Haziran 15, 2024

The TA and Her

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If anyone were to be curious about what an Economics classroom looked like on a Monday morning of a brand new semester, they’d be disappointed to know that it didn’t look like a room full of bright eyed students listening earnestly to their professor’s lesson. Instead, it looked more like a pajama pigsty of lifeless, half asleep floaters trying desperately to stay awake. Even the professor was struggling with the early rise; grumbling in his speech with his puny eyes casted by the dark circles underneath them. What a wonderful start to a new semester.

Laura was no different. Just another face in the crowd, it was easy and tempting for her to nod off here and there, but it was a battle she had to endure. She needed to take this class seriously, especially with how her grades looked like from last semester. She couldn’t afford another pathetic passing grade. Over break, she’d considered going to a tutor, because it wasn’t that she wasn’t trying, she just really sucked at Economics. But the thing about that was that Laura’s pride was a little too big and she felt that having a tutors help was basically like pronouncing herself to the world as an imbecile incapable of self sufficiency. Perhaps her thoughts on the matter were a little dramatic and over the top, but regardless, she wasn’t that desperate. Not yet anyway.

Her eyelids fluttered shut again and she briskly shook her head; slapping her cheeks with a renewed urge to revitalize some life into her face.

“Wake up!” she chided herself, but she could already feel her body going numb and the professors flat voice sounded so far away. Shrinking and dying out, like a fly getting flushed down the toilet – getting smaller and smaller until blip, gone.

“Now then,” suddenly, the professor cleared his throat, enunciating his words with more umph and slapping Laura back into reality, who was practically slouching off her chair, “I’ve asked for the help of a teacher assistant starting this semester whom you’ll be seeing a lot of in the classroom from here on out. You’ll all do well to go about your studies as you always have, but expect there to be many changes so accommodate yourselves accordingly.” The professor lumbered around his desk and leaned against the countertop before gesturing for someone in the front row to come up to the front of the class alongside him.

There was a unified silence that followed as everyone eyed the tall figure striding towards the professor, then a bustle of hushed comments bursted amongst the students at the sight of the new stranger.

The professor cleared his throat again, silencing the room. “Class, this is Jill Hemsworth, your TA. Please give her a round of applause for being the only one here who showed up in actual clothes.” A cacophony of soft chuckles erupted in the class and even Laura found herself smiling a bit at the professors poke, but her eyes lingered on the new girl. Her curiosity was nothing more than intrigue. After all, it was a bit of a relief to finally see a fresh face at this small local college she attended. Plus, the girls hair was killer.

Jill Hemsworth was very pretty, even that much couldn’t be denied by the sheer amount of ogling that was happening at the moment from both the guys and girls in the room. From her poised look, her eye catching auburn hair, and the charming closed lip smile she had, she was definitely not your average TA. Even her clothes, which were simple and casual, asserted a sense of purposeful styling that made her look chic and cooly laid back.

And that was how the first day went, with a new addition in the mix. But like all things, once everyone got back into the motion of things and started getting busy with their studies and their lives, all the highs and excitement and even promises made faded with time. Case in point, months into the semester, try as she might, Laura had already found her early resolution incredibly short lived.

She was failing. Failing terribly in her ECON class. Why couldn’t she just retain all the information? And the papers, oh god the papers were another form of hell. She sat criss crossed in a lounge chair in one of the many lofts around campus, trying to cram her brain with as much of the material as she could. Rereading and rewriting her notes, flipping through her textbooks like a madwoman, highlighting whatever she thought would be important, and generally just panicking internally.

She rubbed at her temples and tried to calm down and get her bearings. Locks of her chestnut hair framed her face as she sat there frozen in concentration and despair. What was she going to do? There was an exam due in two months and from the looks of things, Laura was considering faking her death or feinting in class during the exam.

Just then, like an answer to her prayers, or at least to others besides herself, Jill Hemsworth appeared around the corner with her groupies close behind; heading towards the community board with a pack of papers in hand. Laura watched her go. Since she arrived, she’d unknowingly spawned a little fanbase and from then on, she was Betturkey basically pretty much never seen without some hapless and horny pup following her around. She was quite popular amongst the freshmen boys and the guys in general and her name was pretty much known throughout the entire campus. She was almost like one of the seven wonders of the world – everyone talked about her.

