NOTICE: DUE TO THE INCREASE IN DR. COLLINS’ WORKLOAD, HE HAS DECIDED TO TAKE ON A STUDENT ASSISTANT. INTERESTED SECOND YEARS ARE TO HAND IN THEIR APPLICATIONS BY THE 31ST OF MAY 2013.
“More like ‘if you aren’t Angela, don’t apply,” Gina teased. Angela rolled her eyes at her friend.
“Whatever, Gina,” she chuckled. They left the noticeboard and headed for the lecture room.
“Come on, Angie,” Gina persisted. “You’re Collins’ star student. The job will be handed to you on a silver platter!”
“I don’t know, Gee,” Angela bit her top lip as she contemplated the post. “It’s a lot of work.”
“As if you can’t handle it!” Gina exclaimed. “You’re the shooting star of our year, Angie! You can handle anything!”
Angela smiled quietly; she couldn’t deny the fact that everyone saw her as a superstar. Who could blame them? That’s what Angela got for being a straight A Law student who got along with everyone in her year and was in a long-term relationship with the President of the Student Council and resident ‘Mr Popular’. She had everything going for her. Everyone could see that.
She bit the pencil she was carrying as she thought about the job. She could fit it in with her schedule – easily. It would also look good on her résumé. She nodded as they entered the lecture room.
“I think I’ll apply,” she told Gina.
“Go, Angie!” she nudged her playfully. “Do it for those of us who can’t!”
Angela rolled her eyes as they sat at their usual spot – three rows from the front. A number of people entered the room and greeted the two girls as they walked past – Angela in particular.
“The way I see it,” Gina poked Angela. “You’re going to take President when Eli graduates. You’re already his First Lady and everyone loves you. Can I be your Campaign Manager when the time comes? Not that you’ll need one or anything.”
“Gina don’t start-
Angela’s words – along with everyone else’s – fizzled out as a newcomer entered the room.
“Oh my…” Gina’s mouth dropped.
An Adonis of a man – donning a Giorgio Armani suit and a very youthful look – headed for Dr Collins’ desk and placed his briefcase on it. He took off his blazer and hung it over the chair. He turned to face the class and smiled. A couple of girls – including Gina – gasped at the sight of his – as the highly educated girls of the Law Faculty would say – ‘panty-dropping’ smile.
“Good afternoon, class,” he said in a deep, sure voice. “I’m Dr Harper. Unfortunately, Dr Collins had to take immediate and indefinite sick leave. He had a stroke on Saturday evening. I will be taking his place until further notice.”
Concerned murmurs filled the class. Dr Collins was a firm favourite of the students.
“It’s very sad,” Dr Harper remarked. “But we have spoken to his wife and she says that he’s going to be fine. His recovery is going to take a long time.”
“We should do something for him,” one of the students suggested.
“That is a very good suggestion,” Dr Harper commended. “Now, since I don’t know all of you too well, who here would like to organize a gift for Dr Collins?”
Everyone pointed at Angela. She felt the blood rush to her cheeks and the top of her ears. She looked up from her desk and found Dr Harper staring at her intently. She felt herself becoming extremely shy under his gaze.
“And you are?” he asked.
“Angela, Dr Harper,” she replied. He smirked.
“She’s Dr Collins’ star student,” someone chirped.
Everyone murmured – good-heartedly – in agreement. Angela remained quiet. Dr Harper had an interested glint in his eye.
“Well, well, well,” he mused. “It looks like I don’t have to worry about advertising for an assistant. I’ve already found her.”
Angela looked at him and found that he was being serious. No one objected – Angela was the prime candidate. A number of girls – Gina included – did envy the fact that she’d get to spend a lot of time with their new favourite lecturer.
She smiled calmly – something she was capable of doing even in the most awkward situations. She had nothing to worry about. She’d take on the responsibility the same way she’d taken everything else – with a steady mind and a confident attitude.
“I’d be that man’s assistant any day,” Gina murmured with a tone that made Angela want to hide. She noticed that Dr Harper kept looking at her. She sighed and refused to think anything of it.
