Walking to the elevator, I heard a female talk to the security at the front desk, “Is the class cancelled? I saw a sign.”
“I don’t think so if you haven’t gotten an email…”
I walked around the sixth floor trying to find the room number. A middle-aged woman came up to me, “Are you looking for the creative nonfiction class?”
I nodded and right at that moment, the security came up, explaining that the registrar said that the class was still in session. He paused, staring at the sign, unsure about whether the class was in session. “Well the registrar said that it was still on and nothing changed. So if the instructor doesn’t arrive, come tell me.”
“I don’t know about you, but I came a long way to be here,” a woman said to me.
The room filled. The chairs were arranged in a circle with a few seats in the middle, all facing the board. It reminded me of rooms of screenwritersâ€”people tossing ideas where we could see each other faces, nearly equally. Then as time ticked, each seat was slowly filled. Women dominated the class. A woman in her seventies took a seat next to me, fiddling with her flip phone. A guy with a white hipster bike helmet sat across the room. Several people looked distant, middle-aged. Our eyes gazed downward, not quite connecting with other faces.
“If the instructor doesn’t show, someone should teach the class!” the old woman next to me said. “What’s her name?”
“Lorelei Lee,” I said and then hesitated knowing what I found. “There’s a lot of stuff on her.”
“Maybe we can find her phone number?” a female voice suggested.
We sat in silence for the next few minutes. A Filipino lady pulled out her phone and called the main office. No answer. A busy tone. “Seems like it’s closed,” she said finally and tapped her phone off. She walked to the other side of the room to plug her phone in.
I brought out my notebooks, of varying sizes. One empty from my previous work. Then my working notebook, almost filled with writing from workshops and my very early drafts from early January. Only a few pages remained as I flipped through with various stickies showing how hefty this black spiral notebook was. I pulled out my smaller red notebook, the pocket-sized one and pondered Nanowrimo. Was that really a good idea? To just draft out some version of my grandfather’s story? What is the tension? I wrote several lines down, drafting a list of scenes in case that I would pursue the project in November. But I reminded myself, you have greater work to do in the month of November!
A student finally went downstairs to talk with the security guard. The old woman turned to me and said, “The janitor said that she might show!”
My face twisted. Was she insinuating that his Mexican features suggest that he worked as a janitor even though he clearly wore a security guard uniform. “He is security,” I said finally.
“Maybe someone can teach the class!” she said loudly to nobody in particular.
In a few moments, a man in casual wear walked in, “She’s not here. Hold on tight and we’ll get this all sorted out shortly.”
The security guard walked in, glancing at the full classroom of earnest facesâ€”people from all walks of life, people with notebooks, people who had never taken a class. “Her husband apparently came and put up the sign and told nobody, because the instructor was ill. I am sorry about that. But if you have complaints, don’t direct them to me.”
As people got up to leave, he told everyone that now they could get back to whatever they wanted to do. He looked at a woman and said, “I know that you wanted to go shoe shopping.”
She turned around, “Now why would you think that?”
That moment slid quickly away.
The old woman put away her things and said again, “I thought someone would teach the class!”