I give him a flat goodbye dried by nerves, emotions, anxiety, the whole nine yards that make up the tummy butterflies. Nodding, impulse hits and I begin to eagerly trot away from him and strut toward the main foyer. I take a glance back, and in his blues I see a shimmer of pride and hope, like a new chapter is pending to show itself at the end of this night. Not just for me, but for him. I, on the other hand, knew it to be just that from the start.
He shrugs. I tilt my head and flick my fluffy ears, What? I jokingly lay on him, mind filing through the reasons he might still be standing there on the ice-covered sidewalk. My eyes flick back and forth between him and his dog Sammy, who's mouth is hanging open in a happy pant.
I approach him, smiling with my arms out. I wrap them around his muscular form and clench my paws tight on the back of his black jacket. His reaction is delayed, but felt nonetheless; a bit of a rarity from him if you ask me. He holds my smaller form tight in a heartfelt embrace, running his paws up and down my back slowly. As seldom as these occur, much to my displeasure, in our relationship, I immediately savor this one, as not only is it occurring, but it occurs in public. Did he grope my nipple? Or... try to? I guess his beep as he moved his thumb and index digits together several inches away from either nipple was an indication of yes, albeit poorly executed.
Call me after class, ok? He requests, as happy as I've heard him since we left the house.
Ah'right. Did you want me to wait here? I patted my left pocket to make septuple-sure I had my phone somewhere amongst the clutter inside.
We'll meet halfway. Just let me know when your class ends.
I wet my black lips and smiled, Laterz I walked backwards and twirled myself around so I was facing my destination, and shortly thereafter my brain twisted Tealie's meet you halfway into sexual-sounding phrases like meet both ways or jump you long ways. This ended abruptly as I began to observe the small parking lot. I noticed a small amount of fellow students all blankly approaching the same entrance. Damn I'm short! I grumbled to myself as I noticed that all these guys were 5'10 minimum to my lackluster 5'7. This was when I remembered my 16 years living in North Carolina, and I briefly remembered all the buildup and paranoia I put myself through where it wasn't even needed like an empty fight. I forced myself out of the negative thoughts that brought about some of the butterflies, like 'I hope it's not everything Tealie had to go through in high school' or 'I hope it's not 7th grade all over again'. I'm a social submissive, but I'm not going to be a mouse scared in the corner. I reassured myself, I can handle this. A small drop of confidence was felt deep within the puddle of self.
Then I threw my vision upwards slightly, the double doors within a stone's throw, the sign above reading Lincoln Land Community College. It was then that it hit me. All my life, all my preparation, all my past was building up to this. A tidal wave of mixed emotions crashed over me. I wasn't scared at all anymore. In fact, it was almost like I was witnessing a meteor shower. Oh my god. My brain silently begins, I'm... going to college, man.
I lean against the door handle and push my body against it, holding my meager luggage at my side. The door doesn't budge. I try again to no avail before switching to the other door adjacent. Still, the stubborn door won't open. It's then that I roll my eyes, realizing the handles' contrast to the contrary; the sign says PULL. I set foot inside the school knowing someone had seen me. I smile and snicker, Off to a good start.
I glide up the stairs and into the main office (which was the main lobby of the building). Unfortunately, as duly noted by the fact that many of the classes are cubicles, this is a low-budget building of the school; the WREC-J. I never had a clue what WREC stood for, but J stands for Jacksonville just as the WREC-L stands for Litchfield. As far as I know, there's only 2 WREC buildings in the 5 major Lincoln Land locations. Not that anyone would really care, but it makes me feel important to tell people that I'm going to the Jacksonville WREC.
I was happy that an internal-blond like I was given a helpful little list of classes and room locations. I matched Composition I to the corresponding list entry and nodded in affirmation. Room 205. Despite this, I did not know how to find the room, so I took the low road.
Hey, ya happen to know where room 205 is? I say in my nonchalant straight guy voice which probably sounds weak from my recent cold.
The black wolf was dressed pretty conservatively for a somewhat casual event. It's almost as if he was going to church. He grazed his paw against his cheek and turned to face me, 205? He points to the wall directly in front of me, Follow the signs. Figures. I never seem to get the memo of things.
I wander down the hall, seeing a few furs sitting outside their respective classrooms. Some of them were on their cell phones, some of them were thumbing around on their iphones, and oddly enough my vision did not pick out much talking. In spite of myself, I did not desire to strike up any ice breakers. I assumed it was okay to break out the cell phone. You have 89.5 minutes left. 25 service days remaining. Rolling my eyes and letting out a breath laden with fuck-you-WalMart-for-not-having-the-right-phone-card-in-stock, I shove it back into my pocket.
Two talkative foxes enter the building and sit down near me on the far end of the building. Unfortunately for me, they are both girls. The bear to my right, however, seems to show up as green on my radar in a field of red. I observe the gargantuan office, turning my head back and forth before my eyes catch someone with a soda. I wet my lips again with my parched tongue, remembering passing by soda machines a moment ago, I slump down on the bench, head pressing against the large window pane behind me to be able to easily access my pocket without giving my paw denim-burn pulling it back out. I find the dollar I'm looking for and pull it out, walking back down the hallway to the soda machine.
