The Adventures of Emma

Brittany’s brought another one of her “friend” around. They shriek and squeal in high pitches voices. Fake laughs like a squeaking rubber ducks.  The normal human voice ranges at about 60 decibels. The eardrum picks up these sound waves and vibrates according to the pitch, relaying the sounds so your brain can comprehend them into words and notes.  Brittany's friend Samantha has a voice like a train whistle, about 90 decibels. Pain and hearing loss begin to happen when the sound waves reach about 115 decibels, the partying in the dorms in my hallways reach about 125 decibels, the sound of a loud rock concert.

It's usually around the time that Samantha (the train whistle) arrives that I scurry out of the room to the haven of the quiet library. The librarian, Ms. Whist, is a severe yet brilliant women who, much to my appreciate, maintains the library like a drill Sargent, evicting any occupants over the whispering level of 30 decibels.

However, today I can't leave. Somewhere in the mess that I call a    dorm room is all the important necessities that I seemed to have misplaced yesterday in my concentration on building a model on the pantheon. I was sitting outside enjoying some raspberry iced tea (no lemon and definitely no artificial sweetener) when I saw doric columns on the Wesley building. I was calculating how much weight they must be bearing according to their diameter and the thickness of the roof.

Thoughts of columns soon turned to the Pantheon, built with large corinthian columns. I was wondering about the weight distribution of the dome ceiling of the Pantheon on the columns so I decided to build  miniature version from pencils, pens and crayon wax to test the how much weight the columns must hold to support the basalt and concrete dome. It was quite a fun, educational project but in my excitement of looking for supplies, I lost a lot of important books and papers and am Now forced to listen to the high pitched chitchat between Brittany and her friends about America's Top Model their twittering like oh-my-god-her-hair-was-awful-at-practice-yesterday in mock annoyed voices as I search through my ever worsening mess of drawers.

Dr. Flinch

I saw her again and had to do a double take. She was ling down the hallway, tangled hair sticking out everywhere, a far off look or preoccupied thoughts on her face. I had to look again because as she approached, I saw that she was carrying a model in her hands. This wasn't your average science fair model of the solar system; this was an extremely accurate rendition of the pantheon. One of my deepest passions is Roman art and architecture and everything else Roman. Everything in her model from the Corinthian columns to the colored wax dome was perfectly proportioned. I could even make out the engraving on the front "M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIVM·FECIT"; Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius made this building when consul for the third time.

As she passed by my like a galloping yet wounded gazelle, I paused for a second, thinking. Then I turned on my heel and followed after her-- whoever can make a roman building that accurately in a person after my own heart-- whatever is left of it by the time I reach retirement.

I follow her to the Broming building, up three flights of stairs, down a corridor we're definitely not supposed to be in and up a maintenance stairwell with far too many steps. Finally, after ten minutes of an awkward fast walk-jog to keep up with her uneven steps, she leaned into a door, pushing it open and emerging in the sunlight. She turned towards me "I hope you're not afraid of heights," she commented as she held the door open for me "We are currently 4 flights up, that's 50 stairs; 27 yards; 81 feet; 972 inches; 25.6 meters; 2468 centimeters..." "Okay, okay thanks, I got it."

I gulped, I was scared of heights and she wasn't making it any easier. I found myself standing a top the Ridgington Tower. 81 feet to high for my comfort with only 10 feet diameter of maneuvering area. She obviously wasn't deterred by the height, she walked all the way to the very edge, placing her model on the stone roof and sitting down between a parapet, dangling her feet off the edge. "Now that you've followed me for 538 steps, don't you want to see the view?"

I stood hesitant for a second. as I was about to answer with something about insolent freshman and stomp angrily back inside, she spoke a gain, more softly this time, as if she
were talking to herself and I only happened to be there. "He came by a leap to the goal of purpose, not by the toilsome steps of reason. On the instant his headlong spirit declared his purpose: this was the one being for him in all the world: at this altar he would light a lamp of devotion, and keep it burning forever."

In my surprise as her voice reached my ears, I dropped the heavy metal door, smacking my shoulder and smashing my toes in the process, but that didn't matter. Gilbert Parker was one of my favorite authors, a lifelong voice of reason and understanding. His quote came to me like a comforting voice from a long-forgotten friend. My heart soften and my entire body relaxed, I had not thought of my long hours curled up as a young man in the corner of the library, pouring over the books that had become some of my best friends.

She turned and stared at me, her bright green eyes scouring my face. "This is your chance," he was startled out of my thoughts, "jump." As if in a trace, I walk over to her and sat down in on the ledge, dangling my feet into the great abyss below me. "You like Parker?" I asked in a low voice, it had been a long time since I had felt so at ease, especially at such a terrifying height. "Oh yes, he's one of my favorites." She tilted her head and stared off into the distance, past the buildings and sport fields and far off into the horizon. “Man is born in a day, and he dies in a day, and the thing is easily over; but to have a sick heart for three-fourths of one's lifetime is simply to have death renewed every morning; and life at that price is not worth living.”

