Center of Center (9)
a serialized novella-in-flash by Chris Wiewiora
I loved being the first person on campus after a snowfall. Any accumulation. On the earliest route of the day, I would hop on the bus by the stop near my all-in-one at the Parade Mall. On the ride, I would watch a fresh town through the windows. Everything reset.
At campus, I would get off at the first stop and walk by the frosted greenhouses with sunflowers reaching toward the heat lamps. I made a trail across central campus’ lawn. Sometimes I didn’t know where the sidewalk was and where the soil was, but still I could find a way. Behind me my footsteps made a path for everyone else to follow.
In my bus’s periphery, students spool out of the old Home Ec building. It was renamed Food Innovations, but the mantle’s marble façade reads the same. I stop on Center Circle to pick them up since dark clouds quilt the sky and I have time. I tally the students and close my doors. My bus smells like yeast and humidity and relief.
Instead of driving a bus alone, I used to share an office on the top floor of Voci Hall with Vicky Fort, another communications instructor but she taught English as a Second Language to Divided students. I felt weird calling her by only her first name so I always said her last name, too. Vicky Fort was as old as Pop, but she had gone to grad school after raising her kids. Vicky Fort said she loved her students and she meant it.
Vicky Fort was a teacher who practiced tough love. She told me that her Divided students could memorize chunks of conversations; some could speak from a script in their head for an hour. Word for word. As long as the script didn’t stray into impromptu. So, when Divided applicants tested in to C.U. as fluent non-native English speakers, Vicky Fort would throw in a nonsensical question and an actual social gesture about halfway through their interview. She would begin to stand up from her desk-chair and ask, How about we jump into a tornado? And the Divided applicant would not know the question, but think that the question meant to take a break, and say, Yes, I would appreciate.
CENTER of CENTER is a serialized novella-in-flash by Chris Wiewiora. Go here to start at the beginning. Paid subscribers have access to every installment of our serial fiction.
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