Claude’s adult ESL class just ended at noon and he’s erasing the board.
“Can I talk to you, Teacher?”
He turns to see Paula, a new student this week. “Sure.”
“I like your class,” she says in Spanish.
“Gracias. Where are you from?”
“A beautiful city I once visited.”
They talk through the lunch break, and Claude tells her not to waste time on taking the bus, he’ll drive her home when school ends at three o’clock.
In his car Paula says, “You do this with a lot of students.”
“No, it’s rare.”
“I hear you’ve had many girlfriends.”
“That’s just gossip,” he says.
“I’m not looking for a boyfriend. I had a bad husband.”
“What did he do?”
“Sometimes he didn’t come home at night, and in the morning he’d push me down if I complained.”
“Did you call the police?”
“In Mexico they don’t do anything.”
Paula directs Claude to her small old apartment. “Can I come in?” he asks.
“Not now. My mother wouldn’t like it.”
“I get along with mothers.”
“So you have had lots of girlfriends.”
“No, I only mean in general.”
Paula won’t go out with Claude for three weeks but after that they date regularly, though he still can’t meet her mother, and every time he tries to kiss lips she turns her head or tucks chin on chest so he can only reach her cheeks or forehead, and he long kisses them as they stand in a nearby park or on her doorstep.
“This isn’t right,” she says.
A couple of weeks later Claude is invited in and meets Paula’s mother and they converse comfortably. In about a month, after they’d begun real kissing, he convinces Paula to come to his house.
“I like your home, but we aren’t going to do anything.”
Claude embraces her and nibbles her neck and picks her up and carries her into his bedroom.
“This isn’t right…”
“Let me show you.”
He helps her undress and, as she directs, touches slowly and softly before they start. Afterward he kisses from toes to crown and says, “I’m falling in love with you.”
“This isn’t right,” she says and begins weeping his words can’t stop.