Hello, yeah, it’s been a while…

Not much…how ’bout you?

Now that I put that song into your head, I do apologize for not writing sooner.  Or as much.  It’s not because I haven’t been writing – oh no.  I’ve been writing nearly every day for the last year.

I’ve read a ton of books on writing, also, which I’ll get a chance to review here.  Right now I’m reading “Right to Write” by Julia something-or-other, the one who wrote The Artist’s Way.  It’s crunchy granola touchy-feely stuff, but realistic and down-to-earth.  She basically gives us all permission to “write badly”.

I know when I write, especially for 800 Words, I try to write a story.  Something fully formed like Athena from Zeus’s skull.  I write a plot, with characters, a beginning, a middle and an end.  I have the end in mind most of the time, but sometimes I don’t get it until the middle, or I get a different end in the middle, or it just writes itself to the end that has nothing to do with the beginning.  I’ve noticed a couple of items that the beginning rambles on.

I’m going to try and ramble here more often.  And tweet.  Hey, if I’m going to be a best-selling author, I have to keep my life up to date, don’t I?

One second of your life

Could one second a day change your life? Here’s how!
Time to Write by j4london@aol.com (Jurgen Wolff) on 12/10/12

Or, the idea I like best:

* At the end of each day, write one or two sentences about the most interesting thing you did that day, or the most interesting thought you had, or the most interesting thing you heard or read.

For writers, this could become a great source of ideas as well, and it means you’ll write at least a line or two even on days that you don’t have time for a proper writing session.

I suggest you get a nice notebook or datebook or even a calendar to use.


I did this last year, and found it to be not just a great way of keeping a diary, but also a place to put ideas and quick notations on the day.  I found that a full page-a-day was too large, and instead got a weekly/monthly calendar, and that was perfect.

All it takes if a few seconds a day to sum up your day, or something that you saw, or the germ of a story idea, and write it down.  You can also put it in your smartphone’s calendar.

Review: Writer’s Workbook

Publisher: Writer’s Digest Yearbook.  Yearbook, Fall, 2012.  $9.99

This, I think, is better and a lot more up-to-date than most of the writing books out there.  It discusses not only fiction but also non-fiction.

Writer’s Digest is well-known for such things as “25 Ways to Improve your Writing in 30 Minutes.”  There’s an article of that here, written by different writers.  It’s also one of the best articles here.

The first part of the magazine is about “Essentials of the Craft” including grammar, starting stories,  and using gender  when writing.  The second section is about “Elements of Fiction” and includes and interview with Harlan Coben and RL. Stine.  It starts from the outline all the way to the conclusionof the story, and includes pacing, showing feelings, and dialogue.  The third part of the book is about “Non-Fiction Techniques”, including how to write up an interview, travel pieces, restaurant reviews, op-eds, and memoirs.

Unfortunately, this being a magazine, it’s only out for a limited time.  Pick it up when you get a chance, as this will help anyone who does any kind of writing, or who wants to try their hand at a different genre.

Another day, more butt in chair.

There’s lots of quotes on how to be a writer, and most of them are variations of “do the work”. Put the butt in the chair. Arrive at the page every day. Even if what you write is garbage and has nothing to do with the project you’re on, you should write, every day.

During the months of November (NaNo!) and December, I hardly found time to write because of, you guessed it, my day job. Now that things have finally let up so that I can stick my head out of the proverbial piles of papers that is my Outlook inbox and look around to see what happened over the last two months.

My kid grew a couple of inches, is in the middle of another growth spurt, and is eating like a Hobbit (Second Dinner, anyone?).

My computer sounds like an airplane. A new one is due.

I have six gig of RAM in my computer instead of eight all of a sudden.

Champions Online is eating up my CPU. Wait, I have only one CPU? I thought I had two.

The Patriots are aiming for another Division East championship. I think? I don’t know, I know that they are winning.

And why did they make a Hobbit movie? Don’t they have like three of them already?

I am going to make April (Script Frenzy) be my NaNo this year. I had a great idea for NaNo, but it sounded too “Twilighty” for my tastes. I may post my garbage-writing here, or on 800 words (marked down to 500 words) or even on Protagonize (I’m under warwriter). I think maybe the polished stuff on Protagonize to get the maximum amount of exposure, and the first drafts on 800 words.

That’s my new years’ resolution this year – to get feedback and criticism. I’m going to try to not write in a vacuum.

