Falling cues

She arrived too late, and when she opened the door all participants were standing outside waiting. She fumbled with the classroom keys, thinking that she should have not walked and take the bus instead. She forgot she simply woke up too late, after another night of bad sleep. She rummaged in back of the classroom to get the material for the class, while the students took their seats.  Brushing her long hair away from her face, she introduced herself, cutting to half the course presentation to make up for the delayed start, and then hurried to pass the ball over to the participants, asking them to introduce themselves. She rushed to take pen and paper and note their names, and next to each, a short comment, serving as a cue to match face and name. Her memory failed her more often than not these days and she had to adjust to her advancing age.

The round over, she assigned the first task, a 5-minute exercise which would give her some space to breathe and calm down. She looked at the list of names: Karen, big scarf; Holger, clear blue eyes, Patricia, fat; Anja, accent; David, the hater (he looked like her ex-husband); Tahir, handsome…

She gave a brief thought on how the comments were so unfit to express the whole of each person, and yet how often these keywords stuck and decide the liking or not of an individual. She recalled how unfriendly she reacted to a participant a few months ago, just because she looked like her ex-mother-in-law (who was even more hateful than her ex-husband). She looked at that David, who happened to have similar facial feature to a person who was a complete stranger to him. He sat there, in his ugly checkered shirt which only hateful man could wear, writing carefully and bending one of his arms on the paper to cover it, as if he wanted to prevent someone from copying, because of course, whatever he wrote would be worth of that. He stopped writing, straightening up his upper body a little. His arm still lay down flat on desk and she noticed that he wore a bandage. She felt her face becoming hot and diverted her eyes from him. She took her pen and erased her comment next to his name, adding instead “bandage.”


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