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Chapter 10 – Muck-Up Day
“Good morning, Miss Granger.”
I looked up from my desk, startled out of a little daydream. It was only Josh, but even after two years of teaching that term of address still reminded me more of Hermione than of myself. And that might just be the last time I hear it, I thought to myself with an inward smile. Mrs Jeannie Marsh. Or at least that’s whom I would become in just three weeks’ time and I probably wouldn’t see many more students between now and then. I’d get a fresh crop next year, but I would be making damned sure they all called me “Mrs Marsh”.
“Good morning Josh,” I smiled. “You didn’t forget Muck-Up Day, did you? What are you doing in class?” I was just being conversational; he was in costume so he obviously knew what day it was. I was surprised though – and a little touched. His costume? Harry Potter, of course. I remembered telling him that I would come dressed as Hermione and I was delighted that my old red dress from that HAGS party at Uni still fit. In fact, I rocked it. If anything, my breasts were maybe a bit fuller than last time and I almost didn’t need the push-up bra. Almost. The fact that he chose a Harry Potter costume spoke of a little crush, and on an honest day I’d admit that the crush was reciprocated. Josh was a very cute eighteen-year-old.
“No, Miss Granger,” he laughed, pushing his round Harry spectacles to the top of his head. “I’m not staying. I just wanted to drop off my homework.”
Homework! I’d almost forgotten that I’d set them joke-homework. I didn’t really expect anyone to do it and I was right, with this one exception. Josh held out a thin sheaf of handwritten pages, which I liked; it made it less likely that he’d cut and paste it from the internet. I took a look at the top line: “Whitfield Diffie – The most Influential Mathematician of the 20th Century”.
Oh, now I was really impressed. If I ever entertained the thought of students doing this homework essay then I guess I expected to see Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking – though I think of them more as physicists or cosmologists than mathematicians – or maybe Andrew Wiles, who is a spectacularly brilliant and famous mathematician but not so influential. But Whitfield Diffie? What a delight! In the 1970’s, Whit was at best a third-rate mathematician with a first-rate bee in his bonnet about cryptography. It’s a long and dull story for non-mathematicians, but in short it’s like this: he opened the door to proper internet security for consumers. No Whit Diffie means no secure email, no Internet Banking, no Internet Shopping, no eBay. Heck, for all intents and purposes, no Internet as we know it. As far as influential goes, Whit Diffie and the other mathematicians who developed public key cryptography techniques are like gods; they quite literally changed the world.
“Thank you, Josh,” I said genuinely, looking up into his eyes and smiling. “This will give me something interesting to read; it looks like I might have a free period.” He visibly preened at my gratitude. “Tell me how you selected Whit Diffie. You didn’t look up my Master’s thesis on the internet did you? I used to love this type of thing.”
“Well I was reading this book about how the Brits broke the Nazis’ Enigma code in World War II,” he began.
“Fact or fiction?” I asked.
“Fiction,” he said. “But it blended the facts and the real people like that computer guy Alan Turing with fictional characters like this guy Waterhouse; he was a kind of über-mathematician and code breaker.”
“Cryptonomicon,” I said, grinning like a schoolgirl. “By Neal Stephenson.”
“You’ve read it too?” he asked happily.
“Josh,” I smiled warmly, “Cryptonomicon might just be my favourite book of all time.”
“Yeah?” he asked rhetorically, sitting down in the front desk so that he wouldn’t be looking down at me. “So anyway, according to this book, breaking Enigma was the turning point of the war …”
“That bit is actually true,” I interrupted.
“… so you could kind of say if it wasn’t for maths, we might all be Nazis,” he explained.
“That’s a bit of a stretch,” I said. “But I take your meaning. If you’re saying that those mathematicians were actually war heroes, then I agree.”
“Yeah, right! Heroes,” he said, pointing at me happily. “So I thought I’d find out who the real Waterhouse was and pick him for my essay.”
“But you didn’t,” I said, even though I probably knew what was coming next.
“There wasn’t really one person to pick,” he said, disappointed. “The code-breaking was sort of a team-effort.”
“What about Turing?” I asked. “He’s the one everybody remembers from the Bletchley Park team.” I was twitching in my seat and I could feel my skin tingling. This was the most exciting conversation I’d had with a student in my short teaching career. I could almost see this reactive boy growing into a thinking man in front of me. It was intoxicating!
