Mild yet still NSFW Language Warning.
“I think that was the last question, so I think we’ll end things here. Ladies and gentlemen, can you all give a big hand to Polly Alexander! Thanks for coming to speak to us!”
“Thank you Dean, thank you all very much, you’ve been wonderful!” said Polly, grinning, before she walked away from the lectern. The students in the hall clapped loudly, and Polly felt a rush of pride as she stepped out into the corridor.
“They’re probably only clapping out of politeness,” said Voice.
“Polly!” The Dean had followed her out. He was a short man, covered in layers of tweed, with a subtle air of desperation of someone who has been in the same job for far too long. Polly had known him when they had attended college together, although back then he had hair.
“That was fantastic! You’re a really inspirational speaker!” he said, opening his arms for a hug.
“He’s smelling your hair right now. Big deep breaths,” said Voice.
“Thank you Robert, it really was very kind of you to invite me to speak at your Literature class,” Polly said as she carefully disentangled herself from the eager Dean. “It’s been far too long! We must catch up, you must tell me all about how you are running this place now!”
Robert’s nostrils flared in anticipation.
“Absolutely, Polly!” he enthused, stumbling over his words. “If you’re in town for a little while, maybe we could have dinner some time? Say, tomorrow night?”
“He only wants to fuck you. He always has. He’s been waiting his entire life,” said Voice.
“Ah, I’m so sorry Robert, I’m leaving tonight! I would have loved to catch up, it has been so good seeing you after all this time.” Polly smiled apologetically, while Voice gasped.
“Of course, absolutely. I understand.” Robert forced a smile. “I should be getting back to work. You know the way back to your car?”
Polly nodded, and the two parted ways, with Robert glancing over his shoulder at her several times as she disappeared into the throng of students.
“He’s going to go home and cry,” said Voice. “All he wanted was a hug, and you made him cry. You’re such a bitch.”
“Shut up!” hissed Polly as she exited the corridor to the main lawn. The midday sun shone down upon the bustling students as they pushed past Polly, chatting and laughing. A large white van was parked on the lawn, delivering pallets of soft drink to a campus café. Polly caught her reflection in its side mirror as she passed.
“You look ridiculous,” said Voice. “Bright yellow heels? Really? Didn’t you say in your last interview that you didn’t want to be known as that chick-lit author any more? Nobody is going to take you seriously in those heels. What were you thinking, with the green mini-jacket? Too many buckles, people will think you’re an escaped mental patient. Your hair doesn’t help, of course. Looks like you just woke up in it. You did, didn’t you? There’s no way you spent two hours styling that. You’re ugly, you’re just ugly. It’s no wonder you don’t have any friends.”
“Ms.-Ms. Alexander?” She was startled by the timid request, her heart skipping a beat. In front of Polly were three female students, each wearing similarly garish clothes. In their bracelet-obscured arms they each clutched a different copy of one of Polly’s novels.
“We-were-just-wondering-whether-you-would-sign-our-books?” gasped one of the students, refusing to take a breath. Polly composed herself and flashed a winning smile.
“Of course!” she said, taking the first novel in her hands.
“‘Dear Diary’,” said Voice. “Possibly your worst novel.”
“Did you enjoy the presentation?” asked Polly, fumbling around her bag for a pen. One of the students thrust a pink marker into Polly’s hand.
“Oh-my-god-it-was-amazing-you-were-so-good-so-funny-your-stories-were-just-so-empowering-you-know-I’m-going-to-be-a-writer-when-I-graduate-but-first-I’m-going-to-meet-a-man-like-Oxford-from-your-third-novel-we’re-going-to-get-married-like-Penny-and-Oxford-did-in-Heartbreaker-it’s-going-to-be-so-romantic-please-tell-us-is-Oxford-based-on-someone-you-fell-in-love-with-please-please-tell-us!” The student gulped down some air and launched into another stream of words.
“Wow,” said Voice, “I bet she gives great head.”
“You know, ladies,” Polly lowered her voice conspiratorially as she signed the other two books. “I was a student here when I was your age, and the character of Oxford was based on a man I met here, on this very lawn! Who knows, you might meet someone like him right here too!”
The students squealed and shrieked in delight at Polly’s words as she walked away.
“Talk about unrealistic expectations,” said Voice. “What about telling them to focus on jobs and careers instead of hunting poor men with spears made from your badly-written words? I bet they’re all lonely tonight, just like you. All that advice, and who is the one who is alone? What are you going to do? Masturbate yourself to sleep again?
“You know what, Voice,” said Polly as she reached her car, “fuck you. Seriously. I was invited to talk because I’m entertaining, damn it. They loved me in there. And my books let girls know it’s okay to want someone, and teach them that even in this crazy world, romance isn’t dead just yet.”
Polly slammed the car door shut as she got in.
“Oh, and one more thing, Ms. High-and-Mighty Know-it-All Voice: I don’t need your shame. If I do masturbate myself to sleep again, I’ll damn well enjoy it!”