The Guest Lecturer and the Professor
The guest lecturer is a stressed out lawyer. Never once heard songs sung on his birthday. In front of the packed classroom, he drops an unstoppable mug. He stands at the podium with a box and spits up a bounty of doubt. “The expanse,” he whispers, and the expanse of humanity appears. He’s ashamed like a late fee. Carries a brave mouse inside his bad ear. “I’m scared,” the guest lecturer thinks, but doesn’t think to say. His teething brings tears that dampen the floor.
Even more stressed, even more restless than the guest lecturer is the professor. She lurks out of sight with an eye twitch. She sits in a fidget as if waiting for dinner. Her tongue’s a natural black. Volcanic and large.
Shaking, shameful, the guest lecturer clears his throat, tries to begin with a quote, swallows the box that he holds. His box is a box of handwritten notes that only he can read. The box settles, indents in his chest. The guest lecturer’s feet stop applauding once nothing else fades. His mother once told him, “You’re the reason we always eat alone.”
The professor stands and approaches the podium. “No, no, no,” she says, and reaches into the guest lecturer’s mouth to retrieve from him his box. She opens the box, dumps the clumped contents. “Begin again,” the professor says, turning up the heat and grinding her teeth. Crying non-discrete, the guest lecturer opens his mouth and sprouts pillows. For a year, only the ice melts. The guest lecturer’s soul floats to the roof and still it cries a watermark that hearkens into a dissolve as someone in the crowd poorly quotes God.
Benjamin Niespodziany has had work published in Fairy Tale Review, Hobart, Paper Darts, and various others. He works in a library in Chicago and runs the multimedia art blog [neonpajamas]