Fixing the Midterm

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I had spent the last hour with Yingbang Pou, who had it in his head that he could prove the reason for the optimal values of the constraints on the acceleration coefficients but did not really understand the implications of these being randomly weighted. I worked out a couple of examples for him but could tell he was going to do what he was going to do anyway. Meanwhile I was vaguely aware of a shape passing back and forth outside my door.

Office hours were usually fairly relaxing and easy. Students at this university are smart, they figure out things on their own and don’t need to come whining to the professor when they are a little confused. Basically two situations motivate a visit, one is when they want to impress me and kiss ass, and the other is when they are worrying about their grades.

I encourage the students who want to excel and I am cool about grading. I am strict but I am the kind of professor who lets students write their own essay questions if they want, so they can show me they understand some part of the material in depth, in case I didn’t ask about that topic. You have to pay attention in my classes but it is possible to do well.

“Yingbang, I think you know what you have to do here. I have somebody else waiting. Work on this and come back in a couple of days and let’s see what you get.” Yingbang have me a look like I was rejecting him and stood quickly with a submissive bow. He swept up his papers and his calculator and hurried out.

I got up and went to the door. It felt good to stand. After four years in the same office my desk was like a nest of papers and books. The mess just meant I was busy, it was a kind of sign of the quantity of research I was in the middle of, but it also made it a little hard to greet people or to see what was going on outside my viewport through the heaps.

A young woman was sitting on the floor outside my office. She had a pile of books on her lap and on the floor and a backpack beside her but also had earpods in her ears and was sitting with her eyes closed.

“Are you here to see me?” I asked. But she was in her own world. Her curly brown hair was pinned up over her neck and I could see sweat glistening there. It is nearly the end of the spring semester and our building predated air conditioning, you might say. “Excuse me,” I repeated. No reaction.

I bent down and touched her shoulder after considering for a few seconds. Sure, I’m an old man in their eyes, but these campus women still set my head reeling. I maintained the boundaries well enough but it felt oddly intimate to touch her.

She jerked and opened her eyes, stood hurriedly with books spilling off her lap, whipping the earpods out of her ears and stammering, “Oh, professor, I’m sorry. I was listening to a song and I, I’m sorry.”

I laughed. “No problem, come on in.”

She bent to pick up her debris, and I looked away. I do enjoy the spring fashions. Short-shorts and little tiny halter tops, what could be wrong with that? Still, I did not want to stand there leering. Well, actually, yes, I wanted to, but it would not have been the smartest thing. One thing leads to another, at least in my active fantasies. It’s better not to look.

I sat in the ergonomic chair behind my desk and she took the less comfortable wooden chair across from me. I had pegged her as “mousey” but now that I saw her soft brown eyes and full lips I revised my description. Shy, maybe, but quietly gorgeous.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I don’t remember your name.”

“Yes, of course,” she began. “I’m Sarah Thompson, I’m in your Populations course.”

“One twenty or two twenty?”

“One twenty,” she said. “I’m a sophomore.”

“I see. How do you like it?”

This seemed to surprise her. “Oh, it’s great,” she said. I figured she figured this was the right thing to say.

“Are you learning anything?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Good. So what brings you here today?”

Her brown eyes grew misty. “I got a C on the midterm.”

“Oh, good for you,” I said.

“No,” she said. “I can’t get a C.”

“You can do better on the final, can’t you?” While we talked my fingers were at the keyboard, calling up the sophomore Populations grades. “Was it Thomas?”


” Ah, I see. Well, you’ve done great except for that, unless you bomb the final you ought to end up with a solid B.”

She wiped her eye. “I can’t,” she said. “I need an A. I need to keep a four point oh or I lose my scholarship.”

“Man, that’s harsh,” I said.

“Yes, they are really serious about this.”

My eyes scanned the spreadsheet, doing some math in my head, rounding and adding. “I don’t see how you can get back to an A,” I said.

“You can’t give me an extra credit assignment, can you?” she asked.

“No, this isn’t high school. How did you screw up the midterm?”

“I don’t know.” She was holding back tears now, barely. “I studied. I thought I knew it. I don’t know what happened.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, and I was. School, it’s hard, it’s frustrating. “Tell you what, if you do well on the final I’ll talk to the scholarship pendik escort office. I’ve done that before, they are good about it.”

