I looked up at the mirror and searched for flaws in my makeup, feeling tense as I realized it was probably past 9:00, class would be starting any minute. I pulled my purse up to the bathroom counter and looked at my phone: 9:03AM. When I’m even several minutes late to a class or appointment, I find it very easy to empathize with the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland (and not just because I always have a large pocket watch with me that I stare at as I’m sprinting to the location…) When you think about it, that fluffy white rabbit is an inspiration. He has so far managed to (mostly) retain his sanity while making it on time to appointments with a sadistic queen who lives in a world where up is down and left is right so getting directions to the gig would be a rather extremely large pain, and yet he does it (for the most part) willingly. Now, thankfully, Teacher Madame is not prone to decapitating students who are late… I suppose my rather unecessary explanation about my admiration for the rabbit in the classic Disney movie (does the little guy even have a name?) did nothing to reveal any other similarities except for my obsessive need to be on time and my pocket watch…
I latched my bag shut and quickly picked up my bookbag, Monk-blazer (I call it my Monk blazer because it looks rather like the blazer that the character Adrian Monk wears in the USA Network show. It’s too big on me but it’s very comfortable,) scarf and earl-grey tea. I did a panicked shuffle to the building that anatomy and physiology is located in. I must have looked quite comical, but I did not want to be any more late nor did I want to spill my precious earl grey tea. I managed to turn the knob and shove open the door. I heard a female voice down the hall.
No! They’ve started!
Upon entering the room I saw Claire (the barista at the school cafe and a friend of mine, she had vanished from the cafe when I ran inside the bathroom to check my appearance)
“Howdy!” I greeted her
“Hey girl!” She turned to me before turning back to the guys for a moment, “Alright, have a good class you guys.”
She left and I looked at who was present.
Marshall and Toby. Besides them the room was entirely empty. I glanced up at the clock above Teacher Madame’s desk, it was, indeed, past nine. I shuffled over to my usual seat.
“Where is everyone?” I asked Marshall. He shrugged. As I took out my class materials we got into a discussion regarding the perplexity of last week’s homework. Teacher Madame walked in and the usual morning conversation went on. As I settled in my chair Marshall explained the homework scenario. I heard the door open and looked up to see Chase walking in. I smiled at him but he didn’t even look at me, and strode quickly past my chair. Two very, very unusual events. I was surprised at how disappointed I felt. He sat down in his usual spot next to Marshall, right across from me, and busied himself with his books. This is also not routine, he usually watches me while he talks to the guys until I look over, and then gets out his books. I started getting out my homework and tried not to think about it, but it was no use. Within several seconds I had come to the inevitable conclusion.
Well, I thought matter-of-factly, that is that, I suppose. I looked up at him again, slightly hopeful, but even when we got up and walked to Teacher Madame’s desk he didn’t look over once. It’s time to move on. Just let it go. I decided then that I wouldn’t be a child about it. It didn’t stop me from feeling hurt, but logic prevailed and I told myself to not linger.
I got up from my seat walked up to Teacher Madame along with Toby. All of them were talking about several pages regarding synovial joint movements in the handouts that didn’t make sense. Toby had to side-step a chair in order to avoid bumping into Marshall, which made me move to allow him room, making me nearly bump into Chase. I now stood less than in inch from him. I handed Teacher Madame my homework and from my peripheral saw him glance over for a second. I knew not to read into it. I went back to my seat and told myself not to watch him. I thought for a moment of how odd it was. Did I ever fancy him? Or did he just make me curious about why he fancied me? I remember I said in my first Chase-related post that when I looked him in the eye I felt nothing but curiosity. Yes, this was accurate. The first time I saw him in December I was attracted to him because his eyes looked tired and I wanted to know why. I felt the ‘jolt’ and was curious about what caused it. How addictive such inquiries are. Perhaps it has never been about him, but rather my ‘ceaselessly hungry mind’ as Kathryn Madame put it. My need to grab books from the library about the history of blood transfusions or the evolution of the perfume industry out of impulse. I’ve never been genuinely interested in the pursuit of learning about blood transfusions or the latest mix of Coco Chanel perfume, I was just walking along the rows and there they were, and so I grabbed them because I was curious. What do I like about him? I demanded of myself. Well, he’s intelligent. During class I’ll be scribbling notes until I run out of ink or paper (whichever comes first) and still have some difficulty recalling the information on the spot. I’ve never seen Chase write a single note, and yet he knows the answer to every question Teacher Madame calls out. But I’ve always admired intelligent people, I’ve always tried to establish social relationships with them. I have no ability to doubt that it was because of the way he looked at me. It made me curious.
“Look at the board.” Teacher Madame said while gesturing to the whiteboard which read: Get out microscopes.
The usual routine ensued, we moved the tables and walked over to the shelves holding the microscopes and took one each. I looked over and saw Chase’s notebook sitting in front of a chair which sat next to mine, and his backpack by the side of the table. I placed my microscope onto the table and looked over at him by the cabinet to find that he was watching me. I smiled. As I bent down and plugged in my microscope, the sound of heels resounded on the wood floors and I looked to the threshold of the classroom to see Rachel walk in, who had been absent from the Wednesday class for a month now.