“I almost the chestnut man izle did,” he said, his eyes dropping. I could see he thought he’d made a mistake and had disappointed me. “But …”
“But what?” I asked, leaning forward and trying not to show how exciting this was for me. Hell, how sexy it was.
“Well,” he said, shuffling his feet. “He was a mathematician …”
“He was,” I agreed. “A brilliant one.”
“And he was influential …” he added.
“Very much so,” I said. Please don’t say it’s because he was gay. Please!
“But he was more influential for the machines – the ‘bombes’ – that he built to crack the new Enigma settings every day,” he explained. “Not for his maths.”
I wiped away a tear building up in my eye. I was so proud. And kind of turned on, too; I was thinking about what a mature perspective he had – one that I had helped to develop – but I was looking at the sexy package that it was wrapped up in and those emotions were getting confused in my head.
“And you asked for the most influential mathematician,” he added. “Not the most influential … I don’t know … engineer? Computer scientist?”
“So,” I prompted. “Whit Diffie?”
“I came across him when I was Googling mathematics and cryptanalysis,” Josh explained. “He kind of reminded me of the Waterhouse guy in Cryptonomicon. You know, eccentric. Geeky, but in a good way.”
“And you thought he was influential for his mathematics?” I prompted.
“It’s all in my essay,” he grinned proudly. “You’ll have to read it.”
Touché. “I will,” I told him. And I meant it. “Will you be at the fair this afternoon?”
He started to get up, sensing that I was dismissing him. “Sure,” he said. “What about you?”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” I smiled. “Bye Josh. Stay out of trouble for muck-up day.”
“I will,” he said, disappearing out the door. I was disappointed that his Harry Potter cape made it impossible for me to check out his backside as he walked away.
My phone began to ring. It felt kind of weird. Naughty. It had never rung in class before because I always have it on silent when students are around.
“Hey Miss Granger,” Josh had poked his head back around the open doorway.
“Huh?” I looked up from the ringing phone, conflicted. God knows why. Let the bloody thing ring a few more times.
“That dress is really tight.”
I looked down, getting the million dollar view down my own modest cleavage.
“Tight means good, right?” I asked, a blush stealing up my cheeks.
“It’s really good, Miss Granger,” he smiled winningly. The phone was on its fourth ring. Voicemail would kick in in a moment.
“Thank you, Mr Potter,” I said a ‘you’re dismissed’ tone, acknowledging his Harry Potter costume at the same time.
“Bye, Miss Granger,” he waved, and then he really was gone.
He’d left me in a playful mood. I answered what had to be the final ring with speaker phone. “You’re on speaker phone,” I sang happily. “Say hello to the Year 12 Maths Methods class.”
“Be nice to her, Year 12,” it was Kevin, which of course I knew from the caller ID. “I want her in a flirty mood when she gets home.”
I giggled. He knew the class would be empty.
“Sounds pretty quiet there, Jeannie,” he teased. “Have you got them all tied up with furry handcuffs?”
“Yeah, right!” I laughed. “We were all just getting naked when you called.” We don’t do much dirty talk – neither of us is very good at it – but we do “flirty talk”. And it felt so deliciously naughty to be doing it in a school classroom. And on speaker phone no less! “Did you call for anything, sweetie? Because I’ve got a room full of nearly naked senior students who need to be taught a lesson.”
“No, nothing special,” he dropped the flirty-talk, much to my disappointment. “I just thought you’d be lonely all morning with an empty classroom.”
“Actually it’s okay,” I replied. “One of my students handed in a writing assignment I gave them as a joke. It’s on Whit Diffie, so I’m going to read it.”
“Homework? On the last day of school?” he laughed. “Was it a male student?”
“Uh huh,” I giggled.
“Crush?” he asked playfully.
“Maybe a little one,” I conceded, forgetting to tell him it was a two-way street.
“Well you have my permission to lead him on,” he laughed. “I had a hot teacher too in Year 12. I would have crawled over broken glass for a smile from her.”
“Hey,” I said, changing the subject; I was still wearing the blush from Josh’s compliment and now it was burning redder than my dress. “Can you get off work and come to the fair this afternoon? It’ll be fun.”
“What’s my motivation?” he teased, back to flirty-talk. I was on familiar ground again.
“Well I’ll be in doing a stint in the sponge-toss booth,” I crooned temptingly. “All alone … helpless … soaking wet.” I felt my heart quicken. Doing this in school was the climb izle so much more exciting than at home; it’s a shame I didn’t get many similar chances.