“They already talked to me,” she said. “There’s no chance. This is my favorite class.” She paused and wiped the back of her hand across her nose. “And you are my favorite professor.”

I had been propositioned before, and it usually didn’t go like this. To start with, it is almost always either – not to be disrespectful but – some dolled-up sorority bimbo or it’s, uh, someone less attractive and desperate. I was not sure where this was going but had a certain autonomic response in my jeans that informed my intuition.

“I’m glad you like it,” I said, steering her away from danger. “It looks like you’ve done well in the class except for that one midterm.”

“There must be some way I can bring that grade up,” she pleaded, through tears.

“Look,” I said, “Education is a stochastic process at the edge of chaos. You have done well but you can’t predict where the system dynamics are going. You blew a test, that just happens.”

“I’ll do anything,” she said. I had a regular full hard-on under the desk. Her eyes were dry now, as she came into the part of the conversation she had rehearsed in her mind.

“Be careful,” I said, speaking softly. “We have ethics rules.”

“I understand,” she said. She was speaking softer now, too. “And I don’t want to do something improper. But actually, I watch you in class and you are an attractive man. You’re funny, smart, I notice these things. It’s not like I would do anything against my will.” And she gave a chesty little chuckle that basically, well, she was testing my resolve.

“Let me get this out in the open,” I said, speaking so I could not be heard in the hall. “You are suggesting that I raise your grade in exchange for sex.”

She looked a little shocked. “I hadn’t thought of it that way,” she said. “Yuck, I feel like one of those sorority whores. Never mind.” And she started gathering up her books, which had already disassembled into a kind of avalanche around her.

“Excuse me if I misunderstood,” I said. “What did you mean then?”

“God, do I have to say it?”

“I guess so,” I replied. “I apparently got the wrong message.”

She relaxed visibly and I could see that she believed she still had me on the hook.

“You were partly right,” she said. “I thought maybe we could, you know, be together for a while, and then you could change my grade.”

“Do you see an ethical problem with that?” I asked her.

“Of course.” She laughed. “You’re my professor, you’re not supposed to take advantage of innocent little me.”

“Hmm, I was seeing it the other way around,” I said, toying with her.

“Here’s what I was thinking,” she said, and she leaned forward as if to close the deal. “I was thinking both of us could have a night we will always remember, I would get my A on the midterm – I’d still have to do good on the final – and we would live happily ever after.”

I looked at her stupidly. For so young, some of them are very smart. She leaned forward again, her halter top gapping as her breasts rose deliciously above it.

“Professor, it will be a night you will never forget,” she said.

I thought I could smell her fragrance, I was sure I could feel her body’s warmth. I could taste her lips and those soft eyes looked at me with a promise that was backed up with a guarantee. She was sure of herself, twenty years old and serious about experiencing everything life offered, full of everything that life can offer, and she made me believe she was as interested in finding out about me as she was in fixing her grade. It was a personal moment brimming with sexual tension and she held every advantage.

“Sarah” I said slowly. “This is crazy.”

“Tomorrow is Friday,” she said. “Do you live alone?”

I nodded.

“Tell me where to be,” she said. “I will come at eight, with bells on.”

I didn’t know what to do. I wrote my home address on a scrap of paper and handed it to her. She smiled beautifully at me and gathered up her mess. “With bells on,” she said again.

“What does that mean, really?” I asked her.

“I don’t know.” After she left there was a distinct fragrance or lighting effect in my office.


I was married when I first took this job, and my wife was the one who first spotted the house we moved into. Sometimes “too good to be true” is actually true. It is a white stucco, three-bedroom home on its own little street a half-mile from campus, with undeveloped property on both sides as well as across the street. The property backs onto a wooded area with a creek. There are trout and bullfrogs in the creek and birds singing or hooting night and day. The land on the other side of the creek belongs to the state, it is some kind of park or wildlife refuge and can’t be touched. The place was not new when we bought it but had all the modern conveniences, of course now it has wifi, digital thermostat, things like that.

