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Naked Blathering

1702 Words

11.02.2005

The start of chapter 1. I don't have a title for the book or for the chapters. I'll have to think on that.

The cold wind stung her face and whipped around the stray hairs that poked out of her hat. She lowered her nose into her hand-made scarf and trudged further along the nearly-empty campus. She carried her bag, full of books and lesson plans, across one shoulder. A large, felted bag full of an assortment of odds and ends was slung across the other. The morning paper was cradled in her arms, and a steaming fresh cup of coffee was tantalizing her with its dark, rich aroma.

As she made her way across to the English building, the sunrise peeked out from the horizon, casting tones of blue and pink upwards toward the steel-colored clouds. The trees were bare of leaves and of birds. The ground was covered in an icy rime that crackled under her feet.

Up the stairs of the building, she pressed her access badge against the reader. A small beep and a click and the doors opened for her. The hallways were dark still. Frankie loved arriving on campus before anyone else. She treasured the quiet of the morning. Occasionally a favored student would be waiting for her, knowing that she arrived early. But more often than not, she had at least half an hour of quiet to herself, gathering her thoughts and preparing for the day.

As she fumbled with her office keys looking for the one that would open the door, her bag fell off her shoulder, jarring her coffee and splashing it on her papers. The office phone then began ringing behind the locked door. How many keys do I need anyway? She thought, still searching. The glasses on her head, holding back her thick hair, fell forward and over her nose as she slid the key into the lock. Awkwardly limping into the dark office, she let the keys and the bag drop as she reached for the phone with one hand and re-positioned the sunglasses with the other.

Falling into her chair, she let out a deep sigh before answering, "Hello, Francesca Sacchi."

"Frankie, good morning!" Came the voice of Professor Lindey Moxon. Professor Moxon was the new head of the English Department and the first woman at the University to hold the position. Frankie had great respect for her. Dr. Moxon had been one of her undergraduate professors.

"Good morning Lindey!" she replied. "I'm glad you caught me. I was just coming in."

"Yes, it is early, I know, but I need a favor from you."

"Anything! Absolutely." Frankie said, not knowing what lay in store for her.

"You know that Thomas Franks was leading Literature studies for the graduate students on the Travel Semester?"

"Ah, yes."

"Well, he's been in an accident and won't be able to lead the group. He'll be fine, but he won't be up for the travel for awhile, and I need you to take his place."

Frankie was silent for a moment. "Isn't Sidney Pellington in charge of that program?"

"Yes, and he called me and specifically asked for you to fill the spot. He says you're the best in the department when it comes to World Literature and he wouldn't have anyone else." Lindey explained.

Wonderful. thought Frankie. The person I try to avoid most on this campus, and he calls to ask just for me.

"Aren't they leaving next week?" Frankie asked.

"Yes, they are. But I have Thomas' syllabus and his materials, and I know you've got your passport already. I've called the campus clinic already, and they can get you in today to give you the vaccines you'll need. This will be a fantastic opportunity for you! I know you love to travel." Lindey pressed.

But I can't stand Sidney Pellington! thought Frankie. She didn't want to disappoint her new boss though. "What about my classes?" she asked.

"Don't worry. I've got some extra graduate TA's that can fill in until I can bring on a guest professor. I know a few that owe me some favors."

With her opportunities to decline diminished, Frankie heaved a small sigh and reluctantly agreed to join the expedition group. "I can't say no to you, can I Lindey? Of course I'll do it."

"Excellent! I'll get my assistant to run all the paperwork over to you right now. Thank you so much Frankie!" and Lindey hung up the phone.

Frankie slunk down in her chair and moaned aloud. Sidney Pellington! Of all the professors at this University, why do I get stuck with him! For the next four months I'll have to look at him every day! She shuddered at the thought. Sidney Pellington was short, bald, greasy man in his fifties, with a grizzled beard, bad teeth and bad skin. Frankie figured that he had something on someone in order to have the position of being the head of the Art History Department. He smoked, drank, and ogled at the female students. There was an air about him that made Frankie uncomfortable, and she didn't trust him. On more than one occasion Frankie had seen him inebriated, and his behavior was even more lewd than was usual. Four months! She groaned as she let her head fall to the desk.

