Janice Webster scraped the frost off the window of the piper cub one more time. The expanse of snow and trees seemed unchanged from the last time she looked, over an hour ago. The sun was slipping beneath the horizon, leaving a ruddy glow on the otherwise pristine white surface below her. She was beginning to regret her decision to accept the teaching job in the native Inupiat village called Kluso.
“It’s only August and the ground is already covered with snow,” she thought to herself. “What was I thinking? There will be cold and snow for most of the year and I doubt it will ever get over 60 degrees in the summer.”
Janice was not a snow person. Hailing from Nevada, she was used to warm temperatures and dry weather. Sure, she could take a ski trip on the mountain, but she if she did that it was her choice. Janice never chose to. The contract, however, was too good to pass up. The federal government would pay off 20% of her student loans for every year she taught in one of these remote villages. A person did not go to the University of Nevada for four years and escape debt free. The loan repayments represented an additional $60,000 of tax free income for all practical purposes. Five years living north of the artic circle seemed well worth it from the air conditioned comfort of the convention center where the job fair had been held.
Things were so different now. It had only been eight hours since the sun had risen and it was already setting. In a couple of months, the sun would stay below the horizon, never gracing the day with its presence. The pilot had told her that Kluso had snow on the ground nine months of the year. She could not imagine the stark plainness of such an inhospitable environment. How could anyone survive in a place where the cold alone could kill everything and everyone?
“At least the weather will match my love life,” she thought with a heavy sigh. Her boyfriend had made it clear that he would not wait five years for her to return. As Brad had put it, “Janice, we will make enough together to cover all our debts without you going to Timbuktu for five years. This is just a ploy to dump me. Well, if you want to dump me, fine. But it’s Kluso or me, you can’t have both.”
It was then that Janice realized how little he actually cared about her. It wasn’t quite, “If you loved me you’d have sex with me,” but it was close enough. Janice imagined she could still feel the sting on her hand from slapping his face. It was the last they had seen or spoken to each other. She didn’t regret losing him, if that was even the way to look at it, but she did regret being alone. She was going to spend five years of spinsterhood only to return to civilization to find no one waiting for her. Two months off in the summer would not suffice to start, let alone maintain a relationship. That prospect chilled her heart far more than any sub zero cold snap could.
There was a tap on her arm and she turned to see the pilot pointing down to the ground in front of them. His voice, in spite of his yelling, was just audible over the roar of the engine. “We’re almost there. I’m starting the landing. Make sure you’re buckled up.”
Janice gave him a thumbs up and checked her seat belt. As the plane started to descend, it also started to shake. The wind was buffeting the small craft and she could see the tension on his face as he fought the controls to keep the plane level. She could make out the bright red outline of the field. It looked like it might be red cloth strung between barrels. The barrels had fires burning in them. Unlike the field in Fairbanks, this one had no blacktop; at least none visible. The pilot lowered a different set of landing gear, which Janice assumed were the skis that she had noted just to the outside of the wheels.
She figured the pilot must be good since there was not much of a bump as they touched down. As the back skid settled firmly on the ice, the pilot flicked another level and a loud thunk was heard behind them at the same time that there was a jerk and a sudden slowing of the plane. She looked back and saw a furrow trailing behind them. The plane glided to a stop no more than 40 feet from a couple of Quonset huts in all their corrugated steel glory. Two parka clad figures ran out from the smaller one to meet the plane as the pilot turned the engine off. One came around to her side and the other to the pilot’s side.
Janice zipped her coat up and put her stocking cap on, but did not pull it over her face so she could see clearly. The person outside her door waited until she had finished and then opened the door to the cabin.
“Miss Webster. Welcome to Kluso. I’m Kumak your superintendent and principal. Let’s get you settled into your apartment first and then we’ll talk a little about the school year.”
“Sounds fine, Mr. Kumak.”
“No mister, just Kumak. How much do you have in the back?”
“Quite a bit, I’m afraid. I wasn’t sure how easy or hard it would be to buy anything that I didn’t bring with me. There’s three suitcases and two trunks.”
“That’s fine. Let me get the sled a while you start unloading your things. I’ll get you a parka as well. That coat will not do when colder weather comes.”
Janice nodded, groaning inwardly at yet another sign that she was not meant for this place, and worked her way to the back hatch of the plane. The sun had fully set by now and the temperature was dropping swiftly. By the time she had her three suitcases out on the packed snow, a roar approached, and she saw a snowmobile with a pack sled behind it pulling up. Kumak helped her put her things in the sled. Once loaded, the two climbed aboard the snowmobile and Kumak turned it away from the plane.