Emma

I don't believe in fate or destiny. This universe is purely science, no greater power just the big bang, evolution, atoms and pure, scientific chance. Probability and numbers or the emperors of my life. And yet, I can't help but wondering at the strange things that are occurring around me recently. There are 1,426 people in my grade, of which, 147 are in my biology class. I've talked to only two students this year; Brittany (by force) and Xander. Both these people are in my biology class. With groups of three, the chance of my actually getting partnered with either one of them is 10,731:1 and that's a .009% probability of that happening. And yet, I still end up with both of them as lab partners, that is unbelievably strange.

Brittany

Oh my god, I can't believe it-- I'm stuck with freak for my lab partner. And on top of having to watch disgusting YouTube videos about pig dissections, I have to listen to her go on about how "the pig has 216 bones." Honestly, I don't care if the pig had seven billion bones or if it had a unicorn horn, I just wanted to get this stupid lab project and paper over with so I don't need to deal with her anymore than in the dorm room. Why can't I be with someone cool like Samantha or Stephanie? Kill now, I'd rather a quick painless one than a slow, terrible death by boredom and useless fact overload.

Xander

This is going to be interesting. I have Brittany sitting on one side of me and Emma on the other, I don't I could have gotten any two lab partners that were more different than these two. Brittany is loud and fake, with joker-like makeup and bleach-blond hair. Her lipstick is so bright and her teeth so shiny that it hurts to look at her smile. As soon as Brittany heard we would be partners, she walked up to me and wrapped herself around my arm, leaning in and attempting to be attractive. Since she's sat down, I've been hearing a non-stop monologue about herself and her talents and how good of a football player she thinks I am.

On my left side, Emma sit quietly, gazing absentmindedly into space, head probably bursting full of a thousand thoughts. Her fiery red hair, is haphazardly braided down her back, big frizzy pieces stick out  in all directions, giving her the look of a lioness-- so different from Brittany's carefully ironed and gelled silky hair. She sat down barely acknowledging me, as if she was only partially aware that I was there.

As our dry teacher, Dr Flinch place a fetal pig on a plastic cafeteria tray on our desk, Brittany shrieked in disgust and grabbed my shoulder for support. Emma pulled herself back to this reality and picked up a scapula. "A pigs communicate constantly with each other--almost as much as humans actually-- they have over 20 different vocalization that they use to say everything from "I'm hungry to attracting a mate." Brittany gagged "I'm sorry, you must have confused me with someone who actually cares what you have to say."

Emma ignored her and pointed to the slit she had made down the center of the pig. Speaking  quietly to me she explained the next steps on how to peel back the skin, showing me each organ and explaining their functions. I was surprise by how much she knew, and even more surprised that I actually found myself enjoying her company and all her knowledge.

Emma

A lot of people think that life is just a straight line with every moment and  experience just a single point on the delineation. Instead, I visual life as something more like a morass of squiggly lines, like a number of colored yarns that all got unwound and tangled together--each experience is not a single moment in time, a thing that only happens once and on its own. Our life is a culmination or everything that has happened before that point and the beginning of everything that will happen after. The yarns of different people do not simple cross once, often they become entangled with each other, wrapping around and knotting together with the other people around. Almost always, this happens by chance, when something kicks the two balls of yarn close together-- a long line, a traffic accident, a bet.

For some reason the school cafeteria has decided that they no longer need a salad bar. I came in for lunch today, planning on a house salad with hard boiled eggs and cherry tomatoes when I was jolted harshly back to the colored linoleum floors where my beloved salad bar had been cruelly replaced by big vats of soup. Instead of spinach and grilled chicken, there stood a shiny metal urn of electric  orange soup. I bet that this macaroni and cheese soup was no in the least bit natural, even the “cream” in it must be artificial. You can threaten me with a ban from the library and grounding me to my dorm with Brittany sooner than I'll put any of that repulsive artificial food into my mouth.

I poke the soup experimentally and choked back a gag when little pieces of elbow macaroni floated up to the top and bobbed around like dead fish, drowned in artificial creamer. I choked back a gag--sword swallowers learn to suppress their gag reflex, to keep themselves from swallowing when they push the sword down their esophagus  into their stomach. The custom originated in India around 2000 BCE it later became popular in European countries as street performances and later in theaters.  Today, less than 100 people still practice this art. Maybe I should learn how to suppress my gag reflex, especially if I'm going to have to eat macaroni and cheese soup and “chicken” nuggets.

“Blah, that's vile,” I turned from my plans of sword swallowing and saw Xander. “Yes, I quite agree and my salad bar is gone.” Rest in peace my friend. “Are you a health nut or something” he asked. “No, it's just very difficult to eat stuff when all you can think about is the disgusting artificial process it went through before it came to be on your plate.” “How about you make something on the student stove then?” I snorted “you don't want to see me make anything, it's worse than Einstein trying to spell.”

