We are back in touch. My writing Mate and I had made a number of Skype dates, but she never beeped in and then reported trouble with her Internet. All became clear when she realized that the connection had been pulled out of the wall by her cats as they played.
As always the first line is the trigger for our free-writing exercise. IT comes from the short story Country of the Blind H.G. Wells
Others also said things about him that he heard or understood imperfectly…
It wasn’t unusual for him to misunderstand. He often felt people were talking about him behind his back, and sometimes he was even right.
He would round the corner approaching his office in the English Department and whoever was standing around, be it students or faculty, would suddenly be quiet.
His wife, when he complained, told him if it were true, which she didn’t believe for minute, it was his own fault. She encouraged him to be friendlier with his coworkers. “Eat with them,” she’d say.
“I prefer to work in the library with my sandwich,” he would tell her. Every day it was a cheese and pickle sandwich. She offered to make egg salad, or peanut butter and jelly but he always, said no he liked the cheese and pickle. One day when she was out of cheese she’d made a sliced turkey sandwich. It had been the Monday after Thanksgiving and she’d been trying to get rid of the leftovers as well as not shopping for his cheese.
When he complained, she told him to get over it.
His students probably talked about him too, although he knew he did have a reputation for being a fair professor and interesting. Even kids who didn’t like Shakespeare told him that for the first time, some of that language made sense.
His parents had questioned why he wanted to be a teacher when he never really enjoyed time with people. They also were surprised when he brought Angie home and introduced her as his fiancée.
He’d been a bit surprised too. Angie had been an English major and wanted to be a writer. His job let her stay at home to write, and she’d had moderate success: two books published, but modest sales. He believed in her and it suited him as part of their bargain to not have to deal with running a house, preparing meals.
Angie even took care of the lawn and had made a nice garden. Their deal worked.
He didn’t think himself odd, although that is what he thought other people said about him. He was just who he was. Maybe had he been a boy today they would assign some three letter syndrome to him. Maybe not.
He was who he was and he could live with that.