This is my first fic in quite some time, so please bear with me! Also, I am ending my senior year of college so my schedule is fairly hectic, which means updates might not be regular.
Twilight is property of Stephenie Meyer—I own nothing. Just the thoughts in my head.
Any literature references (including titles, phrases, etc) are property of the author and their respective publishing houses.
The classroom was abuzz on the first day of my last fall semester at Dartmouth, I could have graduated in three years, but something inside me wouldn't allow it—I wanted all four years, especially since my first three were spent either head-first in books or trying to help my now ex-boyfriend pass his biology classes. Maybe something deep down inside me wanted me to have a defining experience. Or maybe I just didn't want to grow up yet.
The class was Literary Marriages from Hell and taught by the much talked about Dr. Cullen. The title called to me—even though it wouldn't count towards my English Literature degree. I've always loved getting into the psyche of authors, finding out their backgrounds, what made them tick, and what inspired them. What could be more perfect than examining their marriages? Most of my classes focused on poetry, especially poetry from the 20th century.
My dad always shook his head whenever discussion regarding my degree came up, he understood my passion for reading, but he didn't know what I expected to do with an English Literature degree. To be honest, I didn't know either—maybe another reason I felt compelled to prolong my graduation.
Maybe I also wanted to stay because I felt at home in the English department—I loved my fellow students and my professors. They pushed me beyond my limits and by doing so allowed me to excel—several of my poems had been published in various magazines, most of them literary but one was mainstream. My latest professor, Dr. Berry from my 20th Century British Literature class, gave me my most treasured complement— "a 21st century, brunette Sylvia Plath."
Minus the whole manic depression and shoving my head in the oven thing.
The door opened and two men walked in, one with a mess of hair and another who gave off the aura of tranquility. The man with the hair stood out against the other.
It was almost like magic, how he lit up the room. Not like he was glowing, but something totally different. Most of the room snapped to attention when he entered, almost every ear was open and ready to listen to what he was going to say.
I couldn't deny that he was without a doubt one of the most beautiful men I had ever seen; of course I had heard rumors throughout the department about the deliciously beautiful Dr. Cullen—but I never really paid attention to them or gave them much merit. But they were right—every single one.
Many boys on campus tried to style their hair in the "bed head" fashion—all of them either looked stupid or tired, but not Dr. Cullen. The bronze mess of hair on top of his head suited him and, along with his fair complexion, made his green eyes stand out. He captivated me, my attention was solely on him—much like all of the other females in the classroom. No one paid attention to the other man who walked in, I think he took a seat in the back of the room. I wasn't sure.
Then, he spoke. Pulling out a stack of papers from his worn messenger bag, he started counting the sheets and passing them down the rows. "Sorry for being late, I am Dr. Cullen. Brief background on me: This is my second year teaching at Dartmouth, I got my undergraduate degree here and I studied English Literature with an emphasis in British poetry, then I got my Masters at the University of Washington where I specialized in British poetry, and finally I came back to Dartmouth and received my PhD in English and my thesis was about how Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot influenced T.S. Eliot's masterpiece The Waste Land.
"This is your syllabus, please read it carefully and keep up with your assigned readings. I understand many of you are in fact not English majors, and I beg you not to worry—I will help the entire class through reading many of the pieces assigned.
"We will be studying three couples this semester: T.S. Eliot and his wife Vivienne, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, and Sylvia Plath and her husband Ted Hughes. Most of our time will be spent with Eliot and Plath since they have the most 'meat,' as you could say, in the literature and the marriage.
"Please feel free to e-mail me or come to my office hours if you have any questions. I want you to have fun in this class and I hope you will learn something from it as well."
I looked at my watch, 3:37, the class was supposed to begin at 3:30. He must be a stickler for timeliness if he apologized for being less than ten minutes late. I looked at my syllabus and flipped it over to glance at the course schedule, it was blank. A quick glance around the room did not help me much—the class was full of women and every pair of eyes was glued on Dr. Cullen, not the syllabus.
I raised my hand and we made eye-contact. My stomach plummeted to the floor. He gestured towards me, "Yes…miss?"
"Swan, Bella Swan."
He grinned, "Yes, Miss Swan. Do you have a question?"
I showed him the blank side of my syllabus, "Is the back supposed to be blank?"
Dr. Cullen's grin became crooked, "No," he replied. He checked a new copy of the syllabus before handing it to me and taking my previous copy. Out fingers brushed against each other briefly and I felt my heart skip a beat and my breath hitch. How on earth could someone have this effect on me? And so quickly? Based solely on appearance?
He looked over the entire class, "Anyone else with a one-sided syllabus?" The room was heavily silent, "No? Alright." Dr. Cullen gestured to the man that he entered with who was sitting in the back of the room, leaning back in a chair with a nonplussed expression on his face, "This is your T.A. for the class, Jasper Whitlock. He can also answer any questions that you may have."
Other than mine, only one head in the entire classroom turned towards the T.A., and it was the girl next to me. When turning back to the front of the room I made eye contact with her and she flashed me a brief but brilliant smile.
Dr. Cullen spoke again, "As you see, we have nothing on the schedule for today, you are free to go but please make sure you have at least glanced over The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by the next class."
With that he snapped his bag shut and slung it over his shoulder, exiting the classroom with Jasper, the T.A. The moment Dr. Cullen left, the mood of the room lightened—the chatter started up again, but this time all of the chatter was about him.
I exhaled deeply and looked over at the girl next to me who was pixyish in figure and her dark brown hair matched her stature. She smiled at me again, "Dr. Cullen always has that effect on a classroom full of girls."
I stood up and hoisted my backpack onto my shoulders, "Always? You've taken his intro class?"
She walked next to me as we walked out of the room together, "Yeah…" followed my unintelligible mumbling. "He's very nice and very fair."
"Well I'm grateful for that, I have a feeling that senioritis will set in quickly for me." I turned to face her, "Bella." I held my hand out to her.
"Alice," she replied, shaking my hand. She smiled again, "It was lovely meeting you, see you next class!" She glided down the hall, her gait similar to someone who is a former dancer.