“So how was your day?” Eli asked. Angela pulled out two cans of Coke and closed the fridge door behind her. She handed Eli a can and planted herself next to him.
“It was alright,” she replied. She watched him open his can swiftly. He took a large sip and savoured the taste as he swallowed. Angela chuckled. Five years on and her boyfriend, Elijah, was still the same person – especially when it came to Coke.
“We’ve got a new lecturer,” she continued.
“I heard about Collins,” Eli said quietly. “I’m going to visit him tomorrow.”
“I’ll probably come with you,” Angela said. She opened her can and took a sip. “The class assigned me with the task of organizing a ‘Get Well Soon’ gift.”
Eli chuckled and ruffled Angela’s hair.
“That’s what you get for being such a star,” he kissed her forehead. She gave him a warm smile. Her relationship with Eli began in high school and had grown over the years. They were a solid couple that – though known by many people – kept their business to themselves. When it came to Eli and Angela – it wasn’t a matter of whether they were going to last or not. No. Everyone was placing bets on when he was going to pop the question.
The wonderful couple, however, paid their peers no mind. They moved at their own pace.
“The new lecturer, Dr Harper, made me his assistant,” she sighed. “I hope I don’t mess up.”
“You won’t,” Eli assured her. “You’re amazing.”
“Thank you, love,” she smiled. “But he doesn’t know that.”
“Well he will soon enough,” Eli hugged her. “How is he anyway?”
“He seems alright,” she replied as she pondered. She shrugged. “He’s okay. The girls are mad about him. He’s a looker.”
Eli raised one of his eyebrows, amused by his girlfriend’s nonchalance.
“A looker, eh?”
“Yep,” she replied simply.
“Should I be worried?” he teased. She chuckled.
“You should be very worried,” she grinned.
“Maybe I should drop by and give the poor man a heads up,” Eli brooded. “I should warn him about my madcap girlfriend.”
He laughed as she assaulted him with one of her cushions.
“I’m playing, babe!” he captured her in a bear hug. “I’m not worried.”
“Good,” she said as she freed herself. “I’ve got my eyes on you and you alone.”
“Good,” he grinned. His eyes softened. “I love you.”
She smiled as she took his hand.
“I love you too,” she said. “Always and forever.”
She lay on his chest as he held her. She felt good. She felt excited. She could do this, she thought. She was confident.
Two months later…
Angela picked up her phone and dialled Eli’s number.
“Hey love,” she greeted.
“How’s my lady doing?” he asked. She looked at the papers slayed out on her table and sighed.
“It’s going to be another late night,” she said.
“Hang in there, Angie,” he consoled her.
“I better go,” she said. “I just wanted to hear your voice.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Eli blew a kiss down the phone. She blew one too and hung up.
“These late hours must make you miss him more,” someone spoke behind her. She turned around and smiled at Dr Harper. He looked less formal – but just as attractive – in his casual attire: a crisp, Ralph Lauren shirt and dark jeans. He had several large books cradled in right arm and a couple of plastic bags in his left hand. He walked over to the table and placed the books on it carefully.
“More added to the load,” he said apologetically. She smiled sadly.
“Fun,” she deadpanned. He reached into the plastic bags.
“I brought some stuff to lighten the load, though,” he said. He pulled out two takeaway boxes, two large Cokes and a bottle of red wine.
Angela smiled appreciatively. Dr Harper was a very busy man but he was no slave driver. He always helped Angela out with the research and filing. She’d long let go of the awkward feeling she had when she first started the job. She was never able to relax around him. She’d written it off as not being used to being around another man for such a long time. There was nothing to worry about, though. He was a very nice man.
“What’s on the menu?” she asked.
“Sweet and sour wings with fried rice and steamed vegetables,” he replied as he handed her a box. Her stomach grumbled in delight as the wonderful smell of food filled her nose.
“Dinner over research papers in the office,” she chuckled. “Who would’ve thought?”
