Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1777118-Ode-To-Melanie
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #1777118
A young student is attracted to her poetry professor
"She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Building adieu; an aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips;
Aye, in the very temple of Delight
Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine
Though seen by none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.”

There was a brief moment of stunned silence, and then Professor Harkin slapped his book shut with a 'pop’. And, as if by magic, the entire class came back to life: shuffled papers, dropped pencils, and began a drone of conversation.

“What does it mean people?” the Professor asked, raising his voice to get everyone's attention. “What is Keats saying here?"

No one spoke.


He plopped the book down on his desk. "Okay then, I want a thousand-word essay from each and every one of you by tomorrow morning.”

As if of one mind, the entire class began to groan.

I could only laugh inside because this was yet another opportunity for me to write my most intimate thoughts to Professor Harkin—the kindest, most wonderful man in the whole wide world. How the others could miss it, I didn’t know, but I found him to be enchanting and romantic, with the most melodious and hypnotizing voice I had ever heard.

“John Keats!” he said. “Love him or hate him, I don’t care. But I will have that paper from each of you. Class dismissed.”

I waited until the other students had filed noisily out the door, unbuttoned a couple of buttons on my blouse, and then pulled my poem out from between the pages of my poetry book.

This is it, I thought.

Standing stiffly upon frightened legs, I began the long walk to Professor Harkin’s desk. Oh, God, I hope he likes it. Everything I feel for him is in this poem. My thoughts darted through my head like small fish looking for a place to hide. Of course he'll like it. He had better like it. Yes, he’ll like it. I just know he will. He’ll LOVE it.

“Professor Harkin?” I meekly called out.

He looked up at me from his paperwork, appeared startled for a moment, and then looked around to see if anyone else was in the room. “Oh, it’s you, Melanie. Yes, I’ve been meaning to talk to you.” He stood and attempted to straighten his cock-eyed glasses, averting his stare from my open blouse as I approached.

“I wrote you a poem, Professor,” I said. “I think it’s some of my best work. Would you care to read it?”

With a sweaty hand, I thrust the poem at him as if it were a knife.

“Melanie, please, you don’t understand. These poems that you’ve been giving me, well . . . to be honest . . .”

“I know, I know, ‘student-has-crush-on-teacher’, blah, blah, blah, I’ve already heard the argument from my mother. But, Mr. Harkin . . . Dave . . . I can call you Dave, right? None of that changes the way I feel, Dave. I . . . I just think you're simply wonderful.”

He hadn't taken the poem from me. Feeling awkward, I set it on his desk.

“Oh, damn,” I said. “Please, just read it.”

Embarrassed, I turned and headed for the door.

“Melanie? Melanie, please wait. I really need to talk to you.”

Need? He needs me? Oh, be still my heart. I immediately spun back around.

“Yes, Professor, what is it?” I beamed.

“Well, frankly, it’s your poems. You keep turning in all this cornball work and trying to pass it off as good poetry. To be honest . . . it’s not. It’s not even mediocre. In fact, it’s almost laughable. I haven’t read crap like this since I taught high school.”

I froze, struck dead by his words as though they had been bullets ripping through my tender heart. Tears welled in my eyes, and then rolled hot as boiling water down my cheeks.

“I don’t mean to be cruel,” he said, his face filled with lying compassion. “It’s just that . . . well, you’re going to have to do better work if you want to pass this course. Do you understand?”

I stared into his eyes, bored holes through his fucking head, and then with a big sniff, I composed myself. “Will that be all, Mr. Harkin?”

“Yes, yes, of course, that’s all.”

I turned again to leave.


He’s going to apologize—say it was all a big mistake. “Yes?”

“Here, you forgot your poem.”

He held the paper out to me like a dead bird. The poem I had worked so hard on, the poem that expressed all my true feelings, the poem he couldn’t even bother to read.

“Now get cracking on that essay, kiddo. Your grade can really use a boost right now.”

Taking the paper, I wadded it in my hands, tighter and tighter, as though my scorned love had in some way become a super-human power that could strangle him right before my very eyes.