Day 7 (more)

Because Kate knew she wouldn’t do it, she knew that Niva would.  And Niva would continue to do this work for her, because she had no idea how much Ana was going to use her.  At that moment, Kate disliked Ana enough to turn on her heel and walk into her room, shutting the door quietly.

Kate couldn’t control Ana, or Niva, but she could control her reactions to them.  Right now, she was angry at Ana for trying to use her, and angry at Ana for using Niva.  Maybe at some point she would sit down and talk to Niva about how Ana was going to abuse her, but for right now, she had to do some normal studying.



The vacuum sucked up the last bits of popcorn from the floor.  The anger and hate that Kate had the night before had cooled into a pool of disgust.

It was raining today, a perfect day to crawl into bed with her books and a cup of tea.  As it was, she was busy dusting and cleaning the two common rooms of the apartment.  The kitchen was cleaned first, and it was spotless; now she was vacuuming the living room and would soon be finished with the dusting.  She had found Ana’s books on the coffee table and piled them at the door to her room.

Lynn was lucky to have gotten three hours’ sleep before heading to the bus stop to catch the bus to campus; Niva had presented Ana with a perfectly typed paper that morning, adding to Kate’s irritation.

Kate looked at the clock after the vacuuming and decided she was going to take a quick walk to the convenience store across the street and pick up something special for lunch.  She really wanted a tuna sandwich, but needed the key ingredient.  She hoped that the store would have chunk white, but would be happy with the simple chunk light instead.  She got her coat on and went down the three flights, pausing at the second floor to hear a baby cry.

She didn’t know that one of the girls on that floor had a baby, and she knew from the landlord that was a particular no-no, as this was for single college girls.  If they had boys over, that was their prerogative, but no children were allowed.  Maybe someone was babysitting.

The baby’s cries were stopped suddenly, though she heard nothing to make it stop.  She shrugged and kept on going to the store.

The store was empty except for three older men who leered at her and then at the Kino screen, watching small bouncing balls hit numbers on a TV.  She went up and down the aisles, searching for tuna.  She finally found some, a pair of dusty cans, and plucked one from the shelf, checking the expiration date.  There was one month left.

She shrugged, and brought it to the counter.  After paying three dollars for it, she pocketed it without a bag and ran back to her house.  As she approached the second floor, she heard the baby cry again.  She hesitated at the door, not wanting to disturb anyone, yet, not wanting to get anyone in trouble, either.

Back at home, it would be perfectly all right to knock on someone’s door and ask if they needed any help or had a cup of sugar.  But this was the big city, and people here were not as friendly or as forthcoming as they were from her hometown.  She had her hand raised at the door, to knock, and thought long and hard.  What would the girl say if she knocked on the door and said she heard a baby crying?  “Yes, and I know it’s a bad thing but I have no where else to go”? “Yes, please don’t tell the landlord”? “Yes, I’m babysitting”?

The more she thought about it, the more she realized it was probably the last.  It wasn’t her problem.  She brought her hand down, and as she turned to go upstairs, the door opened and a harried girl stepped outside.  The baby was still crying.

“Excuse me,” Kate said, and the girl stopped for a moment.

“Yeah?” she said, fumbling to lock the door.

“Do you hear that baby?”

“What baby?” she asked, and hoisted her backpack onto her shoulder.

“The baby crying?”

The girl gave her a look that Kate immediately read as, “You’re off your rocker,” while the girl said, “Yeah, right,” and went down the stairs.  The baby stopped crying again.

Kate went back upstairs, and no longer heard the baby cry.  When Lynn came crawling in around dinnertime, Kate saw from the look on Lynn’s face that she had an up close and personal date with her bed, and so she let her go.  Niva came home next, followed by Ana at around nine, smelling of cigarettes and booze.  The tromped into the apartment, and was obviously drunk.

It’s not my problem, thought Kate, shutting off her light.

The next morning, she had a ten o’clock class, so started to leave to go catch the eight o’clock bus.  One of the girls from the first floor, a Vietnamese girl named Thanh fell into step with her.  She was born in America, and her mother was dead.  Her father was working three jobs to put his four children through college.  Kate thought that was crazy.  “He loves to work,” Thanh said as they sat on the bus.  For once, she didn’t have her earbuds in.

“Did you hear the baby yesterday?” Kate finally asked.

“What baby?”

