it wide-eyed as he held it out towards her. She got hold of herself, told herself mentally to quit behaving like a twelve-year-old, and carefully set down her cup. She reached for the rose, touched but didn’t take it, let her eyes meet his.
“Whatever for?” she whispered.
He smiled at her – a smile that nearly melted her insides. A reaction she had in no way anticipated. “Because from the first day of third grade, I had the most incredible crush on you. My very first crush. Never had another quite like it, and I just wanted you to know.”
Her skin went brilliant pink from hairline down to where her neck disappeared beneath the robe’s collar. Gingerly she took the rose, raised it to her nose, smelt it with eyes closed. “Thank you. So much!” Two tears did, finally, trickle down her cheeks. She sniffed gently, then wiped them away and giggled. “My very first rose, you know. This one. Never have gotten flowers from a non-family member.”
Craig’s face took on an un-feigned appalled look, and he asked “Seriously? Never? From nobody?”
She shook her head, smelled the rose again. “Nope.” She stood, turned back to the sink, saying “Let me get a little bud-vase for this beautiful thing.” As she turned, her breasts shifted, the nipples making clearly-visible bumps that would have been invisible in the busy pattern if they hadn’t been moving beneath the fabric. There was far more breast than he remembered – but then, breasts really hadn’t been foremost on his mind – at least not most of the time – back in third grade… that crush had been devoid of anything resembling lust.
The twisting of her waist tucked the material momentarily into the cleft of her bottom: it tightened, released, tightened, then slipped free, but not before proving that his first impression of ‘no underwear’ simply had to be correct. She trimmed the stem, put the rose into the little crystal vase, placed it on the table between them as she sat back down.
Craig shook his head and told her “Never! Well, then, Miss Mabel Mallory, your world is filled with a very high percentage of bloody damn-fool men, all of whom missed a great opportunity. A plague on all their houses! You are a very attractive woman as well as one of the world’s finest teachers, and you deserve more. I should have brought at least a dozen.”
She smiled wanly, shrugged, then looked at him over the rose. “One is sufficient, believe me! Seems like it’s some sort of true-confession event today. Shall I tell you mine?”
Craig was puzzled, nodded, saying “If you wish. Not necessary, though.”
She held his gaze for a long moment, then giggled again, very girlish, and told him “Well, Mister, that is DOCTOR, Craig – I happen to have had some sort of a crush-like connection to YOU as well, back then. Not a real crush-crush, not at all the head-over-heels in love and/or erotic thing, given that you were NINE and I was thirty-five or thereabouts, but a VERY powerful emotional connection. I never did try to analyze it – it scared me a little. But… well, did your mother ever tell bahis şirketleri you what I told her at a couple of our parent-teacher conferences?”
Craig shook his head – Mom hadn’t mentioned anything that he could recall.
“I told her at least twice that I really, REALLY wished you were about 25 or 30 years older! I think she understood.” She looked at Craig solidly, unflinching, suddenly fully composed and utterly unembarrassed. “I meant it, too!”
Now it was his turn to be embarrassed, to pink a bit. She just observed, said nothing.
Craig broke the extending silence: “Well, M&M, it’s an interesting set of…”
She stopped him: “What in the world, Craig – is THAT your nickname for me? M&M? Like the candy?”
Craig nodded – it was, and it had just slipped out, purely accidentally.
She laughed delightedly, told him “Well! I’m flattered! It is one heck of a lot nicer than the “WWW” I used to be saddled with! I’m sure you remember THAT, and know what it means!”
Craig certainly did remember, and for good reason. “M&M, do you recall once about mid-year when I came in from recess with the bruised lip and bloody nose?”
She nodded: “Certainly. It was the only time I ever saw you hurt. I think you said you fell off the see-saw or something.”
Craig shrugged, smiled another embarrassed grin and confessed: “Yeah, a little white lie. Actually, I heard one of the sixth grade boys calling you that and got mad at him. He shoved me and knocked me down when I told him to stop. My first fight, sort of. Lost it, too. Sorry!”
She leaned back and settled into her chair, picked up the bud vase and set the bloom under her nose almost as a veil. Beneath the robe, her breasts shifted again, the outlines proving a lack of bra. She saw the flicker of his eye movement, the rebound, and was surprised at how she enjoyed his sudden color change when he realized he’d been caught. Naughty little boy, spying on teacher? She wondered if he had any idea how thoroughly she had inventoried him in the first five seconds after opening the front door. Probably not.
Quietly she said from behind the rose “So you were busy being my personal knight-errant, even as a nine-year-old, were you? Protecting my honor out there on the playground! I wonder why?”
Craig was flustered. “Mabel, I really hadn’t expected to get so far into true-confessions, but since we’re here, well… it was because (a) I had a crush on you, (b) you were my favorite adult in the entire world, (c) you were my TEACHER and were being insulted, and (d) I had a crush on you! And did I just mention my crush? Now… please, it would be a good idea, don’t you think, if you put on something less apt to accidentally show me your breasts. Like that beautiful thin silk is doing right now?”
Slowly, slowly it dawned on her that she was having a completely unexpected effect on Craig, and she held his gaze for several seconds as she thought about it, felt a sudden deep wrenching warmth flood her groin. This was very strange territory for her, in more than one way. After those moments, she composed herself and replied carefully “Just exactly why, Craig, should my breasts be so upsetting to you? There are, after all, lots and lots and LOTS of boobs in the world. More than half of humanity owns their own set. You’re now a very attractive man, not a nine-year-old, so you’ve undoubtedly seen a great many breasts that are much younger and shapelier than these of mine – and much less clothed, too. In fact, thinness of the fabric aside, you haven’t really SEEN mine at all, now have you?” She paused, tried to read his expression, failed not for lack of ability but because Craig was utterly at sea. “Have I upset you? And more interestingly, if so, then precisely WHY?” She made no effort to shift her position, just waited for her answer.
It was Craig’s turn to laugh gently. He shifted his gaze blatantly from her eyes to her chest, then back, and said “OK, M&M, True Confessions continue. It’s because when I came in with that bloody nose seventeen years ago, you cleaned me up, then hugged me. Hugged me hard. Full frontal, that hug was. I remember as if it were ten minutes ago just exactly what your breasts felt like pressing into my chest – all I had on was a tee-shirt. In fact, I still have that shirt somewhere! That single simple hug set me off – the feeling of your chest against me was in my daydreams and night dreams and eventually my wet-dreams for years and years and years. It was your breasts, teacher mine, that actually triggered my sexual thoughts and feelings for the very first time. So THAT is why they have special meaning. Because they simply are not, and never can be, just “any old boobs”. End of confessions. At least, for the moment.”
“Wow!” Mabel said: “I had no idea. With the advantages of hindsight, though, it’s kind of nifty, don’t you think?’
He sipped his tea, nodded, then explored. “So, M&M, is “Miss” still the proper honorific?”
She sat up, studied – privately the delicious way her nipples whispered across the fabric and generated mental lightning. She did like this robe inordinately for that – the texture was perfectly and screamingly erotic.
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