Xander

Was Einstein a bad speller? “I thought he was a genius.” She never ceases to amaze me. “He was a genius but he couldn't even speak fluently until he was nine. In fact, his parents thought he was mentally retarded. Even in adulthood he couldn't write an essay for his life--barely got into college. And he was dyslexic.” I smiled “That makes me feel better about my B- on my biology quiz.” “Oh, I enjoyed that one” I stared at her incredulously  “Even more the lab report, I got to write all about the harms of processed foods and all the chemicals--Amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate....” She trailed off, continuing to count off chemicals on her fingertips, I watched amazed as she went through he fingers four times before pausing. She looked up with that quizzical gaze “I can't remember but I know there are even more.” “I think I got the point, why don't we make something on the student burners, there are eggs and vegetables--omelettes?”

“Need I compare myself to Theodore Roosevelt and a marathon? Bush and nuclear? Clinton and the truth? The failed chef from cooking mouse movie?” “You mean Ratatouille?” “Mm? Yes.” I think she'd gone back to counting harmful chemicals. “Well you're in luck, you may be Alfredo Linguini but I'm Remy.” She pulled herself away from her fingers, probably now nearing somewhere close to one hundred “You mean you're actually a mouse?” Cancer-causing chemicals now forgotten, she looked utterly confused. I burst out laughing “No, I mean I'm the one of the pair of us that can cook.” “Oh, we'll that's good, I was afraid we had a very big mouse infestation.” I couldn't tell if she was seriously or not, so I decided it was probably best not to say anything. I brought her over to the stove tops pulling out eggs, vegetables, cheese and seasoning-- she may be a certified genius, but this was my territory.

Emma

Eggs Benedict, omelets, eggs in a frame, fried eggs, eggs over easy; A white chef's hat was worn originally worn by French chefs to distinguish them as the head of the kitchen. Called a toque blanche, they traditionally have one hundred pleats to symbolize the one hundred ways an egg can be cooked-- representing the fact that they were worn by only the most knowledgable of chefs.

No one pairs football player with cordon bleu chef. Currently in the NFL, the two most popular majors for professional football players are business and sociology (155 and 134 respectively.) English, mathematics and philosophy ranked extremely low at 2,1 and 1 for each subject. Not one the 1,696 players majored in culinary arts and only 6 majored in any sort of art form at all. No one, myself included, would peg Xander for a chef. But I'm not going to concern myself with that fact right now; this omelette tastes fantastic.

Dr. Flinch

God, I hate when it rains. It's Saturday and its pouring outside. Saturday is the one almost bearable day of the week because although I still need to deal with these demon brats on campus,  at least I don't need to teach any classes.

I've holed myself up in my office where I don't need to see anyone, do anything. This stupid college bubble will leave me alone and I will retreat from it for today. Emma has united myself and Gilbert Parker and perhaps today I can be content in this college hell house.

Emma

Nearly 60 percent of the human body is water. Water is in our brain, our lung, our muscle. It's in our fat, our blood. A human can survive over 7-8 weeks without food but without water, he can survive less than a week. Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, swollen tongue, weakness, dizziness, heart palpitations, confusion, fainting, sluggishness and a whole lot of other unfortunate things.

Many people complain about the rain. They see it as an inconvenience, something they have to rush through to avoid. I love the rain. I love the cold spray of wind and water against your face, the splash of a puddle as it floods your boot. When its raining, I lie down on the opposite side of my bed with my cheeks pressed to the window and let the melodic drumming of the rain against the glass panes of my window rock me gently into sleep.


But tonight, I will not sleep. I put on my favorite long skirt--embroidered with flowers and Indian symbols-- throw on a long comfortable shirt and fly down the stairs. Out of the building, out into the misty after the rain feel of the evening, run past the cafeteria and the tennis courts, out to the bus circle. I hope up and down as the cold rain whips against my cheeks. I shield my face and eyes against the icy spray thinking about hydrophobic compounds; methane, ethylene, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, nitrogen, vinegar, oil, butter....

Xander

For me, rain means only one thing--mud. Our playing field is more dirt and dust than grass. So in a rainstorm, we're sloshing through ankle-high mud. After two hours of mud sliding coach finally blew the whistle. "It's downpouring, there's no chance of actually getting anything else done today--go back to your dorms and clean up."

We tramped back to the benches and gathered our stuff. As I sat down to take a drink, Emma passed by. The team guffawed in laughter. She was twirling and dancing in the rain arms outstretched, head tilted up to the sky; her hair was streaming behind her in the wind. I was a struck by her image in a long red skirt and a flowing black top, her crimson hair billowing out behind her, she looked like a Bengal tiger, prancing through the rain. I moved to follow her, Sam Cushing called something about a party after me but I ignored him, caught up in watching  the blur of red hair fly by.