The rest of the village was not all Quonset huts. It became apparent that those efficient, yet ugly, buildings were reserved for community structures. The individual dwellings were more traditionally built. Janice’s was located next to one of the huts with a sign that said “school.” With a little effort, they were able to get her belongings into her apartment (though it was a stand alone building, not part of a complex).
With the last trunk inside, both stripped off their gear. Janice stood just under six feet tall. Her body could best be described as full. Most would consider her overweight and her body resisted all attempts to lose the weight or the full bodiness that was her usual physique. Her tan spoke of extensive exposure to the sun, not surprising for a native of Nevada. Her red hair fell back on her head, hanging as far down as her shoulders. However, her face was definitely pretty and she was used to being on the receiving end of men’s stares. What she was not used to was the center of those stares being lower than her face, which is where Kumak’s was focused. If she didn’t know better, she would think he was ogling her body. But surely that thought was silly?
Less silly was Janice’s unabashed stare at Kumak. With the removal of his parka, Janice was able to see the well built man that had been wearing it. He wasn’t extremely tall, only five feet, nine inches, but what a five foot nine he was. Clearly Kumak was used to physical exertion of some sort. His chest was large without the equally large belly that accompanies the overweight. His arms, while not muscle bound, were visibly strong. His legs showed no evidence of weakness or flabbiness under the jeans he wore. His weathered, native skin tone had an exotic look that Janice found she liked.
In fact, her body liked him even more. She felt a tingle that started in her pussy and spread through her body. Her mind started to conjure images of his body, naked and holding her. Her nipples, fortunately concealed under her blouse and sweater, were perking up at the sight of what could only be described as a MAN.
It was a minute before they both realized that they were staring at one another. Both blushed, though Janice’s was more pronounced, and turned away.
Breaking the uncomfortable silence, Kumak asked, “Do you need time to unpack before we talk about the upcoming school year?”
“Yes, that would be nice.”
“I’ll be back then in about, 2 hours?”
“That should be fine. Two hours.”
There was a hesitation as they found themselves looking at one another again. It was definite this time, Kumak was staring at her body, and the appreciation was evident. With embarrassment, they both turned away again. The mass of cold air from the space between the two doors of the entry caused Janice to shiver. She was sure it was the cold air.
The apartment was not the lap of luxury, but it would do. The kitchen doubled as a dining room, with enough space for four people to sit around the table comfortably. She thought that putting the washing machine and drier in the kitchen was a little crass, but soon saw that there was no place else it could go. The bedroom and attached bath were cozy with limited closet space. She realized that she would have to be a little efficient with her clothes. Some, the less warm items, could stay packed for the next several months. The living area was spacious and clearly designed to be multipurpose. There was a basic entertainment center with TV and DVD player. While there was no stereo system, although she knew she could play her CDs on the DVD player. She assumed that the satellite dish outside meant she had satellite TV (she would find out later that she had satellite internet as well). A single couch faced the TV. A computer center was there, and as she had been warned, it had no computer in it. Her own laptop would fit there fine and she had purchased two dozen spare ink cartridges for her printer with the signing bonus. She was a little saddened by the lack of bookshelves built into the place. She would get less than a third of the books she had brought with her out of the trunk they had been packed in (that trunk was impossible for one person to lift).
She was in the middle of arranging her clothes in the closet and dresser when there was a knock at the door. Answering it, she saw Jack, the pilot.
“Miss, I wanted to let you know that I’ll be leaving in the morning straight away. My next trip up is in two weeks. Is there anything you think you’ll need me to bring up?” he asked after stepping in and closing the door.
“Yes, actually. Bookshelves. You know those particle board ones that slide together?” Jack nodded. “If you could round me up six of those that would be wonderful.”
“I think I can do that. Remember that you can get mail order here, just like in the lower 48. You can’t get next day service, but Fedex does deliver up here. In fact, I’m their chosen delivery method.”
“Thanks Jack. I’ll remember that.”
By the time Kumak returned two hours later, Janice finished unpacking everything except her books, which she was going to have to sort through,. Not wanting to seem to stare, they both avoided making direct eye contact,. They sat opposite each other at her kitchen table and discussed the upcoming school year.