“The baby crying, on the second floor.”

“No, we’re not allowed to have children in those apartments.”

“I know, but I could have sworn I heard a baby crying yesterday.  This girl out and out lied to me when I asked.”

Thanh shook her head.  “No, I’ve never heard any babies on that second floor.  Creaking beds, maybe, but no babies.”

The two laughed over that, and Thanh promised to come upstairs sometime to visit, while Kate promised to do the same.  Neither had the same classes, as Thanh was one year ahead, but Thanh said she’d be happy to have her along as a study buddy.  Especially for her Western Civ class.

Kate went to her Algebra class and then was free until noon, when she worked at the computer lab for three hours before heading home on the three-thirty bus.

She got to the second floor and heard the crying again.  Finally, she could take it no more and knocked on the door.  An African-American woman opened the door.  “Yes?”

“Hi, I’m from upstairs and…do you have any…sugar?”

The woman looked her over, and Kate knew that she didn’t look like she was baking, seeing as she had just come off the bus.  “I think so, how much do you need?  Come on in.”

“Thanks.”  Kate stepped inside.  She expected the crying to be louder in here, but it wasn’t.  It was the same volume as it was out in the hall.  Kate looked around the kitchen, furnished as it was like hers upstairs, with one kitchen and a large living room, and bedrooms off the kitchen and living room.  In this set up, the TV was opposite the windows, and there was a doorway as opposed to an archway to the living room like her apartment was.

“How much do you need?”

“Much – Oh, only half a cup.”  As soon as she spoke, the crying stopped.  The woman took down a large tin from the cupboard and then took out a zipper plastic bag.  She measured a half a cup with a measuring spoon.  As soon as she poured the sugar into the plastic bag, the crying started again.

The woman gave her the plastic bag, and Kate murmured, “Thanks.”  Then she asked, “How can you stand the crying?”

“What crying?”

“You don’t hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“The baby – there, it just stopped.”

The woman smiled, “Honey, there’s no baby here.”

“I can hear it crying.”

“I swear, there’s no baby here.”

Kate frowned.   “Okay, well, thanks for the sugar.”

“You’re welcome.  Anytime you need anything, just come over.”  The woman quietly shut the door behind her.  Kate shook her head, thinking that the woman must think she’s crazy.

Kate heard the baby again and went up the stairs.  As she did, she bumped into the landlady.  “Hi, Mrs. Cohen?”

“Hello,” she said, her accent harsh.  “I left a note upstairs.  I got a complaint yesterday that one of you came in late singing up a storm.”

“I know who that was,” Kate said, her head down.

“You tell her I do not tolerate this here.”  She started to walk back down the stairs.

Something occurred to Kate.  “Mrs. Cohen?”


“Was there ever a baby here?”

Her face went cold for a minute.  “Does someone have a baby?”

“No, but, and this is going to sound crazy, but I hear one.  And I checked, but there isn’t a baby there.”

Cohen looked at the second floor door.  “I won’t let babies here anymore.  I did once, once.  It was awful, awful.”  Then Cohen knocked on the second floor door.  The same woman as before unlocked the door.  “I want to check your place,” she said.  “I heard you have a baby.”

That was just what Kate did NOT want to happen, and the woman said, as she closed the door, “I told her that we don’t – “ and the door shut.

Kate went upstairs and immediately jumped onto her computer.  She Dug her own address.

There it was, in black and white, a newspaper report from the ‘80’s.  A baby was found in a closet, suffocated.  The mother was an 18 year old college student who had suffocated her two month old baby because it wouldn’t stop crying.

Now it wouldn’t stop, and there was something in that apartment that was making it cry, making its soul stay behind.

She had to find Daniel, he could find the thing that was making its soul stay behind.  But she had told Daniel to leave her alone.  What an idiot she was.  She turned right around and bumped again into Mrs. Cohen.  Apologizing, she ran down the stairs and to the bus stop.

Kate sat in the middle of the bus, hoping he would be there, but he wasn’t.  She said he lived in a castle in Longwood, so she got off the bus at the terminus and walked the four blocks to the beginning of Longwood Mall, a long expanse of trees and woodland where, according to him, the Summer Fairies were.

She walked along it, and it grew dark around seven; pretty soon she was stumbling around on the outskirts.  Then she saw a house from a distance, a house bathed in light, with a fountain also bathed in light, facing the Longwood Mall.  It looked to her like a castle on a hill, made of light.