Laura watched her curiously, half amused by the guys around her trying to get her attention. It looked like she was putting up flyers, but the boys paid it no mind and continued with their pestering, even after she turned the other corner and left the room. Not being able to help herself, Laura inched her way towards the board to look at the flyers and gulped.

They were flyers for tutoring sessions, from Jill herself. She guessed the girl needed the extra cash. Laura bit her lips. Tutoring sessions from her own TA, wouldn’t that be a goldmine? She thought about it hard and swallowed her pride. As much as she hated it, she really needed the extra help. The flyers had little pull off strips at the ends of them, and with a sigh, Laura took one and stuffed it into her back pocket. It was either fail the class and look like and idiot or get a tutor and look like an idiot.

Laura didn’t know much about Jill. Only what she heard from rumors and what she saw in class, other than that, this tutoring session was going to be the first time they’d ever spoken to each other, well, the second time. The first time was when Laura gave her the call confirming she’d take her offer. All she really knew about Jill was that she had recently graduated from the college, so she was around 24-26 years old. To be honest, she’d forgotten how old she was exactly despite her having told the class the very first day of the semester. Let’s just put it out there that Laura’s memory was shit. So Jill wasn’t really a fresh face in the college, more like a returning one.

She also knew that she was smart – something about her graduating top of her class? And had lived in the countryside before she moved up here to the suburbs to start her education. That was probably where her laid back attitude came from, always so humble and composed. Furthermore, from what she heard, Jill was the third eldest of six other siblings and actually used to be the softball captain here when she attended the college. All of this, of course, was what Laura had heard, and from it, she had to admit that the girl was pretty well rounded.

Jill’s sessions would be at 6:00 pm in the college library on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays and 8:00 pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Laura took the Saturday, because her schedule didn’t allow for any room for her to even breath during the weekdays.

On the day of the meet-up, Laura was heading out of her dorm towards the library, a little anxious about the meeting and feeling sorry for herself that she had to stoop so low. But it was whatever. She glanced down at her watch and noticed she’d be a little early, so took her time walking across campus.

Laura was just your average student. Average grades, decent social skills, and hardly an interesting existence on campus. She was fairly pretty, like anyone else, had her own groups of friends, did her own thing, but she wasn’t much for tuning into what was happening at the campus or in the lives of others. She believed in independence and minding her business.

When she finally arrived, she noticed the library was sparse with activity and people, only a speck of other students here and there. She scanned the room and found Jill sitting at one of the long tables that ran horizontal from the book shelves in front of the big square windows. Laura sighed.

“Just get what you can from this and pass the class,” she tried to reassure herself. Breathing in, she finally willed herself to move and trudged towards the tables where she tapped on Jill’s shoulders before greeting her.

“Hi, Jill. I’m Laura Eom. I’m here for my session.” Laura introduced, with not even a trace of a smile. It wasn’t as if she was trying to be petty or rude, she just couldn’t bother with the trivial formalities. She didn’t like to pretend or disguise or go along with things. She was bummed and she wasn’t going to hide it. But Jill didn’t seem bothered by Laura’s stoic presence.

“Hi,” Jill hovered her hand between them for a handshake, “you’re just on time. Sit down, please, get comfortable, and let’s get started.” The twinkle in Jill’s eyes were no joke. She was nice and friendly but not overbearing – her kindness was calm and collected. Laura shook her hand and quietly sat down and took out her things.

“Dutiful and studious, you’re a diligent student.” Jill commented.

Laura looked at her confused. “You say that as if you know me.”

Jill shrugged, “well, I may not know you well, but you are in my ECON class, right? I know of you. I’m glad you took this opportunity by the way, I’d very much like to see all of Mr. Jotskins students succeed.”

A pang of annoyance ran through Laura. Sure, Jill Betturkey Giriş might have access to grade books as a TA, but it still bothered her that she’d mention about her obviously shitty grade. It felt as if she was doing it on purpose to mock her.

“Yeah? Well, aren’t you a saint. I’m doing what I can, I just hope I chose right and I’m not wasting my time here.” Laura’s steely eyes didn’t falter as she stared her down across the table.