He smiled as he opened the bottle of wine. Angela shook her head.
“I’ll skip out on the wine, Sir,” she said. “I’ll end up falling asleep on the papers instead of annotating them.”
“Aw, come on, Angie, it’s only one glass,” he pleaded gently. She failed to notice that he’d called her ‘Angie’. “And besides, I told you to call me Terry after hours. Leave all the formalities for school.”
She shook her head.
“I’ll stick with ‘Sir’, Sir,” she replied politely. She proceeded to study the papers in front of her. She looked up and found Dr Harper staring at her with a smirk on his face.
“What?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he said “I admire your drive, Angela. You’re a focused student.”
She started to shuffle the papers in front of her.
“Thank you,” she said quietly.
“I see why the class called you Mr Collins’ star student. You’re an exemplary individual. One of a kind. You’re definitely my star student too.”
She felt the blood rush to her cheeks and ears. She’d returned to looking down at the papers. She failed to notice Dr Harper as he moved closer to her. He put his hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him and found his lips landing on hers. Her eyes widened as she pulled away immediately. Dr Harper stepped back.
Her mind was whirring uncontrollably.
“Excuse me,” she got up and headed for the door. She felt Dr Harper grab her arm. She swivelled on her foot and glared at him.
“I don’t know what you take me for, Dr Harper, but I am not that kind of girl!” she spoke harshly. Remorse shone in his eyes.
“I’m so sorry,” he said gravely. Her heart relaxed.
“It’s okay,” she spoke calmly. “I think I should go home now.”
He didn’t say anything. She pulled her hand from his grasp gently and proceeded to pack her things quietly. The sound of the door being locked forced her to look up. Dr Harper was by the door. He pulled out the key and put it in his pocket. Her heart went cold.
“Dr Harper, what are you doing?” she asked. She was trying her level best not to panic. He sighed.
“I’m sorry, Angela,” he said gravely. There was something in his voice that made her realize that things had taken a horrible turn.
“Y-You already apologized,” she said. Her hands were shaking.
“I can’t let you leave right now.” The calm in his voice sent chills through her veins.
“Why?” she asked. He kept quiet as he stared at her.
“There’s a connection here,” he said. “A connection between us.”
She shook her head.
“Sir, I don’t know what you are talking about,” she replied shakily. She looked around for her phone. She needed to call Eli. She needed to call someone. Her eyes moved around the desk frantically.
“I suppose you’re looking for this?”
Terror filled her body as she watched Dr Harper pull her phone out of his pocket. She yelped as he calmly turned off the phone.
“Like I said, my dear,” he smiled. It made her feel sick. “I can’t let you leave right now.”
“Why?” she cried. She felt tears stinging her eyes.
“Stop playing dumb with me,” he snapped. She gasped. The anger faded from his being as quickly as it had come. An eerie smile appeared on his face.
“I see the game you’re playing,” he smiled. “You want me to show you what I’m talking about. You sly thing, you!”
“No,” she whispered as he moved toward her. “No!”
She moved back. She gasped as her back hit the wall behind her. Her eyes widened. She was trapped.
“Help!” she screamed. “He-
Her scream was cut off as Dr Harper’s hand clamped her mouth shut.
“Listen here,” he spoke menacingly. “I am not going to let you ruin this. If you make a sound, I will ruin you. I will ruin you and that little boyfriend of yours.”
Her eyes widened with terror. He grinned.
“Oh yes,” he said. “I know a lot of people. So if you even dare make a sound now or breathe a word of this to anyone, I will deny it immediately and trust me – I will be believed. Your boyfriend is graduating soon isn’t he? Wouldn’t it be terrible if his Law career was ruined before he even got a chance to practice?”
She gasped behind his hand. The glint in his eye became stronger. This was a man who loved to be in control.
“One phone call, my dear,” he whispered in her ear. His breath against her skin made her stomach curl. “One phone call is all it will take.”
Tears began to stream from her eyes.
