Fifty grades of Che

Rachel’s phone vibrated and the screen lit up announcing a new message. Tell me what you’re wearing so I can imagine relieving you of each item, piece by piece. He was nothing if not persistent. Her fingers tapped back a quick text. Go take a cold shower or something. I’m marking. She turned her attention back to the stack of papers in front of her: the combined efforts of her first year undergraduates’ take on whether Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s status as a genuine revolutionary in thought and deed was undermined by the commodification of his image after his death. Her phone shook again. Come home and mark me… with your long fingernails down my back. Jesus. Just watch some porn or something. Seriously, I’m busy. I’ve got fifty essays on Che Guevara to do before tomorrow. I’m really not in the mood for your sexting bullshit.

After a couple of minutes the phone’s screen faded back to black, powered down, and Rachel figured he’d got the message. Sighing she picked up the next paper. Emily Cunningham. She had attended every lecture this semester wearing the same tee-shirt: a screen print of the famous (infamous) Guevara image, beret, moustache, tousled shoulder length hair, idealistic stare into the middle distance. She also wore blue and white vertically striped tights which met a pair of boots painstakingly painted with a red triangle centred with a star. Inevitably she had a beret too. Her essay started with: whilst I inherently reject the Western Imperialist notion that education can be measured, believing instead that is is an inalienable right for each individual to seek knowledge for its own sake… Rachel sighed, skipped a few pages that waxed lyrical about Che’s travels through South America (so you’ve seen The Motorcycle Diaries, so has every other student on this course), and eventually found a paragraph that seemed to conclude that the West’s appropriation of him could never undermine his revolutionary spirit and zeal. She gave it a D. Realise you will reject my measurement of your inalienable right to learn but suggest you devote more energy to addressing the question next time or you’re heading for an inalienable fail. Nice tights btw. 

If this was the standard it was going to be a long night. Her phone lit up again. Sighing she glanced at the screen. Let me control your means of production. She decided to ignore it. Maybe he would get bored and give up. Half way through reading the next student’s work another message buzzed for attention. From each according to his abilities, for each according to his needs… and I’ve got strong needs tonight. Exasperated she replied. Stop just googling quotes about Marxism. They are not sexy, you weirdo. I am working.

Almost instantly another message arrived. Worker of the world unite. With me. You have nothing to lose but your chains. Actually maybe we could keep the chains ?

Ignore him. Stop replying, it’s just encouraging him. Mark the papers, go home, he will have zonked out on the sofa in front of some highly inappropriate website, you can have a bath and go to bed. Her phone nudged her again. There’s been a popular uprising.

Rachel couldn’t help herself. Now you’re just making stuff up. The other ones weren’t even Guevara and that one’s not anyone. Your “uprising” isn’t popular here. Minutes ticked by. He’s given up. Mark the goddamn papers. She skim read another essay, this one arguing that Che’s eventual adoption of violence as a means of overthrowing oppression was an inevitable consequence of his training as a doctor. Another D. She was just about to pick up the next attempt when she saw her phone shake and shimmer again. Seriously. This is the last one. I’m turning it off. One has to grow hard but without ever losing tenderness. Really ? At least this one was actually Che. Give him credit. At least he’s learning something tonight. She tapped out one last response. 

You can liberate me tomorrow and help me throw off the shackles of the yolk of capitalism. I’ll be your thesis, you be my anti-thesis and we can come together in synthesis. Maybe I’ll even use the shackles. No yolk though. That would just be… messy. Get some sleep. Love you.

Rachel turned off her phone and, sighing, picked up the next paper.


This is story 27 in a series of 42 to raise money and awareness for the mental health charity Mind. My fundraising page is here and all donations, however small, are really welcome:

To be honest this slightly ridiculous story came largely from me finding the title quite funny and then trying to concoct something from that. Plus I got to tag a post with “sex” and “Marxism” and it’s not everyday that you get to do that… although I imagine that somewhere on the web there’s a site that caters.


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