Jill chuckled, “those are fighting words, I didn’t mean to offend you. If I did, I apologize. Just trying to size you up. Apparently, you’re far more feisty than you look. But I’m hoping you’ve chosen right, if I can help you with your studies then that’s my job done. So, shall we get started? What subjects are you having trouble in?”

Laura furrowed her brows at Jill’s calm demeanor and agile social skills. She was a strange one, but there were more important matters at the moment than verbally fighting with the girl, so she replied to her questions and they moved on to the tutoring.

By the end of it, Laura realized that Jill definitely knew a thing or two about what she was doing. She was good at explaining and her patience and willingness to observe and listen allowed her to fully grasp Laura’s predicament and how to solve it. She had to admit it, but Jill was good. Maybe she wanted to be a professor?

She wouldn’t have known though, because they didn’t make anymore small talk after their initial introductions. It was all business after that, and it stayed that way for a couple of weeks. Admittedly, Laura had decided to take more sessions. At least until the exams, she tried to excuse herself. Those lessons were an extra help, even if Jill was a little too presumptuous.

One night, four weeks before the ECON exam, Laura was at another one of Jill’s sessions. She wasn’t really sure about it, but she started wondering if Jill had any other students she tutored. Perhaps during the weekdays, but she was sure that most people, like herself, would have free time especially on their weekends to do things like this, right? And yet, she was always the only one there on Saturdays. She didn’t really know how the tutoring thing worked and how many clients you could take on at a time, but she wondered nonetheless.

Since their first session, Laura had found that, without realizing it, they began to sit next to each other at their usual spot in the library. The initial hostility Laura had harbored towards Jill had dissipated by that point. It didn’t feel uncomfortable and it was hardly something noticeable, it just sorta happened. Like a gradual migration.

And she didn’t know when it started, but it also became a regular thing for both of them whenever they met up to greet each other, ask how their day was, and when they left, wish each other the best of luck. Simple and small things that may have seemed trivial on the surface, but for Laura, was something she hardly ever found herself so responsive to. Yet, for some reason, when it came to Jill and those Saturday nights, it was almost like second nature just to ask how she was and to tell her about her day, even when she didn’t care to. Well, sometimes.

That fateful night was no different from any other.

Being a little early for their meeting, Laura decided to get a head start before Jill arrived. When she finally did show up, like clockwork, their usual exchanges followed.

“Hey, Laura. How’ve you been?” Jill asked, putting down her things beside her.

“Fine. Just finishing up some notes. You?”

“Oh you know, the usual. Grading papers, running errands, dealing with life as a professor’s contracted slave. I’m in the peak of my life, right now.” Jill joked.

Laura softly smiled. “I can’t say I envy you.”

“Well, at least Saturday’s are always fun.” Jill sighed in relief.

“The weekends are just a blessing, aren’t they?” Laura replied sarcastically.

“Well, yeah. But I meant because I get to see ya.”

Laura paused at the comment and looked up at Jill who had a smirk on her face. What did that mean, she thought? She cleared her throat and resumed to writing her notes. “Ha ha, very funny. I don’t enjoy spending my Saturday’s having to be stuck in the library, either. Besides, you see me almost every other day in class.”

Jill sucked in a breath and laughed. “Well, true. But I’m more of a one-on-one soul. And you’re a much easier student to teach than some of the other kids I have. You saying you don’t like our sessions? I rather enjoy them, to be honest.” She pouted.

Laura looked at her with upturned lips and furrowed brows, not knowing what to say to this supposedly grown adult woman. Was she being serious? She tried to hold back the grin. “Of course, I appreciate our sessions. It’s really gonna help me on the exam.”

“I didn’t ask if you appreciated them. I asked if you enjoyed them.” This time, Jill bent down at her waist and rested her palms on the table near Laura’s right elbow; her smooth oval face jutted so close to hers that Betturkey Güncel Giriş she could practically feel her breath on her.

Laura held her breath, surprised at the sudden closeness. “I uh, I…enjoy them.” The words came out in a slow stammer. Laura was warming up to Jill, that much couldn’t be denied. The girl was funny and always so cheerful and she really was helping her out with her studies. She also knew that Jill’s brazenness was just a part of her personality, so she couldn’t help it. But when she was like this, like…affectionate, it threw Laura off. She couldn’t tell if she was ever joking with her or not.

