The Saint, p.36Part #5 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
raised her chin and stared Eleanor down.
“You need to have a very good argument to back up a statement like that.”
“I have a great argument. Read the poem.”
“I read the poem, and I agree with them.”
“Then there is no hope left for humanity.” Eleanor sank into her seat with a sigh. At the age of nineteen, she had come to the realization that unless she was in the same room as Søren, Kingsley and Sam, she could count on being surrounded by idiots.
“Care to tell us what your interpretation of the poem is then, Elle?”
“Sure. Why not?” She held up her book and pointed at a line. “Did anyone happen to read something in the poem other than the last stanza? Lines nine and ten—‘Though as for that the passing there had worn them both about the same.’ Anyone else see that part? One wasn’t less traveled by. They were traveled the same.”
“Then why does the narrator call one less traveled by in the last stanza?” demanded Dr. Edwards. “Can you explain that?”
“I can.” A male voice piped up from the other side of the room. Eleanor turned her head and looked back at the guy who sat in the farthest corner of the room. She’d seen him before but never paid any attention to him. He had black hair with streaks of bright red through it, an eyebrow ring, black punk nail polish and tattoos on his hands.
“You can, Wyatt?” Dr. Edwards asked. “Tell us, then. Nice to hear you speaking in class.”
“I’m with Elle here. I can’t keep my mouth shut around so much stupidity.”
Wyatt. So that was his name. Seemed to fit him. Weird name. Weird guy.
“What do you find so stupid?” Dr. Edwards sounded less irritated with Wyatt than she’d sounded with her. Dr. Edwards always gave the boys in the class more attention than the girls. But in this case, Eleanor couldn’t blame her. Now that she looked at Wyatt she noticed for the first time how attractive he was. Piercings, tattoos, spiked punk hair and he read poetry and called people stupid to their faces? Her kind of guy.
“It’s obvious. This poem is in two parts. The first four stanzas are about the actual event. The fifth stanza is the speaker telling us how he will narrate the event in the future. And he’s an unreliable narrator. Like Elle says, in lines nine and ten he says the roads are the same. Neither one of them is more or less traveled. But in the last stanza he says that in the future when he’s talking about this moment, he’ll lie and say one of them was less traveled than the other. As a young man he made a totally arbitrary choice—left road or right road—and in the future he’ll make it sound like the choice wasn’t arbitrary. He’ll give it meaning that it didn’t have in the moment. He’s not a hero. He’s an old man telling lies to the younger generation.”
“There is no road less traveled,” Elle chimed in. “It’s convenient fiction to explain why he went right instead of left. We have to believe the choices we made were for a reason if we want our life to have meaning. This poem isn’t inspiring. It’s creepy and depressing.”
“Right,” Wyatt said. “That’s why I like it.”
Eleanor looked back and smiled at him, mouthing a thank-you. He gave her a nonchalant no-big-thing shrug.
When class finally ended, Eleanor grabbed her backpack off the floor and stuffed her book into it. She saw feet facing her feet. A note with her name on it appeared before her face. She looked up and saw Wyatt standing in front of her.
“It’s a very important note,” he said. “Life altering. Read at your own risk.”
“You’re kind of weird, Wyatt. You know that, right?”
“Should you be flirting with me, Elle? This is the first time we’ve talked, and I’m very shy and girls scare me. I’m probably still a virgin.”
She arched an eyebrow at him. She’d been practicing that in her mirror.
“Probably? You don’t know if you’re still a virgin or not?”
“I didn’t ask myself if I was or not. It’s a really personal question, and I don’t know myself well enough to bring it up.”
“I’m going to open the note now.”
“I wish you’d reconsider,” Wyatt said.
“I might need it for evidence in my criminal case against you.”
“Good point. Open it.”
She unfolded the paper.
“This is a shark, Wyatt. This is a drawing of a shark.” She held up the note.
“What? You don’t like sharks? What kind of person doesn’t like sharks?”
“I’m not saying I don’t like sharks. I’m saying I don’t know why you gave me a picture of a shark.”
“The shark asked me to.”
“Why did the shark ask you to give me a picture of it?”
“Because he thinks you’re beautiful, brilliant and he wants your phone number.”
