Alice

Each day arises and melts away as easily as ice on a warm, hard floor. With every new day she remains the same—stationary, willing herself to move, yet comfortable with the way life has found her. The classroom where she spends numerous hours of her day welcomes her first and foremost out of all the other students, for she is always early to class, afraid to miss any new development that may desire her attention. Soon, though, her fellow students begin to arrive, chatting freely and laughing about the latest and funniest YouTube videos. She tilts her neck toward them, hoping to share in their conversation, as if a simple smile their direction might motivate them to summon her to come over and laugh with them. She turns in her chair and faces their way, but no one manages to catch her gaze.

The lecture begins like clockwork, as it does each morning at 9:30 when the instructor, who seems never to be in a hurry, meanders into the room. Literature classes always follow the promptest of schedules. T.S. Eliot is the subject of today’s meeting. A quarter of the way through class, the instructor begins rationing out portions of the late great author’s poems to be read out loud. She sits the furthest away from the first reader, but finally her turn arises like a wave in the ocean.

Clearing her throat briefly, she glances down again at the words on the page that her eyes have already skimmed over at least five times–just to ensure that no mispronunciation is committed. She begins reading her seven lines aloud and consciously forces some sense of emotion into her voice as the words dive out of her mouth. Her voice quivers, and her eyebrows weaken when she raises them in order to assist in her understanding of the passage. In addition to the slight quivering her voice betrays, her words sound like she is speaking them in a hollow cave. The effect is not alarming, but subtle, as if a layer of cotton lines her tongue. This, however, is her smallest concern, and a small concern it is indeed.

She keeps an eye out for the finger that she’s placed carefully at the end of her last line incase she accidentally reads too far. Decreasing her words per minute, she reaches at long last the final syllable and breathes a silent sigh of relief that the task is finished.

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