JUAN WATCHED STOICALLY as the last of his UIC students, with the exception of one pretender, filed out of his classroom, forever.
Two years had gone by like that, he thought, mentally snapping his fingers. He’d enjoyed every minute of his time at the University and wanted very much to stay. But that, even with his marriage to Eleanor, was impossible.
He’d been informed, this morning, right before his class started that his replacement in the two year teaching exchange program, Professor Gustava Rivera, was already in Chicago and eagerly waiting to take over. It seemed, in spite of his call to the head of the University in Mexico, informing him of his change in status, the University had gone ahead and sent his replacement anyway.
Professor Rivera had arrived last Friday morning while he and Eleanor were being married.
Willow, the pretender, sensing that something was wrong, weaved her way through the tangle of abandoned desks down to where Juan was deliberately ignoring her as he stuffed his final lecture on the Mixtec people and their Codices, or phonetic pictures, back into his briefcase.
“I bet I can put a smile back on that face in less than ten seconds,” she said, sliding her arms around him. A slight smile did cross Juan’s face.
However, he continued stuffing papers into his briefcase so that he could avoid looking at her. She had become a moral complication. Their sexual liaisons had been bad enough when it was just one person, David, that they were hurting. But now that he was married things were even more complicated. Especially now that he’d met David. He liked the guy. Under different circumstances, he would have liked to have had David as a friend.
“I know you can,” he said, doing his best not to look into her heavenly blue eyes and ignoring her pouty pink mouth that had given him so much pleasure.
“Have you decided what you’re going to do while you wait for your Adjustment to Status papers to come through,” Willow asked, turning serious to match Juan’s somber mood.
“I’m going to sit in Eleanor’s home and let her take care of me,” he answered jokingly.
That curt answer struck a sour chord with Willow
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing,” he said, pulling away.
Willow was angered by that. But she’d learned the best way to control a man was with charm, and by not being belligerent.
“Once upon a time I truly loved David. But then I met you,” she said pressing her body against his. “I love you, Juan, and please don’t get attached to Eleanor. She’s just a stepping stone to our being together.”
“So. You’re saying it’s OK to use her?”
“No, I’m not saying that. I’m trying to tell you, idiot, that I love you and want you all for myself.”
“Then leave David.”
“You know I can’t do that.”
“Yes, you can.”
“Even if I left David, you and Eleanor would still be married. And we’d be right back where we started from.”
Juan snapped his briefcase closed and starting walking towards the same door through which his former students had exited.
Outside on UIC’s tree lined campus walkway, Juan was once again overwhelmed by the hallowedness of the place. He loved that feeling. It made him feel as if he were more than what he was; the poor son of a slain brown-skinned peasant. Being a full professor had put him and his family, back in Mexico, into a higher class status. Not an easy thing to do. He was determined to obtain another professorship here in the States, even if it meant leaving Willow behind. And probably, Eleanor, as well.
Willow, quickening her step caught up with Juan as he stuck his keys into the lock of the SUV he’d rented to move his few things over to Eleanor’s.
“Juan, please don’t shut me out. Let me help you feel better,” she whispered, while stroking his groin.
Eliza D. Ankum
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