“Hi!” I called over cheerfully.
“Hey!” She called back, setting down her white trench coat and Coach purse. Rachel is one of the most fashionable people I’ve ever met, and quite often looks like she has just stepped out of Teen Vogue.
“Long time no see.” I said.
“I know, right?”
I stood and realized Chase had moved his items from the table and now sat by the boys so Rachel could sit next to me. He had forgotten his backpack, which still slumped against the wall. I suddenly wished Rachel had decided to skip out again. Microscopy usually takes up the full 2 hours of class, and whoever you end up sitting next to, you will end up talking to the entire time. Typically because most of us can’t identify every structure on a slide, we depend on our neighbors to fill in the gaps, and they depend on us for the same. And because whatever you do know about the slide makes labeling incredibly easy, it leaves plenty of space for conversation.
Rachel and I, while on good terms, have little in common. Starting with how we dress. 50% of what I typically wear is from Whistle Stop or Memories N’ Treasures (my favorite antique shops in the downtown) and, as previously mentioned, Rachel appears to wear right-off-the-rack items from Nordstrom. We also ask different questions, and enjoy discussing different things. It’s pleasant speaking with her for several minutes, but I can feel her become increasingly annoyed with me as the conversation goes on. I had a feeling that by the time the 2 hours was up, she would be prepared to hire a hitman just to get relief from my presence.
We grabbed the boxes of slides from Teacher Madame’s desk and she announced which slides we would be sketching and labeling: muscle from the stomach, heart and skeleton on all magnifications. After we sat back down I decided to keep the conversation light to make myself more tolerable. And at one point me, Rachel and Teacher Madame had gotten into a discussion regarding Coach purses. Chase had suddenly gone back to his usual self and looked over at me when openings arose. Several explanations went through my mind. One of which was that it might have thrown him for a loop when on Friday I had suddenly started speaking to him. It was the only thing that had changed, the only thing that made sense. And, as Occam’s razor suggests, better to begin with the simplest explanation before moving onward to the complex.
After microscopy Teacher Madame had the guys grab the school laptops and explained the PowerPoint she wanted each of us to make. I realized the internet on mine wasn’t working.
“Is anybody here technologically savvy?” Teacher Madame asked the room when I told her of my troubles. Marshall raised his hand, “I am.” He looked over at me and I said in faux desperation as I turned the laptop to face him, “Help me!”
He grinned and walked over. After a few minutes of clicking he spoke, “I’m going to take this to the office and see if I can get a connection there and figure out what’s wrong.” He took the laptop and started for the exit. “Thank you, Marshall.” I called over. I heard a mumbled, echoing ‘no problem’ as he made his way for the door. Once he returned he reported that the computer had decided to update itself and it cut off internet while it was at it. I told Teacher Madame that I could work on the PowerPoint at home and just put it on a flashdrive, and so I was allowed to leave class several minutes early.
I walked over to the cafe and discovered it was particularly crowded. I stood around for a bit and went into the ladies’ room to check my make-up. When I stepped out Chase was standing with his back to me, by a shelf in the bookstore (the bookstore and cafe are right next to each other) I stood next to him for a moment when I felt a sudden impulse to go outside. He looked over at me as I started to walk away, but stood still. The air was wonderfully cold. I buttoned up my knit grey cardigan, slipped on my Monk blazer and scarf and took a seat at one of the outside tables. Orby’s (the orb mechanical pocket-watch Heather Madame got me for my birthday) chain quickly felt like ice around my neck. I looked down at the time and realized I had once again forgotten to wind up the watch that morning, leaving the hands frozen at 6:50. I eavesdropped on a conversation between the Center manager and one of the teachers for a few minutes when I suddenly became painfully aware of Chase’s absence. I made the decision to go back inside when my mother pulled up. I winced and willed the Fit to vanish, but it remained in my vision. I considered motioning for her to wait so I could run inside and talk to him for a few minutes, but a part of me had already given up, and so I grabbed my things and made my way to the car. I glanced over to the windows of the cafe, hoping to get a glance of him, but all I saw were the reflections of the sky and campus.
As we drove deeper into Fort Worth to pick up my father from work at a foreclosure rescue company (he currently has several jobs) I couldn’t help suddenly chuckling to myself out of the absurdity of a thought that had made itself conscious.
“You know something?” I said. Mom looked like she wasn’t listening, but I needed to vocalize my thoughts, “I go to class four times a month. Only four times a month.” I shook my head to myself as the world moved past my window, “And yet my life feels consumed with waiting for those four days.”
She was silent for such a long time I was convinced her mind was certainly elsewhere, but then she spoke, “Does it?”
I thought for a moment, “Yes.”
The ride home I looked wistfully out of the window. I had started nodding off, noting vaguely how cold the glass was as my forehead rested against the window. I suddenly sat up, fatigue blurring the memory of how the question appeared in my mind. I winced each time it returned, because I never found an answer.
Why didn’t I stay?
Seven days suddenly felt like a terribly long time.