We tramped back to the benches and gathered our stuff. As I sat down to take a drink, Emma passed by. The team guffawed in laughter. She was twirling and dancing in the rain arms outstretched, head tilted up to the sky; her hair was streaming behind her in the wind. I was a struck by her image in a long red skirt and a flowing black top, her crimson hair billowing out behind her, she looked like a Bengal tiger, prancing through the rain. I moved to follow her, Sam Cushing called something about a party after me but I ignored him, caught up in watching  the blur of red hair fly by.

I reached her just as she was boarding the bus downtown, her long skirt had just disappeared above the steps when the bus driver called in a gruff voice “you comin'? We're leaving now.” I watched her red head move slowly down the isle, finally sitting down in the back row.

I've often heard adults talk about coming to a crossroads in your life. How one day I'll get to a point where I see two options, one is the easier route--to simple walk away and continue your comfortable life with an average ending-- while the other is scary and daunting, a long, windy road but at the end is Elysium, the city of those who lived best in their lives. I stood, teetering on the edge of good and excellent, on the edge of a cliff. Jump, said a little voice in the back of my head, just jump. I swallowed,  took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and dove off the cliff.

Emma

People in the united states average about 2 sticks of gum per day; that's about 100,000 tons of gum each year. An average stick of gum weighs 1.2 grams, there are 453.59 grams per pound, assuming that my all of the seats look about the same as mine, I'd say this bus is carrying at least a pound of chewing gum on the seats, floors, windows and handrails. I skip hop on the tips of my toes , dancing around the pools of gum on the floor, choosing a seat but on my way down, rethinking my decision and standing with my hands on the small areas of free space along the metal poles.

Three teenagers in short cropped shirts and too many piercingly sat down in the seats in front of me, discussing the tattoos they wanted to get when they were old enough to waive their parent's 'tyrannical' rule over them. I leaned forward “Most tattoo parlors do not properly follow sanitation requirements. You can get hepatitis and psoriasis.”



One of them turned their pierced nose up at me. “Whatever.” “What's the point of getting a pretty looking tattoo if your skin becomes all scaly and puss covered due to the production of too many skins cell?” Another leaned forward. He smelled of too much Abbecrombie  cologne and fried food. He popped his cherry-lime bubblegum in my face. “No one cares” he was still slightly below puberty and trying way to hard to make is voice sound like he was older and more mature. I opened my mouth to retort about chemicals in cologne and scented shampoo when I heard someone shout my name from the back of the bus. All comments of erythrodermic rashes were lost in my surprise to see Xander, covered in mud and drenched in rain pushing towards me.

The Dead Sea has 36,600 milligrams of salt per liter-- such a high concentration that a person can float on the surface without treading water. The mud there also has many minerals that are used to heal psoriasis and other skin ailments. Xander looks like he's been rolling in mud and swimming in the pool. Many people would say he's a dirty as a pig but pigs are actually quite clean animals. Once, one woman build a water shower for her pigs and they learned how to operate it and they enjoyed using it.

Xander

I must look dumber than Chris Johnson after he realized that he had begun celebrating after a tackling interception and that he team had actually lost the ball back to the other team. She stared at me “what are you doing here?” Nice to see you too. “I was heading into town.” She raised her eyebrows, in your football pads after you've taken a mud bath?” “Um well..” I struggled ask tried to concoct  a  story that would make me not seem like a stalker. Eyes to down and to the right.” She said. I looked up utterly confused. “What?” “Eyes to down and to the right, it means you're lying--inventing a story, remember?” “So, uh, where are you going?” I  asked, shifting uncomfortably as I tried to change the subject. “Contradancing.” “What-dancing?” “Con-tra-dancing. From the French word contresdanse. Contres meaning counter and danse a male dancer.” She must have seen the thoroughly confused look on my face “Similar to square dancing, but better. Come on, I'll show you.”

Emma

In the Middle Ages, Martin Luther, a monk and theology professor had a revelation while sitting atop a tower at his college in Wittenberg. His visions inspired him to form Lutheranism, the first Christian Protestant religion. From Lutheranism was born antabaptists, Calvinists, Presbyterians, Episcopals and countless other Christian sect branching off from the Catholic Church. I don't consider myself any religion, The universe is chance and science, no all powerful being pulling the strings. But even as I consider the facts, in 2009, there were 1,795 murders due to religious hate crimes,  I still can't help but love the inside of this old church.

Everything inside is an old, aged wood. The whole room is enveloped in the musty scent of old books; the floorboards creak pleasantly as we dance across the floor. Xander looked uncomfortable as I led him through the doors but I felt entirely the opposite. As soon as I blended into this crowd full of older, smiling people. This was my home, my haven where I felt truly at home. Here in this herd of wiser folk, of peasant skirts and long untamed hair, is where I can feel comfortable and serene. I know here I will be greeted and loved and listened to. Here people care about the back-formation of eavesdropper, about the life of a golden tamarin lion about what I read last week. There are no judgments, no unkind laughter, we are all equal and talented in each other's eyes. This is the land of the strange, the differently, the interesting of society; here I feel right at home.

