Here it comes, I thought as my professor entered the room, exams in hand.
She picked up a whiteboard marker and began writing the range of scores that the class earned. Someone had gotten a 100 (probably Yesenia who was a Math major) and the lowest score was a 30. Ouch. My professor put down the marker and began passing back exams silently. It was after she passed back Yesenia’s exam that she came to mine and handed it to me with a smile.
Well a smile was hopeful, I thought as I flipped to the back page of my exam. Written in red marker was the number 89/100. Yeah it wasn’t the A my mom wanted for me but it was a step in the right direction. Especially since my lowest grade had been a D, thanks to a confusing section on checking given limits to see if they existed. This was something worth celebrating for.
“Great! Don’t you feel better about the B than the D?” Mom asked.
I sat up straighter against my pillows and adjusted my phone to my other ear. “Yup, it does feel nice to have a passing grade than the other end of the spectrum.”
Mom coughed in the background, probably from a cold, and continued, “Keep up the effort. By the way, how’s Jesse doing?”
I winced once the dreaded question came out. What could I say about him now? It was already over a month since we last spoke and running into him was rare.
“I don’t know Mom,” I began, “he’s been pretty busy with class and projects so we haven’t caught up in a while.”
“Understandable,” she said. “Well I hope that the two of you can hang out sometime before the holiday break. Anything else you want to talk about?”
“Nope, that’s it. Just wanted to share the news about the great grade,” I said.
“Anyone want to say anything to Wilson about his story?” Professor Sykes asked during our third workshop.
Rachelle shot her hand up and glanced over at Wilson. Professor Sykes nodded at her and she put her hand down before giving her critique.
“I thought it was so scary,” she said. “I mean, it was like a Stephen King book or something with all the twists and turns and bloody stuff.”
Wilson nodded from across the table and thanked her for her comment. Professor Sykes looked around and tried to hide his surprised look when Chance raised his hand. I guess it was because Chance rarely talked during workshop classes and simply turned in his marked up copy of the author’s story every week without question.
“Why did you want to write a horror story?” Chance asked him.
Wilson shrugged his shoulders. “Just kinda wanted to give it a try. I normally write stuff in the 20th century like 50s sock hop or the 1960s hippie movement. Thought it was worth trying to do something different.”
“I’m glad you tried something different,” Professor Sykes said. “And for next class, we’re workshopping Amber’s and Chance’s stories. Make sure you read them and make comments. Amber, Chance, do you have copies for everyone to read?”
Amber picked up her stack and handed everyone a copy. Chance dug his story out of his bag and had everyone take one and pass the rest down. Once they were all distributed, Professor Sykes dismissed everyone, resulting in a mad dash for the door.
I packed up and left for the library to get started on reading these stories.
“She slapped the woman across the face and screamed at her, “You abandoned me! Why should I let you in now?” The woman staggered back and fell to her knees, begging the girl to forgive her. Forgive her for leaving her at the orphanage years ago. Forgive her for never trying to find her daughter. Forgive her for being gone.” I read out loud in the private study room. I checked my watch which read 11:15 AM. I had plenty of time before my 2:45 class to get both of these stories read and marked up.
I heard a knock at the door and I jerked my head up. A face peered in through the window next to the door and I saw it was Chance from Creative Writing. I stood up and opened the door.
“Hi,” I said. “What’s up?”
Chance shrugged and replied not much. He fished around his pocket for something and pulled out a piece of paper. He handed the paper to me and asked me to read it later.
“Have you started reading the stories yet?” he asked as he leaned against the door frame.
“Just about finished with Amber’s,” I replied. “Why how about you?”
“I haven’t started yet,” he said. “Yeah I have to get going now but good luck with reading.” He gave me a little wave before straightening up and leaving the library.
What was that about? I thought as I closed the door to my study room. Whatever, he was probably asking everyone if they had read the stories yet. Maybe he was fishing for compliments or critiques prior to the workshop. But then again, there was that piece of paper he gave me.
I sat back down and finished Amber’s story about a girl meeting her birth mother after she turned 20. I scribbled a few comments on her page about the content and pace before pulling out Chance’s story.