She headed for it.

Day 7

Daniel had said something about a castle on Longwood.  She hadn’t been there, but knew it was just off campus.  Maybe she would go there Friday.

“Lucy, I’m home,” yelled Ana as she stomped into the apartment.  Kate heard a thud, probably Ana’s backpack hitting the floor.  She next heard a knock on her door, since it was right off the kitchen.  “Come in,” Kate called.

Ana threw open the door.  “Hey, can you read over my paper and tell me what you think?”

“What’s the paper on?”

“Moby Dick.”

“I never read Moby Dick.”

“Neither have I.  But I want to make sure it doesn’t sound like the Yellow Notes.”


“Could you please?”  She held out a few hand-written papers.  “I’ll type it up later.  Just look it over?”

“Will you make me dinner?”

Ana sighed.  “Oh, come on.”

Kate said, “Nevermind, I already had dinner.  Let me see.”

Ana stomped into the room on huge platform shoes and handed the papers to Kate.  Ana turned back and left the room.  “Mark up what you need to,” she said, and slammed shut Kate’s door.

Kate sighed and sat down to read.  It sounded too much like the Yellow Notes, using words Ana would never use, such as “armistice” and “moribund”.  She crossed the words out and at first started to fill in some words that Ana would use, simpler ones, but then just crossed the words out.  She wasn’t going to write Ana’s paper for her, and she’d be damned if she was going to help her like this.  The more she read, the angrier she got, until she got to the third page and just tossed them aside.

Kate glared at the hand-written notebook paper, and picked it up, then threw open the door.  The TV was blaring in the other room, and Ana was in her usual spot, laying about on the couch.  She had a bag of microwave popcorn and was eating it, getting popcorn bits all over the rug.  The rug that she would have to vacuum tomorrow.

“Ana,” Kate said.  Ana said nothing.  “Ana!”

Ana jerked up.  “Oh, done already?”

“You copied this right out of the Yellow Notes.”

“Some of it.”

“Most of it.”

She shrugged.

“Don’t you think your professor will know?”

“He’s old.  He’s not going to know.”

“You do know that he doesn’t grade his papers.  A grad student usually does.  That grad student probably read the Yellow Notes at one time.”

“Oh.  Can’t you make it sound like it’s not from the Yellow Notes?”

Kate dropped the papers onto Ana’s lap.  “I tried, but this is direct plagiarism.”

Ana shrugged.  “I’ll get Lynn to read it.”

“Lynn’s got clinical tonight.  When’s it due?”


Kate knew something like this was going to happen.  She vowed that she wasn’t going to let Ana walk all over her and use her.  She knew Ana didn’t have a computer, and it was too late for her to go back to campus to use the computer lab.  She wasn’t going to be the one who was going to pander to Ana.

However, the person who was ended up walking in the door.  “Niva!” Ana yelled as soon as she cleared the threshold.  She was up and out of the couch in a flash.  “Niva, hon, can you do me a favor?”

Niva stopped at the door, not even shutting it.  “Of course, Ana.”

“Can you read my paper over?  I want to make sure it doesn’t sound like Yellow Notes.”

“Surely, I can do that,” Niva said, and dropped her books immediately.  She shut the door and pulled out a chair at the kitchen table.

“And, uh, I might need to use your computer.  I didn’t get a chance to type it up at school, and…”

“Do you have a flash drive?”

Ana frowned.  “No, I don’t.”

“I will be happy to let you use my computer.”

Something told Kate that Ana was going to somehow get Niva to type up her paper for her.  Kate would not do it.  Would not.

Day 7

So engrossed she was in the chapter that she didn’t notice when her relief came in.  She waved to her, and then headed for he last class of the day, Mass Communications.  Here they would talk about TV and what it meant for Western culture.  Though she didn’t like to watch TV, she had to pick one day to watch and one channel to watch and write in a journal about each episode.  She had picked Sunday prime time, watching A&E.  It was not exactly her cup of tea, but it was either that or PBS.

After that class, she got on the bus to head home.  About halfway down Commonwealth Avenue, she remembered something.  It tugged on the edge of her consciousness, making her look through her notebooks to find something she wrote down.  She found on the back of her Comp notebook, the words, “Black duster.”  She remembered the boy with the brown duster in her Algebra class, but couldn’t remember anything else.