Jill smirked again before leaning back up and plopping herself in the chair besides Laura. “See, wasn’t that hard, was it? I knew you liked me.”

“That’s not what I said.” Laura corrected her.

“Yeah, but I know you do.”

Jill’s stupid smile left Laura speechless. She was trying to get under her skin, and it was working. Laura breathed in and shook her head. “Can we just…get back to the lesson.”

Jill leaned against her propped arm with her pen between her fingers; lightly tapping on her notebook with that friggin smirk on her face. “After you.” She gestured with her chin. It wasn’t atypical for Jill to be purposefully annoying during their sessions.

A couple of hours had passed when Laura checked her watch. It was already almost 11pm. She leaned back against her chair and stretched; trying to subdue the yawn that threatened to come out. Jill noticed Laura’s drowsiness and put down her pen.

“Times almost up,” Jill suddenly stood up from her chair, “hold on a sec, let me get you a drink. We’ve just got a little more to cover before we end the night and I can’t have you knocked out before then.” She smiled.

Laura suddenly perked up, twisting and turning her head as she watched Jill get up and leave. “W-wait, you don’t have to…” But she was already out the door. Laura sat there confused and a little embarrassed. She couldn’t understand Jill’s level of consideration and kindness, it was almost a burden if Laura was honest. A few seconds later, Jill was back with two paper cups in hand. She handed one to Laura and the warmth was immediate as it touched her palms.

“I figure coffee might be a little much right now, so,” she set her cup down and suddenly grabbed the side of Laura’s chair; pulling it side to side with hers, “jasmine tea on the house. Also, don’t think I didn’t see you nodding off a couple times tonight. This is for safety measures.” Jill grinned as she gestured towards the now touching chairs. Laura just looked at her, stunned. She really couldn’t keep up with all this.

“W-what,” Laura awkwardly laughed, “you think I’m gonna fall off the chair, or something? Your concerns are misplaced. I’m not that oblivious.”

“Uh huh, keep talking. We’ll see about that. By the way, you’ve been writing your notes down in your planner for awhile now.”

Laura bunched up her brows and looked down at the assortment of books and notebooks on the table in front of her. Lo and behold, she really had been writing almost 10 minutes of notes in her planner. Somewhere along the way, she must’ve gotten her notebooks mixed up and didn’t even realize it. She groaned and hunched over the table in defeat while Jill snickered above her.

“Hey, don’t die on me yet.” Jill poked at her.

Laura popped her head out from under her crossed arms and nestled her chin above them; a sigh emanating from between her soft pink lips. “Can we be done now?” Suddenly, Laura felt fingers on her hair as Jill brushed some flyaway strands away from her face; tucking them behind her ear. Laura blushed at the sudden touch and couldn’t help but flinch, making Jill chuckle.

“Easy there, I don’t bite. Say, I’ve got a favor to ask. Hmm, actually, let’s call it a wager. Interested?”

Laura straightened back up, her flushed face and fidgetiness only amusing Jill further. “What do you mean?”

“If you pass the exam, you gotta do something for me. My guidance, after all. But if you fail, you can penalize me however you want.” Jill’s gaze was unwavering.

“Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Neither of the options sound appealing. Also, I don’t trust what you’ll have me do if I do pass.” Laura scrunched her brows at the proposal.

“It’s not anything inappropriate. Is that how you think of me? It’s just a simple favor. I won’t force you to do it if you don’t want to too, I’ll just have to hope you possess the morality to honor agreements.” Jill sighed in fiend disappointment.

God, she could really sound uppity when she wanted to. Laura pursed her lips and considered the proposal with steely eyes. “Fine, but you better prepare for the wrath if I end up failing. Don’t expect anything half assed.” She warned her. But there was only a cheeky grin on Jill’s face at her acceptance, which only served to annoy her further.

On the day of the exam, like the golden gate of heaven themselves, all Laura needed was the passing grade ticket to pass through. The professor was God and the exam was his judgement. This was the moment of truth. If Laura didn’t pass the exam, she’d have to retake the entire semester again. She crossed her fingers and prayed – and cried a little bit inside too. And like that, the exam was taken, submitted, and over.

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