Carlotta Graham

The Teacher's Dog

Chapter 1

Lisa Hamilton paced the outside aisle between the last row of desks and the windows. She could see the schoolyard and the small park beyond, its trees and shrubs just beginning to bud with spring, and because of the slant of the afternoon sun, she was also able to see her image reflected in the glass.

She paused for a moment, the way a woman will when passing a mirror, and primped her long blonde hair with her fingers, inspecting herself abstractly in the window's reflection. Never, though, did she pause in her lecturing, the day's lesson on chemical reactions between basic oxides and acids flowing from her lips in a never- ending stream of words. Lisa Hamilton was known as a hard task-master by her high school students, even though to look at her, one would think she would be warm and tender and perhaps too soft on the freshmen who took her course.

In fact, there were some who couldn't understand how Lisa could stand being a teacher at all, when there were so many more exciting and pleasant things for somebody as beautiful and provocative as she. Most of these were men who had tried dating her at one time or another, and who had subsequently been firmly rebuffed in their amorous efforts. Lisa was thirty-one, of medium height and a little on the slender side, with full high-peaked breasts and firmly rounded thighs, long sculptured legs and a flat taut belly — all of which were more in keeping with the budding figures of the girls in her classes, instead of a woman twice their age. Her face was a heart-shaped oval with a pert stubby nose and large Koala-bear eyes with bright ice-blue pupils. Her lips were naturally crimson and needed very little lipstick, and they habitually curved outwards and down in a mock, seductive pout. Her smooth skin was the ivory of a natural blonde, although during the summer months she took a tan readily and became a golden hue. Add to all that a melodious voice with a seductive, throaty purr, and it was no wonder that the vice- principal chewed his report cards with frustration!

At the moment, her class was either looking at her or their open books, and all of them were fidgeting. They wound their legs around the metal supports of the seats in front of them, sliding down farther and farther in their chairs and doodling aimlessly with their pens. Lisa Hamilton talked on, and she was only half-heard, the teenagers impatient to get outside in the lovely weather, their eyes rolling around the room like cattle in a small enclosure.

Finally the voluptuous blonde teacher made a complete circuit of her class and came once more to her desk. It was on a raised platform and was much larger than any of the others, and was cluttered with reports and bunsen burners and all the paraphernalia necessary to conduct experiments. When she stood behind her desk and stared out at them, the students all knew it was time to pay closer attention, as much as they wished not to, and there was the soft sibilant sound of cleared throats and shifting clothes, like the rustle of dry leaves across the ground.

'Bertram,' she said, indicating a tow-headed boy. 'Would you tell us all what happens when acids are added to bases?'

'Uh… salts are formed, Mrs. Hamilton.'

'Very good. And what determines the number of salts which can be formed? Not you, Elmira, I can see you've done your homework! Sherry? Will you tell the class the answer?'

The girl in the third row, fourth seat blushed a violent red, and lowered her head. 'It… it is determined by… by… by…'

'Don't you know, Sherry?'

'Yes, Ma'am… only I can't say it.'

Lisa Hamilton made a mark in her grade book with an indelible pencil. 'Then I'll say it for you, Sherry. A salt is formed by the replacement of the atom or atoms of hydrogen in the acid by the metallic atoms of the base. Thus acids which contain more than one atom of hydrogen can have more than one salt. How many salts can sulfuric acid have, ah… Jerrold?'

The boy named Jerrold looked up with absolutely blank eyes. He clenched and unclenched his fists, squirming in his chair, and his jaw worked up and down without uttering a single sound.

'I could have sworn that Jerrold was here when we began class,' Lisa Hamilton said tartly. 'Excuse me while I mark him absent.'

The class was given time to giggle.

'Merribelle? Can you tell us?'

A high-pitched nasal voice began: 'Two, Mrs. Hamilton. It has two atoms of hydrogen, so it — '


Merribelle was rudely interrupted by the raucous sound of the class bell. It was five minutes to three, and another boring school day was over, and better yet, it was Friday! A whole weekend of freedom loomed ahead! The bell produced a nervous explosion, a discharge of every ounce of restraint that had stored up during the long hours. Lisa Hamilton couldn't have prevented her pupils from talking out loud and scraping their books together if she'd wanted to, and if truth be known, she was just as glad her last class was over as they were.

Immediately Merribelle and sulfuric acid atoms were forgotten by all, and the boys and girls stood in the aisles and chattered like magpies as they filed out the door. The chemistry classroom emptied, and from the long halls came the echoing reverberation of lockers being opened and shut and students coming and going. Mrs. Hamilton was left standing behind her desk; they all had something to do, someplace to go.

All except the thirty-one year old teacher. She smiled wistfully as the last of her students drained from the room and left it empty. Then she began gathering her papers together with a slow, precise grace, her mind wandering as it often did at the end of the day about where she should go and what should she do.

Home, she thought morosely. She'd go home just like always; home to a rambling ranch-house that was as sterile and vacant as this classroom. And it shouldn't be this way! She should be going out and having fun, letting a nice man take her to dinner and dancing and maybe even… oh God, it was madness to think this way! 'I'm still a young and attractive woman,' she groaned under her breath, 'but I might as well be an old hag. It might even be better if I were…'

She hung her head shamefully, leaning forward on her hands in a posture of penitence. The papers and books on the desk were a blur of meaningless nothings to her as she contemplated the barren weekend ahead. It was always worse on Friday and Saturday afternoons, although now even the weekday evenings were becoming heavier to bear alone. Yet the thought of being with a man and encouraging his affection and friendship, produced a still greater reaction of aversion in her heart. A man inevitably meant a relationship, possibly even a sexual one in time, and always that reminded her of her ex-husband.

Her marriage to Ralph Hamilton had only been one year out of her life and seven years ago at that, but the scars of that brief interlude were still carved in her soul. She had finally become inured to living in the large house which had been theirs and which had been part of the divorce settlement; now it merely produced a dull ache every once in a while when she considered it. But the thought of Ralph invariably produced a sharp, icy chill, and even now as she stood at her desk she could sense the acute pangs growing in her chest. Instead of the womanly warmth that love should have brought her, she only had the frigid void of fear and despair, which no man had ever been able to crack since her parting with Ralph. And, wretchedly, she knew that emptiness included Ralph. Especially Ralph. While there had been things wrong about him, as there is with any human being, she instinctively realized that the blame for their dissolution rested squarely on her shoulders. Or rather, she was forced to admit grimly, the blame rested down between her legs…

Lisa knew deep in her mind that she attracted men easily. Without being immodest, she was aware that her figure and manner was disturbingly desirable, and that there was nothing outward to indicate her inner frigidity. She looked all woman, a totally sensual female. Ralph had been taken in by it, and she couldn't face the prospect of chagrin and horror which another affair would surely produce. So she lived alone… and hated it.

It wasn't as if she didn't know what was at the root of her problem — but knowing the problem and knowing

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