"No, you keep it," I said, and threw the wad at him.

I stormed from the room.

Outside, the trees had not yet traded their green summer wardrobe for autumn gold, but I didn’t care. My whole world had taken on a shade of black, and my blood boiled as if in a cauldron of heated flesh.

“I’ll fix him,” I said hurrying home. "I'll fix him good."

Once in my apartment, I began to tear through my kitchen cabinets. For anyone with the know-how, there is a homemade recipe for 'knock-out' drops I had recently learned. “First, I’ll need some bleach,” I said aloud. “Then some Sani-Flush, rubbing alcohol, and oh yes, let us not forget the main ingredient.” From beneath the sink, I pulled out a small black bottle. “Some good old-fashion, sulfuric acid.”

At around 5pm, I called Professor Harkin’s class room hoping he was still there.

“Dave Harkin, here.”

“Yeah, Mr. Harkin . . . it’s me, Melanie Cole. I . . . I just wanted to apologize for my behavior this morning. I hope you don’t think I’m a total loser or anything like that.”

“No, Miss Cole, I don’t. And I’m always here to help you if you need it.”

“Well, actually, that’s what I was calling about. My apartment is on campus, right? And I . . . well, I just wondered if you could stop by and give me a hand on this Keats paper before you go home.”

“Well . . . I dunno, Melanie, it's rather late and . . .”

“Please, Professor? I really need a good grade. You said so yourself, and it's actually already finished. I just need you to take a quick look, you know, give me some pointers here and there.”

There was a long pause, and then, “All right, Melanie, but I can’t stay long. What’s the address?”

“It’s the Palms Apartments on University Street. I’m in number three.”

“Yeah, I know where that’s at. I’ll see you in about ten minutes. Okay?”

“Okay, Professor . . . and thanks!”

I hung up the phone and noticed my reflection in the living room mirror. My features appeared sharp like an underfed bird, my eyes shadowed in dark circles, my hair hung limp and thin clinging desperately to the sides of my head. But my mouth . . . my mouth sported a Cheshire-grin.

Laughing at myself, I hurried back to the kitchen to further my preparations.

Twenty minutes later, he knocked on my door.

I quivered with expectation. Rushing to the door as giddy as a school girl, I threw it open.

“Professor Harkin, so nice of you to come.”

He gave me a suspicious look as if he half expected death to open the door. “I can’t stay long,” he said. “My wife’s got dinner waiting.”

“Professor, please, I didn’t invite you over here to seduce you or anything. Calm down, this will only take a minute.” I smiled by best smile then, all teeth and no lips. “Come on in the kitchen, Professor, that’s where I do my homework. From over my shoulder I yelled, "You want some coffee? It’s fresh.”

“All right,” he said, sighing with relief. “Yeah . . . sure, I don’t mind if I do.”

“You like it black, right?”

“That’d be fine, Melanie, thank you,” he said as he followed me in, and then sat down at the small table.

I poured a cup and set it in front of him, pushed my books out of the way, and sat down next to him.

He took a big gulp. “Good,” he said. “That’s good coffee.”

“See, I can do some things right, Professor. Besides, my major is chemistry. I have a special knack for mixing things.”

“Now, Melanie, please . . . I never meant to imply you were an idiot.”

“Oh, I know. I acted like a child earlier. I apologize.”

“Tsk, tsk, nothing to apologize for, young lady. Let’s just get at it, shall we? Where’s your book?”

I grabbed my poetry book and opened it to where it had been marked. “Here it is, ‘Ode To Melancholy’ by John Keats.”

“What do you think the poem means?” he asked, sipping at his coffee, and then read the passage outloud.

“She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Building adieu; an aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips;
Aye, in the very temple of Delight
Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine
Though seen by none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

“Wut does that make ya think of?” he asked, his speech now a bit slurred.

“Well, it’s kind of like us—you and me, I mean—where you are the Beauty that must die.”