Eleanor studied the shark. It was about as well rendered a shark as she could have drawn. For Wyatt’s sake she hoped he wasn’t an art major. Still, it was a cute shark with impressively large fins. He’d even given the shark a red Mohawk.
She folded the paper back up and handed it to Wyatt.
“Please tell the shark I’m sorry. I’m not available.” It shocked her how hard she had to work to force those words out.
Wyatt’s eyes clouded over for a split second, and she saw the hurt and disappointment behind the adorable mask of male arrogance.
“Can you and the shark maybe be friends?”
“I’ve never been friends with a shark before. Will he bite me?”
“If you ask nicely.”
“Worth a shot. Shark lunch?”
They talked all the way to the cafeteria in Weinstein about how they couldn’t believe Dr. Edwards had been that obtuse about “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.
“Here’s what I think,” Wyatt said as he finished off his lunch of a cheeseburger and fries, some of the only safe food in the cafeteria. “I think if you know more about a subject than your professor, you get to take their Ph.D. from them. Education should be like heavyweight boxing, but with Ph.D.s instead of belts.”
“So which one of us gets Edwards’s Ph.D.? I think Dr. Schreiber has a nice ring to it.”
“It does. You can have it because you spoke up first.”
“Yeah, but you gave the better argument.”
“You can have the Ph.D. if you’ll play doctor with me, Dr. Schreiber.”
“Did the shark forget to tell you I’m not available?”
“He told me, but he didn’t have many details so I’m not sure I can trust him as a source. Boyfriend?”
“Does he go here?”
“Nope. He’s in Europe right now defending his dissertation.”
“Older man, huh? I see how it is.”
“You see, huh?”
“Not even a shark can compete with an older man for a college girl. That’s like bringing a stealth bomber to a knife fight.”
“It gets worse.”
Wyatt winced dramatically.
“How much worse? Is he rich?”
“He’s gorgeous. It’s obscene how gorgeous he is. But he’s not rich. Not anymore. Went the low road, real job, not taking Dad’s money.”
“Poor by choice. God, I hate this guy. Tell me more.”
“Are you a masochist?”
He pointed at his eyebrow ring and the tattoos on his hands.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Eleanor said. “What do your tattoos say?”
“They’re in German. The right hand says—”
Before he could finish she grabbed his hand and yanked it across the table.
“Es war einmal,” she read. “Once there was …”
He handed over his left hand and she read aloud, “Und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind, dann leben sie noch heute. And if they haven’t died, they are still living.”
“You know German?” Wyatt said, seeming to be in no hurry to take his hands away from her.
“Is that what those are? I walked into the shop and told them to give me whatever the special of the day was. That’s weird that tattoo parlors have those, right? I thought it was weird. You got any ink?”
“Not yet. I want to get the Jabberwocky tattooed on my back.”
“Jabberwocky? Better than a goddamn butterfly. Why him?”
“Jabberwocky’s my sa—” She stopped herself before she finished saying “safe word.” When she’d turned eighteen, Søren had instructed her to choose one. But that wasn’t a conversation she needed to have. “My spirit guide. You know, totem or whatever. So you like fairy tales?”
“Grimm’s fairy tales, the real ones. Not those Disney ones. The real stories.”
“The real fairy tales are incredibly violent,” Eleanor reminded him. She not only knew Grimm’s fairy tales, but she’d also read them in the original German. “In the original Cinderella the wicked stepsisters cut off their toes and heels to fit into the glass slipper.”
“I know. It’s not the Grimm’s version, but in the original French Sleeping Beauty, the sleeping princess doesn’t get kissed by the prince—”
“She gets raped. Small price to pay.”
Wyatt gaped at her.
“Rape is a small price to pay? Did you say that out loud in this school?” He glanced around wildly as if checking for spies and/or women’s studies majors.
“Sleeping Beauty has the same theme as the creation myth,” Eleanor said. “Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden so young and innocent. If they eat the forbidden fruit, they’ll have knowledge of good and evil. But they’ll also lose paradise. They give up paradise for knowledge without even knowing what that knowledge is. Sleeping Beauty loses her innocence in exchange for waking. Otherwise she’d live in a dreamland forever.”
“She didn’t consent to getting raped awake,” Wyatt reminded her.