Xander

I'm starting to regret coming. I feel like an yankee play jersey in an outfield of orioles; everyone  is smiling at laughing, talking to each other like old friends. Emma pulls me up to an stout older man laughing a big belly of a laugh. He looked a little like Santa Claus on a tropical vacation. His white beard was short and spiky his keg stomach was covered in an alarming Hawaiian t-shirt. His name tag, printed on a palm tree and sunset background read “George.”

“Xander, this is George; George, Xander” his teeth were somewhat crooked and his voice too loud “well hello there, are you a new youngin' to come dancing with us? I tugged at my sleeves uncomfortably. Emma stepped in “oh yes, Xander followed me to the bus and didnt realize where I was going until it had already begun to move. So he's here to dance tonight. He's a football player.” “My, my, Emma, you have all the handsome boys chasing after you now!” An older woman (her name tag said “Elizabeth”) turned around and moved towards us, she smiled, revealing a full set of braces. I was about to reply something in my own defense but a man tapped the microphone and announced “the beginner lessons will start now in the center of the dance floor.”

Emma tapped my shoulder, “you should come to this,” and moved towards the middle of the room. A potbellied man with salt and pepper hair and a really bushy mustache waited for us and directed everyone to stand in a circle. He talked us through some dance steps. Personally, I failed miserably, but Emma was entirely different from her normal self.

Everyone poured into the room and the dances began. At first, I fumbled around and bumped into a lot of people but gradually, I began to get the hang of it. These old people sure had a lot of stamina for being over 60. I sat out a dance and watched everyone moving around in the complicated steps. Emma spun around, dancing and laughing gracefully. Her skirt twirled around her, her hair spread around her face like a fiery halo. Her laugh echoed across the floor, bringing a smile to my face.

I finally asked her to dance. We gypsy turned and do-si-do'ed as partners; we promenaded to facts about the history of contra dancing, the properties of the mud on my clothing and the rare tree from which floor of the church was made. The music wove in and out of our conversation as she explained the viola's notes in the song. It was the strangest thing I had ever done; most likely, if any of the football players learned this was what I had done on my Friday night I would surely be treated like an outlaw and branded with a 'don't come anywhere near me if you want to be cool' mark on my forehead. But at the moment, none of that seemed to matter, it was only this dance and the odd facts we moved to.

Flinch

Classes are a long, grueling, two-hour ordeal. If the students think it is bad enough to sit there at their desks and stare off into space, they have no idea what it is like to have to stand in front of a class of daydreamers and note-passers and attempt to make an imprint on their foolish, inattentive minds.  Today's Biology class seemed to be no exception. Just like always, it began when I slammed the door open with a bang, and stomped to my desk--trying to make it as apparent as possible that I disliked the students and my job. The regular sleepy silence overcame the class when I started my lecture on the organelles of a prokaryote. I have long since given up trying to make classes interesting and engaging, that requires far to much work and makes little difference--the students always become thoughtless blobs, daydreaming and thinking about everything else other than the topic at hand. The lecture progressed in its usual boring passing, leaving nothing more than a small speck of knowledge in the children's minds and leaving me nothing but a sore throat.

The end of class approached at a sloth's progression; when the end bell finally rung, the student jumped out of their chairs, cramming papers and books into their backpacks and running for the door. As I was gathering up my things, lamenting on the 8 months still left of school that girl, (Emily was it?) approached me. She picked a paperclip off my desk and bent it between her fingers. “7 out of 8 men die before their wives.” The paperclip snapped. I looked at her, startled, she always seemed to catch me off guard. “What?” “Mm? Oh, hi, I was thinking about how it was statistically unlikely that your wife is sick before you.” “How could you possibly know my wife was sick?” “You still have your wedding ring on, which means you are still married. But you've worn the same shirt for three days now. You hardly strike me as one who would wash their own laundry, so your wife probably does it for you. So either you have an extremely busy wife, which, at your age is highly unlikely, or she's too sick to do the wash. What is she sick with anyway?” I was so taken aback by her incredible skills of deduction that I didn't even think about getting angry for the many slights she had just given me.

Emma

According to the CDC, Men in the united states are 1.5 times more likely than women to die from cancer or heart and respiratory diseases. So I found it somewhat odd that Dr. Flinch's wife should be sick before him. It was just incredibly statistically unlikely. I guess that goes to show that the entire world cannot be explained in mathematical terms. There are so many unknown, uncontrollable variables that must be dealt with. Its like driving a car on the highway, You can be an especially good driver, always checking your mirrors and obeying the speed limit, but you still have a high chance of getting in a car accident because of all the other people in their cars around you. 39 states prohibit texting while driving, 10 prohibit talking on a handheld cell phone as well. I wonder what his wife is like; she must be awfully patient to put up with a man that won't even do his own laundry when she's sick.