“Wha . . . what?” He swooned in his chair. Grasping the side of the table with his free hand, he tried to balance himself. “Wha . . . wha ‘ave you dun?”

The coffee cup slipped from his fingers and crashed to the floor. “Oh, god, no." He tried to stand, fell back into his chair. "Alp . . . ummbudee . . . alp meeee!”

I continued reading, disregarding his cries for help. “And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips. . .

Well, Professor, that’s me. I’m Joy.”

I raised my hand to his lips. “Shhh . . .” I whispered, and then smiled and gave him a wink.

Dave Harkin’s eyes rolled up into his skull and then fell forward. His face hit the table with a loud whack.

“Building adieu; an aching Pleasure nigh . . .

"Oh, you are so going to ache, Professor. And the time is nigh.

“Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips . . .

And that means, you shouldn’t have fucked with me, asshole.”

Grabbing the extension cord from under the table, I tied him securely to the chair, giggling all the while, and finished preparing my big surprise.

At about midnight, he woke up.

“Ahhh . . . ahhh . . .”

“What’s the matter, Mr. Harkin . . . cat got your tongue?”

I had propped open his mouth with a butcher knife, wedging it legthwise like a bit on a horse's bridle. I tied it there with a loop of wire at each end that wrapped around behind his head. The sharp, steel edge lay firmly across his tongue, and the width of the blade kept his mouth forced open wide. If he tried to close it, he would sever his own tongue.

“Ahhh . . .”

“Don’t try to talk, Dave," I said. "You’ll cut your tongue off.”

I had covered the table with every candle I could find in the apartment, lit them all, and then sat back and waited.

“Are you fully awake now?" I asked.

"Ahhh . . ."

"Okay, I'll take that as a yes. Now, where were we? Oh, yeah . . .

“Aye, in the very temple of Delight . . .

That’s where you are now, Professor, in my temple of delight.”

“Ahhh . . . my gog, pwese . . . pwese . . .”

“Quiet, Professor, I’m reading.

"Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine . . .

“Let’s see, for that line I'll need a veil.”

From under the table, I pulled out my mother’s old, white wedding veil and set it on my head.

“There, that’s better, and here you are . . . before my sovran shrine.” I gestured to the candles on the table, and then read the next line.

“Though seen by none save him whose strenuous tongue . . .

"Well, now, that’s got to be true. You were seen by none coming here, and you’ve definitely got a strenuous tongue. Don’t you, Dave? Once though, I found it was pure ectasy to listen to. Oh, well . . . not anymore.”

I stood close to him, and whispered the next line in his ear, “Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine . . .

"Here it comes, Dave."

Firmly, I gripped the handle of the butcher knife, flipped the wire from the tip, and jerked it hard from his mouth. It severed his tongue and half his lower jaw.

He screamed then, as blood quickly filled his mouth and throat, ran down his neck and chin.

He bent forward and puked his tongue out.

When he had purged himself, I pushed him back into an upright position with the point of the bloody blade.

He moaned like a mute, and then began to cry like a baby.

"What a wuss," I said. "It's just a tongue."

I speared it from the floor with the point of the knife, and then set the chunk of meat on the table in front of him.

I read on.

“His soul shall taste the sadness of her might.”

With all my might, I swung the blade into his exposed neck. Blood sprayed out of the wound like a never-ending geyser, and then his head sagged limply to his chest, hanging there by only a shred of flesh and vertebrae. Grabbing a fist full of his hair, I pulled and whacked at the back of his neck with the knife until I had completely removed his head.

Humming a nonsensical tune, I carried my trophy to the kitchen counter. The blood made a trail across the floor and splashed over my shoes.

On the counter was my essay, and I smashed his head on it like a paperweight. It made a squishy kind of sound as I set it up straight, and then as a final gesture, I kissed his forehead.

Standing back, I admired my handiwork, and then read the last line.

“And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

“Damn, you've got to admit it, Professor, now THAT’S an ‘A’ paper.”

© Copyright 2011 W.D.Wilcox (billywilcox at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1777118-Ode-To-Melanie