“Tia!” Haley came tearing down the stairs. Another not-so-much crisis. When this library science major first moved in, we all would panic and get ready to call 911 every time she did this. Eventually, we figured out how to tell a real crisis from an over-reaction.
I didn’t even look up from my laptop as the be-spectacled blonde tumbled down the stairs and slid to a stop next to the dining room table. “What’s up?” I asked casually.
“Kevin got fired!”
I looked up at her, confused. “Who?”
“Kevin!” I gave her a blank look, and she understood what that look was trying to say. “You know! My self-defense teacher at the college!”
“Oh, right.” Haley was studying part time at Bunker Hill Community College to get her Gen Eds out of the way while also putting in some time for all of her oceanic activism. Her self-defense class was the one fun class she allowed herself to have, and she seemed to enjoy it. I guess it was a huge stress relief for her as she could take her anger out on her teacher and her classmate and not do any serious damage or get in trouble. I could see why this would be a crisis for her. “What happened?”
“He was caught with one of his students!” The other housemates who were in earshot were immediately uncomfortable by the conversation. I, on the other hand, wasn’t completely surprised.
I had met this Kevin-guy once. I feigned curiosity in the self-defense class, not because I needed the training, but more because I needed the practice. Since Haley liked the guy so much, I figured I could at least see if signing up for one of his classes could help me stay on my game. And he most definitely flirted. Not just with Haley. Not even just with his other female students. When Haley introduced me to him, he was pretty heavy-handed. I never talked to Haley about it because I could tell that he had her and all his other students fooled. They thought his flirty banter was just him being eccentric. But eccentric doesn’t drag you to the corner by your belt for your midterm exam. Eccentric doesn’t show you how to put someone in or get out of a choke-hold with such elation.
The dude was definitely kinky. Honestly, I think the only reason he got away with it was because he had a lot going for him in the looks department, even though he was shorter than my 5’ 9”. I overheard a lot of the girls calling him a silver fox. Based on the definition I had found for the term, they were probably right. He was also a twice-married-once-divorced man with two elementary school-aged girls.
Needless to say, I never signed up for any of Kevin’s classes. I needed a sparring partner who kept focus and didn’t let their eyes wander. Kevin was about as useful to me as a… Hm, I’m not completely sure how to end that sentence. Almost everything can be turned into a useful weapon if you think about it. Hell, a feather is more useful than Kevin would ever be.
“That’s too bad,” I said with as much sympathy as I could muster. Even if I didn’t care, the class had been important to Haley. Everyone in the house could see it had helped her mentally, so it was bad for her to lose that outlet. “It sucks that all of his students have to miss out because of his bad decisions.”
“What are they going to do about the class?” Melissa asked from the kitchen.
“Well,” Haley timidly trailed off. I recognized that tone. It was the tone that she took on when she was going to ask for a favor. “That’s kind of why I came to you, Tia. If they don’t find a new teacher, the class is going to get canceled.”
“Haley, I’m sorry about your class. I know how much you loved it and how much good it did for you. Believe me. You have my sympathy. But I don’t have time to teach anyone anything.”
“Please!” she begged, falling to her knees beside my chair. “It’s the only class he taught, and he only taught it twice a week for an hour!”
“Haley, weren’t you one of the people who said I worked too hard?”
“Well, yeah, but—”
“So now you’re here, asking me to take on more work just for you?” I gave her the quirked eyebrow that my housemates described as my really-bitch face.
“I know it’s super selfish and even a little hypocritical.” Well, at least she acknowledged it. “But you always said you really enjoyed sparring and fighting. And you even seem to enjoy teaching others how to fight, too. Remember when you showed me some of those moves?” Ah, yes. After I had met the pervert, I thought it would be wise to show Haley some moves just in case he decided to push the limits of his flirting. I assumed she would’ve told me if she ever had to use what I taught her. I guess it was good that I hadn’t heard anything from her about those moves until now. “We had so much fun!” And she was right. I did enjoy teaching her, and she seemed to have fun learning. In fact, the other housemates saw how much fun we had, and insisted that I block out a day for a communal home self-defense workshop. It helped us to connect in the long run.
“Haley might have a point, Tia,” Melissa chimed in again. “We’re always telling you how you work too much. You enjoy sparring so much, and it might be just the thing you need to unwind.”
“If there were more than 24 hours in a day, I would be more than happy to take on the class.” And it was the truth. Back when I had more time, I tried to find a good martial arts program to keep my skills up. Unfortunately, that search had proven unsuccessful. I was too advanced for most of the scamming teachers in Boston. The ones who could accommodate my skills had classes that were expensive, completely full, or had waiting lists that were half a mile long. In some cases, it was all three. I knew this because I had put my name on those waiting lists and still hadn’t heard anything back. Maybe I’d gone about my search the wrong way and should have been looking to start a class rather than take one. “But, where am I supposed to fit a class into my schedule?”
“When does the class usually meet, Haley?” Melissa asked.
“Mondays and Wednesdays at five pm.”
Melissa turned her attention back to me. “What do you have going on during those times, Tia?”
“Wednesdays are my meal prep days, and I spend my Mondays meeting and communicating with the powers that be until five. Then I come to have dinner here and spend the rest of the night planning my actions for the next day.”
“So what if you switched meal prep days with me, and then you just get off work a little early on Mondays?” Melissa suggested.
“Yes!” Haley said.
“Uh, I think I’m the one who gets to decide if that’s what I want to do?” I pointed out.
“Please, please, please, please, please.” Haley pleaded. “I’ll make it up to you. I’ll help you make dinner on Tuesdays, and I’ll help you contact people so that you can get done faster on Mondays. Pleeeeeeaaaaase.”
“I think you’re both forgetting something.”
“What’s that?” Haley and Melissa asked in sync.
“Doesn’t the school have to approve me as a teacher for me to take on the job? I can’t just walk through the front door and say, I’m the new self-defense teacher. Deal with it.”
“The guy who hires all the coaches and PE teachers said that we could suggest new teachers,” Haley explained. “She’ll give every applicant a chance to teach one class, and hire one of them if she finds a good option. Like a job interview. Oh, and did I mention that it’s a paying job?” Haley punctuated her point with a pleading eye flutter.
It’s not like I needed what little money the job would pay. I had been wise in a fiscal sense for the two thousand years that I had been living amongst the mortals. Hell, I was the Revolt House’s secret benefactor who allowed all of them to live in the house, pursue their education and careers, fight for what they believed in, and for a greatly discounted rental price. Honestly, the only appeal about the paycheck was that it would help enforce the persona and history that I presented. And that was beyond valuable to me.
“Oh, alright,” I conceded. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try.” Besides, there really wasn’t a lose in the situation for me. Either I got a job that paid me a little, made me look normal, and gave me an outlet, or I didn’t, and nothing would change.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Haley threw her arms around me, nuzzling her cheek into mine. I couldn’t help but smile and pat her arm, gently returning the hug. She was a sweet girl. I just couldn’t help it.
“You’re welcome. But if I’m gonna do this, I need you to do something for me.”
“Anything! It’s yours!”
“Where is your class usually held?”
“In a room at the Fitness Center.” That figured.
“Does BHCC have Home Ec classes?”
Haley’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Um, I think so? I’ve heard people talk about them.”
“Do those classes have a mock kitchen that they’re held in?”
“Uh, I don’t know. Why?”
“Can you ask the hirer if I could hold the class in one of those kitchens if they have one?”
Haley and Melissa looked between one-another, confusion written all over their faces. “I could try,” Haley said, “But why? What should I tell the recruiter when he asks why?”
“Tell him that I’m looking to make the class more relatable and more useful in the real world.”