Constance poked her head into her sister’s room, “Can I get you anything Sherry?”
Sherry was staring at the television listlessly, her shoulder length hair barely combed. “No. God I am sick of being so tired though.”
“Well that’s Mono for you. Look on the bright side, at least it’s on the wane and you ought to be back in school in about a week and a half.”
“Thank you Doctor.”
“Well not quite yet, I have got another year and then my internship, residency…”
She was cut off mid sentence by her sister’s groan. “Jesus Christ, Ms. over achiever. I am sorry I brought it up.”
Constance started to respond when the doorbell rang.
“The doorbell’s ringing and my hands are full, could you get it Constance?” her mother shouted from the kitchen.
“No problem, I’ll be right down.”
“It’s probably just nerd-boy with my homework.” Sherry sneered.
“Nerd boy? I thought Ken was your boyfriend, and besides eighteen year olds don’t appreciate being referred to as boys. Have you just been leading him on?” asked Constance incredulously.
“He’s just been dropping off my homework Constance, it’s no big deal.”
“That kid has been tutoring you a couple hours at a time and putting up with your mono – induced bitchiness. If it weren’t for him you would be going to summer school instead of graduating with your class.”
Before Sherry could respond the doorbell rang again prompting another shout from the kitchen. Constance tossed the medical text she had been studying on her sister’s bed, gave her sister a contemptuous stare and headed for the front door.
Two and a half hours later Constance put the books aside and headed out for a run. On her way out she ran into Ken, who was also leaving.
“How did the bookwork go Ken?” she asked as they headed out the door together.
“Oh not too bad, I am sure everything we are studying seems pretty basic compared to the stuff you have to deal with.”
This elicited a soft laugh from Constance. “Well everything is relative.” she paused for a moment and tapped Ken’s arm softly. They had reached the end of the driveway by now and were standing on the sidewalk. “Listen, ken… This is kind of awkward, but I wanted to talk to you about my sister.”
Ken turned and regarded her quizzically, “Okay, what about her?”
“You seem like a nice guy and I am worried that you might get hurt…..”
Ken cut her off with a laugh, “Listen Constance, I know your sister is not into me. I am not on the football team and don’t have a new car. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that I am not the type of guy that girls like Sherry are into.”
Constance’s expression lightened at this. “Well then I have to ask, Why are you spending so much time helping her out?”
“A couple of reasons. Your sister’s water may not run deep but she has always treated me decently and that counts for something. It is not hurting my grades either. They have gotten better since I started tutoring Sherry.”
“Well I can attest to that.” Constance said with a smile.
“That’s right you were a TA for part of grad school weren’t you.” Ken was by now leaning against his car, which was parked in front of the house.
“Yes I was. If fact I was supposed to teach this quarter but when Sherry got sick my mother asked me to move back home to help out. I am really looking forward to moving back to my apartment.”
They continued to talk for the next twenty minutes. “I did not mean to talk your ear off Ken and I need to get going if I am going to get a run in before the sun goes down.” With that she took off and Ken drove home.
Over the next week and a half Constance and Ken took a walk together after Sherry’s tutoring session.
“You know Constance, someone might see you walking with Ken.” Sherry said petulantly. Constance put down her book and took off her glasses. “What’s your point Sherry.”
“Never mind. I am going back to school on monday and you will be back home so it doesn’t matter.
“No really, I want to know. What are you trying to say?”
“Ken’s a nice guy and everything it’s just that people… Never mind.” Sherry stopped talking and Constance did not press the point though she continued to stare at her sister.
Constance had gone out with several guys at college, the last one a professor, and she regarded them all as, more or less, jerks. She found herself assessing her sister as a shallow girl when she realized that she had been no different at that age and in point of fact was still choosing her dates using the same criteria that her sister apparently employed. She was suddenly infuriated with Sherry for the way she was treating Ken. She had almost begun to speak when she realized that she was hardly in a position to criticize or offer advice.
