Then there’s the fact that he’s a self-proclaimed sex god that every girl seems to lose their damn head over. It’s like the sight of him causes any vestiges of self-respect to evaporate, and girls practically throw themselves at his feet. I’ve seen it happen in this class—first with Monique, then Lisa, then Kendra, now Ali. The only upside to this continuous classmate walk of shame is that at least it makes class more interesting when every tragic poem and angry short story seems to be directed at Blake. It’s like watching one of those train wreck reality shows unfold before your very eyes.
I just don’t get it. Surely they can all see it’s an act. Even if he’s good in bed, how the hell does he even get you there?
Okay, well maybe it’s because he’s not exactly hard on the eyes. I’d be blind if I said Blake wasn’t good looking. He is. I can admit it. I can find men attractive without actually being attracted to them (I used to think that about Brad Pitt, but he’s changing my mind as he gets older). Blake is tall and lean with just the right amount of muscle, thick dark hair that’s always a bit rumpled, and deep blue eyes that sometimes seem black. You know, the kind of looks that most girls want. Maybe even the kind that might blind you to the point of making a string of unhealthy decisions that ultimately help fuel their writing goals. I don’t know.
Unfortunately, all of his beauty is spoiled by his shit-eating grin, which, as I said earlier, is probably his best and worst feature. Best because he flashes it all over the place and women spontaneously combust like matches are struck on their ovaries. Worst because I know what that grin represents: cockiness, arrogance, and one hell of an ego. There’s nothing that bothers me more than guys who think you’d be lucky to have them, though now when I think about it, that’s pretty much Alan to a tee. He was a lot subtler about it, but he did have this air of denigration that made me think he was taking pity on me half the time. Maybe that’s why Blake bugs me so much.
Or maybe it’s because he’s an ass.
“All right everyone.” Marie enters the room with a tepid grin, taking her place behind her desk, her long fringed shawl and beaded bracelets rattling as she puts her hands together and does this thing where she tries to look everyone in the class right in the eye. Marie is pretty much the stereotype of a creative writing professor. Her hair is waist-length and steel grey, she’s always wearing some sort of heavy gemstone around her neck, and she smells vaguely of patchouli. Sometimes marijuana. As I mentioned before, she’s a stickler for certain rules and can turn hard on a dime, even though she speaks with a fairy-like quality and her view toward life is one of both a free spirit and a bleeding heart.
“Who here is excited for your final assignment?”
“Me!” I say a little too loudly. I have to supress myself from raising my arm like some kind of keener. Still, I refuse to look sheepish about it. Everyone here knows that about me by now.
Especially Blake. I can’t help but look over in his direction, and lo and behold he’s rolling his eyes. He doesn’t even glance my way to see if I notice; it’s like an automatic reaction for him.
“Well,” Marie says as she walks around the front of her desk. “I should let you all know that this assignment is a deviation from what you’ve been given so far.” She leans back against the desk and folds her arms, her smile soft and somewhat pitying. Unease prickles the back of my neck. “Being a writer is hard work. Harder than you’ll ever think possible. What makes it even worse is the fact that right now, for nearly all of you, writing is easy. You write down what comes from your heart. All struggle is rooted in the outcome, the fear of the grade, the pressure of the deadline. But not in putting down the words, not in telling the story. At this stage, all of you can just, as Hemingway once said, sit down at the typewriter and bleed. But for many writers, and to borrow a popular cliché, it’s like getting blood from a stone. You have the want and the desire, but with experience and time, your self-doubt becomes louder and your inner critic comes out to play. It silences your creativity. You feel you aren’t allowed to make mistakes.”