Happiness - Creative Writing

Happiness - Creative Writing
Professor Amanda Barnes sat up. Numbness spread up her face from where her head had laid on the hard cool desk. The sun was setting, and there was not a sound to be heard, except for the rhythmic tic tock of an old clock, and, down the hall, an accompanying shhhht shhhht shhhht from the janitor?s broom. She looked out the window, past the campus grounds, its trees still lush with autumn?s leaves. She looked past the city?s old clock tower, past the bank buildings and churches. In her mind, she could see all the way past the industrial complex, out of town, down a little dirt road to her old farmhouse. Betsy, her golden retriever, would be outside now, running circles around the ancient elm that housed a family of squirrels. The sunset must be beautiful there tonight, she thought, as she imagined the gold and reds and yellows falling down over the horizon of empty fields. Her husband was probably packing now, tucking his denim and khaki away carefully in the luggage set which had been a wedding gift, so many years ago. She wondered if he would take a picture of her ? the one from their trip to Malibu last year, or maybe from the last good Christmas.
The one before he?d gotten it in his head that he needed to leave her. Amanda took a sip from a glass, which rested atop a pile of exams. She shuddered as the vodka burned her nose and throat, and felt the warm flush run down her chest to her empty stomach. Resting her head on her hands, she closed her eyes. The shhht shhht shhht was coming closer now. She would have to move, to act sober. Down the hall, Karen Elsby pushed her broom along the corridor, pleased with her handiwork. The floors sparkled, the woodwork gleamed, and the toilets always flushed ? no small feat in a building as old as Woodbury Hall. Up ahead, she saw the dim glow coming from under an office door. Some professor probably leaving his light on ? again - before leaving for the holidays. ?Always leaving stuff on,? she muttered. "For smart folks, they sure don?t think very much sometimes." Karen approached the door, and cautiously cracked it open. "Hallooo? Anyone home?" She liked to announce herself properly, not sneak up on the professors like some of the other janitors did. She was a little taken aback to see Professor Barnes still at her desk. "Professor? Haven?t you left yet for the holidays? Why, the whole campus is empty now." ?Oh, Karen, it?s you. No, Iâ??I?ve got some unfinished business to attend to here, and you can call me Amanda, you know. I mean, we did go to grade school together." ?Well, I?ll be,? said Karen, leaning an elbow atop her giant broom. "I can?t believe you remember me." ?Oh, of course I do,? said the professor. "Why, we were in all sorts of classes up until high school, then you sort of, wellâ??disappeared from the school?s radar." ?Yes,? Karen chuckled, "I never was one for school. And now look at me! Working in one for twenty some years! Har!" She slapped at her side to express her amazement at the situation. ?Yes,? said Amanda thoughtfully, "Funny, isn?t it? Has it been twenty years really? Why haven?t we run into each other here before, I wonder?" ?Wellâ??? began Karen, and as she settled her broom against the door jam and her behind into a large leather chair, Amanda cursed her polite curiosity. "You see Professorâ??I mean Amanda, " she added with a somewhat toothless grin, "I was working over by the labs, where they run all those filthy rats, you know? And, I do a good job, see, and so when Old Eddie, you know, the one who used to run this building here? Well, when Old Eddie came up for retirement this year, I said to Thomas, that?s my husband, I says to Thomas, you know, I?m gonna put in for that gig in Woodbury and get me away from these filthy rats. And, wouldn?tcha know it, they promoted me. And here I am, head janitor of Woodbury Hall, the best building on the whole campus ? me! Har! And Thomas says, well of course you, you?re the best thing at that place!" ?That?s just wonderful,? said Amanda. "You and your husband must be so pleased." ?Oh, yes,? said Karen. "He?s just the best, you know. He?s been laid off for some three years now, but he just keeps trucking along, and watches the kids for me during the day. And wouldn?t you know it, but he keeps a better house than I ever did! I mean, give me another person?s house and it?s just as spotless as you could ever imagine, but my own? I could never manage to get it all in. And now, well, now I?ve got a promotion and a house husband to boot!" ?How on earth do you do it?? said Amanda, earnestly now. "Husband laid off, kids at home, working all dayâ??I would lose my mind. Why if Robert was everâ??" At the sound of her voice speaking her own husband?s name, Amanda?s thoughts trailed off, though Karen did not seem to notice. ?Well, Amanda,? she began, leaning forward. "It?s not always easy. Thomas even took to the booze for awhile after the plant shut down. I mean, don?t get me wrong, we still knock back a few cold ones at night once the little ones are asleep, but the boozeâ??well, the booze just ain?t good for no one. It either makes men mean, and women sad, and â??I don?t know about youâ??but I just ain?t one for either of those pa?ticular emotions." ?Yes,? said Amanda, knocking back a swig from her drink. "But everyone gets sad sometimes, sometimes you just can?t help but get sad." ?Oh, not me, not me, no sirree. I figure there?s not enough hours in a day to get sad, and not enough days in a lifetime to get mean. You just gotta take what the Lord throws atcha and make the best out of it. Course, folks get sick, and folks die, but that?s all part of the game, right? You can?t fight that. All you can do is keep on sweepin?! Har! That was a good one, eh?" Amanda looked at the woman sitting across her desk. In grade school, she had been a knockout ? bright eyes and glistening hair. Now she looked old, much older than Amanda. Her hair was dull and mousy, with more than a few streaks of gray. Her big smile displayed two gaping holes where teeth should have been, and the remainder were a sad state of yellow-brown. But her eyes were still big and bright, and crinkled up beautifully when she laughed. Amanda touched her own forehead, smoothed with the magic of Botox, and felt her Clairol darkened hair sweep her cheeks. ?Well, Amanda,? Karen was saying, "It was right good talking to you, but I?ve got to get finished up and head on home. My old man?ll have a right good fit if I?m not home in time, you know. Why one day, I was a half hour late here talking to a chap who?d lost his way round campus, and, well, if Thomas hadn?t hopped on his motorbike to come fetch me! He was certain I?d been attacked by some runaway rodent or knocked myself out or some such nonsense. Har! Crazy old coot!" ?You?re kidding. Don?t you think that behavior?s a little, um, possessive?" said Amanda. ?No sirree,? said Karen, "why, that?s what I call love, don?t you? Toodles, then, and happy holidays." With that, Karen was out the door, and the shhht shhht shhht seemed a little faster now, to Amanda, now that she was on her way home. Amanda sifted through the pile of exams on her desk until her eyes landed upon a particularly bad example of scholarly effort. Brent Carlton. Amanda tried to conjure up the image of Brent in her mind?s eye. Tall, sandy hair, basketball player ? he?ll want to get this grade up for certain, she thought, as she flipped through her Rolodex and reached for her cell. She knew there was only one thing that would make her feel better, young, vibrant, sexy. It was the only thing that made her feel anything at all, these past few years. ?Brent? This is Professor Barnes. Yesâ??noâ??no, you?re exam wasn?t very good, I?m afraidâ??Yes, I know you have requirements for your sportâ??Yesâ??.Well, I do believe we can remedy the situation. Would you like to meet me tonight? I know the perfect spotâ??a little pub, quite out of the wayâ

Happiness - Creative Writing 9.6 of 10 on the basis of 2817 Review.