The Ivory Tower Suite

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by Hildie S. Block

#4 Rear View

The first thing I notice is her bare feet in December, pacing the sidewalk next to the dorm.

“You’re LATE.”

I’m two minutes late.  One-hundred-and-twenty-seconds – give or take – late. 

BUT she is ready to go and the only word that matters is LATE.

She is ready to go, which I should have realized was a clue.

When I see the mountain of stuff she’s packed to come home from college for winter break, I think – no – I speak, out loud, “Are you coming back?”

“Yes,” she glares back.  “Why would you EVEN ask that?”

And then the eyes roll, the shoulders shrug, the phone comes out of the back pocket and a text flies out to some unknown entity on the multiverse.

As we pull out of College Drive onto Mattapany – pronounced Mat-ah-PAN-EYE, not Mah-TAP-an-knee – because it’s Native American not Indian, which explains nothing, she tells you that she failed some classes, but it is OKAY.

It is not okay.

It is okay, as in it’s not the end of the world turning on its axis.  Not the opening of Pandora’s Box of zombie virus.  Not a grave diagnosis.

But it might be the end of some things.  The end of the fresh start.  The end of the $60K scholarship.  The end of the college thing.

But maybe not.  

I want details.

I want to know what happened.

I want to know if I can fix this – which I know I can’t, because even if I could, it wouldn’t fix anything, not really.  

Not.At.All

OH.MY.GOD.

Which was the wrong thing to say and the next minutes are in silence, as graves of enslaved people slide pass the window, followed by a Confederate Flag, followed by the moon shining over the Chesapeake Bay.  

Two hours of driving ahead, and college in the rear view.

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