Dr. Flinch



Before I could help myself, I was catapulted back to my senior year at Skidmore 1973.  "I went into the library one day after classes looking for a book on the binary fission of unicellular bacteria and found myself staring at the assistant librarian as she filed books back onto the shelves. Her lips moved silently as she went through the alphabet, placing each book carefully on the shelf and checking to make sure each had reached its proper place. She was stunning. She had her auburn hair haphazardly pulled back in a bun and stuck in place with two pencils, as if she had not have enough time to find a hair clip. Her bright blue eyes were staring keenly at the spine of each book, her slender fingers gently brushing off each cover before returning it to the shelf. Even to this day, I can picture the look of careful concentration on her face as walked her fingers across the shelves, softly reading the call number for each book as she searched for the proper place.



At that instant, I knew I was hopelessly in love, for weeks afterward I would shuffle into the library and ask for her help finding a new book for class or asking for a suggestion of one of her favorites. When I finally worked up the courage to start some small talk about majors, graduate schools and teachers, we struck it off. She was beautiful, brilliant and kind, there was nothing more I could ask for. Even now, 40 odd years after we first met, I love to sit and converse with her. We could talk for hours about anything and still be perfectly content."



I pulled myself away from my descriptions when I realized that Emma was still standing there listening to me, smiling contently, still twirling the paperclip mindlessly in her fingers. "I think I'd like to meet her." "Indeed, she was the one that introduced me to Gilbert Parker."

"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." She smiled. "That's not Gilbert Park though is it?” “No, her head tilted slightly to the side. "That's Dr. Seuss. But you're very lucky for finding Rose; 50% of first marriage, 67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages all end in divorce. For you to have found Rose on your first try is very impressive." She paused and I scowled a little; I wasn't quite sure how to answer that statement. But it turns out, I didn't have to, she went on "Is she a artist as well as an art major?" She searched her bag somewhat frantically for a few minutes. Eventually she gave up and emptied it onto the floor. I was completely startled by some of the contents.



Emma



Duct tape was originally invented by Johnson and Johnson's Permacell company in World War II because they needed a strong, durable waterproof tape that could serve many purposes including sealing canister, repairing cracked windows and trucks and many other things for the war. It was nicknamed Duck Tape because of its ability to propel water. After the war, it was given to the public to use and became a popular material for almost any range of projects.

Duck tape is only one of the essentials in my backpack. One who knows a lot about the worst; power outages, lost on a trip, car crash, lightning storm; always learns to be prepared every situation. I have a headlamp, ball of string (just incase I'm stuck in cave like in Tom Sawyer), compass (in case I get lost in the woods behind campus), safety pins (always useful), 2 pencils (because mine always seem to break during class), a notebook (for strokes of genius), 3 different colored pens (because they look nice in my notebook), electrolytes packets (for dehydration), two nutrition bars and duck tape (no other explanation needed here.) That's only the emergency stuff in my front pocket. Books, binders, laptop and everything else are in the other main pocket and in all the side pockets. Finally, after much scavenging and organizing I managed to find what I was looking for a sketchbook of all my drawings.

 

Dr. Flinch

I was still trying to fathom exactly how she managed to cram all of that junk into her backpack. I’m thinking perhaps she’s a timelord who has a backpack that is bigger on the inside. Or perhaps Mary Poppins. As I was attempting to visual the inside of her backpack, she pulled out a black, leather-bound sketchbook. On the outside, it was plain and average, a normal sketchbook that you can buy at any craft store for a few bucks; somewhat tattered with mud and scratches all over the cover.

 

Inside, was an entirely different story, the pages were filled to the edges with colorful drawings of flowers and landscape. Sketches of people eating their lunches in the cafeteria looked so alive that I would have thought it was a full color photograph. She was incredibly talented and I knew at once that Rose had to see them.

 

She had been sick with Parkinson’s for years, slowly losing her ability to walk and draw and perform basic motions. She used to love to spend hours drawing and painting but now she could do nothing more than scribble a few lines without shaking horribly. The most horrible thing, far worse that dying, is watching someone that you love suffer.

 

“Its stunning,” my voice was void of my usual sarcasm; Emma seemed to have a talent for throwing me off balance and softening my heart. “I know Rose would absolutely love it, can you come over and show her this weekend?” “A high quality set of pencils can cost upwards of 150 dollars.” She looked up from her pencil case, pulling out some Crayola pencils and examining them; I’d seen that look many times before on Rose—it was an artist mid-idea, their mind gearing up to draw a picture. I’m quite used to artists withdrawn into their own thoughts, I’ll take her silence as a yes and expect her sometime this weekend.

 

 

Xander

 

Although I’d never admit it to anyone other than Emma, the kitchen, not the football field, is the place I like to be most. The kitchen in calm and peaceful; there is no noise except for the soft bubbling of put. No one to avoid or tackle, simply the food and myself. When I’m with Emma, in the cafeteria kitchen, I feel happier than I have any other time in college so far. I feel relaxed and carefree, nothing seems to bother me. I wish that we could stay in the kitchen together forever; I wish we had no more classes, no more practice just us and the food forever more.

