Thursday, June 21, 2012
And here's my second attempt at Flash Fiction. This one isn't based at all on anything that happened in my life.
She had had the idea for quite some time now, but it had taken her until now to get up the nerve to execute her plan. The February morning had dawned crisp and sunny. Maybe it was the lovely weather that inspired her to carry out her decision.
Instead of riding down nine stories in the elevator, Maggie had walked down, probably to postpone the inevitable. Not even winded from the descent because she walked so slowly, she meandered across the lobby of her apartment building, stopping to talk to neighbors who were having their morning coffee and to check the headlines at the news stand.
Pushing leisurely through the revolving doors, she paused to talk to the doorman before hailing a taxi. One stopped immediately when she signaled. Dang! Wouldn’t you know it? On any other day, I’d stand here for fifteen minutes before a cabbie notices me! Now I can’t turn back.
As she scooted into the back seat and gave the address to the cabbie, the memories flooded back, memories that she had kept submerged for too many years. The time had come for them to surface and to be acted upon. She pondered as the driver wound through the traffic.
The year was 1958; the place, Ole Miss. They had become friends immediately, having been placed together as roommates by some strange luck.
Luck? she thought. What kind of luck would put two people together, one of whom would become an ememy before their freshman year was over?
Maggie and Norma had lived together, taken classes together, studied together. They were best friends. They even did research together. And, in January, immediately after the professor had given them their term topic in their education class, they headed to the library to get started.
After weeks of practically living in the library, sometimes sharing references, always doing their own writing, never showing each other their work just to keep themselves honest, they both reached the point of typing. On some of those research days, Maggie had had to practically drag Norma to the library because she wasn’t the student that Maggie was.
Maggie was the first to finish the project, and she placed her completed paper in her desk drawer, away from prying eyes of other girls who might visit her and Norma’s room. She had never finished anything this far ahead of time, and she was proud of herself, now having time to get caught up on other assignments that she had neglected for far too long and just maybe to relax a bit.
Having finished her research with Maggie, Norma became the slacker that she usually was, putting off the final typing until the day before the project was due. How would she ever finish on time?
On Sunday night, the evening before the assignment was due, Maggie had the urge to look at her finished product one more time, not that anything could be done to make it better at this late date. As she pulled open the desk drawer, her heart sank. The paper wasn’t there. In a Silas Marner-type of frenzy, she searched everywhere—the desk drawer, her chest of drawers, under the bed.
What could I have done with it? Could I have moved it and just don’t remember? Could someone have come in while Norma and I were sleeping? No, that’s not possible. While we were at the cafeteria? What will I do?
Through tears, she began to reconstruct her work. She prayed, Dear Lord, please help me get this done, as she frantically tried to piece her notes together into something resembling what she had so painstakingly written before.
Norma had gone home that weekend and didn’t return until early Monday morning. As she entered their room, she saw Maggie feverishly typing, trying to get done before class at 10:00 that morning. She told Norma what had happened and was surprised to find that her roommate had turned in her paper early.
The next week, when the professor returned the papers, Maggie was not at all surprised at her grade of C-; however, when she read the comment on the last page, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
Miss Jones—To say that I am disappointed in you is surely an understatement. I know that you and Miss Fairchild are roommates and that you work together often. I never thought I’d see the day, though, when you, one of my star students, would stoop so low as to plagiarize another student’s work. Especially not your best friend’s. It’s obvious to me that she worked very hard and that you pilfered from her. For some strange reason, I gave you this grade instead of the F that you deserve.
Maggie was devastated but couldn’t bring herself to confront Norma. And Norma never mentioned her treachery to Maggie. To say that the air in Room 301, Gunnerson Hall, was icy for the remaining month in the school year is also an understatement. At the end of the semester, the roommates packed their freshman belongings, knowing that the two of them would never have a positive relationship again.
But today, Valentine’s Day, Maggie was in a taxi, headed to Norma’s apartment on the far side of the city. Through the years since Norma’s betrayal, Maggie had learned the meaning of forgiveness and how important it is for healing. She needed to tell Norma that she forgave her a long time ago and that it was time for Norma to know of the forgiveness. Maggie prayed that she would accept it. This was the perfect day to reignite that special love that roommates should have for each other.