“Oh!” he exclaimed with exaggerated, playful interest. “Helpless, you say? So a stranger could maybe creep into the back of the booth and have his way with you?”
“Ah!” I gasped wordlessly, my nipples hardening as I pictured Kevin doing exactly that while the kids threw sponges at me.
“Uh oh. Gotta go,” he said quickly. “I’ll be there. Love ya Jean-Genie. Bye.”
“Oh, um … bye,” I said, surprised at his abrupt sign-off. Somebody had probably just come up to see him at work, but a little part of me wondered whether he was trying to distract me from the sponge-toss fantasy. Ever since that first time on the beach at Manly, we’d both enjoyed outdoor sex. Not exhibitionism, per se, just … risky. It would be just like him to sneak into the back of the booth and tease me to a public orgasm. I was getting short of breath just thinking about it.
My phone had gone back to its home screen; Kevin had hung up. A shadow moved in the corner of my vision outside the classroom door. I looked up, but it was only a cloud passing across the sun.
My student-free morning was finally over. Josh’s thousand word essay only kept me entertained for ten minutes of the almost three hours I sat alone in the classroom. Sadly he used up most of his insight in his selection of the subject. There wasn’t really much meat in the essay; he wasted too many words on a misguided attempt to explain Fermat’s Little Theorem and not enough on the commercial and social ramifications of secure, public cryptography. It didn’t make me any less proud of him though; even if he can’t write, at least he can think, and sadly that’s an ability not as common as you’d imagine among school-leavers.
Demonstrating iron willpower, I took my homemade sandwiches to the staff room for lunch rather than braving the fair for what I really wanted: a big, greasy hamburger.
“Miss Granger, are you lost? This is the staff room. Strictly no student’s permitted.”
Oh my goodness! Hermione jokes from my colleagues now. It was the principal, Neil Smith, dressed for-fuck’s-sake as Dumbledore, the principal at Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School. He was wearing a long, white Santa Claus beard, his college academic gown and a rumpled witch’s hat from a costume store. I mean he could’ve been Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, but the principal dressed as a famous movie principal was actually quite clever.
“I’m sorry, Professor Dumbledore,” I cried, eyes wide with mock earnestness. “But the schoolyard is filled with trolls and dementors. I came in here to be safe. Please don’t send me back out there!”
“Ha!” he cried with a smile. “I was wrong to match wits with an expert. I presume you’re very adept at rebuffing Hermione Granger jibes.”
“You don’t know the half of it, Mr Smith,” I smiled ruefully, taking a seat opposite him at the lunch table.
“Not long until the wedding, Jeannie,” he said, changing the subject.
“Oh, don’t remind me,” I rolled my eyes, talking around a cheekful of chicken-and-salad-on-wheat. “I still have a million things to do: bridesmaid gifts, bonbonniere, table centrepieces, speeches. I still don’t have my vows finalised!”
“Well we’re here to help,” he said with obvious irony. “On a related note, we have the Sponge-Toss booth prepared in honour of your pending nuptials.”
“Oh dear,” I cringed, but I was grinning too because I sensed I was becoming the target of another joke. “Should I worry? What have you done?”
“All will become clear when you show up for your turn in the booth,” he said, eyes glinting with mischievous humour. I wasn’t too worried though, what’s the worst they could do? I didn’t think they’d go so far as to supply cream pies to throw at me. It was probably just a few metres of white tulle wrapped around the booth.
After lunch, I steeled myself for the assault on the senses that would be the Muck-Up Day Fair, over two-hundred senior students, many of them still drunk from last night’s party, yelling and cavorting through the rides and sideshows distributed around the school oval. I wasn’t disappointed either. It was every bit as frenzied and raucous as I imagined, but in a strange way it was also pleasing. With a shiver I thought back to my own Muck-Up Day with kids passed out in the corners and others defacing the school. The fair gives the kids a focus, and that focus was on harmless, wholesome fun. I almost expected Danny and Sandy from the movie Grease to come dancing through singing “You’re The One That I Want”.
