The First Day of Class
Since we must have died at about the same time, and since we were now in the same place following our deaths, each of us must have experienced something similar on the trip. But like passengers at the end of a long bus ride, we were in no way similar except for a common sense of regret-filled release. Most of us had anticipated such a journey, but few of us had any indication as to the exact departure time, and so most of us were really not prepared when word came. It seemed sudden for such a predictable event. A few people rushed here and there trying to establish that they had really arrived, but most of us just sat around on the many benches, staring down at the floor, unable to accept that one part of our journey was over and we were about to begin the much longer portion of our adventure.
We march down a hall, execute two precise turns, enter the open door of an office. I look around, considering my options. There is an upholstered chair by the dark wood desk— Too close, I think. Against a wall opposite the desk is a small leather love seat. There are books on a shelf directly above the couch, a lot of books. A quick inspection of the shelf’s cheap structure, its tenuous attachment to the flimsy drywall, the overwhelming weight of the books and I rule out the couch. Besides, he might want to sit on it with me. That leaves the Barcalounger next to the door, its lever looking like the release for an ejection seat. I risk it, although I have always feared ejection seats. I sit down, straighten my cuffs, lay out my notebook and pens. The lamp on the table near me seems to be peering at my notes although I have not yet taken any. He has not begun taking notes yet, either. I ask, “Do you mind if I move this lamp?”
Mr. Austin sat calmly on his screened-in front porch and read the Sunday funny papers while Mrs. Austin tore around inside the house clearing the breakfast table, doing dishes, bustling, bustling, bustling. Her voice drifted out to the front porch.