It’s the first day of spring semester. The sun is at its brightest and there’s a chill in the air as I walk to Instructor Inga’s class.
I’m going in early today to get my favorite spot: the window table. It’s a rectangular length dark wood table for two with the best view in class of endless sky, wildflowers, and looming black mountains.
Like I assumed, class is empty and the table unclaimed, waiting just for me.
I go over, set my things down, and open the window, letting the air wash over me. Inhaling deep, I stretch out against the windowsill and let my mind drift. I could sit here forever.
This is paradise…
The classroom door swings open, breaking my thought. I turn around to the dark shape idling in the doorway.
“Sorry I’m late! I got so lost!” it calls.
“Pardon?” I can’t see a face.
It steps inside. Closer.
It’s a… girl.
“Are you Instructor Inga?” she asks me.
She looks around the room and frowns. “So, I’m not late? It’s so quiet and empty in here.”
“Because you’re early.”
Not the brightest bulb. She’ll drop from class after the placement test.
I turn to my window.
“Ooh! What a great view!” She inches closer. “Mind if I sit? It’s my first day. I don’t know anyone—”
What next, marriage? Why is she speaking to me?
She pulls the chair out.
I push it in. Maybe too hard…
“Ow!” She jerks her crushed fingers off the chair. “What’s your problem?”
“Excuse me, when I said yes, my intent wasn’t for you to sit. I do mind…” I watch her rub her fingers. “And your injury was a casualty of your ignorance.” Her face falls as she stares at me. “I like to be alone. Do you understand?”
Instructor Inga arrives, followed by a student, then a flood of more. The aisles swell with people and chitchat as everyone settles in.
“Sorry to disturb you.”
She walks off, wedging through the crowd. She meets up with Inga at her desk.
Off and on, I observe them talking. I try to see her face again, but her messy hair cloaks it from where I’m sitting.
She’s in the tiniest white jean shorts I’ve ever seen. Puzzling, since she’s wearing a hoodie. Probably hiding extra pounds in there.
“It’s open seating for now, but since you’re new, it’d be better if you sat with…”
Or maybe not. Her legs are long and tanned. By the look of her calves, she’s athletic.
Wait… What did Inga say?
“Oh! You can sit with Mr. Grim. Over by that beautiful window. Mm, I can feel the sunny cool air from here… Emilian?”
Inga waves at me.
“Yes, ma’am?” I heard her, perhaps she misspoke.
“This is Misa Honey. She just moved from Fortune. I was thinking you could give her a campus tour. She missed the official one and had trouble finding her classes today.”
“N-no, that’s okay…” Misa protests.
“Oh please, I insist. Emilian is one of our top students. He’ll take good care of you.”
No, I won’t.
Misa approaches. Our eyes meet. Hers are gray-blue and somber.
“Hi,” she whispers.
Her small hands shake as she takes off her backpack. No surprise. Everyone quakes and melts into puddles when I’m around. Like Misa. So why is she back?
“Is this some joke you and Inga are playing against me?” I ask, opening a new file in my notes. I write Misa’s name at the top, underlined twice.
“You’re back. I like to be alone. Inga knows I like to be alone, yet you’re here again after speaking with her.”
“I don’t under—” she sighs. “I’ll just leave…”
“Yes, you do that.”
She takes off.
I look ahead. Inga is scowling at me.
“Emilian, take Misa on the tour now.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I sigh and rise, remembering Misa will be gone for good after the placement test.
She doesn’t belong here.