Today was a good day. Nothing remarkable happened – nothing worth mentioning, really – but there were no disasters, either. No news is good news, right?
Sometimes I worry that I talk too much. Not only that, but I ingratiate myself into the lives of others and thereby create an odd sense of intimacy that has no business of being invented. I worry that people honestly find me annoying and suffer through each encounter with a smile, only to turn to a neighbor later and commiserate with one another about what a killjoy I am, or what a loser I am, or how obnoxious I am. It’s ironic; being a writer, I am talented at manipulating words to evoke certain moods, but it seems that talent only extends to the written page. It does not pertain to conversation, or at least, that is my greatest insecurity.
PROMPT: “I saw a picture of him on the Internet. Pretty scary.”
PIECE: Morgan hurried up the aisle, her stylish, black flats scuffing soundlessly against the cheap and abounding carpet. She had a minute or two before the professor started class, but only a minute or two, so she did her best to quickly and discreetly slip into the vacant seat beside her friend, Christine. When Morgan was seated, Christine turned to face her. Her face looked most serious, like she had learned some terrible news that she could not bear to keep to herself. Morgan felt the color slide from her face to the tips of her fingers; her heart beat there. She swallowed hard and asked the obvious question. “What is it, Christine?”
Christine shut her eyes. It was like she thought if she didn’t see Morgan, then the whole ordeal was nothing more than a figment of her imagination. That belief made it easier to manage, gave Christine more control, and it didn’t matter that it wasn’t real. At the moment, it was effective. In one giant rush of air and with her eyes shut tight, Christine said, “I saw a picture of him on the Internet. Pretty scary.”
Morgan was quickly becoming irritated by the lack of information. “You saw a picture of who, Christine?”
“Of the professor,” Christine answered. Her eyes were now open, but her lips were turned downward in an awful, adolescent kind of pout.
“So?” Morgan was being flippant, angry because she didn’t understand what Christine was getting at because Christine was holding back necessary details. Morgan opened her mouth to damn near beg for clarification when the classroom door flew open. Her eyes traveled down the aisle, towards the left corner in the front of the room. In rushed her biggest regret, with his briefcase sloppily unbuckled and falling open, papers precariously sliding about and ready to fall. One side of his stained, button-down shirt was hanging un-tucked from his pants, which were in desperate need of ironing. His thick-framed glasses were askew on his face, most likely unable to balance on ears that were too large and on a nose that was too small. His thin lips twitched from side to side. His dark hair was all askew and stuck up with sweat at odd angles. His name was John and Morgan had met him at a bar last year. She had been especially vulnerable, especially desperate and exceptionally drunk when she had allowed him to take her home.
Now here he was, teaching American Literature at the local college. Morgan suddenly wanted to die. Groaning, she allowed her head to fall to her crossed arms. Christine tried to soothe her friend by rubbing her back.
It was going to be a long, long semester.