“This is a very interesting story you have here.”
“Thank you, sir.” I lace my fingers together in front of me, twisting the ring on my index finger and rocking on my heels. He sets the draft down on his desk, his gaze somewhat curious by my guess.
“Who is the murderer?” he asks. My first response is a shrug as I glance away momentarily. I force my gaze back to him, putting on my bravest face. I'm not afraid of people, I convince myself again.
“It could have been anyone.” My tone is casual despite my shaking shoulders. I call it nerves – I rarely shared my work unless I had to. “Maybe a jealous coworker, or an angry student.” I give another shrug, twiddling my thumbs. “I guess I’ll find out when I finish the story.” My teacher nods as if to agree with me.
“Well, then I hope the murderer is caught. And I feel lucky that this is a work of fiction.”
“Me, too. You have a good day, sir.”
“You, too.” The screen blinks when I tap the button and cut the call off. Then the screen turns blue, and the camera swivels down. I set the tablet down then and return to the back of the room, shutting my laptop's lid and pulling the power cord from the wall. I proceed to carefully organize my bag. I am in no rush to return home today, and I also feel as if I have forgotten something.
It crosses my mind just as the buckle to close my bag clicks sharply. I am relieved to know that my teacher would not have left his desk yet, and I dart up to the front for the tablet again. Tapping urgently, I call the group connection again, fingers crossed doubly in hope. As soon as the connection is made, I speak without thought.
"Professor, I forgot to ask if you..." My words die out, and I forget what I was going to ask again. I feel my face twist in confusion. Someone smeared ketchup on the camera lens. Was this some sort of prank? My teacher will not be happy when he sees this - or had he already? Was he out in the hall to reprimand the culprit? Part of me could not contain my slightly amused laughter as I imagined my usually mellow professor admonishing another student for acting so immature for a student in college.
I heard a shuffle from the microphone as shoes slid on the floor in the other campus, and a hand caught on the door frame. A student from that campus started almost exactly as I did, their voice dying as well before the question was finished, denied yet again to be completed. The only difference between myself and the other student was the scream they let out.