Kumak started the conversation. “Have you had a chance to look over the curriculum and records we sent you?”
“Yes, I have. It seems pretty straight forward, for the most part. I did have questions about a couple of parts. I noticed that the school year is quite a bit longer than it needs to be. Like most of the US, there are a required 180 days of instruction, yet there are 225 days in the school year. What are the extra 45 days for?”
“Asked like a true resident of the lower 48. You can expect that many days lost to weather. Snowfall won’t be the major issue, though we can get enough snow at times to reach over the top of your door. It will be the cold. There will be days in the heart of winter where the temperature will be so low that it is a health hazard to travel from one building to another, especially if there is a stiff wind. You’ve heard that 30 below at 30 miles per hour will freeze exposed flesh in 30 seconds?” He continued when she nodded. “40 below with a wind of 50 miles per hour can freeze protected flesh in short order. On days like those, no one goes out for anything, if they can avoid it. We don’t always use the entire 45 days allotted for weather, but we have gone over it a year or two in the past.”
Janice’s jaw had dropped during his answer. “Do you mean to tell me that there will be days when I can’t leave this apartment without risking death?”
“Yes, that’s what I’m saying. Where are you from?”
“It gets hot there doesn’t it?”
“Yes, it can.”
“Have you had days when just walking to the corner store in the summer was dangerous in terms of heat stroke and dehydration?”
“Yes. Not often, but they happen. Air conditioners are not considered optional appliances in Nevada.”
“It’s just the same here, only with cold, and for longer periods. It’s no different from earthquakes in California or hurricanes in Florida. Every place has its own dangers. Ours is cold weather related.”
“I see. God I hate the cold!”
“If I may ask, why take a job here, for five years, no less?”
Janice gave a sheepish smile. “The money was good.”
“That’s not a good reason for doing something.”
Hackles rising, Janice retorted, “So says the man without $60,000 in school loans. $600 a month on a starting teacher’s salary is not to be laughed at. It will be worth it, I just won’t enjoy it.”
“You think we don’t understand debt here?” His anger spoke of a hot button having been pushed. “It’s only recently that my people have been able to return to self sufficiency after years of Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) abuses that made us dependant on others. All because we were seen as being poor!”
Janice looked at him, anger simmering between the two of them. Their eyes were locked together and their faces flushed with emotion. The howling of the wind outside was the only sound heard in the room for over a minute.
“Listen, I’m sorry if I insulted your people,” Janice started. “You said my reasons weren’t good enough and I defended them. It’s that simple. I have a debt load that I would only be able to pay by living in abject poverty while staying at my mother’s place for ten years.”
Kumak stared at her a little longer. “Alright. I don’t agree that your reason is worth it, but I accept that you think it is. I’m worried that you will quit before the five years is up, forcing us to search for a replacement. You have no idea what it is like to spend months without seeing the sun or feeling an above freezing temperature. Can you last?”
Yes, I can,” she replied defiantly.
Shaking his head, Kumak continued. “You said there were two things you had questions about. What is the second one?”
“Um,” Janice tried to collect her thoughts. “I’m concerned about the emphasis on conversational Inupiat. I’ve just started to listen to some of the language tapes and am in no way ready to teach my students their own native tongue.”
“You won’t have to the first year. That will be my job. Also, it’s not so much teaching them the language, it’s making sure they don’t lose it. There’s a lot of pressure to use English, given all the contact with US corporations and the government. The ability to hear the language in school is important. We don’t want you to do a California bilingual thing, but we don’t want to lose our native tongue either. In fact, your belief that you can learn the language quickly was one of the factors in hiring you.”
“It’s not a belief, it’s a fact. I have a natural affinity with languages. I speak French and Spanish fluently, in addition to English. Your language does seem very complex. I’m hoping to have some immersion in it after I get some of the basics down. Nothing teaches a language better than having to understand it just to get along.”
“It’s our hope that you can begin to teach in both English and Inupiat with increasing ease after the first year so that the children will be used to speaking in whatever language is needed at any given point in time. It’s important, though, to not let them create a pidgin blend of the two. They need to be fully bilingual by the time they have completed their education.”
“I can agree with that.”
“Well, if there’s nothing else, I’ll leave you to getting settled in. Be sure you have enough supplies for several days at all times. Those cold snaps usually last more than a day. Trapped with no food or water would be bad.”