She decided that she needed new music, so she got off the bus at Fry’s, a local CD shop.  They usually had the college alternative music that she found herself growing to like, but they also had a good selection of country, which she had been brought up with.  She went inside, and started pawing through the used CD rack, looking for old Loretta Switt or the Sex Pistols.

Someone came up to her side, and she looked up, startled.  It was the young man in the black duster from the bus.  “Hi,” he said, and plucked a CD from the rack.

“Are you stalking me?” she demanded.

“I want to apologize for earlier.”

That memory came flooding back.  “What were you doing?”

The young man pocketed the CD.

“You are a thief!”

“Shhh.  Do you want to draw attention to yourself?”

“You’re going to walk out of here with that, aren’t you?”

“Maybe, maybe not.  I wanted to show you what I found.”  He went in the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a woman’s silver ring with dark blue and light blue stones in it.  “This is what drew that man to the store, time and time again.  It was his favorite piece.”

She looked at the ring.  It looked simple enough, split in half down the middle with the two stones set inside.  “Why?”

“Why do you like the music you do?  Who knows.”  He pocketed the ring.  “Once I cleansed the ring, he was able to go to his final rest.”


“Let’s go get some coffee, and I promise to explain everything.”

“I was planning on eating dinner – ”

“Then I’ll take you to the pizza place right next door.”  He smiled.  “It’ll be a date.”

“I don’t date thieves.”

He sighed, and put the CD back.  “Spoilsport.  C’mon, my treat.  And I’ll explain everything.”

She crossed her arms in front of her and regarded him for a minute.  “What’s your name?”

“Daniel,” he said.  “Will you come with me?”

She frowned, and followed him.

They walked out of the CD shop and next door to the pizza restaurant.  He ordered four slices of pepperoni, though she had often eaten a large pizza all on her own.  He got her a Pepsi, though she preferred Diet Coke, and they sat across from each other in a booth.

“First of all,” he said, after biting into the pizza, “I told you I’m a mage.”

“Yes,” she said, eating the pizza ravenously.  “You make rabbits pop out of hats.”

“No, that’s a magician.  I’m a mage, which means I do all sorts of magic.  I would have gotten that CD for you without setting off any alarms.  You do know that they put anti-theft devices in those CD’s, right?”

“I kind of thought they did,” she said, finishing up the first slice of pizza.  He still hadn’t finished even half of his.  She drank soda to cover up how hungry she was.  “What do you mean you ‘cleansed’ the ring?”

He sat forward, warming to his subject.  “When ghosts are around, it’s usually because they’re tethered here because of something or someone.  Ghosts are people’s souls, who have something here they have to finish, or do, or like or love.  Loved ones can have other souls follow them for life; sometimes they’re stuck in a certain place because something happened to them there.  Or, like this ring, it’s something that they loved and wanted to be tied to forever.”

“That man was doing that forever?”

“I don’t know how long ago it was, but that store’s been closed the last thirty years.  It was a jewelry store in the 50’s, then a pawn shop, so it could be that he’s been doing it since the 50’s, or since he died.  That ring has been there since then.”

“What are you going to do with the ring?”

“Sell it at a pawn shop, probably.”

“Where do you live?”

Daniel ate some pizza.  “Ah, that’s where we get into some nitty gritty details, and especially how I know your name.”

“You said you’d explain everything,” she said, starting in on the second slice, forcing herself to go slow.

“Yes,” he replied, “and it’s probably going to blow your mind, so don’t freak out until I’m done, all right?”

“Okay…” she said, and ate pizza while he told her:

“I am a fairie.  I live with my prince in his castle over in Longwood.  Many of us help humans, at least those of the Spring Court like myself.  The ones of the Fall Court do not, and the ones of the Summer Court could care less, since they are forever entertaining each other.  The Winter Court are all dead.  Regardless, what we do in the Spring Court is try to keep humans unaware of what happens around them, and we try to help them against the Soul-stealing Vampyrn that exist.  That’s where you come in.”

She had stopped eating her pizza after the first sentence.  He paused to eat his pizza and she asked, “Are you done?”

“Nope,” he said, taking a drink of his soda.  “What you do is you see the souls of people, and you can see whether or not someone is Vampyrn.  Vampyrn wear other people’s souls like cloaks, and hold onto those souls; that is what gives them power and strength.”  He ate the pizza, saying, “Okay, ask away.”

