writing to survive
. . . only the retelling counts


It’s a grey afternoon on campus. The clouds are walking a fine line between rain and fog, saturating the air one way or another, and the asphalt paths gleam and make blurry reflections of the people transversing them. There are umbrellas, downturned blossoms in red, in black, in springy flashes of yellow, in the optimistic orange of a California poppy, but most of the students are bare-headed, dark-coated, blue-jeaned and rain-booted. I have about half an hour to kill before going to a midterm, so I am slowing down the moment, slowing down time in the library, observing the world through my fourth-floor perch.

The floor to ceiling windows are covered with small grey dots. Is this to refract the sunlight when it does come? Do the dots tip off the birds, show them the solidity of the air they were about to penetrate? It gives the outside world a comic book look, like a dulled Roy Lichtenstein painting, the trees made abstract by patterned glass.

What to do with myself. I’ve read and summarized the chapter. I’ve studied all I can for today. I’ve finished my paper. I want you to come out of the woodwork, to track me down, and I’m just superstitious enough to believe that writing it will make it so, that my thoughts are strong enough, and so I allow myself a little old-fashioned longing, a fit of silly fantasy. It scares me how easy it is to tap into, this river I sometimes deny. All this for a figment of my imagination. Truly.

There are vehicles on campus, little trucks and carts that travel on the same paths the students do. One just passed in front of the library, brake lights flashing like two red eyes. Slow down. Slow down.

And I’m off. By the time you read this – if you read this – the ordeal will be over.


Spring break starts officially next week, but for me after my classes today. Perhaps I will see you here tomorrow . . .

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