Marjorie, my ex-wife, loved the house but she loved the kartal escort chair of the English department more. They now have some sort of arrangement, as I understand it, where she lives with him and his wife. I don’t know how they work that out but I hope she’s happy. As for me, the broken-hearted routine did not really suit me; I got into my work, and so for the past several years I have spent my personal hours in my quiet little dream-house with my office and my books and a nice set-up in the back where I work with my laptop while the bullfrogs bark.

I have not had company in months, and there is apparently a natural law, something like entropy, that says that a man living alone is going to leave his underwear on the floor, the dishwasher will never be emptied, the toothpaste will remain on the back of the sink.

So when I got home that night I had some work to do. It was sort of fun, hustling from room to room, finding a good station on the stereo, throwing out leftovers, changing the sheets.

All the while I thought about the whole sordid plan, reviewing the morality of it mentally. Sarah was a lovely thing, fresh and natural, trim and healthy-looking, and I was actually excited to have an evening of mutual exploitation with her. I searched my mind for signs of guilt and did not find any.

I had no doubt about the nature of our visit. She was coming to my house to be taken advantage of sexually by me, a lecherous older college professor, in exchange for favoritism in grading. Well this sort of thing has been going on since the beginning of time, women have used their bodies to manipulate men into giving them what they want. There was a certain legal or ethical problem with it, but I was quite confident that Sarah was not going to complain to the university. For one thing, affairs between students and professors were so common they were hardly worth mentioning. And besides, this was a negotiated, one-time deal.

I had some thoughts. My feeling was that it was a barter, where I would have my way with her for the evening. The question then was, what is “my way?” This could be a quick blow job and we’re even, or maybe a night of candlelight and romance – it was up to me to decide. I realized, as I readied the house, that I knew exactly what I wanted to happen. I hoped that Sarah would accede and agree with my fantasy, but really – it didn’t matter. If she wanted an A for the midterm see would go along with my wishes.

Even as a committed feminist vigilant against exploitation I saw the exchange as one between equals. She would be a sex object, oh yes she would, we would not be equals during the time she was fulfilling her side of the bargain, nor would we be later when I edited my grading spreadsheet. If we were going down that road of judgment then I would say my shame was the greater. I was violating my academic ideals, never mind the regulations of the university and the state, while she was just a young woman taking advantage of an older man who she respected.

But in reality there was no shame. On another Friday night Sarah might have picked up some college boy at a bar off-campus, and I might have rated her midterm essay answers differently if I’d been in a different mood when I got to them. She could have gotten laid Friday night and I might have given her an A, nothing would be extremely different in a parallel universe adjacent to this one. We did not need to be judged for making an adult agreement that we both consented to.


You know how you do, I made myself busy as eight o’clock came near, following links on the Internet. And so I was actually surprised by the doorbell at precisely eight. I got up from the computer and went to the door.

Sarah was beautiful. She wore a white summer dress with flowers printed on it and clearly had the look of someone who had just taken a deep breath and forced themselves to plunge ahead. She looked at my face as if to reassure herself that it was me and not some axe-murderer, and I walked her into the house. Cicadas and crickets and bullfrogs were singing their song of nature’s desires and nature’s cycles and even with the door shut we could hear them.

“Hi,” she said, “I’m not late, am I?”

“No,” I said, “You are exactly on time.”

We walked into the living room. It was a deliciously awkward moment. Neither of us knew what was going to happen, what the other expected; we had arranged, two strangers, for a night together that overflowed with possibilities. She was in my house and she was there to fulfill my wishes.

“Would you like a glass of wine?” I asked. “Or a beer?”

“No, thank you,” she said. Yes, it was awkward.

I was the adult in the room. I said, “We don’t really know what we’re doing, do we.”

“No,” she said. “We don’t know.”

“If you will trust me you can make me very happy.”

“Okay,” she said.

“Kiss me.” Standing beside the leather couch I took her in my arms and pulled her lips to mine. They were as pliable and as sweet as I could ever have imagined. I worked my tongue between her teeth and she maltepe escort opened her mouth to me. It was a moment of miraculous emotion, as she gave her mouth to me. I kissed her passionately and she responded with her tongue in my mouth. I felt her arms tighten around my back as we melted together.

“Are you all right?” I asked her, pulling away “Can I get you something?”

“No,” she said. “I am fine.”