She had set her pizza down, leaned back in her chair and said, “You expect me to believe that?”

“It’s the truth.”

“You don’t look like a fairie.”

“You’re thinking I’m a pixie.  Pixie and fairie are two different things.”

“What’s this about Courts?”

“It’s how we align ourselves.  Spring Courts are usually helpers of humans, and most of the fairie who walk among human kind are of the Spring Court.  Fall Court fairie also walk among humans, but they cause sickness, mental illness, and all sorts of maladies.  Summer Court fairies live in the woods, like Longwood Mall, and are very close to the Spring Court.”

“The Winter Court is dead?”

“It’s where dead fairie go.  They sometimes have some impact on humankind, but it’s mostly in the realm of nightmares and dreams.”

“What are these Vampyrn?  I’ve never heard of them.”

“That’s what’s supposed to happen,” he said, “You’re not supposed to know about them.”

“Well why are you telling me?” she demanded.

“Because if you’re going to help, you need to know what they are.”

“Who said I was going to help you with anything?”

Daniel tilted his head, and tried to give her a pleading look.  She got that look from her brothers when they begged her for something, so it didn’t work on her.  “Please?  I’m asking for not only the fairie, but for you humans.”

“Are there Vampyrn here?  Like now?”

“I don’t know.  You would be able to see.”


“You’d look at a person and see their soul.”

“Look,” she said, pushing the pizza away, “I’ve never had this happen to me until I saw you.  For all I know, you’re doing this to me, you magician.”

“I’m not a magician – ”

She got out of the booth.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I don’t want to see you again.”

Daniel got out of the booth, leaving his food there.  “Please, look, I’m begging you.  Don’t go.”  He stood in front of her.

“I’m not helping you with your crazy scheme.  And get out of my way.”

Daniel sidestepped, and she pushed past him.  She felt a little bad for him, being delusional at such a young age, but she couldn’t see herself doing anything to help a thief.   Fairie.  Vampyrn.  What the hell was this guy thinking she was, some hick who fell off the turnip truck?  She wasn’t going to “help” him; next he was going to ask her for money, or some such things.  No, she wasn’t falling for any of that.  She wasn’t born yesterday.

She got back on the bus and headed back down Commonwealth Avenue to her apartment.  As she got closer to her apartment, the whole thing seemed like a dream.  She pulled out her comp notebook and under the Black Duster, wrote down what had happened, using the words “fairy” and “Vampirin”.  She would search the Internet for these terms later.

Kate got home and it was still light outside, as she walked past the four buildings.  At the frat boy’s building, someone tossed beer over the upper porch just moments before she walked in that direction.  She ducked close to the house to avoid any more falling debris and found her way back to her house.

She had no class tomorrow, so she decided to buckle down and study.  She went into her room and pulled out her comp book, ready to write a compare-contrast essay for two books that she had read over the summer.  Unfortunately she didn’t have the books with her, so she had to rely on her memory, which was pretty shoddy these days.

She opened her Comp book and turned to the back page, seeing what she had written.  She fired up the computer and got on Dig-It, her Internet search site of choice.  She looked up fairy, and there, in bright colors, was what she had imagined: a little girl in a gossamer gown with wings.  There were different kinds of wings, from pretty thin little paper wings to thick angel wings.  Vampirin didn’t show up as anything.


Day 6

Bryan was there.  Bryan wore an earring in his left ear – she didn’t know if that meant he was gay or not.  It didn’t really matter, because he sort of acted a little effeminate, at least to her.  Her brother would come right out and call him gay.

Bryan smiled at her and went to help someone.  Because she was still a freshman, she technically wasn’t allowed to work-study, but they needed people to babysit the computers during the day so people wouldn’t walk off with them.  She had laughed when Sabile, the manager, told her that, but Sabile gave her a look and told her, “It’s happened.”

She got out her books and started reading the chapter on American Literature.

Day 5

After a very boring lecture, she debated about lunch.  Even though that boy in the cafeteria was being immature, he was right, in the sense that she was buying a lunch at 10:30 in the morning. She didn’t want to go through possibly seeing him again, though she knew that she would be hungry.  She decided to go to the library, thinking that maybe reading a newspaper or doing anything but the cafeteria might be better.

As she went to the library, she smelled fresh-baked bread.  Her head turned in the direction, and there was the Student Union, where there was a Subway.  Well, maybe the boy wasn’t in the Subway, and maybe nobody would know, so she headed there.