Ken continued to tutor Sherry and about twice a week Constance would engage him in a conversation by his car. She found herself looking at Ken in a new light and resolved that when she returned to school she would seek out men that were more Ken-like than the bad boys she had always been attracted to up till now.
During one of their last conversations Ken even drummed up the courage to ask Constance to be his date to the prom. Constance had been flattered but had gently turned Ken down, begging off by saying he should really be going with someone who was his own age and more importantly someone who was more than a friend, if he got her drift. He had taken it well and had made a self depreciating remark about a penchant for hopeless causes.
The next month Sherry was back on her feet and Constance moved back to her apartment near campus. Med school was an all absorbing endeavor and she thought little of either her sister or Ken for a while.
Then one Friday night she blew a tire on a lonely stretch of road that she had traversed countless times on her journey to and from the medical library. She had allowed her auto club card to expire, her father was out of town and she couldn’t reach anyone else so she hesitantly called the only other person whom she had a good idea would immediately come to her rescue.
True to his word Ken arrived shortly thereafter and changed out her tire. As he worked they fell back easily into a conversation.
Ken usually worked on Friday nights but was free on this one. He knew that neither Sherry nor her sister was interested in him the same way he was about them but he had made his peace with his situation. Besides thinking that Constance was a very pretty full grown woman he did enjoy her company even if it was offered only platonically.
The talking had died down as he dropped her car off of the jack and threw the flotsam of the repair into her trunk. As he was wiping his hands on some shop towels he looked up and noticed that Constance was looking at him but somehow differently. It had been a cool day and an even cooler evening, she was wearing stylish boots over a pair of form fitting jeans and a tight blue sweater that highlighted her ample chest. Her hair had been drawn back into a ponytail but as she looked at Ken her left hand drifted up and removed the scrunchie from her hair. She seductively shook out her hair and took the three steps that closed the distance between them.
Ken’s heart beat had picked up noticeably. He had not at first understood what her expression had meant but Constance was now in his personal space. With her high heels she was only an inch or two shorter than he was and she was now somewhat less than a foot away.
She placed her hands gently on his chest and began to slowly slide them upward. Her fingers were curled slightly and the feeling was electric to Ken as her long nails grazed his chest. Constance did not stop until her hands were gently clasped behind his neck. “You are such a dear, sweet, man.” she said softly as she gently leaned back allowing Ken to take some of her weight. “I blew you off when you asked me to your prom Ken. That was insensitive and also stupid. I find myself regretting it greatly. If the invitation is still open I would love to go out with you.” She said with a voice as soft and seductive as her scent.
Ken found himself staring into her languid green eyes. Her cool fingers felt real against the back of his neck. This had come out of nowhere and Ken fought to maintain his composure. He cleared his throat, because he was afraid his voice might crack, and spoke softly, as though afraid to break this magic spell; “I would not say it was stupid, you said I should go with someone who was more than just a friend. You may have a point. I don’t want you to feel obligated or worse because you pity me…” his voice faltered because of what she did next.
Constance had started to smile as Ken spoke and about the time he got to “pity” she was already pulling herself toward him with her lips slightly parted. She kissed him on the lips softly three times. “Not as a friend, and not because of pity Ken.” She then kissed him again, this time opening her mouth and gently exploring his mouth with her tongue.
It was the first time Ken had really kissed a girl. He did his best to respond, but his heart was racing and he felt clumsy. “Sorry” popped out of his mouth as their kiss finally ended.
She shook her head, “Nothing to be sorry about there, Ken. Don’t worry I think we will find time to get you some more practice. Call me tomorrow.” With that she kissed him softly once more and then disentangled from Ken and disappeared into the night. Ken drove silently home but then walked alone long into the night, re-living the kiss over and over.
Through Changed Eyes
Constance poked her head into her sister’s room, “Can I get you anything Sherry?”