Copyright 2014 JC Wallace
Each week a group of authors participate weekly in Wednesday Briefs Flash Fiction. Each installment is 500-1000 words long and is posted to our blogs each week. After you read the latest in my story, click on the links at the end to visit the other flashers.
Around eleven-forty five, Levi pulled into the parking lot located a short distance from Champlain Hall where Dr. Winston’s office was located. He was a little sweatier and a little shakier but he’d made it. Being back on the campus stirred feelings he hadn’t expected, least of them longing—longing to return to a semi-normal life, to live without the fear, to be a student who only cared about getting classes out of the way to have fun and freedom.
Levi gripped the door handle firmly and entered Champlain Hall as if he belonged there, like any student, not a drop out. Taking the stairs to the third floor, he passed the occasional student and wondered if he would run into any one he’d known but no one stood out to him.
Again, he questioned why he’d come. What was waiting for him behind that office door? Steeling his spine and locking his knees, Levi knocked gently, almost hoping the professor didn’t answer. Unfortunately, she did.
“Levi, so good to see you,” Dr. Winston said, wrapping Levi in a sustained hug that took him back a bit.
“Hi,” Levi said hesitantly, following Dr. Winston into his office.
Dr. Winston was an older woman, possibly in her early fifties. Shoulder length mousy ash brown hair, with a limp curl, amber eyes, a little hippy on the bottom but quite slim on the top. As usual, she wore a long flowing multi-colored skirt. A heavy beaded necklace made with what looked to be handmade glass beads in teals and a gold flaming sun pendant bounced about her bosom. Never one for discreet jewelry, her matching earrings were long and large. All matched her personality: large, gregarious, expressive.
“Sit please,” Dr. Winston said, motioning to a chair near her desk.
Nothing had changed in the office since Levi had visited a few weeks before leaving college for good. It was a large space where tall bookcases lined three of the walls and were filled to capacity with books—new and old—idols of deities from dozens of religions, totems, ancient representations of myths, mystical creatures and dozens of jars and ornate containers. On the walls were paintings, many of mythological figures along with some woven tapestries with strange sigils. Dr. Winston wasn’t just a professor of philosophy and ethics but also presented classes on Greek and Roman mythology, folktales, ancient cultures, even the occult, among a few others. Her office was the least boring place on campus.
Dr. Winston sat in her plush desk chair and swiveled toward Levi. Her usual wide smile was painted on her face, her hands relaxed in her lap. Levi played with the zipper on his fleece jacket, begging off the intense need to flee.
“It’s so nice to see you in person again, Levi. Chatting on Facebook is just not the same as good ole face-to-face contact. Don’t you agree?” The words seemed to bounce as they fell from her mouth.
Levi nodded. The knot in his stomach was tightening.
“You left school so abruptly and I know you said it was for health issues. You look well. How’re you feeling?”
Like at any minute I’ll be jumping off the edge of insanity.
Good. I’m doing good. Taking classes at North Country this semester so that’s good.” The word good took on an air of falseness with its repetition.
“I’m so glad to hear it. I was upset when you let school. You’re a smart guy. So, did you come here alone today?”
Levi tried not to frown. “Yes.” It sounded more like a question than an affirmation.
Levi pulled at the bottom of his jacket, adjusting the hem and smoothing it in a nervous fashion, wishing Dr. Winston would get around to talking about the man in black.
“You live with your parents, don’t you?” Her smile faded a bit and her countenance took on an edge of seriousness.
“Yes, my mom and dad,” he confirmed. “And my older brother Logan.” And a tank full of tropical fish but what does that have to do with the man in black.
Dr. Winston nodded, regarding Levi intently. “What about a guardian”
Levi didn’t suppress his frown this time. Hadn’t Dr. Winston asked him this question last fall? He answered as if she hadn’t. “A guardian? Isn’t that someone who legally acts like a parent?
“Sometimes, in general terms, yes,” Dr. Winston said, tilting her head to one side. Her earring swung about her neck mesmerizing Levi. “Do you have any relatives you are really close to or maybe a family friend who helps you out?”
Levi raised his eyebrows not even remotely understanding the gist of this conversation and sighed. “Logan and I are pretty close.” Or were. “Other than that, no.”
“And is Logan older than you?”
“By two years.”
Dr. Winston shook her head in a frustrated way. “Too young,” she muttered.
“Too young for what?” Levi asked.
Dr. Winston sat back in her chair, and tapped the fingertips of her right hand against her peachy lips, rocking in short side-to-side bursts in the chair. Silently, she looked off somewhere beyond the walls of her office, deep in thought.
Levi shifted in the chair, his annoyance and impatience growing. “Listen, your message said something about a man following me. What was that all about?” Levi wasn’t going to acknowledge the man until he heard what Dr. Winston knew of him. “I also wanted to get a copy of an article. Y you know the one about senz’anima. Do you remember that from class?”
Dr. Winston halted her chair and her face took on a sharp expression of surprise. “Why would you need that?”
Levi shrugged, trying to seem unaffected by his intense need. “I liked it and wanted to read it again.”
After a pause, Dr. Winston sat forward again with a new vigor. “Levi, I need to tell you some things that may sound, well a little crazy. I need you to keep an open mind. Do you think you can do that?”