I had an idea. I started a story here. There's only light characterization and a handful of names, but the setting is there. I'd like to invite folks to continue the story with three notes:
- The perspective is third person limited. The camera is behind Emily. You can go close or far, but don't switch to first person.
- The setting should stay on campus or immediately nearby. To note, Southern Methodist University in Dallas is the inspiration, but not the actual setting.
- The central conflict in the piece revolves around the sense of inferiority linked to "otherness." Someone who is outside the norm is not necessarily subject to discrimination, but still may not feel as though they fit in.
Otherwise it can go wherever. One way around the setting issue (if you see it as such) are to use flashbacks.
I may work on this more as well.
Emily ran her pencil over her notebook in mindless doodles. Class was always so boring. English Composition I felt like a review of her high school English classes. She didn’t see the point. She did the writing and reading and turned everything in on time (if not early), but it wasn’t interesting. Dr. Brand’s voice, though, was the worst part. It was a weird mid-tone drone that ran on for an hour and a half every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. It felt like a punishment. A class she had to pay for. She didn’t really pay, her scholarship did, but it still wasn’t like high school.
She could mostly tune out during class. Not completely, though. She needed to pick up on assignments and catch a few notes here and there. Things about Horace and Shakespeare and prosody. She could answer when called, but that wasn’t common. Pass the tests, turn in the papers, and get through the class. Her advisor, Dr. Angleton, said to think of the first three semesters as a way to see if a student is serious about college. Easy, almost mind-numbing classes, weed out the malcontents. Classwork was non-existent. Everything was homework. She considered, halfway through the semester, unlistening to Brand buzzing on and on about the beauty of the words, whan that aprill with his shoures soote, that she might be one of those malcontents.
She could do the work. She was smart enough, she was sure, and she wasn’t averse to digging in to her studies. That wasn’t the problem. It was the school. The culture. She felt like she didn’t belong. She was one of maybe ten mice out of six-thousand undergraduate students. There were more students in her freshman class than the entire population of the town where she grew up. And she figured that her girls in her dorm could have probably pooled their allowance to buy every house on the street where her parents lived. So she kept quiet. She tuned out.
Emily folded her spiral shut and pushed it into her bag. The strangest thing about college was having no bells. No signal that class was over until someone started packing up and the professor called out the reading for the next class. Tasha, her roommate, said she should skip class sometime. A lot of students did. Two or three absences over a semester don’t really hurt and can be refreshing. Emily’s athletic scholarship kept that from being an option for her. Someone at a desk outside her classes had a clipboard where she had to sign in and out. It was usually the rabbit girl who ran errands for Coach McEwen. If Emily missed a class, she would have to be sick or at a competition. She couldn’t just skip because she needed a break. Of course, if not for the scholarship, she wouldn’t be there.
She sat down on the steps outside Manger Hall. There was an hour before she needed to be at Athletics for her workout. Mandatory, Coach said. Emily didn’t mind the workouts. She enjoyed them, in fact. Focusing on technique and routine, controlling every muscle precisely took her mind off slog of her classes. That was also the time when she was around the most of her own kind. She wasn’t prejudiced, she would say, but she was just more comfortable with other mice.