“Aw, my poor, Angie,” he cooed. “Don’t worry, my love. I won’t hurt you. I’ll be so gentle, it’ll look like you actually enjoyed it.”
Her eyes widened. She knew what that meant. She began to sob as his hands traced her frame. She closed her eyes and willed her mind to wander.
“That’s my girl,” was the last thing she heard as she faded. Darkness overwhelmed her as the minutes went by.
She didn’t utter a single world. She took her mind back to one of her favourite childhood memories. She was swinging in her backyard. The air was cool and the sun was setting. She was free. She was happy.
She remained in the faraway world as the monster on top of her ripped out her soul bit by bit. She made no sound as her world came down in tiny, shattered pieces.
“That’s my girl, Angie,” he whispered. “My star student.”
Everything went black.
Six months later…
She pulled out a cigarette from the box that lay next to her. She inhaled deeply as she lit it up. The nicotine sent a brief wave of relief through her system. The sound of Amy Winehouse’s voice filled the room.
“These tears will dry on their own,” Angela sighed. She took another drag from the cigarette and kept it in for a minute. A light buzz filled her head. She looked at the cigarette. Her newfound habit. She chuckled bitterly. Could she still call it ‘newfound’ after five months? She didn’t care. She didn’t care about anything.
She hadn’t spoken to her parents in weeks. She didn’t care.
She’d shocked everyone when she dropped out of the prestigious university she attended. She’d shocked them even more when she opted for a small community college. She was studying Photography. Everyone was shocked. She didn’t care.
Everyone was absolutely dumbfounded when she ended her relationship with Eli. Eli was devastated.
“Why?” he’d asked.
“You deserve better,” was all she’d said.
Tears escaped from her eyes. She took a swig from the bottle of Absolut Vodka she’d purchased.
She’d cared about Eli but she couldn’t keep up with the pretence. She couldn’t love him anymore. Their relationship had taken an awful turn after than night. She took another swig from the bottle as she recalled their bitter arguments. She’d become reserved. She wouldn’t let him touch her. She would avoid him at all costs.
“Why are you shutting me out?” he’d shouted during one of their arguments. “Why won’t you let me in?”
She covered her face and wept for a couple of minutes. Her crying worsened as she thought of Gina.
She’d tried to confide in her friend but that had gone horribly wrong.
“You slept with him and now you’re afraid it’ll ruin your perfect image,” Gina spoke bitterly. “So now you want to put an innocent man behind bars because you messed up.”
Gina had said a lot more to her that day. Needless to say, their friendship had ended. Until she received a phone call less than a couple of weeks ago.
“You were right,” Gina was sobbing. “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you. I should’ve believed you.”
“Gina, what happened?” Angela asked urgently.
Gina sobbed loudly. Angela gasped.
Gina sobbed harder.
“He called me a dirty slut afterwards and said that no one would believe me,” she cried. “He said that I am inadequate compared to you. He accused me of throwing myself at him.”
“No, Gigi,” Angela said. “That’s not true. Come over. Come and talk to me. We can report him. The police will believe us if we both go and report him.”
“I’m sorry, Angie,” Gina said. “I have to go. I’m sorry. I love you.”
Gina drowned herself in her bathtub that night. Angela had held Gina’s heartbroken mother at the funeral.
Angela put out the cigarette and rose from her spot in the corner of her room. She looked at herself in the mirror. Her hair hadn’t been treated in months. Her eyes were bloodshot and puffy.
Her phone rang.
“Hi is thing Angela?” a quirky lady asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“This is Stacey from Essence Salon,” the lady continued. “I’m just calling to confirm your hair and nail appointment for eleven o’ clock this morning?”
“Yes, I’ll be there,” she said. She had planned her day. She knew what she had to do.
The sound of her fire engine red stilettos echoed in the empty corridor. Her glossy hair hung past her shoulders and she knew she looked great in her figure-hugging dress. She found the room she was looking for and knocked on the door.
“Come in,” came from inside the room. She walked in and smiled brightly as his jaw dropped.
“Hello, Dr Harper,” she greeted.
