Tag Archives: college

And on…

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As the rain smashed against the window, she just wanted to be home. In bed. Snuggled in blankets. It didn’t help that the air conditioning was on in the classroom. And the teacher droned on and on and on. And on. And on.

And on.

What was he even talking about? She had no idea. Something about math, obviously. But he wasn’t putting anything on the board. Just talking. Did he just say something about a test next class? She didn’t care.

Her phone vibrated in her pocket. Great. Now she had to decide if she should try to check and risk his wrath. It’s an automatic absence if he sees her phone out. It went off again. Was that the same text? It was too close together. Wasn’t it? Or was it just the second alert?

She decided it wasn’t worth it. Usually she enjoyed this class, but today…today was just so blah. Blech. Yuck.

She looked at the clock. How had it only been fifteen minutes??? It felt like class should have been almost over.

There were shirts in the schoolyard. She could see them from her seat. They represented something, but she wasn’t sure what. Did it matter? Could she make a difference either way? This was way too deep thinking for 8 AM. She had a break after this class. Then a class at 11:15. Is a forty-minute nap worth it? She would just be groggy for the rest of the day. Should she grab breakfast? It was so far…like two blocks…to the caf. Then again…they couldn’t mess up breakfast, could they?

Her phone went off again. Maybe it was someone asking her to go to breakfast. Maybe it was him. That would be even worse. He wasn’t taking it well. If it was a text from him, it was definitely not worth the risk.

He’s collecting the homework. She already has it out in front of her, and passes it up. The guy behind her was hitting her in the neck with the corner of his homework. She forgot he was even there. She grabbed it, gave him a look, and passed it up.

The teacher did that thing all teachers do when they get a stack of papers. Fix it, try to right the crooked ones, and then smack it on the desk so they all align. Except they won’t, because some people left those fuzzy edges on the paper.

He put them down. It rained harder, the AC kicked in and blew ice-cold air right up her sleeve, making her shiver, and he started droning on and on and on.

And on.

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Good Old City Life

As Ethyl turned the VW bug down the dirt road, Bertha shuddered a little.

“What is it, Berth? Something the matter?”

“I’m used to cities is all. This road trip has been adventure enough without you taking this shortcut through the woods. This road is dirt, for the love of Pete!”

Ethyl smiled at her city friend. They’d instantly connected at the school where both were studying to be receptionists. Ethyl had left the family farm in search of bigger and better things, and Bertha was just killing time until her fiancé, Jasper, got back from the war.

“I grew up on roads like this. Relax, hun.”

The VW blew up a cloud of dust as Ethyl drove it a bit manically around a turn, the wheels scrambling through some pebbles and shooting them into the woods.

“Well could you slow down a bit, at least? At least consider the paint! This car is new!”

Jasper bought the car a few months before he found himself shipped out and trusted his future wife with his most prized possession.

“It’s Jasper’s most prized possession!”

“Where do you come in on that list?” Ethyl asked with a smile and a bit of attitude.

“Just under the car, darling. You should know that. Men and their toys…”

Ethyl relented and let go of the gas a little, taking the turns a bit easier.

“Thank you, dear,” Bertha said as she reached into the back seat. “Care for some coffee?”

“Actually, I’m famished! How’s about I find a place to pull over?”

“Here in the middle of nowhere?”

“Here’s as good as anywhere else!”

They drove the little powder-blue bug another mile or so until she came up to a bend in the road just before an old bridge. A picturesque clearing filled with wildflowers lined the grassy spot where Ethyl stopped the car.

“Oh look Bertha! What a place for a picnic. What do you say?”

Bertha smiled and grabbed the wicker picnic basket from the backseat. “Good thing I packed these sandwiches! God knows how long we’ll be lost out here!”

“I’m telling you,” Ethyl said with another smile, “The man at the station said this here was a shortcut. Said it would cut a good hour of driving. You want to be at your cousin’s by evening, don’t you? Or shall we camp out for the night –“

“Lord no! I’m not sleeping in a tent. We’re making it tonight if it kills us.” Ethyl let a knowing smile grow on her face. She knew just how to manipulate her city friend. The woman was clearly afraid of nature.

Bertha got out of the car, removed her cardigan and fixed her flower-print dress. After checking both shoulder straps, making sure they were just right, she threw her cardigan onto the car and pulled a blanket out of the back seat.

Ethyl loved watching this girl, an enigma to someone who grew up on a farm, as she carefully placed the blanket on the grass. “You know, there’s a perfectly good log over there.”

“You must be joking. This is an expensive dress! It’s Chanel!”

“It’s what?”

“Chanel! As in Coco?”

Ethyl raised an eyebrow. “Okay…”

“Oh you country bumpkin…what do you know!” Bertha smiled, and Ethyl laughed quite loudly, letting it echo through the trees. She was relieved to see her friend loosen up a bit.

“Well, this fabulous ensemble I’m wearing is official Wanamaker’s. The top was on sale!”

Bertha giggled as she sat down on the blanket with the basket. Meanwhile, Ethyl took out her satchel and started rooting through it for a pen and paper.

“Oh no, is the master author at it again?” Bertha teased.

Ethyl stuck out her tongue and sat on the log. Her scribbling on the pad of lined paper reverberated through the woods, disrupted only by the occasional sound of wrapper rustling as Bertha set up their lunch.

Once she had the sandwiches out and spoons in the small container of potato salad, she waited patiently for her friend to finish. She put her hands behind her head and leaned back against the car, looking up at the perfectly blue sky. Ethyl finally finished and joined her on the blanket.

“Say what you want about the city, and I will, as you know, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the sky such a beautiful blue,” Bertha said. Ethyl dug into the potato salad and nodded. As she tried to speak a small piece of potato fell to the blanket.