“Thanks.” She reached to shake his hand. When their hands touched, something unseen, unfelt, but not unnoticed sparked between them. Kumak blinked and Janice moaned lightly. They both shook their heads and broke the contact. Without another word, Kumak put his cold weather gear on and left. Janice did not notice the blast of cold that came through the door.
As his absence broke the spell of silence, she realized that her pussy was damp. “My God, I have the hots for that rude man. He is sexy though. Stop it Janice, you can’t go down that road, he’s your boss.” Her thought were in turmoil. She did not want to admit just how much she desired the native that had just left her new home. The same man she would be seeing every school day for the next year. “I am in so much trouble.” she muttered out loud.
Janice went into her bedroom, reaching under the bras and panties in the top drawer to extract Mr. Roboto. The slim silver wand that was powered by 120 volts AC had been her best friend ever since Brad had given her the ultimatum. Stripping her clothes off, she lay on the bed with her friend lying beside her. Licking her fingers, she bypassed her usual preliminaries. She was already warmed up, thanks to the mere presence of Kumak’s body earlier. Her wet fingers circled her nipples, sending trickles of electric like sensations through her breasts to her cunt. It responded by juicing even more. She could feel the beads of lubricant forming on her pussy lips and moaned at the ache that started to build in her.
Janice was moaning loudly now, pinching her nipples and biting her lower lip. Her nipples were extremely sensitive and she had actually cum on a couple of occasions in the past just from stimulating them. She bent her head forward and lifted her breasts up so that she could swipe at them with her tongue. The feeling was sensational and she strained to reach down enough to take one into her mouth. As it passed her lips, she sucked at it, pulling the nipple tight, then let it slip out, scraping across her teeth. As the nipple pulled itself loose from her teeth, she cried out and started to pant. The other breast was brought up and she bit lightly into it, pulling it until it was distended. She held on until she could contain the cry no longer. Only then did she release it, letting it snap back to its usual position.
One hand groped for her vibrator and brought it to her breasts. The buzzing phallus caressed her aching tits with its presence and her aching pussy with its absence. She could feel herself dripping onto the bed and was struggling, unsuccessfully, to not writhe in place. Her empty hand slipped to her mound and brushed her bush without touching the flesh. The tickle of pubic hair across the sensitive skin surrounding her cunt sent waves of pleasure rolling out from her pussy. The cries that she was wrenching from herself made her glad that the wind was howling outside. Her cunt moved below her hand of its own volition, increasing the sensual torture that she was inflicting upon herself.
When control was finally lost, her hips thrust upwards and her palm brushed against the flesh of her pussy, she screamed an inarticulate cry. Mr. Roboto quickly descended and plunged into her cunt. She held it in with both hands, not because she needed to, but because she wanted to delay playing with her clit for as long as possible. The relentless humming of the vibrator had her on the edge. Her breaths were gasps that she held and then expelled repeatedly. The pleasure in her pussy was climbing higher and higher, driving her to near incoherence.
Unable to hold back any longer, Janice moved one hand to her clit and stroked it. Her cry of, “Oh fuck, oh fuck me! So close, so fucking close,” was swallowed up by the cold, howling wind outside her window. Her back was arched and it was all she could do to hold the vibrator in her cunt. The nearly painful stabs of pleasure forcibly extracted a string of cries from her as she hurtled over the cliff of no return towards her climax at the bottom. When it hit her, she screamed at the top of her lungs, then collapsed to the bed, shuddering in the waves of ecstasy that rolled out from her pussy to envelope her entire body. Her teeth clamped shut, her fingers and toes extended out from her hands and feet, curling back in double jointed flexibility, and her cunt bore down on the vibrator so hard that it was forced out onto the bed between her legs.
Her body relaxed and Janice started to breathe hard and fast, making up for the time lost when she was cumming instead of breathing. The howling wind, a reminder of the cold that was less than ten feet from her, was strangely reassuring. There was no way that she could scream louder than that wind, ensuring privacy for whenever she wanted to take herself to heaven for a short while. She could feel the dampness under her ass cooling already. “Great. I haven’t even slept in it yet,” she thought to herself.
She slipped some pajamas on and took her newly soaked bedding to the laundry. It had always embarrassed her that she produced so much fluid when she came. She never had worked up the courage to ask any of her girl friends what happened when they came. While the sheets and blanket cycled through, she started the process of sorting her books into need now; would like now; can wait two weeks. She was staring at a pile of books that was still half again as large as she had shelf space for when she realized she had yawned for the fifth time in as many minutes. Leaving them where they sat, she made her bed and drifted off to sleep.
