“You want to study anthropology?” her father exclaimed when she told him.
Jessica was a junior in high school and she needed to apply now if she wanted a chance to get in. “Yes, at Brown University.”
Her mother couldn’t believe where she wanted to go. They weren’t poor by any measure, but she knew Brown wasn’t only expensive, but also difficult to get into. Jessica had excelled at school all her life, but was this too much of a stretch? “What are you going to do with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology when you graduate?”
“I want a PhD. I want to teach and work in the field. It’s what I always wanted.” What she didn’t tell them was that she wanted to specialize in human behavior. She wanted to discover and understand the role dungeons and other places that were used to physically torture victims, played in the cultural evolution. And she wanted to experience it sexually as well as physically.
Her father knew better than to try to discourage Jessica from anything she wanted. If she set her mind on something, she usually succeeded, no matter what the roadblocks were. He looked at her mother and her eyes said the same thing. “If that is what you want, we will support you in all the ways we can. We’re not rich, but we can help you, but you’ll need scholarships, grants and work-study to pay for it. A PhD will be rigorous and time-consuming, but you have always been driven. We have no doubt that you will succeed.”
She raced over to them to kiss and hug them.
* * * *
She did everything she planned, determined to succeed. She got into Brown University, fighting the odds that only allowed 10% of those that applied to be accepted. She worked hard, got scholarships, grants and applied for the most obscure scholarships available. She worked in the student union building after classes, cleaning tables and taking out trash. No job was menial as long as she was paid. In her junior year, she was promoted to the labs, cleaning them up from the careless and messy students. She applied to the PhD program and she was selected in her senior year. Her life was all school and work, but she enjoyed the challenges. She dated little and did manage to lose her virginity in her sophomore year, but it was just to get it out of the way. She never saw the student again.
Her PhD study became more exciting and challenging. It was three years, but the university supported the doctoral candidates financially during that time, so she had more time for herself.
Her dissertation was on medieval castles and the power of the aristocrats on the social norms of the time and how it affected future generations. A central theme was whether the effective use of dungeons on the peasants instilled submission or revolution. She had to step lightly to get it approved without revealing her true inner self, but Jessica was good, very good at hiding her inner feelings. Or so she thought at the time.
In her last year, she was given a teaching assistants position, all of the PhD candidates got one in their field of study. She got Professor Robert Foster. He taught her two undergraduate classes, but one was a large lecture class with over three hundred students. The next one was smaller and more intimate. She found him charming and intelligent and she had no problem getting an A in the class.
His door was open and she went in for her scheduled interview before she started the TA position. She was nervous as she dressed for it, wanting to impress him. He was mid-forties, intelligent, handsome in a professor sort of way and unmarried. Many of his female students had crushes on him and some tried to subtlety or not so subtlety to seduce him. There were always rumors of professors and their students, but the rumors were usually confined to the graduate students. No professor was crazy enough to get involved with an ungraduated student that wasn’t mature enough to keep her mouth shut.
“Come in Jessica, sit down. It’s good to see you again.” Robert watched as she sat down in front of his desk. He made sure the chair was far enough away so he could see her from behind his desk, all the way down to her legs.
“Thank you, Sir. It’s a privilege for me to serve you,” turning red as she realized how that sounded.
He looked at her legs, the blue-checkered schoolgirl skirt was short and when she crossed her legs, she revealed a wide expanse of long, supple legs. The weather was beginning to cool off with the advent of fall and she wore a pale blue cashmere sweater. Her fine brown hair was cut short, but it framed her beautiful face. She had green eyes that sparkled inquisitively; a small, pert nose and full lips that sparkled with a tiny sheen of pink lipstick. Every time she talked, her pink tongue wiggled delightfully through her lips. “I look forward to the year with you as my TA.” He began to give his usual dissertation on the ground rules that he followed. He liked that she took out a pad and wrote them down. It took about fifteen minutes and she asked a number of appropriate questions.
He finally finished and changed the subject. “You have an interesting dissertation subject, Jessica.”