Dr. Athena Chalkdust, the English professor who narrates my story, “Tears from Heaven,” in this year’s Best Lesbian Erotica
, was born full-grown in about the year 2000. Her first story, “Splitting the Infinitive,” appeared first in Best Lesbian Erotica 2001
, then in Best of the Best Lesbian Erotica 2
She reminisced about her submissive past in “My Debut as a Slut,” in Best Lesbian Erotica 2005
, and in “Down Below” in Slave to Love: Sexy Tales of Erotic Restraint
(Cleis, 2006), reprinted in Best S/M Erotica 3
Dr. Chalkdust subdued a deserving butch admirer in “The Placement of Modifiers,” in Best Lesbian Erotica 2009
. In “Tears from Heaven,” first published in She Who Must Be Obeyed
(Lethe Press, 2014), she strengthened her bond with her student lover, Didrick Bent.
So far, there are five Dr. Chalkdust stories.
This character, small but mighty, is essentially an updated version of a strict Victorian governess. As the titles of several of the stories show, grammatical correctness is important to her, and she is determined to bring out the best in her students. She is a fantasy figure who breaks all the rules of professional conduct by engaging in intense, kinky sex with students, having served her own apprenticeship by submitting to her superiors.
Teachers learn while teaching, as many have discovered. No two students seem to learn in the same way, and true learning requires readiness. My late father, whose teaching career was in full swing when mine began, once told me: “You can’t reach everyone.” In the real world, there are good reasons for a taboo on sex between teachers and their students: intense physical interaction would be a distraction and an abuse of unequal power, even if initiated by the student.
In the Never-Never land of fantasy, however, sexual relationships between professors and their students are perpetually appealing.
In “The Placement of Modifiers,” Dr. Chalkdust enters the one queer bar in a small college town, and immediately attracts attention:“I’m standing behind three dykes in leather jackets, two well-groomed young men in matching burnt-orange sweaters, and a queen whose big hair must be seven feet above her platform soles. ‘Doctor Chalkdust,’ chirps Alison the bartender. ‘What will you have?’
“’These customers were here before me, Alison,’ I tell her. ‘You should serve them first.’ Catching sight of my reflection in the chrome coffee-maker, I see that I have not grown any taller than my usual five feet and three inches. I am still a woman in middle age, with large brown eyes, luminously pale skin, a girlish nose and full coral lips. My simple black T-shirt shows a hint of cleavage and the two points of my nipples. I am braless in Gaza, so to speak, because my breasts still stand as proudly as they did in my youth (if somewhat lower), and they still like to breathe freely.
It seems that I not only have tenure in the university where I’ve taught English for fifteen years. None of the regulars in this bar ever touches me without my permission.
One of the dykes, who must be uncomfortably warm in her black leather jacket, turns to look at me. She is clearly older than the other two, and a certain bitterness shows in the set of her jaw. ‘Hey, we were here first.’ She speaks in a classic bar-dyke monotone.
‘As I said,’ I say calmly. One of her companions digs her in the ribs, and that seems to make her more determined to grab and hold my attention. I am always amused to notice how much the behavior of an apparent opponent resembles that of a graceless admirer.
‘You want to take it outside, Susie Sunshine?’ snarls Ms. Willing-to-Die-in-Leather. She undoubtedly cherishes an image of herself as a maverick because she has worn out her welcome in several other watering holes.
‘No,’ I answer. ‘I see no need for that. I think we should get our drinks, then take them to a table where we can talk without creating a disturbance.’ I glance at the two younger dykes who look like sidekicks or apprentices. ‘I’ll pay for this round,’ I tell them. They look at the floor.”
Of course, Ms. Willing-to-Die-in-Leather secretly wants to provoke the professor into teaching her a lesson. And the professor wants to test the mettle of a promising young colt. In due course, they reach a better understanding.
In “Tears from Heaven,” Dr. Chalkdust’s favourite student is prepared to make amends for a mistake:“Didrick, my able-bodied former student, was my gardener and maid-of-all-work. I watched her planting flowers and vegetables in receptive soil, and the symbolic implications of her work did not escape me. She washed the silk sheets of the beds where I took her, and where her diligence left me wet and fragrant. My poor protégé has never learned to write a solid sentence, but she poured her energy into becoming a one-dyke household staff.
Didrick Bent. The very name arouses such conflicting passions in me that I can’t sit still. My house feels empty, but I feel as charged with electricity as the air beyond my walls.
The telephone rings on schedule. She was forbidden to contact me for two weeks, and today is the fourteenth day. I let it ring once, twice, sensing her anxiety. One the sixth ring, I answer.
‘Dr. Chalkdust?’ She sounds like a child. ‘You said I could see you today.’
'Yes.’ She will have to express herself without help.
‘I really want to come over.’ The tears that I would not shed are as audible in her voice as gusts of rain on glass.”
In this story, the professor has missed her devoted servant and apprentice as much as Didrick has missed her mentor. Both have learned something from being apart, and both must find ways to overcome their guilt and grief from mistakes that can’t be erased.
I hope readers enjoy the stories of Athena Chalkdust as much as I have enjoyed writing them.
Those who enjoy reading blog posts can find my (Jean Roberta's) 25-essay collection, Sex Is All Metaphors
I post every two weeks on this ten-writer blog: www.ohgetagrip.blgospot.com and on the 26th of each month here: www.erotica-readers.blogspot.com