There had been a knock on his office door. Professor Phil O’Mathy opened it and saw that it was Brenda Evans, from his first-year calculus class. While she was the sort of student he usually disdained, inattentive and lazy, he’d always found her, for obscure reasons, sympathetic.
O’Mathy noticed that Brenda’s face, on the pleasing symmetry of which he had idly reflected many times, looked interestingly different. She had done things with cosmetics to make her eyes appear larger, her cheekbones higher, and her mouth fuller. He didn’t entirely approve, but found it cleverly done and regretted that she didn’t apply the same ingenuity to more worthwhile pursuits, like epsilon-delta proofs.
“Hello, Brenda. Office hours were over at six, but, please, come in.”
“Professor, I have a big problem, and I’m hoping you can help me with it.”
O’Mathy, unexpectedly, found himself quite eager to be of help. “Yes. Tell me more.”
“You know, I’m not very good at calculus. But I need a good grade in your course for my major. I’d do anything.”
“Hmm. When you say anything, you mean…”
“Really, Professor. Anything.”
O’Mathy was amazed. He had begun to feel quite drawn to Brenda, and was overjoyed at this chance to share indescribable joy with her.
“Then of course I can help you. You can earn a very good grade indeed, and all you will need to do — if you’re willing, of course. You did say ‘anything’?”
She put her hand on his arm. “Why yes, Professor, I did. Anything.”
“Wonderful. Go home and study.”