Looking around the room, she saw no one she knew, but the place was crowded.  It being just after 12:30, this was the lunchtime crowd that didn’t want the ethnic cafeteria food.  A simple ham and cheese sub (small), no lettuce, just peppers, and she was good to go.  Someone vacated a spot, and she dove right into it.

She kept an eye on the door and inhaled her sandwich, feeling very guilty.  When she was nervous, she ate more than usual, and that boy in the lunchline had made her nervous and guilty. However, when she ate and how much she ate was her business, even though she felt that the world was watching and someone would say something.

Kate finished her sandwich and looked around.  People were eating their own food, not looking at her, looking at devices or laptops or out into space.  She gathered up her detritus and threw it out.  As soon as she cleared the seat, another person jumped into it.  She left the restaurant and the building, heading back south through the quad, to the computer labs where she would begin her Work-Study.

Day 4

Kate would be on campus all day this Wednesday, between three classes and her work-study program in between.  Then she would be back on Friday morning for two classes, having Thursday off.  She usually planned Thursdays to be her homework day, the day that not only she would do homework and study, but also the chores around the house, since most of the time the other girls were gone.  They paid an extra part of her rent if she kept the house neat, which wasn’t that difficult with Lynn making sure people at least picked up after themselves.  Niva was always meticulous; it was Ana who threw stuff around.

She went the two doors down to the Scott Building, named after some obscure scientist who had probably donated half the money to the building of the site.  She never got a chance to look at the plaque under the picture of a balding man with glasses, and frankly, was never interested.  History was not her forte’, and she knew that she was putting off the Western Civ class that she knew she’d have to take next semester.

Entering the Scott building, she saw one of the girls from her class, chugging down a Mountain Dew out of a can that must have come out of the vending machine before her.  She didn’t know the girl’s name, but knew that she was from her class.  “Hi,” Kate said, not wanting to be rude.

The girl turned to her and said, “Hi,” then burped.  She put her hand over her mouth while Kate giggled.  “‘scuse me.”

“That’s all right, I’m used to raunchy burps with three brothers,” Kate said.  “I’m Kate.”

“Oh,” said the girl, taking Kate’s outstretched hand, after shifting the can to her other hand, “I’m Melissa.  Lissa for short.”

“Nice to meet you.  Did you do that short program Jimenez assigned?”

“Program?  No, I read the book.  I’m not doing programming.”  She finished the can and tossed it in the recycling bin.  “I’m a Fine Arts major, at least until I figure out what I really want to do.”

Kate smiled, maybe it would be a good idea to get on this girl’s good side.  “I might need your help with papers.  I’m not very good with those.”

“Are you taking Comp?” Lissa asked, as they walked up the stairs instead of taking the elevator.  Comp was short for College Composition, what all freshmen had to take in their first or second semester.

“Yes, with Professor White.”

“Oh, he’s just a post-grad,” said Lissa, and they cleared the floor to the second level.  “They call him professor because he happens to be teaching the class.  He doesn’t have anything special.”  They approached the door to the class.  Lissa stopped and looked awkward for a minute.  “Well, I’ll be seeing you,” she said, and left Kate there near the door.

Kate’s shoulders slumped without her realizing it.  She hadn’t made any friends except for her roommates, and those were were forced to be together.  There was one boy in her work-study, but she thought he was gay or at least too geeky for her.  He kept going on and on about a Doctor Who, something she didn’t know anything about.

She went to a seat on the opposite side of the lecture hall, following Lissa with her eyes.  Lissa went over to a group of girls and all of them, laughing and joking, stayed at the top of the lecture hall.  Kate had never noticed them before, but they acted like a group of chickens on her farm – aloof and always talking to each other, not wanting to be bothered with anyone around them until, probably, someone decided to sit between them.

Professor Carlos Jimenez came out of the side hall.  He was a handsome Hispanic, with dark skin and dark hair and eyes.  He had a beard but no mustache, and stood just slightly taller than Kate.  She knew this, because his office was next to her advisor’s, and she had met him personally.

Jimenez put on the wireless mike and Kate took out her iPhone.  She always made a recording of the lectures, sometimes transcribing them when she had the time.  She was an oral learner, she had found out years ago, learning better when things were read to her than when she had to read them.

He tapped the microphone and, satisfied that it worked, he said, “Good morning, everyone.  Today we’re going to learn about [something about computers].”

