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avenging spirit made her sign her name? Was there something in the printer that had? “You look distraught,” she managed to say. The panic in her voice could be read as sympathy for Jeff and whatever awful thing had just entered his life. He must have read it that way, for he said, “Nothing, really. It’s pretty awful, though. Somebody’s making accusations against one of us.” Here he held the letter up. Light from the window transluced through the pages, and she recognized her paragraphs, her indentations, the very shape of her words. The accusation gleamed midair for an endless moment, before he let it drop, with as much noise as paper can make on metal, into the slowly filling trash can – one, two, and gone. She could not stop the second gasp flying from her throat. Jeff looked at her again, a little quizzically this time. Had she given away that she knew what was in the note? What would she say if he – ? He said, “We take real problems seriously, of course. But this has the air of – I don’t know – a young woman facing a C after a long career of high school As. It could be anything. A dare. A crush confused about what to do with itself. And, it’s anonymous. People with real complaints are generally willing to stand behind them. If I pursued every bit of shade cast by every disgruntled teenager – ” Here he shrugged, as if that sentence had too many endings to choose among, or none at all. He moved toward his office, stopping when his body was as close as it could be to hers without actually touching. “Pull it out of the trash and look if you want. You’ll be amused at who the accused is. You’ll never believe it. And when you’re Chair, you’ll have to deal with this sort of thing all the time.” He moved on. He had said, “When you’re Chair,” as if it were something he actually expected. She had no need to pull the letter out of the trash. Instead she made her way to her office, shedding horror and fear to the left and right as she walked. When she reached her desk, she was floating. Her hand lay on her chest, as though she needed its weight to help her breathe. “Pan and all the woodland gods,” she said, “be mightily praised, and praised again.” She had been saved from the worse thing she had ever done. The screwdriver lay in her hand, pressing deep marks in her skin because she had been squeezing it so tight. At the moment when a student was stumbling through an illumination of Sidney’s Astrophil and

Stella 31, Corin felt in his coat pocket, even while draped over the back of his chair, the buzz of his phone receiving a text message. “With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb’st the skies! / How silently, and with how wan a face!” the student read. The student was a drama major whom one might see on stage from time to time. He was not as bad as the others. One noted that. He read the ancient words with sympathy and understanding. “What, may it be that even in heav’nly place / That busy archer his sharp arrows tries!” That was actually the secret. Corin wanted to shout to the boy, “Just read the poem!” Just read as Philip Sidney would have, with a catch in the throat, with wit at war with misery. Just say it. Just say it right and sit down, the analysis being implied in the understanding.


Sure, if that long-with-love-acquainted eyes Can judge of love, thou feel’st a lover’s case, I read it in thy looks; thy languished grace To me, that feel the like, thy state descries. Then even of fellowship, O Moon, tell me, Is constant love deemed there but want of wit? Are beauties there as proud as here they be? Do they above love to be loved, and yet Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess? Do they call virtue there ungratefulness? Whatever the class was feeling, Corin was near to tears when the last words were spoken. The student droned on for a while with the details he had learned on the Internet, but not quite long enough to ruin the impression of the flawless reading. Corin said, “Yes, yes,” as the boy sat down, smiling, knowing he’d pleased at least one. While the class exited, Corin looked at his phone. A message from his wife. “Don’t stop on the way home. Come straight home. Hurry.” That was not like her. She never texted during class hours unless it was urgent, or something was needed from the store on his way home. Tone is hard to get from a text message, but Corin’s ear detected playfulness. Was she in a mood? Was she in the mood. In any case, he obeyed. He drove straight home, repeating the phrase “long-with-loveacquainted eyes” until his ravishment was complete, and he was ready for whatever she prepared. It had been a long time since she was happy.

Profile for East Carolina University

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.