In the morning, she had solved her book space problem. She would take her educational resources to the school. That would leave just enough space for the rest. After a breakfast of Grape Nuts (she put shopping as a top priority for today), she loaded up the books that were making the trip, insulated herself against the cold and stepped outside.
It was dark. “Damn!” she thought, “It’s seven in the morning and it’s still fucking dark.” She looked at the illuminated thermometer on her outer wall and read the depressing 12 degree temperature. “20 degrees below freezing. I’ll be lucky to see 30 degrees today.”
Grateful that the school was only 25 yards from her door, she made the short trip and found the door already unlocked. She mentally added a flashlight and lots of batteries to her internal shopping list. Inside were the four rooms of the school. The largest was the classroom itself. She had only 20 students in the equivalent of grades 1 through 10. Janice was so glad that U of Nev. had offered an elective on antiquated teaching methods. The section on 19th century, one room school houses was going to be invaluable. The second room was a small kitchenette where the students and her could fix and eat lunch. The village provided food for the school at no cost and required that she teach the equivalent of home economics to all students, so even lunch was going to be learning time. This fit her philosophy of teaching to a T.
The other two rooms were her office and storage for her teaching supplies. She carried her books to the office, only to find that it was already occupied. Kumak was standing at the filing cabinet, thumbing through the files. He didn’t even look up as he said, “Good morning Miss Webster.”
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Janice’s voice was exasperated.
Kumak turned around with a frown. “I’m making sure all the files are in order. Do you have a problem with that?”
His attitude of condescension set her off. “This is my office Mr. Kumak. From the moment you hired me, the files on the children became my concern and not yours. This may be an Inupiat village and school, but we’re still in the US the last I checked. Federal privacy laws apply here just like they do in Nevada. Even if you were the entire school board, those files are off limits to you. Now, get out!”
His eyes blazed, all the while staring at her chest. “Miss Webster. I teach here as well, giving me as much access to these files as much as you have.”
“Excuse me, have you signed a contract to teach here in an official capacity?”
“No, but I...”
She cut him off. “Then you are at best, a volunteer, even with your position as superintendent. That means you are violating Federal law. Now I said get out and I meant get out!”
The two stared at each other for several seconds. His kept drifting down from her face, interfering with his ability to level anger at her. Her eyes never wavered from his face, but her breath was becoming increasingly short and it had nothing to do with her anger. Finally, Kumak slammed the file drawer shut and stalked out of the office. Janice couldn’t help but notice how sexy his ass was. As he left her sight, she shook her head.
Janice sat in the chair behind her desk. She trembled with anger, as much at him for the violation of her student’s privacy as she was at herself. Why was she so attracted to him? He was rude, abrasive and full of himself. He was also a hunk. Janice realized that her nipples had hardened since she entered the school. “I’ve got to spend every day with him around? I’ll go stark raving mad with lust,” she moaned to herself.
Over the next two weeks, she outlined her teaching plan for the school year. Janice knew that the plan would not survive intact for more than a couple of weeks, at best, once she actually started interacting with the students. Fortunately, from her point of view, she did not see much of Kumak during that two weeks. He did stop by once to discuss when he would be holding his conversational Inupiat lessons. They agreed that immediately after lunch would be best. The tension between them had not diminished in the slightest.
Once the school year had started, they saw more and less of each other. While both Janice and Kumak were in the school house at the same time for almost an hour, they saw very little of each other during that time. Janice spent the time he conversed with the children in their native tongue preparing for the next day’s lessons. She found that his voice, low in the background, enticed her. It was just as seductive to her ears as his body was to her eyes.
Several times, she found herself listening to his lessons, “just to practice with the language,” she would tell herself. Janice came to the conclusion that he was a good teacher; at least in language skills. He had a rapport with the children that she had seen in only a couple of teachers in the past. His presence still provoked sexual feelings in her and she had frequent dates with Mr. Roboto.
The children themselves were a joy to work with. The older children were enthusiastic in their assignments involving tutoring the younger children. All except the shy 14 year old girl, Jameel. The teen was very reluctant to accept responsibility. When it was given to her in a manner that did not let her refuse, she handled it well, but she never volunteered for anything. Her proficiency in explaining math to young children was even better than Janice’s. Three weeks into the year, she asked Kumak to come by after classes were done.
“Ms. Webster. You wanted to talk to me?”