 

Emma

 

The fatty acid chain of a phospholipid is hydrophobic. When a fat molecule of fatty acids and phospholipid heads is surrounded by water, the polar heads clump together in a circle and surround the fatty acids to protect them from the water. Xander’s football skills are his phospholipid head, when he is surrounded by other people, he protects his cooking skills and softer side behind his tough sports guy act. But I don’t really think that’s necessary. I’m like a non-polar ion in a swimming pool of polar water. The other kids try to repel me from their pool but I won’t give up and I most definitely won’t hide my true self. I am my own ion and I think that Xander should stop being afraid of revealing his true self, as Marilyn Monroe once said “If people, can’t handle me at my worst, then they don’t deserve my best.”

 

 

Xander

“See how the bubbles are beginning to form on the surface and the edges are starting to look shiny?” “Mmhm.” “That means its ready to be flipped.”Emma and I have taken to cooking our meals together. Emma is the natural checker and verifies the safe origin of a product and its my job to make it taste good. It’s a lot of fun to do this with her, these one hour cooking sessions make me much happier than the hours I spend on the football field with my ‘friends.’

 

 “Okay. I see it.” “Now take the spatula and slide it very gently, no, don’t flip it yet, oh no, you’ve smushed it.” “I ruined it.” “Patience Emma, you need to do everything slowly and carefully or else something goes wrong. You are rushing too much.” “The average person has a new thought every 1.2 seconds.” I laughed, “Of course, you probably have double or triple that.” “I like to think of seven impossible things before breakfast.” “That’s not very many.” “It’s a quote” Came a voice from behind us. I turned and saw our grouchy old teacher Dr. Flinch. “Oh hi there Dr. Flinch.” I said, trying to sound cheery and pleased to see him., which, of course, I was not. Typically, he ignored me, like he does to everyone, old sod. “It’s a quote from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.” Emma responded “That was only his pseudonym, his really name was Charles Lutwig Dodgson.”  I was quite surprise when Flinch smiled and nodded at Emma. Humming slightly he picked up his food and pass by.  Three cheers for Emma for managing to make friends with one of the most hated teachers on campus.

 

When we exited the building it had started pouring again, it was almost always pouring now that we had entered winter. We had the misfortune in being in one of those places where it was really cold, but just a few degrees too warm to be snow. So we usually ended up with sludge and sleet most of the winter. I, along with most other people on campus hate the cold and the wet; our clothing is almost perpetually damp and carpeted floors makes a wet, squelching sound from too much water when we walk, never in socks, around our dorms. Emma, who is definitely not In any category of the majority loves the downpour. She can’t ever seem to get enough rain and is always dropping her work to dance outside in the rain. Most of the people laugh at her for her strange habits, but with her hair billowing in the wind and her skirts and jackets swirling around her; I think she looks quite beautiful.

 

Today was no exception, as soon as we were outside Emma took her hair out from its messy braid and pulled off her shoes and socks (which she only wear when required in the cafeteria and classrooms.) She grabbed my hand and led me across campus. We went through some hallways and into 3 different stairwells. Finally, we reached the top of a windy, spiral staircase. Emmaleaned into the heavy metal door and held it open for me.

 

We emerged onto a small, circular floor. High up; very high up—about as tall as the top of a football goal where we could watch all the tiny people running from building to building, covering their heads and hiking up their pants. “Is this…” “Ridgingtown Tower.” She finished. She walked to the edge of the tower and leaned forward, resting her elbows on top of one of the stone parapets that lined the edge of the roof. I walked over to join her.

 

“Don’t you ever wonder what the purpose of all this is?” “To get a good education and a good job afterwards.” “No, not college.” She gestured her hands in a wide sweep around her. “This, everything, our life, our world. I feel as though we are so small and insignificant; Julius Caesar was born in one hundred BCE, two-thousand and ninety-six years ago. We’re only 18. That is about one hundred and thirty-one times own small, short life. We are inconsequential. In one thousand years, we will be nothing more than a body in the masses that fell in a country long ago fallen to conquest?”

 

 

 

We stood in silence for a while, taking in the beauty of the campus and getting soaking wet. “Don’t you ever wonder what the purpose of all this is?” “To get a good education and a good job afterwards.” “No, not college.” She gestured her hands in a wide sweep around her. “This, everything, our life, our world. I feel as though we are so small and insignificant; Julius Caesar was born in one hundred BCE, two-thousand and ninety-six years ago. We’re only 18. That is about one hundred and thirty-one times own small, short life. We are inconsequential. In one thousand years, will we be nothing more than a body among masses that fell in a country long ago fallen to conquest?”

           

It was something I'd never thought of before but the thought that our lives could mean nothing was terrifying. Will we be nothing more than a faint memory many hundreds of years from now? Are we worth anything?