Kate turned on her voice recorder option on the iPhone and quietly listened.

[Find a lecture about computers and simplify it]

Kate stopped the iPhone’s recording.  She put that away first, and then her notebooks.  She decided, as usual, to wait for everyone else to hit the doors before she did.

She glanced at her watch as she waited.  She already knew she had about a half an hour before her next class, College Algebra, and then it would be time for lunch.  She had maybe another half-hour between lunch and her work-study, and then an afternoon class.  She would be home by five.

She wondered if she should pick up anything for dinner.  She had some hot dogs and mac and cheese with her name on it in the freezer – everyone thought she was weird getting frozen mac and cheese, but she liked it better than the florescent boxed stuff the other girls got.  She was starting to get a taste for Ramen noodles, something she’d never had at home.  However, her parents gave her about $300 a month in spending money, all on a personal credit card that had exactly $300 on it.  At the end of the month, if there was any money left – and because she was very frugal there usually was – she would take it out as a cash advance and put it aside.  She wanted to go home to her parents on spring break, and she was saving enough money for that.

Kate saw Lissa with the gaggle of girls again, as they headed down the quad toward the library.  She also saw Ana standing at the outside of the library, smoking a cigarette, blatantly against campus regulations.  Kate shook her head and walked on into the cafeteria.

She didn’t like the food there, because it was strangely ethnic.  There was one side for Hispanic food, another for Indian and Asian food, and another with hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza.  She got a slice of greasy pizza, and paid for it with her card.

Someone jostled her from behind, and she saw it was two boys who looked like jocks, both wearing letter jackets from their high school.  “Is that your snack?”  They both guffawed at their own joke.  Kate felt her face get hot, and she turned to ignore them.  One of them called “Boom boom, ba boom, boom,” at each step she took away from them.

Kate wasn’t obesely heavy, but probably compared to the anorexic girlfriends they probably had, she was.  It was something she had fought against all her life.  Nebraska was not kind to her in high school, either, and her whole family was a bit on the heavy side due to the rich food her mother made.

She had thought coming to college would mean she was an adult and wouldn’t have to deal with some of the stupid things kids did in high school.  What she had forgotten, and was painfully reminded at this moment in time, was that the first couple of years of college weren’t that different than the last couple of years of high school.  Maybe if she stuck through it, by the time she graduated, she would be among adults and real people in the workplace, and would not have to deal with these kind of immature people again.

She sat down alone on the third floor of the cafeteria, where no one else dared to go.  She sat and ate her pizza, going over her notes from the prior class in Algebra to get an idea of what she would be expecting in today’s class.  Her syllabus also gave her a clue, but since she had barely squeaked by her high school algebra, most of it was arcane to her.

After she finished eating her lunch, and it was her lunch, not a snack, she decided to head early to the class.  At worst, there would be people in the classroom and she’d have to wait in the hallway.  There were plenty of places to sit in the hallway if she needed to.

She walked half-way across the quad, passing the computer tutoring lab which was where her work-study was.  She wondered if Brian was going to be there today.  She’d at least have someone to talk to, while people worked on their projects because maybe they didn’t have computers at home or they couldn’t get their computers at home to run some of the Linux or Windows or Oracle programs that they had.

At the Hawes Building, she went into the first floor and glanced inside the classroom.  Two people were there already, either reading or writing in notebooks.  She opened the door and stepped inside, glancing around for her favorite seat – in the middle row, toward the back.  She didn’t mind people sitting behind her.

Soon enough, the place started to fill up.  A goth girl sat behind her, and a kid with a brown duster sat to the side of her.  She stared at him for a minute, thinking she knew him from somewhere.  Maybe he was in on of her other classes, she thought.  There was something about the canvas duster that he draped over the other chair.  Did her brother have one of those?  If not, he would want one.  They were pretty badass.

The professor came in, and nodded to them all.  “Afternoon.  Please pass in your homework.”

She already had it out and ready, and passed it to the boy in front of her, after taking goth girl’s.  The professor gathered it up from each front-row student.  “Hm, kind of light here.  Homework that I request passed in is part of your grade and cannot be made up.  I expect you to do the homework in the order that I present in the syllabus.  Otherwise, you will learn nothing.”  He turned to the front of the class and the boy with the duster covertly stuck up his middle finger at him.  Kate smiled and looked away.