She was thankful at least that these were graduate students. She wouldn't have to put up with the second-semester Freshmen. The Travel Semester was an application-only program, and at least a hundred students applied for just seven spots. She knew that it was prestigious for her to be assigned to the expedition, even if she did doubt that the reason she was requested was purely academic.

Ever since Dennis, she had avoided contact with most of the staff professors, instead burying herself in her work. She hated the rumors that persisted even after a year. It didn't make it any easier that She worked at the same University. It didn't make it any easier that they had all known each other since their first year in college as students. It didn't make it any easier that She had been her best friend. And it certainly didn't make it any easier that he was gone now. Frankie looked forward to the day when she could move on to another position at another university. She could continue her work, restoring and translating literature texts, unaffected by the whispers and stares that still plagued her. Maybe adding this expedition to her resumé would be the little extra something that could be the key to kicking-off her exit strategy.

She laid her papers down on the desk, leaned her head back and closed her eyes, willing herself to relax. She was thankful that the majority of her lesson plans and materials were gathered. The TAs wouldn't have any problems presenting the lessons she had arranged.

A knock at the door startled her. "Come in." she called. Dr. Moxon's assistant opened the door, carrying a stack of disks and a computer bag.

"Here are Professor Franks' files. Each disk contains some instructional materials. They're labeled in order and based on the locations you'll be visiting. There are also disks for each student in the computer bag. They contain all the information each student will need in order to complete their projects." she said as she handed the disks to Frankie. "There are also instructions for the laptop in the bag. It's wireless enabled and you should be able to connect to the University from most of the locations. Once you've looked over all the materials, you can call me if you have any questions. I can contact Professor Franks if necessary."

Frankie looked at the disks, temporarily overwhelmed. Then her sense of adventure took over and the excitement began to build.

"Thank you for bringing these over so quickly. I'm pretty savvy with computers, but if I get stuck after I've had a chance to look it all over, I'll give you a call."

Professor Moxon's assistant smiled, turned and walked out the door. Frankie laid the disks down on the desk and placed the computer bag on the floor. She was thankful Professor Franks had all of his lessons laid out in advance. There was plenty that she would need to do over the next week without having to plan an entire semester's worth of materials.

She sipped her coffee as she prepared a list. Her apartment and her dog were the first things on her mind. Frankie picked up the phone and dialed. She breathed in and out slowly while the phone rang. "Hello?" the old voice sang.

"Aunt Chi?"

"Oh Frankie! Hello my darling. How are you?" trilled her Great-Aunt Chiara. The woman was in her eighties, but spry, alive and still mischevious. "Did you forget something?"

"Oh no, I'm fine Aunt Chi. But I'm going to be going away again. Dr. Moxon just called and I was asked to replace another professor on the Travel Semester." Frankie explained.

"Darling that's wonderful! How exciting! The Travel Semester. Oh the places and sights that you'll see."

"Yes Auntie, it will be a great trip. But I have to leave in a week. I'll have to shut down my apartment, and I'll of course have to find somewhere for Martini to stay."

"Oh Martini can come stay with me while you're gone. You know I just love that little poochie. A sweet little doggie she is! And Amelia's grandson is looking for a place to stay. He's on his gap-year and was coming for a long visit to her. You know how she loves her privacy and she was moaning about having to put him up at her house."

"I knew I could count on you Aunt Chi."

When Frankie was fifteen, her father passed away. She came to live with her Great-Aunt Chiara. She was Frankie's last remaning family member. The woman was now in her eighties, and more alive than most people Frankie knew. She had a large house with what seemed like endless gardens. She was an eccentric old bird, with bright red hair, a musical voice and her passion for art, music and parties. From Tarot card readings to poker parties, Aunt Chi kept busy.

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11:55 AM :: ::
  • 1702 very well written words. Keep going, it's good!

    By Blogger Indigo, at 12:28 PM  
  • An excellent start, I would say! You have me looking forward to reading more. Who's Dennis? What happened? What's going to happen with Professor Pellington??? :-)

    By Blogger Bone, at 2:30 PM  
  • WOW! I can never write like this beautifully – not even in my native tongue ;)

    Do you characters include an inspiring young architect (or an eccentric billionaire) with the minor (or serious) running addition? ;-)

    By Anonymous charles, at 11:38 AM  
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