Delia was the first one to arrive, anxious to be on time. She picked the chair at the top of the table, directly across from where the prof always sat. She had to get a chance to ask her question. Lucy and Mark and the others came in. One after the other. Rushed.
My dog threw up this morning. Oh, I love dogs. My boyfriend wants to get one from the Humane Society. Yeah, I am taking my boyfriend to a wedding; I am the bridesmaid again, spending too much on the third new dress this spring. You have too many friends. Looking after a pet takes so much time.
The prof walked in a minute to ten. Good morning. How is everyone? Give me a moment, and we will get started. Alright …
The chatter had quieted. Delia was waiting for the prof to look at the group. Then she said – just a little too loud – I have a question about the assignment you gave us. Lucy closed her eyes. Mark sent Delia a smile. The prof laughed warmly and leaned forward, looking straight at her.
No, I don’t do that. There are no trick questions. No trap door. I am interested in what you know, not in what we all don’t know. Just do your best. There is nothing to worry about.
Students nodded with each sentence. A short laughter from Delia, her voice relaxed. But don’t you know: worry is my middle name. The prof laughed again. Lucy opened her eyes and looked at Delia. You know he is not like that; he is just. A mensch.
That’s when the small group picked up the discussion on linguistic minorities from last week.
This took a while. Text 9 from my 52-week writing course. It looks like I will take more than a year for the 52 weeks. The prompt this time: how others see you. If you’d ask me what the genre of this text is, I’d tell you it’s a shortest story. Shorter than a short story.
One thought on “Worry is my middle name”
Nice piece of “micro-fiction.” I think one thing that works and parallels the prompt is the polite but firm refusal of the prof to expand upon the question. We really don’t know what people think of us, but most profs wouldn’t just not answer. Most would respond but could you be sure it was truth. Something interesting and honest about a response that acknowledges the question but politely refuses to answer. Good stuff!