The smell of coffee and the sound of espresso machines screeching surrounded me as I sat down in the coffee shop.
I was supposed to be meeting a group of students from Cartwright’s class here to help them with an upcoming essay assignment but I didn’t recognize anyone upon arrival.
I took out my phone to check Instagram while I waited but a text popped up instead.
Lark: Thanks for bringing my notebook today!
I smiled as I thought about the reason she had left it in my room. Lark had slept in my room the rest of the weekend after our talk and we spent most of Sunday comparing poetry notes. In between caresses, kisses, and lingering stares, we looked over words that each of us would never have let anyone else read.
Greyson: You’re welcome. I miss your voice.
I exited out of my messages and brought up the picture I had taken of her on Sunday night. She was sprawled out on my bed in a hodgepodge of mine and Luka’s clothes, lost in a book she was reading.
It was moments like this that I think I cherished most with her. Moments, where she wasn’t doing anything but whatever made her happy.
“That your girlfriend?“, a voice behind me drawled.
I quickly turned my phone off and turned around to find the person belonging to the voice. A middle-aged man that could only be described as unmemorable stared back at me. He was sat at a high-top table with a newspaper in hand and a cup of untouched coffee rested near his forearm.
I don’t know why, but despite his plain outfit and plain appearance, he gave me the creeps. “No”, I lied. “She’s just a friend”.
“Hmmm”, he mumbled. “She’s pretty. Maybe you should make her your girlfriend”. He didn’t look at me as he spoke but I still had a feeling that he was incredibly aware of every move I made.
“Thanks for the advice”, I said before turning back around and packing up my stuff. Luckily the students from Cartwright’s class walked through the door and beckoned me over to a large wooden table they were about to claim.
When I got up to walk away, I looked back to see the man staring at me and a chill ran up my spine.
Shaking it off I made my way over to the group and sat down.
I wasn’t excited to see the little fuck who always hung around Lark was here too. The kid got on my nerves, and I could tell he didn’t want to just be friends with her.
The look on his face told me he wasn’t my biggest fan either.
“Everyone here?” I asked the guy sitting next to him.
He gave me a nod and then turned to pull out his laptop.
“Great. So the essay assignment. You are being asked to write 5 pages about the life you might have lived if everything you wanted as a kid came true. This is the one that trips a lot of people up as far as grades go. It’s the first assignment where we asking you to talk about yourself in a way that has to be genuine. Only you know what you were like as a kid and what you truly wanted for your life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t tell when you are writing your paper in a way that is only looking for validation. We don’t care what your story is. We just care that it’s authentic”.
The scratches of pencils on paper and the clicking of computer keys let me know that they heard me as most of them seemed to be taking notes.
Most of them.
“How can you grade us on a creative writing assignment that is completely subjective to our point of view? It seems like an excuse to just judge the students in the course”, Wyatt snarked harshly.
It took a little effort, but I restrained myself from rolling my eyes at him. “It’s not about judging you guys. It’s about assessing how you choose to tell your stories through your writing. Your essay should have a personality that is unique to you and if it sounds too generic or sterile that is where you are going to lose points”.
Wyatt narrowed his eyes at me but kept his mouth shut.
“Greyson can you look at my intro paragraph please?“, A tall girl with Harry Potter glasses asked me.
The rest of the session I spent answering individual questions and looking over bits and pieces of each person’s essays. The only person there that didn’t ask me to look at their stuff was Wyatt. Shocker.
By the time everyone was packing up to leave, three hours had gone by, and was ready to head home for the rest of the day. As I reached the door that same chill crawled over me again.
I looked back to where that guy had been sitting earlier, but there was nothing there but a crumpled-up newspaper and bagel crumbs.