“Yes, Kumak. Thanks for coming. I wanted to ask what you know about Jameel. She’s a bright young lady, but seems almost embarrassed to let anyone see how smart she is. Is there anything you can tell me about her that isn’t in her file?”
“I was wondering when you would ask about her. Your impression is more accurate than you might have thought. Eight years ago, her father had something removed from her file.” He held up a hand when Janice started to bristle. “I know that’s not supposed to be possible. Martel is a stubborn man with a lot of influence. The teacher at the time gave into his demands.”
“What was removed?”
“The results of an IQ test. Jameel tested at 155.”
“Good grief! Why would anyone want to hide that their child has a genius IQ?”
“Jameel is probably the smartest person in the village. More significantly, she is smarter than her father. He is a traditionalist. He is afraid that his genius daughter will be enticed to leave the village to some white man’s university and loose her sense of who she is. So, not only has her IQ test been suppressed, it has been made clear to her, not in so many words, that doing well in school is not something that is strongly desired.”
“Do you mean to tell me that he actively discourages his daughter from excelling in her studies?”
“No, not actively, but, passively, she is led to understand that doing well in school is unimportant. Tell me, have you noticed any times when she does work up to her potential?”
“Yes. When she is working with the younger children in math and when she is part of a group.”
“Exactly. She won’t try to excel when she is affecting only herself, but she refuses to do anything to hold others back. Her father has instilled a strong sense of responsibility in her.”
“I see. So the more she has to excel as part of a group, the better she will do, simply from an obligation to do so.”
“Have any other teachers noticed this and acted on it?”
“No.” The upset in his voice was palatable. The only thing that seemed to soften it was the equally hard look in Janice’s eyes. Both were thinking the same thing. How many years of this girl’s life had been wasted by teachers who took the easy way out.
“I think it’s time we increased Jameel’s level of responsibility. How much pressure can she take?”
“From what I’ve seen, the greater the pressure, the better she will perform. I wouldn’t want you to do this, but if she found herself having to teach all the other children, she would rise to the challenge, teaching herself everything she needs to teach the others.”
“Hmmm. That would be a little extreme. But I think I can force her to stretch. I should give her more independent study, let her explore and discover things on her own. What are some of her interests? How will her dad respond to her taking on responsibilities?”
Kumak thought for almost a minute. “He won’t help her, but he won’t hinder her either. I know she has an interest in different mythological heritages, as well as meteorology. We can look at her reading choices from past years for other idea.”
“Not what I would want from a parent, but better than it could be. There’s a lot she can do with what you’ve said. Thanks for your insights.”
She stood up to see him to the door. Both tried to enter the hall at the same time and they collided. Suddenly finding themselves shoulder to shoulder, they turned and found themselves pressed against each other in the doorway. Janice’s heart leapt as she looked slightly down at him and their eyes locked. For almost a minute, they stared into each other’s eyes, their breath warming each other’s faces. Kumak’s hand went to the back of Janice’s head and pulled her, unresisting, to a kiss. The first contact between their lips was electric. Both moaned and their arms pulled the other closed. Kumak’s lips parted and his tongue probed at the entrance of her mouth.
Her lips gave him access. They explored each other’s mouths with a tender vengeance, both eager and desperate. She could feel his cock hardening inside his pants and her nipples keeping pace. Her hands absorbed the feeling of strength in his back, barely restrained by his shirt. She broke off the kiss.
“We shouldn’t be doing this.” Her tone did not agree with her words.
In an equally contradictory tone, he responded, “No we shouldn’t.”
They kissed again. His hand slipped under the back of her shirt. Her skin had a feminine smoothness that enticed him to continue. The moan with which she responded reinforced that enticement. Her hands pulled his shirt up and caressed his back as well. She felt the muscles in his back ripple under her fingers. The kiss broke, both of them breathing hard. The two locked eyes, their thoughts in sync, “Do I want to do this?” Neither could come up with an answer.
Kumak brought his hand to her breast, waiting for her to pull away. Janice’s breath drew in quickly as her body shivered under the tender touch. Her back arched, presenting her breasts more fully, pressing them into his hand. Kumak began to unbutton her blouse, exposing the lace of her bra and the hint of the breasts they contained. When his hands cupped her breasts, she moaned, her hands grabbing his. She shook her head.
“No. Kumak, we can’t. You’re my superior.”
“I don’t care. I’ve wanted you ever since I first saw you. Is that so wrong?”
