STREETS OF FLOWERS
"I was waaaaaaaaiting for this," Braless Josie says in an exotic whisper. "We haven't dealt with the treatment of Lenore as a woman - not a girl, by the way, Mister!" She yanks down her shirt with irate fists. "The way he idolizes her, though he barely knows her. I think we should analyze that!"
The need to analyze it infuriates her.
"You're missing the point," Dr. Robson says to Braless Josie. "You've learned the politics, my friend, but not the pain."
"I don't have that luxury," Braless Josie says, their mysterious dispute surfacing. "Maybe they used to but not today."
"Have it your way, Josie," Dr. Robson says, softening the argument by using a student's name. "But please read what I suggested. And what does Stephen's alter ego, if I may call him that, think of women, that's really the question before us."
"I don't think that's how he feels," Stephen says.
Dr. Robson looks through him. He realizes she had meant to shift back to the general discussion, not ask him to explain; for an instant Stephen had thought he was his own protagonist, the "I" of his story - which he was carefully pretending he wasn't. But Dr. Robson's attention shatters his pose of being unconcerned and all the feelings in his chest break free. Braless Josie twists around. Her shirt pulls so tight it seems to Stephen she has stripped it off.
"What I was trying to do," Stephen says, with a peculiar sense of intimacy with Dr. Robson, brought on by Braless Josie's seeming nakedness, "is describe something that really happened, the desire for this gir-woman. I did not consciously make it a metaphor for anything, though maybe unconsciously I did. Or the reverse. Or whatever."
He finds he is staring at Lynn, who he feels desiring him in the suddenly surreal brightness of the room. She is not the "Lenore" he had been writing about, he realizes, as Lynn's eyes stay trapped in his.
"Yes, Stephen," Dr. Robson says, with gentleness, as if sensing the emotions between her two students. "But I'm afraid your feelings, whatever their intensity, don't justify overwrought writing. We can only judge by what you give us here."
She is exhausted from her interchange with Braless Josie and leans back in her chair. The plastic squeaks irritably, struggling to withstand the pressure.