Saturday, March 29, 2008

More Short Fiction

From the same "book:"

Annalie sat somewhere in the middle third of the lecture hall. She was wedged inbetween the metal chair and its battered desk-like offspring, as well as inbetween her own backpack and the bags of the students on either side of her. Having managed to pull the miniature pretend desk out of the metal arm of the immobile chair, she had discovered that it operated on a slant, which kept her heavy Physics textbook in continual danger of sliding down into her stomach. She wondered where she would find the room to take notes, should notes ever become necessary.

Note-taking, however, wasn’t very important at the moment. Annalie was in the 10:00 section of PHY 101, “Physics and You.” The electronic registration program Annalie had worked with over the summer had suggested PHY 101 as an ideal way to fulfill part of her general education science requirement, and Annalie’s father had suggested that it was best to get all of the gen-ed stuff out of the way as soon as possible.

So Annalie sat, five minutes into the first class session of “Physics and You,” listening to the instructor explain the course syllabus. She wasn’t quite sure why the professor wasn’t really a professor but rather a graduate student who looked down at the overhead projector as he read his own syllabus aloud, and she wondered vaguely why he didn’t trust any of them to be able to read it on their own. Annalie had already been to a music history class earlier that morning, and the professor had started them right away on a discussion of the differences between music and other forms of organized sound; now Annalie was stuck in “Physics and You,” listening to a shaky-voiced graduate student explain the attendance policy. College was strange, and – in Annalie’s mind – inconsistent.

Annalie could feel a slight breeze coming from one of the open windows. She ached to go outside. She had spent most of her free time outside when not busy with the demands of Orientation Week, wandering all around the campus. She had gotten Danielle to go with her once or twice, but it seemed like whenever she stuck her head into anyone’s dorm room, they were either logged onto their computer or attached to their cell phone. Libby, in particular – Annalie could not even begin to describe how disappointed she was about Libby. She had never had a sister; only Chris, who teased her and who was too old to be a really good kind of friend (besides the fact that he was her brother, which made some kinds of friendship difficult), and although she had had several friends in high school (mostly other choir dorks like herself), she liked the novelty of having a very close, sister-type friend. Someone she might actually be able to talk to.

For a while Annalie had tried to count the number of words Libby had said to her, but somewhere around forty she lost count and stopped caring. Libby’s mouth seemed to be continually moving, but none of her words were particularly directed towards Annalie. They were directed towards Troy, Libby’s boyfriend, who went to the nearby state school and who was on Libby’s cell phone so often, it was as if he were pumping some kind of vital life force into her ear.

Meanwhile, in “Physics and You” – Annalie had gotten distracted in her own thoughts – a real cell phone rang. Half the students in the room bent down to fumble with their bags. It played through a hyper-speed version of Pachebel’s Canon in D twice before its owner finally retrieved it and turned it off, tossing her permed hair over her shoulder and saying, for the benefit of everyone in the room, “Oh my god, oh my god, I’m so sorry.” Annalie shifted in her seat as much as she could, then stopped her Physics book from exercising its rights to the law of gravity and pressing itself into her ribs. The graduate student, irritated at the phone interruption, went back to describing his grading scale. The breeze was becoming more and more imperceptible by the minute.


(Clearly I have not managed character delineation; while Miri and Anna have different backgrounds and personal struggles to resolve -- the whole book got outlined as part of the assignment -- they seem to have the same opinion and viewpoint on the gen ed experience. ^__^)


Anonymous said...

Funny that you mention cell phones. It seems like they existed when we started college, and were ubiquitous by the time we left. But since I didn't have one at the time - none of the gang did, right? - I can't really pinpoint when the switch happened.

It's the same way with other things, including blogs. If I had to sit down and write a fictional but realistic account of freshmen year, I wouldn't know what to include. Maybe there really have been transformative changes in the past 5-10 years -- or maybe this stuff has been around much longer, and I was just hopelessly unaware. :)


Anonymous said...

Oops - that would be "freshman" year, not "freshmen".

Blue said...

I think it was my sophomore year when I got my first "cell phone" -- one of those VirginMobile "pay as you go" things.

I can't remember when anyone else in our circle got one. Certainly we weren't calling or txting each other on our cell phones. :P

The thing about this particular snippet that seems the most obviously dated is that the phone plays Pachebel instead of some pop-download ringtone. :)