“That was what I was writing about.”

“Another poem?”

“Mhmm,” she said as another piece fell to the blanket. She picked it up, inspected it and popped it into her mouth.

“Such class. It’s a wonder you were raised on a farm! I would think you came from the most fabulous finishing school in Paris!” Bertha raised an eyebrow at her friend, waiting for a response.

“Just wait until I go pee in those woods right there, then we’ll see who is refined,” she said, watching Bertha shudder a little.

“You will not!”

“I will so!”

“Don’t do it, Ethyl. There must be a ladies room around here somewhere!”

Ethyl smiled again at her friend.

“So what was your poem about?”

“Actually, it was about returning to a perfectly blue sky after spending a few months in the smoggy city.”

“Really?”

She nodded.

“That’s…kind of lovely, Eth. It really is beautiful here, I must admit. I can hear the birds and a breeze, rather than cars and yelling. And what is that sound? The one that is fairly constant?”

“Crickets, Berth.”

“Ah. Crickets. They’re kind of loud.”

“Funny, I didn’t even notice them until you pointed it out.”

“Well, it really is quite lovely.”

They continued to eat when a bug landed on Bertha. She screamed and dropped her sandwich onto her plate as she rushed to get it off her arm, flailing like an insane person. Ethyl just remained calm and continued eating. Bertha finally got rid of the bug and stood.

“I’m eating the rest in the car.”

Peanuts

She approached the counter and read the list of food prices with serious concentration and diligence.

“Can I help you?” the man at the register said no small hint of snobbishness in his voice.

She reached into her pocket and pulled out a handful of change without any embarrassment whatsoever; she was a college student and paid for her classes on her own thanks to hard work and dedication to her education. It wasn’t her fault she was hurting for money, and normally she wouldn’t spend her hard-earned cash on such frivolity, but her stomach was starting to distract the other people in the quiet café.

“What do you recommend I get with this much?” she asked him.

He sifted through the change with a pen and pushed it around a bit. “Well, you could get another twenty minutes on the parking meter,” he said with a laugh as he looked around for a reaction, but nobody was around to join him. He cleared his throat and got serious. “You can get half a hot dog, which we won’t do, or four bags of peanuts from the sale basket over there.”

She pushed the change in his direction a bit and took picked up the peanuts.

“Thanks,” she said with a genuine smile as she returned to her seat and tore into both the snack and her homework.

Photograph by Christina Molholm, my favorite monster maker, whose blog can be found here.

Anticipatory

A Collection of Flash Fiction in One Setting

The professor watched the student, a virtual class clown, who kept looking over his shoulder at something in the back, procrastinating as usual.  With every turn of his head, his elbow was pushing his cup of soda—contraband in a computer lab—closer and closer towards the edge of the table.

He could not help but look back at her, wondering if she noticed him.  She was usually looking out the window for no obvious reason.  Someday he would get the guts to ask her out.  If she only knew that every pun, every prank, every joke was just for her, in the hopes she would notice him.

It was such a beautiful day, and she couldn’t wait to go outside and feel the bright green grass tickling her bare feet. Instead, she was temporarily stuck inside, reading a chapter and then responding to it in essay form while glancing out the window every chance she got.  The smell of liquor was pouring into her nose every time she inhaled, and she kept wondering which student came to class drunk.

He had such a rough night, and wished he hadn’t slept with her yet again.  She was upset over a bad grade, drank all of the wine in the house, then moved on to a bottle of whiskey she’d left in the liquor cabinet for years due to the disgusting taste.  He slept next to her in the bed after a night of wild lovemaking; he’d stayed sober because she was using an X-acto knife and he didn’t want her to cut herself.  Now, in class, he kept looking at his phone, worried she would text.  A loud, unexpected bang startled him back to attention.

She was sure the guy sitting in front of her was asleep, and all she wanted to do was wake him; bring him back to the torture that was this class.  She’d slammed her book down hard, startling the rest of the class but with no visible response from him.  She had to do something to wake him up, to force him back to this reality that everyone else was part of.

The flashing fluorescent light above him was driving him crazy; his head was killing him and the bottle of aspirin in his bag was empty.  As soon as class was over he would head straight to the pharmacy to get more.  The random loud noises didn’t help his headache at all, either.  He wished the stupid person would stop dropping whatever it was, but his head hurt too much to even open his eyes and turn around to discover the source.  And for some reason he swore he smelled peanut butter, which could also mean a migraine was coming on.  He always smelled odd aromas before a migraine.

She snuck the peanut butter crackers into her mouth one at a time, trying not to get caught through her sneaky nonchalance.   They were supposed to be her in-between class snack, but she just could not wait any longer.

She watched the smug girl eating some variety of crackers, knowing full well the professor had just reminded the class of the strict “no food and no drink in the lab” policy.  It was so obvious that this girl felt that just because she was the smartest in the class, she had an advantage over the teacher that allowed her to eat and break the rules.

Superficially, she was beautiful, even as she glared at the girl eating the peanut butter crackers.  He was shaking a little bit, because he had decided today was the day he would ask her out.  Sure, he knew beauty was only skin deep, knew all about what they say about judging book covers, but it would be enough for him.  He would ask her today.  But for now he would listen to the professor, who just rose to his feet and walked to the podium, signaling the beginning of a discussion.  The clock ticked and ticked but never seemed to advance as he thought about asking her on a date.

The professor was at the podium, standing silently, waiting for everyone to look away from their monitors and towards him so he could begin the lecture.

Inspirational words:  anticipatory, procrastinate, superficial, advantage, response, stupid.