“It’s that they’ve forgotten how the Church still perceives suicide as one of the mortal sins. People must be reminded of this crucial fact as well as eternal damnation being its inevitable consequence.”
The whole class seemed to wait in bated breath for the professor’s reaction, and when he finally spoke, it was exactly what Diana had dreaded expected.
“While I would caution you against further limiting your scope than what’s required—” The professor’s lips curved ever so faintly. “Your approach is commendably novel, and since that’s what this class is designed for – well done again, Ms. Lowell.”
Breaths were expelled when the curve of his lips remained, the sight transforming the professor’s cruel beauty into one of slightly more approachable but no less appealing proportions.
If she didn’t think it so daft, she could’ve even sworn that the professor’s smile had the hearts of every girl in the room skipping a beat. It was that split second of tingling silence following a stolen glimpse of perfection, and the more she thought about this, the more she became convinced of a reality that should’ve been glaringly obvious from the start.
Every girl in this room wanted him, too.
A second student was called, but Diana’s attempt to listen to her proposal was futile, her mind and heart both distracted by the strange, stifling sensation gripping her chest. It took her several moments to recognize what the feeling was, and a few more to accept it was real.
She had always been an easily contented person, never having felt the need to covet what another person had. She had readily accepted she would never be as interesting or vivacious as other girls, had never thought to ask God when it would be her turn to fall or why she couldn’t even have a mother’s love.
She had never felt jealous before until—
Diana started in her seat, and when she lifted her head, it was to find everyone staring at her. Again. And by the looks of it, this wasn’t the first time the professor had called her name.
Oh, Saint M, pray for me.
“If it is not too much to ask,” the professor asked in a glacial voice, “would you care to put your daydreams on pause for the rest of the class?”
Diana felt her eyes sting in mortification and fought hard to keep her composure. “I…I…”
“Save us from unnecessary explanations, any of which I highly doubt will be the truth.” When she didn’t speak, the professor dealt her an impatient glance, asking irritably, “Well? Your proposal then?”
Since she had nothing written on her proposal sheet, Diana could only blurt out the first half-baked idea that came to her mind. “I was thinking, umm, since depression is one of the leading causes of suicide, then perhaps we could use faith to cure depression—”
The professor’s lip curled. “I’ve heard enough.”
“And I think you’re better off dropping my subject.”
Diana found herself clutching the edge of her desk as shock reverberated in the entire class in palpable silence.
Cut your losses and go.
It was the voice of reason again, but try as she might, she couldn’t make herself listen to it.
“I s-sincerely believe in what I’m saying, professor.”
“Good for you, but that’s not why I’m asking you to drop the subject.”
“What I’m saying makes sense—”
“If I only wanted my students to make sense,” the professor snapped, “then I should’ve opted to teach in kindergarten, do you think?” The words were intended to hurt, and hurt it did. The girl was now trembling and visibly fighting back tears, but just as before, the sight of her distress did not bring him any amount of gratification.
Damn her. Damn her. Goddamn her for forcing him to make her bleed, and because this had to be the last time, he knew he couldn’t leave it this way. He had to see it to the end, no matter what.
When she started to sit, he saw his opportunity and seized it mercilessly, saying sharply, “I’m not finished.”
The girl flinched, and so did most of the class. That he was a pitiless bastard was a widely-known fact, but couldn’t the professor see he was already beating a dead animal in this instance?
“Remind me what this subject is, Ms. Leventis.”
His words were like a noose tightening around her throat, and while she didn’t know how or when it would happen, the one thing she was certain of was that this was the beginning of the end.
“Finally,” the professor mocked. “A correct answer.” It had a few students laughing, causing the girl to flush, but he forced himself to get past this. “Do you think you could properly define this as well?”
“It c-can be any method or technology that could be considered breakthrough or radical—”
“In other words,” the professor murmured silkily, “it could also be the first of its kind.”