“You have attended Creative Writing 101 for a few months now.” Professor DiMarco paced in front of the whiteboard. “Today, I want you to give me three things in this room, that no one else would have noticed. You have five minutes.” She turned the egg-timer to five minutes and sat down behind her desk.
Walter sat at the front of the class everyday. It wasn’t because he wanted any particular attention from the instructor. His vision had never been all that great, even as a child. Now, a non-traditional student, past the age of forty, early onset of presbyopia complicates his already extreme myopic vision. In so many words, he rarely saw anything clear in the room. His classmates will, no doubt, point out many things he hasn’t seen in the room beyond the short path from the door to his desk.
Walter eagerly thought of each detail that he could bring to light. Nothing he thought of seemed to him to fall into the category of a detail no-one-else-would-have-noticed. His mind soon wandered. He started thinking of his classmates. Ella generally sat near the front as well. She would often talk with Walter after class. She always wore the same perfume, Estée Lauder, Beautiful. It took Walter some time to find the perfume at the department store. He sniffed each bottle, one at a time, until he found the ‘Ella-smell.’
Michael interrupted his thoughts when he started tapping his pencil against the desk. This was something Michael did anytime the room became even remotely quite. Walter imagined that Michael might even have some clinical avoidance of silence. Tapping his pencil, bouncing his leg against the edge of the desk, or masticating with glee. It seemed to Walter that Michael never quieted.
The floor made the soft premonitory vibration just before the AC started blowing into the room. Walter slipped his jacket on from where he had hung it on the back of his desk-chair. He always brought it to class. The room, or the entire school, seemed to be hinged on freezing the knowledge into their students.
The instructor walked up to the whiteboard, eraser in one hand and a capped, black, dry-erase marker in the other. She turned to the class, mistaking Walter’s hand raised in the air while putting on his jacket and called upon him, “What do you have for us, Walter?”
Panic rippled through his entire body. Beads of sweat, despite the cold air blowing into the room, perched on his upper lip and brow. “Uh,” he started. The room shrank. The path to the door seemed to ring out to him. He let out the breath he held. “The tile on the floor is white?”