It Just…Sort of Happened
by Chance Wen
Duuuudde! Partay at Dana’s house with booze and hot tub tonight! U in? Sent 9:08 PM
Sure – dont really want to do this boring assignment. Sent 9:19 PM
“Dude check that girl out!” Sam slurred. He pointed to the blonde in the short skirt and tank top who was bending down to grab a beer from the cooler. As she stayed bent over, Sam cackled about her lack of undies to his buddies, one of them who groaned as he coughed up $10 from their bet. He guzzled down the rest of his beer and threw the can on the floor before going to find his friend Tyler.
Tyler was on the couch, beer bottle in hand and a dazed look on his face. Yeah he wasn’t as smashed as Sam but pretty damn close. Sam elbowed his buddy as he sank down onto the couch and asked him about the girls at the party.
“See anyone you wanna get with tonight?” Sam oozed. “Found a blonde in the kitchen without undies man! Think I got any chance with her?”
“Maybe man,” Tyler said. He looked down at his bottle and some how found it unsettling. He glanced toward the door and gripped the arm of the couch to help him stand up. His legs wobbled and he nearly fell sideways onto someone else. Yeah he was pretty drunk and driving was out of the question.
“Say Sam the man,” Tyler said, “I’m gonna call it a night. See ya round.”
The cold air punched him in the face as he left the party and began heading home to his apartment. He couldn’t see straight and the wind was strong tonight. He felt borderline nauseous and wished that he hadn’t taken that extra beer before leaving. Sure he could have stayed and maybe gotten laid but hell, who wanted to sleep with some bimbo that he couldn’t remember the next day? Tyler saw a bright light ahead and heard a loud roar accompany it. It was a motorcycle with a girl on it and it slowed down beside him.
“Hey you, you alright? You look dazed?” the girl asked him.
Tyler tried to form the words to tell her that he was fine and almost home but instead he sank to the ground as his stomach reacted to the alcohol he consumed earlier. His head felt light and his vision was becoming worse, with the girl spinning before his eyes. Words became a mess of sounds in his ears and his brain stopped functioning.
Then it was over. The pain, the spinning, the static in his ears. Tyler pried his eyes open and blinked as he looked around at the stark white hospital setting he was in. The girl probably called for help and here he was in the hospital. He sat up and the doctor bustled in with the report: It was alcohol poisoning and he had been lucky to survive. Drink lots of fluids and lay off the alcohol for a few weeks.
“Who was, who was the girl who brought me in?” he asked.
I settled back into my chair and stretched my legs. Chance, where have you been? I thought as I picked up my pen to write some comments on his story. I scribbled several positive comments about his descriptions of Tyler’s reaction to the alcohol and the encounters he had with the mystery girl named Abby. The only thing I wished he had done differently was have him get Abby’s name sooner. Other than that, he did a fantastic job.
My computer dinged that I had a new message from my professor in my next class. I clicked on it and the message read that class was cancelled, thanks to his car breaking down. Guess that meant I was free as a bird.
I began packing up my things until I remembered the piece of paper from Chance that he handed to me earlier. I unfolded it and smoothed it out before reading his scrawling script:
- Mckayla Tang’s got guts. She let herself go during that comedy night and wasn’t afraid to tell the truth.
- I have no idea why Rachelle thinks that every story has to be about Gossip Girl. Lamest series ever and it doesn’t make much sense.
- I’m only playing soccer because I’m on scholarship for it. Kind of starting to lose interest in it.
- I have gone to sorority parties but it gets boring watching the girls use booze to get a guy to like them. I’ve seen too many girls wear clothes that blatantly show that they aren’t wearing underwear. Kind of gross seeing after a while.
- Feels kind of good to get some of these things off my chest. Wonder if Mckayla felt the same way when she told an RA to do stuff instead of make excuses and said her guy friend was a joke.
I folded up the paper and put it away in my bag. For a guy who didn’t talk much during class, he was full of surprises. I picked up my bag and stood up to leave the room. Another group was waiting outside the door for my room and I held the door open for them as I left.
For a rough few weeks of scrutiny and burned bridges, these last two days were a godsend.