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A Very Convenient Affair

by Maria Kontak

Part 5


Three days later Mariya Petrovna’s farewell still swam around in my head, but I couldn’t share her last saying with faces that twitched with life the minute that they rolled out of bed. There was nothing slow or cautious about my class. None of them. Not the round ones, not the square ones, not the ones obscured by a cupped hand or stray strands of hair.

And it wasn’t just the faces. The bodies too, in their various shapes and slouches, seemingly at rest looked fast even seated. Seated, fast and careless, and a bumpy ride was what they preferred. What they craved. That something real, not imagined, not staged, not calculated and not necessarily understood, nothing that could interfere with the break-neck pace of the blood flow in their veins.

This is what sat fast in front of me after my return, in the large auditorium that had seen a hundred years. And all I could muster to meet it was a weak hobble, one-footed, since the other clung stubbornly to number 43, whether it wanted to or not.

How was I to meet this fling at life against the odds? How had I done it so far? For twenty-five years I had inhabited this room or one like it, thinking that I had left the other behind, and now their scents merged, not calmly but menacingly, suffusing my nostrils and impossible to ignore even in my hobbled state.

Expectation on demand in a silent, motionless frenzy. A turn in the road that couldn’t come fast enough. Shiny faces and nimble limbs.

“So who wants to start this morning?” I said, from the edge of the stage where I had sat down, abandoning the podium, the desk, the whiteboard. I didn’t bother to open the book bag with its time-tried notes and instructions, and my glasses dozed peacefully in their pouch.

I pulled my hesitant leg beside its mate, and in a bow to freedom I swung the dangling duo slightly back and forth over the edge that divided me from the galloping young in the auditorium. There was a stir in the auditorium, but the back and forth swing of my limbs radiated ease and release.

“So who wants to start this morning?” I said, smiling up at the faces row by row, way up into the upper tiers. “I understand that Katie Mackie gave you an assignment: how you would rewrite War and Peace?”

Who was I to begrudge any of them?

Copyright © 2012 by Maria Kontak

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