I knew that I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew that she would not be forever Lolita.’ Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
It has been over twenty years since we last saw each other, though there is no mistaking that it is him. He still has that same shock of wispy blonde hair, his legs are still tanned and toned, and his biceps still bulge from his sleeveless tee. He jogs by me and our eyes meet. The pureness of their blue is deceptive as I know what lurks behind them. I find myself swimming against the riptide, nearly drowning in his gaze as I remember that moment in his office.
The blinds were lowered and the lights were dimmed. His office was warm and quiet as it was at the far end of the gym. The pungent scent of Deep Heat and Rexona lingered as he placed an arm around my shoulder while adjusting my posture with the other.
‘No need to worry, it’s just the two of us, no one else can see you, ‘I’m ready when you are,’ he said.
I dropped my towel and turned to face him, I was wearing bathers but I felt exposed and naked; I was sixteen and like many girls of that age, I was self-conscious about showing my body. ‘Is this okay?’
‘It’s more than okay, it’s perfect.’
As he ran by I wanted to yell at him, instead I remained standing motionless, muted by memories. I had rehearsed this moment in my mind many times over the years: I would confront him and tell him exactly how I felt about his betrayal. I was not the first. There were others. Only they would pay a far greater price.
‘You’re gorgeous, don’t be shy, you have a beautiful body,’ SNAP, he took a photo, ‘now turn side-on, shoulders back,’ SNAP, ‘now turn to the back,’ SNAP. The camera was both a shield and a weapon in his violation.
In the years since we finished school, whenever my school friends and I were reunited, the subject of our teacher always came up. They would tell me how lucky I was to escape from his clutches, and we would inevitably discuss a classmate who wasn’t. It was common knowledge amongst the students at the time, that they were having a relationship. What was unknown to us at the time was they had begun the affair when she was only fourteen-years-old, not yet at the legal age of consent. Later in her life she was brave enough to eventually seek justice. Our teacher was found guilty and sentenced to a three-and–a-half years for indecent assault and gross indecency.
‘Remember when you had to do that project on posture, you know the one where he took photos of you, supposedly talking about different body types,’ laughed Juliet, my best friend from school, as she recounted her memories during our last reunion. ‘I remember thinking how embarrassing. I’m just glad now that I wasn’t in his class. You know, the crazy thing is that at the time I thought you were really lucky to have a teacher like that.’
At the time I had felt the same, and was reminded of that moment alone with him in his office. His lust was as confronting as the harsh flash from the camera. The implication was written in his eyes; I could be the Lolita to his Humbert.