The class has filed out. It's a spring afternoon, one of those first warm days when students are moved to bare their skin to the sun. You can hear the sap rising through their veins.

We're reading Kathy Acker. One of the young men, thrown into a mild hysteria by the novel's illustrations, storms out of the room. We discuss his gesture as a response to the text, and the class proceeds exceptionally well.

Charmaine is impressed at how I handled the situation. She hangs back as the others leave. She dawdles with her pack.

I sit on the front of the desk and smile at her. I cross my legs. That was quite a class, I say, with an air of intimacy, as if confiding to a colleague.

Professor Blat, she says, her tone of voice vibrant with intimacy, her manner and the language of her body pleading with me to put aside the role of professor and speak to her as a man.

I close the classroom door.