“Yes. No. I don’t know. Kumak, this is contrary to everything I believe. What will people think?”
He looked at her body, then at her face. “I don’t care what they think. I want you. I know you want me. If you don’t, just say so, and I’ll back off.” The look in her eyes and her silence spoke volumes. “Let me bring some warmth into the cold for you.”
“I do want you,” she began. As she continued, she pulled his hands off her breasts, biting her lips as she did. “But, I’m a teacher and you’re my supervisor. It’s wrong. I just can’t do it.”
Kumak let his hands be pulled away and watched her back away from him. The disappointment in his eyes matched the disappointment in hers. He let her step back, watching her. Janice turned her back and walked back to her desk. She waited until she heard his footsteps walk away, then sat down, and cried into her hands.
Jameel responded to the increased responsibilities that both Janice and Kumak gave her. Kumak started letting her take the lead in the post-lunch conversations in Inupiat. Janice had her start preparing lessons of her own, overseen by Janice herself, to teach the younger children in math. When Janice suggested that she do a report on comparative mythologies with an emphasis on how the environment shapes myth, Jameel leapt at the chance Janice found that she loved the job she had taken. At times, the ever present cold and dark could be forgotten when she was in the classroom, reaching students, teaching them.
Her relationship with Kumak was not such a bright part of her life. When he was with the students, she sat in her office, unable to do anything. Occasionally, she would find herself crying. Their conferences about the students were stressful, each painfully aware of what they would rather be doing. At night, she went through the motions of eating and reading. A couple nights a week, someone, usually a parent, would invite her to dinner, something she found enjoyable. Like small villages everywhere, friendliness was the guiding principle. You never knew when your life might depend on the person three houses down. Regardless, she went to bed early, as much to escape her feelings for Kumak as to be able to fall asleep in time to get enough rest.
Two months had passed since they had almost given in to their passion. Two days ago, the sun had descended below the horizon for the last time until March. Jameel stuck her head inside Janice’s office.
“I wanted to let you know. I’m going out to get some ice samples.”
Jameel, like the other high school age students, was required to develop a science project. The project had to demonstrate a scientific principal in such a way that the younger children were able to understand it. Jameel had chosen to make a demonstration of glaciation. She had already started a snow pile. Over the next few months, additional snow would be added and the weight of the new snow would compress the bottom layers into ice. She wanted an ice core from the nearby ice pack to show what layered ice looks like.
“Okay. Do you need any help?”
“No. I have the corer. It shouldn’t take more than an hour. I want to be able to show the kids how layers form.”
“Great. You’ve been doing fantastic, Jameel. How have you been holding up? You have taken on a lot of responsibility.”
“I love it, Ms. Webster. The kids are a joy to work with and it seems like I learn from teaching them. Isn’t that weird?”
“No. When I was doing my student teaching, I found that I learned more about my subjects when I was teaching them. What you’re experiencing is perfectly normal. Be careful, it’s not going to get any warmer out there.”
“I’ve lived here all my life, Ms. Webster. I can take care of myself.”
“Okay. If you’re not back in an hour, I’m sending a search party out.”
“I’ll be back.”
Jameel left, bundled up in her parka. Janice left right after she did, thinking that she would be back before Jameel could return. She wanted to get her dinner started, giving her crock pot several hours to turn meat, water, potatoes, carrots and onions into stew. She turned the TV on to catch the weather report. It had not taken her long to realize the importance of knowing what was going to happen. Being surprised by the weather here could be more than just a rained out picnic. It could kill you.
The weather channel cycled to their ‘local on the 8s’ segment and Janice heard the report. “This is a severe weather alert. The storm in Kotzebue bay has turned north and should be making land fall near Kivalina and Kluso within the half hour. Expected snow fall is 18 to 24 inches with temperatures dropping to 20 degrees below zero. All residents are advised to remain indoors until the storm passes in 24 to 36 hours. We repeat...”
Janice did not stay to listen to any more. Her student was walking into the teeth of a killer storm and she had no idea. Janice was certain she could overtake Jameel in short order. The teen had a coring drill with her. Her parka and other cold weather gear on, she rushed out and found Jameel’s tracks. She followed them for about 15 minutes. Then, they seemed to disappear. Looking around, she realized that, while she had been paying attention to the ground, the wind had picked up. Looking back, she saw her own tracks in the snow were quickly vanishing under the impact of the wind.