Pepsi, other Pepsi names, Nestea and knockoff brands are my choices. All 20oz, no cans. One machine says ICE COLD. $1.45 on the red marquee. I glimpse at the other two, waiting for their prices to show up, but my anticipation falters and I insert the dollar to humor myself. Too bad they don't take a debit card, cause as I expected I was 45 cents short. Hitting the change return button, I received $1.05 and snickered at the mindless mechanics that make up a soda machine.
I slurped up some water from an adjacent fountain just to bring some cool moisture into my body, stopped by the bathroom to pee, blow my nose and wet my hair, and by the time I came back across the vicinity of room 205, the lights in the room are on and some students are already inside. I'm a little nervous to come out of my shell and sit in the middle of the room, but force myself against my first choice of sitting in the very back, shyly lugging my light bag through the room and sitting at the front row on the far right; I wasn't quite ready to face my social-claustrophobia and sit aisle-side.
I sit down and pull out my Five-Star notebook and a pencil, sitting patiently for a few moments before my ears perk up to a familiar voice. I turn my head and smile almost sinisterly as I see Mike Nanker, my former coworker. His long, unkempt hair and obviously-fake redneck attitude catching me almost immediately. The lion sat down in his chair before he smiled and waved at me, his red eyes dilating in a bit of surprise. I wave back before turning back, but not before realizing one of my biggest fears; being alone in missing the memo.
The text was called Readings for Writers. It was a flimsy-looking book held together by plastic rings. My heart rose to my throat and increased in speed, Oh no. I whispered to myself, drawing out the 'no'. I thumped my jeans with my digits and threw my head back, growling under my breath at the anger wrongfully directed at myself. Why didn't I check my business e-mail? Why didn't I check my college e-mail? Dammit, I hope to god we don't need those text books today! I was prepared to rent the text books from chegg.com as needed, but I did not realize that I was expected to already have them with me.
My heart dropped back down slowly, and I began to breathe easier. Still, the knot in my chest wasn't untying. I wasn't sure if I was more mad or humiliated... or afraid of pending humiliation. The image played through my mind, Everyone turn in their books to... Iaran, where is your book?
I'd shyly muster up, I didn't get the memo.
What comes after that? My mind didn't make it clear. My fears never had to be clear, they just had to instill the chest-knotting, brain-gripping internal ache. Remember earlier when I called myself the social submissive? Welcome to that sad reality.
I thought for a second I'd found a solution, so with intent to return I got up and left the room for a second, taking my stuff with me and getting a couple of confused looks. My heart pounds a little faster again, overobserving what, in reality, is simply a mind question of Where ya goin? Got the wrong room? Need help? I knew where I was heading; the directory. Along the way, a raccoon with curly gray hair who looked to be about 57 years old smiled cheerfully at me. It was a warm, welcoming smile. I could breathe easier seeing it. I found the second one in front of the main entrance and glanced over it, looking for COM-111 J-50. I didn't find any textbooks listed, which means apparently my classmates are psychic.
Upon my return to the room, I notice that the raccoon I had just passed is Mrs. Mohr, my professor. I am calmed again, realizing it may not be so bad. Then I think as I sit back down that this is in itself one of my biggest fears as a child; to come to a new school and know no one, and on top of that not be prepared and find myself completely clueless. Mrs. Mohr smiles and gives me an odd look, but I brush it off; she seems nice enough.
At precisely 6p, class begins. The raccoon opens her mouth to speak, COM 111? A few nods from around the room, then she dove into her book and class rules, including her dramatic 'snow' rant which got a few laughs from around the room. After about a half-hour, our first assignment was handed out, I want to see how you all can write. So I'm gonna throw a prompt out there. Picnics! Write something about picnics. I don't care what you write about picnics, just write for me something with a picnic or about a picnic.
I took the high road and described what a picnic is, why we have them, the variations of uses, and a few of my own experiences, smiling as I reminisced upon inquiring my mother about having a picnic in a graveyard sometime. I was 7 years old at the time, but it's funny to look back on. I managed to avoid describing my life traumas and anything which wouldn't be considered as matter-of-fact and handed the paper in on the note, I'm kicking myself, because I don't have the textbooks. Where would I get them?
She nodded and calmly explained, Well, the school book store has them. Lucky we only have class once a week and next week is MLK's birthday.
Alright, thank you. I smile and bow a little, backing away and heading back to my seat. I sit down and think about the homework I can't do yet. I wonder for a moment if it's worth the time. The negative images put themselves into mind again; I can't do this. I'll fail. All I want is to go home and waste time. I wish I could've had an easier life where I wasn't so poor. I'm a failure.
...All because of textbooks? Really?
I am not at fault. I internally scream at myself. I am not a failure. We are not going to start this. Not here. Not now. I pull out my notebook and draw out the scene of myself entering the college the first time. It's sketchy and I end up quitting after 20 minutes on it and turn the page. Now I have a blank, fresh piece of notebook paper in front of my face. My mind flashes to the 30 pages I have left to read in one of the most touching books I've ever come across. My eyes twinkle as inspiration hits. Iaran is a writer. I affirm to myself inside.
I pick up the pencil, click the lead out a quarter-inch, press it to the paper and begin to write.