 

A thought occurred to me. Emma seems to bring out all sorts of strange thoughts for me. I figured if anyone knew the answer to my question, it would be her, so I voiced it. "What's our purpose? What are we supposed to do with our lives? What can we do to live life to the fullest without any regrets at the end?" "I have learned that you can go anywhere you want go and the anything you want to do and buy all the things that you want to buy and meet all the people that you want to meet and learn all the things you desire to learn and if you do all these things and are not madly in love, you have not even begun to live." That something to think about; my parents used to always say that relationships and love are two of the things that make you happiest in life but I'd never really taken them seriously. Maybe they were more important than I had thought. "Do you believe that?" "I don't know, maybe. I've thought a lot about this stuff but I can never seem to get an answer that satisfies me." "Maybe we need to live more?"

 

Xander

 

It was the 8th game of the season and we still had not won a single match. We were worse than the orioles for the last 20 years and we knew it. No number of coach's inspirational speeches could raise our morale. We sucked and that was the end of it. We half-heartedly tramped onto the field--most of the students had long since stopped showing up to cheer us on, only a few weary sat on the bleachers. As I scanned the pitiful crowd for any signs of hope, I spotted that fiery red hair that stood out a mile away. I was surprised that Emma had show up because despite knowing almost every sports fact in history, she hated sports. She obviously hadn't gotten the message that we were definitely going to lose because she watched us warming up eagerly. She spotted me and waved cheerily. Despite our over-looming failure I couldn't help but smile and wave back. And yet her excitement energized me; if she believed that we could win, then I would try with every fiber in my body not to disappoint her.

 

Brittany

 

This team is terrible. I came to this school to cheer and watch my team win, not to be the laughing stock of all of New England. Today, even worse that losing another game is that the freak has come to watch us AND Xander was smiling and waving at her. My life could not get any worse!

 

Emma

 

Spicy food originated in hot climates because before refrigeration the food would spoil. People added hot spices to their food to cover up the rancid taste. I think Brittany loud and obnoxious on the outside because she's trying to hide a rancid inside. I sat down on the bleachers today and she wouldn't stop giving me nasty looks. She has laser eyes and an even more acidic tongue. I'm quite a good lip reader and I can tell by their mouths and from their high pitched giggles that they are talking about me. Well, I supposed there's nothing I can do but palatte the spicy food and look forward to the basic milk afterwards.

 

Xander

 

We were incredible. The energy that Emma gave me spread to the rest of the team. We not only won, but we won by over 20 points! Now we're made our comeback and it feels incredible. I can't wait to talk to Emma about this.

 

Brittany

 

Oh my god, looks like we finally won a game. I'm so proud of my boys! They actually got themselves together long enough to score a few points. Hurrah.

 

Emma

 

Cheerleaders are some sort of satanic cult. They move and chant like strange prehistoric rituals. As I was watching them prance around like ancients Mayas performing the sun festival, they did one of their pyramids. Brittany was on top but she very quickly ended up being on the bottom--it had just finished storming a few hours before the game and the ground was all muddy and very slippery. When Brittany stepped onto the top of the pyramid, one of the girls on the bottom lost her footing (or is it kneeing?) in the mud and feel over, the entire pyramid came cascading down in raucous of shrieks and moaning. The crowd guffawed at them; Brittany stood up, face bright red, and shouted at us, screaming until her face had migrated to more of an ugly purplish red. Bad, bad, meat.

 

Xander

 

"Emma!" She turned to face me, smiling "You're my lucky charm!" "Lucky charms have 108 calories, 1.1 grams of fat--" "No, not that kind! Like a good luck charm; we finally won!" "You haven't one before?" "No, this was our first time, you showed up and we won!" "Well, I think that may be a slight misconception of correlation versus causation--" She stopped talked abruptly when I picked her up and twirled her around. "Yes, yes, good job." She squirmed uncomfortably and I put her down. "How did you like it?" "I thought you did well, I found it surprisingly enjoyable." "I'm glad." "We should go mudsliding." Sorry, did she just say mudsliding? Before I could recover from my shock she was taking her shoes and socks off and placing them neatly on the bleachers along with her glasses for safekeeping. I did have time to protest as she pulled me down the bleachers on the onto the field. I finally managed to get something coherent out "I'm not so sure that's a good---" Woosh. A mud ball hit me squarely in the stomach, she had quite an arm. It splattered across my uniform and dripped back to the ground like melting ice cream. "You're already muddy, might as well have some fun." And with that, she took off down the field, running full tilt and then plopping down onto her butt like a baseball player sliding to home plate. When she finally stopped laughing in joy, she stoof up and beckoned to me. She's completely insane. The whole team and group of onlookers were laughing. But I thought 'what the heck' I'm already muddy and it does look like fun. I set off running full speed down the field and eventually ended up laughing beside Emma. Man we are a crazy pair. 

 

The End

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