I kissed her again, running my hands over her arms and her back, her ribs. I had not held such a firm young woman in many years. I realized that she had perhaps never known a lover as old as me, and hoped that she was not judging my slack skin and muscles, my gray hair, I hoped I did not taste like a repulsive old man to her.

By her breathing I judged that she was in fact enjoying the kissing and touching. I ran my hand over her cotton dresses to her bottom and kneaded the strong muscle of her butt. My cock was ready to rip out the front out of my jeans, she seemed like an erotic goddess and I felt like the luckiest man in the world.

Her hands began to caress me as well. It caught me by surprise. In my imagining it had never occurred to me that she would reciprocate, isn’t that funny? I pictured her going along with me but not taking the initiative. My plans for the night really required me to stay in charge.

My hand on her bottom slipped under the hem of her short skirt, where I found nothing but smooth, taut skin. I wondered if she had worn a thong but then she giggled.

“Are you wearing panties?” I asked her.

She smiled up at me. “No,” she said. “I didn’t think they would be necessary.” I kissed her again, pressing my engorged crotch against her thigh and squeezing her bottom.

I turned her to the side while we kissed and brought my right hand to her pussy. I was glad to find a healthy tuft of fur there. There was no hurry, I let my fingers play over her, lightly. I could feel the tension in her body.

“I’m going to remove your dress,” I said, and I took the hem of her skirt and lifted. Sarah cooperated by raising her arms above her head and in a few seconds she was naked. I folded her light summer dress and set it on the back of the couch, turning my back to her. “You don’t need those sandals,” I said. She bent to remove them but I said, “I’ll get them.” They were decorative white sandals like a college girl would wear to classes, and I unbuckled each strap and pulled her shoes from her feet, setting them side by side near the couch.

“May I look at you?” I asked politely. She was trembling a little, and so was I.

“I guess,” she said.

She stood in my living room with her hands by her side, with shadows on her slim body as she was illuminated by the lamps in the room. I had forgotten to turn the radio on so the only sounds were the whirring of nature outside my windows. Her hair was down tonight, curls tumbling over her neck and touching her throat, and she wore silver earrings that dangled an unintrusive inch. I could not tell if she wore makeup.

I figured she rides a bicycle or plays tennis, she was not athletic but fit, with smallish breasts and a narrow waist with protruding pelvis bones that framed her reproductive region. Her skin was uniformly tan, by birth rather than from the sun; I took her to be some ethnic type that is not northern European but could be. Dark hair, dark eyes, tan skin. Her pubic hair did not appear to be trimmed, which pleased me. Maybe it’s my age but I don’t like the shaved look you see on the Internet these days, including the varieties of “landing strips” and other stupid-looking gimmicks. I also am not a fan of tattoos and was glad, but not surprised, to see that she did not seem to have any.

I walked around her. Her bottom was round, two firm globes, protruding somewhat in just the way that brings me joy walking across campus. This bottom would look perfect in tight jeans but looked even better out of them.

Sarah turned her head to watch me looking at her. “You are beautiful,” I said. “I feel very lucky.”

Her eyes watched mine. “Well,” she said finally, “It was my idea.”

“Are you uncomfortable?” I asked.

“Actually, yes,” she said. “It is a little weird to be naked and you are fully dressed.”

“Ah, but you are a beautiful young girl and I’m an old man,” I said.

“So you’re going to stay dressed?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I guess I kind of feel that you are here for me tonight.”

She did not respond to that. It wasn’t a question. I was defining the ground rules, while allowing her room to negotiate them.

I stepped up to her and kissed her again and ran my hands lightly over her skin. I cupped her breast and ran the palm of my hand over the raspberry of her nipple. I traced her jutting pelvis and walked my fingers through her sparse tangle. “Let’s go to the bedroom,” I said.

I took her hand and walked her to my room. After the divorce I had had a couple of ladies over, “appropriate” women approximately my own age, each burdened with a fully matured litter of expectations. We did what we assumed we would do and then they left, trailing no wake of arousal or desire to repeat the experience. I had wanted to worship them but they had been trained by ex-husbands and one-night stands to expect some kind of boring song and dance, they expected to end up frustrated and they did, and so did I. I wanted tonight to be different.

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