“My, my, my,” he said. “Well if it isn’t my long-lost star.”
She smiled and nodded.
“It’s been a while, Sir,” she said.
“Indeed it has been a while,” he said. “You ran away from me.”
“I know and I’m sorry about that,” she said. “I brought you something to apologize for my disappearance.”
She placed a box on his desk. He opened it curiously and smiled.
“Cupcakes for me?” he asked.
“Black forest,” she winked. “I baked them, myself.”
“My favourite,” he said. “You have made my day.”
She smiled as she watched him wolf down four of the six cupcakes. He licked his fingers and nodded approvingly.
“They’re a little rich in flavour but I still loved them,” he commented. “Thank you.”
“Oh, the pleasure is all mine,” she purred. He smiled, satisfied and excited by her behaviour.
“See, I knew you’d come around eventually,” he said. “It may have taken some time but I knew you would come back to me.”
“What about the other girls?” she asked innocently.
“Just there to pass the time,” he shrugged. He shifted in his seat uncomfortably.
“Did you rape them too?” she asked. He smiled creepily.
“Well, if that’s what you want to call it,” he said. “I see it as simply getting what I want.”
She blinked a couple of times. She sat on his desk and crossed her legs. She watched him as he stared at her lustfully.
“And Gina?” she asked.
“I heard about her death,” he said. “How sad. She was always a little unstable. Poor girl.”
She ignored his nonchalance. Dr Harper kept shifting in his seat.
“Are you okay?” she asked sweetly.
“My stomach seems to have disagreed with those wonderful cupcakes,” he said. Beads of sweat were forming on his forehead. His shifting began to intensify. He was becoming more poorly by the second.
“Oh no, that’s terrible!” she said. “You’re starting to look awful. I thought a man of your stature could handle a little bit of arsenic here and there.”
His eyes widened.
“What did you do?” he spluttered.
“It’s amazing how you were able to ingest all of those cupcakes without stopping to question the slightly strange taste,” she pondered. “You didn’t notice a thing.”
He started to groan in pain.
“No!” he roared.
“Yes!” she hissed. “You have ruined enough lives, Dr Harper. Now it’s your turn to suffer. You can suffer for what you did to me and those other girls.”
“But you wanted-
“Don’t you give me that ‘you wanted it’ nonsense,” she snapped. “You destroyed my life. You killed my best friend. You may not have been there to drown her but she died because of what you did to her!”
She got up. He collapsed. She watched him writhe on the floor. She walked to the door and turned to watch him suffer.
“Cheer up, Sir,” she smiled.
“Angela!” he cried.
“Rot in hell,” she said as she left the room. His cries of pain faded as she walked further away from the room.
Police interrogation room.
“Miss Angela Thompson,” the policeman said. “You turned yourself in after murdering Dr Terry Harper. Is this correct?”
“Correct,” she said.
“Hmm,” the sergeant pondered.
“Your record shows that you were a top student,” he said. He dropped the file. “Why would you throw all of that away?”
“It was thrown away the day he cornered me and raped me,” she said simply.
“You could’ve come here,” the sergeant replied gravely. “We would’ve helped you.”
“You wouldn’t have done a thing,” she spat. “Dr Harper had connections here and even if you had arrested him, he probably would’ve been released for good behaviour. Though, like I said, you wouldn’t have done a thing. A shining man like him being accused by a beautiful girl like me? He would’ve waxed lyrical and you lummoxes over here would’ve believed him.”
“Listen here, young lady-
“No, you listen to me,” she hissed. “That monster took away everything I had and your system would’ve done nothing to save me. Your system is designed to put away people who look like monsters yet the actually monsters are the ones who fund your silly stations but run around ruining girls’ lives whilst you turn a blind eye. I may have taken his life but he stripped me of everything I could’ve been. He stole my soul and you would’ve sat there and given me a lousy ‘insufficient evidence’ excuse. So lock me away, please. I’m absolutely fine with spending the rest of my life in my cell. My monster is dead. That’s all that matters to me.”