A teacher with a checkered past crosses a goddess and meets divine justice.
Alexa peeled off bill after bill, accounting for each one as she rifled through the crisp stack she held in her hand. “One hundred, two hundred, three hundred………four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, a thousand………” After completing her count, she reached for another stack, repeating the process. A few minutes later, Alexa had confirmed that it was all there. Fifteen-thousand dollars. Fifteen-thousand dollars and all she had to do was make sure that Kristina Wellington received an “A+” in her English Literature class. Alexa smiled, raised her hand to her mouth and let out a short chuckle. It couldn’t be this easy, could it? As it turned out, it was. Kristina was set to apply to college next year and Dalian Academy was, after all, a pipeline to the country’s elite educational institutions. A track of gilded conveyor belt that carried the wealthy, privileged students who attended to an Ivy League school. Of course, for some parents, that wasn’t enough assurance. There were some, like Kristina’s, who were willing to pay a nice little “bonus” to teachers of classes their child was struggling in. While Alexa’s salary was nothing to scoff at, she definitely had a taste for some of the finer things in life. Years of accumulated credit card debt incurred from extravagant vacations to exotic locales to fuel her various social media accounts had added up rapidly and parents like the Wellingtons provided a convenient solution. Sometimes it came in the form of “private tutoring”. Other times it was in the form of “encouraging” the school’s board of trustees to recognize “outstanding dedication to the profession” in the form of a nice cash bonus at the end of the year. In the Wellington’s case, it was much simpler: one of their servants would leave an envelope full of cash each week in Alexa’s mailbox.
Alexa opened her laptop, plugged the USB drive containing her students’ papers in and opened Kristina’s submission. As she had done throughout the semester, she corrected several grammatical errors and re-wrote several sections, bringing it to a level beyond Kristina’s peers. After glancing it over one more time, she logged in to the school’s database, selected her class and submitted Kristina’s grade: “A+”. There were, of course, students who were far more deserving of such a grade, but those students were attending Dalian on merit scholarships. In other words, they came from families who were far from being able to afford to pay for the special “advantage” Alexa was able to provide. Students like Angelia Foros.
Angelia arrived in Alexa’s English Literature class at the beginning of the Spring semester. Puzzled that she wasn’t on her list of students, Alexa kept her after class to find out more about how she ended up in her classroom. The olive-skinned brunette explained that she was an orphan who had been “invited” to attend Dalian, which Alexa took to mean she was on a need-based scholarship. Never one to care much for her students’ personal matters, Alexa dismissed her from her class for the day.
Angelia did possess traits that made her stand out from her peers, however. She was the only student in the class who didn’t own a laptop and wrote all of her notes and work by hand. One day, as her students worked on their individual essays, she walked by Angelia’s desk and found that she hadn’t been writing her essay at all, but drawing. “Excuse me, but this isn’t art class” Alexa admonished. “Why aren’t you working on your essay?” Angelia softly apologized, gazing up at Alexa with her differently-colored eyes and taking out a clean sheet of paper on which she began writing. Alexa rolled her eyes, picked up the drawing from Angelia’s desk, folded it in half and placed it in the organizer she carried with her. As the semester went on, confiscation of Angelia’s artwork became an almost daily routine. After lecturing, Alexa had her students work on their individual assignments. She’d walk over to Angelia’s desk, remove whatever she had been drawing, placed it in her organizer and walked back to her desk. Angelia never asked for her artwork to be given back and Alexa never raised the issue with her. What did she care if a student wanted to draw all day instead of paying attention in her class?
Now, one would assume that Alexa would be sympathetic to a girl like Angelia. After all, their lives were quite similar on paper. An orphan herself, Alexa had never known her birth mother or her father. She had spent her childhood bouncing in and out of foster homes, none of which could reign in the rebellious, angry young girl’s passion for making trouble. Despite her chaotically wayward lifestyle, she had managed to evade serious repercussions for her actions time and time again. She was, if nothing else, a survivor. A survivor who also recognized an opportunity when saw it. The most consequential of these arose when she met the headmaster of Dalian.
Her boyfriend had told her that she’d be meeting someone who didn’t fit the profile of their usual clientele. This guy wasn’t a junkie or a bum, he was “some fucking nerd”, as her boyfriend had so eloquently put it. Alexa had walked to towards the car, fingering the bag of light brown powder in her pocket as her reflection grew larger in the luxury sedan’s tinted glass. When the driver’s side window rolled down, a clean-cut, middle-aged man with glasses greeted her. He saw the envoy of his latest fix. Alexa saw something else, though. She saw an opportunity.
A relationship was formed and true to her nature Alexa milked it for everything it was worth. As it turned out, it was worth a lot. Alexa earned her GED, then went on to college and then graduate school. None of these endeavors cost her a dime. The headmaster’s many connections throughout academia ensured that she always received scholarships to the schools she attended.
Upon earning her master’s degree, Alexa practically waltzed into her job at the Academy. Having achieved her goal, it was now time to tie up loose ends. Her troubled past was dead and she intended to keep it that way. Shortly after Alexa was hired, the headmaster was forced to resign after it became known that he had a serious drug problem. That day, as he packed his belongings into boxes, his secretary handed him a manilla envelope that had just been delivered by courier to his office. He opened the envelope and removed the photo that was inside. It was dated and what it depicted was an act that would have been illegal at the time it was taken. The message was clear and Alexa was never connected to the disgraced headmaster.
For Alexa, teaching at Dalian was highly satisfying. The power she wielded over the futures of the wealthy students she taught felt like a just reward for being dealt a bad hand in life. She carried a certain bitterness and resentment towards her pupils, envious of their luck in the genetic lottery. It was also why she had no qualms about taking advantage of her position to enrich herself at the expense of academic integrity.
Having earned her money for the day, Alexa shut her laptop and headed to the bathroom to shower. She stood in front of the mirror as the shower warmed up, admiring her figure as she unstrapped her bra. At twenty-five, her body was toned and fit, her dark hair flowing down her shoulders, partially draping her perky breasts. She slowly removed her panties, running her fingers down her belly and towards her neatly trimmed bush. She was beautiful and she knew it. After posing in front of the mirror for a few minutes, she entered the shower and began to wash herself.
Afterwards, she dried off, put on her silk bathrobe and headed to her bedroom. As she laid in bed reviewing her Instagram account, she noticed her planner at the edge of the bed. Overstuffed and threatening to practically explode, Alexa decided to quickly rummage through it and toss whatever extraneous papers were stuffed inside. After tossing aside a few of her notes, she came across one of Angelia’s drawings. For the first time, Alexa was struck by the intricacy of the young girl’s artwork. Although more akin to abstract art than anything, the shapes did have a sort of underlying coherency and logic to them. The shapes seemed to be connected by nodes, which Angelia seemed to place emphasis on judging by the darkness of the ink they were composed of. Alexa set the first drawing aside, then began to look at the next. Fifteen minutes later, she had looked at several, each one just as fascinating to her as the last. As she continued to view the drawings, Alexa found herself in what felt like a trance. The world seemed to shrink around her, convalescing around her field of vision which was increasingly narrowing in on Angelia’s drawing at the expense of everything else around them. Eventually, the drawings were the world. It wasn’t until she could no longer see her own hands that Alexa finally snapped out of her trance and panicked. By then, it was too late. Swallowed by darkness, Alexa lost consciousness as she uttered her last, silent scream.