“Adam and Eve didn’t know what they would win or what they would lose until they’d both won and lost it. It’s like that poem we read. The guy doesn’t know what the meaning is of the road he took until he got to the end of it. You choose first, then you find out what you’ve chosen after. Every choice has a price. Sometimes we don’t know what it is until after we’ve paid it.”
Wyatt leaned forward and stared at her from across the table.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, Elle, but you should be a writer.”
“I am a writer.”
He nodded knowingly and tapped the table a few times as if in deep thought.
“Give me a sec. I’m trying to figure out how to bring down a stealth bomber with a knife.”
“Don’t even try it. Do you write?”
“Yeah, but don’t tell anybody. Writing’s like masturbating. Everyone does it but no one likes to admit to it.”
“I admit to it.”
“Writing or masturbating?”
“Both.” Eleanor waggled her eyebrows at him before realizing that she was now in full-blown flirtation mode. She had to shut this down and fast.
“So what do you write?” she asked, trying to get onto a safer topic than sex.
“Mostly poetry about death and the meaninglessness of life and how you make decisions when you’re young that are arbitrary, but when you’re older you have to pretend like they meant something.”
“Holy shit. You’re Robert Frost, aren’t you?”
“Shh …” Wyatt hushed her as if she’d leaked a state secret. “Keep your voice down. I don’t want to get mobbed by the poetry groupies, which have never existed in the history of the world ever.”
“And you’re beautiful and you speak German and you write and I want to move into your dorm room and sleep in your dirty clothes hamper.”
Eleanor stared blankly at him.
“The last part about the clothes hamper was too much, wasn’t it?” he asked.
“Only because I don’t have a dirty clothes hamper.”
“One date. All I ask. Your stealth bomber is in Europe. He’ll never find out. He’s too busy being smart and pissing me off by existing. We get dinner, we talk. I’ll show you my poetry. You’ll call the suicide prevention hotline on me. It’ll be amazing.”
“You are really determined, aren’t you?”
“You told Dr. Edwards she was an idiot. I want to make love to your brain. Like Marvin Gaye–style.”
“You won’t try anything?”
“I will try everything.”
“You’ll take no for an answer?”
“Yes. I mean no. I mean yes, I’ll take no for an answer. Wait. What’s the question?”
“If you ask me to have sex with you, I’ll say no,” Eleanor said, giving him a death stare.
“If you ask me to have sex with you, I’ll say yes.”
“I’m serious, Wyatt. No sex.”
“Agreed, sex is off the table.”
“So we can’t have sex,” she said.
“No, we can have it. Just not on the table. That’s gross, Elle. People gotta eat here.”
Eleanor sighed. She regretted this date already.
“My stealth bomber comes home in a week.”
“Then you’re safe from the shark in my pants.”
“Does your pants shark also have a red Mohawk?” she asked as she gathered her things and stood up.
Wyatt leaned back in his chair and put his arms behind his head.
“What can I say, beautiful? The curtains match the rug.”
That night Eleanor and Wyatt had a quick dinner of cheap and unhealthy Chinese food in Chinatown and then went for a walk through SoHo. Eleanor had a feeling Wyatt suggested the walk because a new February snow had begun to fall and the city looked unbearably romantic. She hated—and there was no better word for it than hated—how much fun she and Wyatt were having. She laughed so hard her stomach ached. Wyatt adored everything about her. She’d worn knee-high boots over her jeans and he told her she looked ferocious in them. He loved the way she wore her hair in a messy bun at the nape of her neck. He said she looked like a sexy Virginia Woolf minus the suicidal ideations. Conversation proved difficult only when Wyatt asked her about her past and her stealth-bomber boyfriend. She’d rather not talk about her dead father and her brush with the law. And she couldn’t talk about the priest she’d been in love with since age fifteen.
“Nothing? I get nothing about Stealth Bomber? Not even a name?”
“I don’t want you stalking and killing him.”
“That’s fair. I can see me doing that. How old is he? If he’s getting his Ph.D. he has to be at least, what? Twenty-six? Twenty-seven?”
“I knew I hated that TV show for a reason. Call the hotline right now.” Wyatt collapsed dramatically against a light pole and stared up at the lamp. “I’m going to hang myself from this thing.”
“You’re so full of shit.” She grabbed him by the front of his
The Saint by Tiffany Reisz / Romance & Love have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on40 votes