I walked around for a few minutes, gaping in wide-eyed wonder at what the organising committee had managed to put together (with the help of countless parent volunteers). There were stalls selling fast-food, popcorn, fairy-floss, funny hats, and glow sticks. the devils hour izle There were sideshows with a Lucky Wheel, Madame Zelda’s palm reading, Guess Your Weight, and of course the Sponge Toss – not yet adorned with whatever wedding-themed decoration they had planned for me. And then there were the rides. Not tame little merry-go-rounds like they have in local street fairs; no sir, these were the real deal, exciting thrill rides like The Octopus, Rock Star, and The Enterprise – anything that can be mounted on the back of a truck.
“C’mon Miss Granger,” yelled a passing senior in a Slutty Nurse costume as she grabbed my hand. “I need a gal-pal for Rock Star; the boys need a different dress to look up.”
It took a moment for me to recognise Mandy Djvonic with all that teased hair and skin on display. Normally she was the quintessential pretty and prim teenager – currently without a boyfriend – but it looked like she was cutting loose today. I guessed that a small-to-medium measure of white wine spritzer had something to do with the transformation. I wanted to be part of the fun, so I went with her unquestioningly. My dress was sexy but at knee length it was a far cry from earning the “Slutty” prefix that Mandy’s nurse uniform so richly deserved, so I wasn’t worried about the small crowd of senior boys huddled beneath the ride. Not that Mandy seemed terribly concerned either.
I’d been on Rock Star before at the Easter Show in Sydney, so it held no surprises. I locked into the standing harness next to Mandy and let her squeeze my hand, glancing at me every few seconds with a manic look of excitement that made me think she was maybe mixing some pharmaceuticals with her wine spritzer. When everybody was on board, the ride began to power up and all of the teenagers joined in with the blaring catch-cry over the speakers: “For Those About To Rock, WE SALUTE YOU” from some golden-oldie rock song.
It started out slowly, lifting and dropping and swinging from side to side, higher and higher, with the crowd of about thirty riders making anticipatory “Whoooa, whoooa” noises as it built up speed and approached the apex of its rotation. That building cry peaked along with the ride’s motion and then transformed into outright screams (mine included) as it tipped over the top and into an ever-faster rotation, plummeting downwards with hair and hemlines flying before ripping us back up into the air with terrifying speed.
I’d forgotten how much fun it was. I was trying to simultaneously scream and hold down my hem and look at the crazed faces of the kids around me. And then I was tricked as it slowed again at the apex, thinking it was over only to have it reverse direction and go through all the same stomach-churning motions again counter-clockwise.
When it finally slowed to a stop and the harnesses released, Mandy grabbed my wrist again and with a frenzied “Let’s go!” she raced me down the exit ramp and straight back around into the entry to have another go. And we weren’t the only ones! There were a few other serial thrill-seekers running with us. By the time the second ride was over, I was every bit as manic as Mandy and had completely regressed into the carefree teenager that I never had the opportunity to be. After the third ride, it was me grabbing her by the wrist and dragging her back into the entry queue, running and giggling, flushed and excited.
The sight of a teacher going feral on Rock Star had drawn a small crowd of gawkers and our little group running from exit to entry had grown to an even dozen. The newfound teenager inside me noticed with a heart-flutter that one of them was Josh, but the nurturing, mothering teacher inside me wanted Mandy and Josh to get together and make beautiful babies. After all, if I couldn’t have him, I wanted to get him for my new BFF. Running ahead of Mandy, I got us a position on the ride so that they were standing together, hoping they would hold hands as a lot of the kids had been doing.
They didn’t. Bloody teenagers! I was going to have to spoon-feed them.
On the next round, I grabbed Josh’s hand too and the three of us raced back to the entry with Mandy in the lead. I got between them this time and as the ride built up speed, I clutched my hands (and theirs!) together in mock terror, trying to graft one set of fingers onto the other like a couple of climbing ivies. That didn’t work either. I was screaming on the outside, but scheming on the inside, and as I played out a little daydream of young love in my head, I realised two things: one, I was horny; and two, I was pressing both of their hands together. Into my breasts!
Reality surged back in a flood of adrenaline. Yes folks, that’s me; I’m that schoolteacher standing in plain sight holding the hands of two students to her breasts. My self-preservation instinct kicked in, play it cool, Jeannie, an inner voice whispered to me. Without moving my hands (yet) I used my peripheral vision to check on both of them, but neither seemed to have noticed that I was using them to feel me up; they were screaming and holding their free hands in the air just like everybody else. When the ride next crested, I used the momentum to lift our arms above our heads and away from my breasts, with seemingly nobody the wiser. Could they not have noticed?
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