Sunday, 19 February 2006

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"The Kids' Papers" I woke up this morning with an idea in my skull. I'd dreamed I was sitting on a bench, in Baltimore, facing the tumbling fountain in Harlem Park, beside a woman who wore a veil. I had come there with her. She was somebody I knew well. But I had suddenly forgotten who she was. I asked her if she had finished grading the papers. She answered me, but the roar and swish of the tumbling fountain smothered her voice, and I could hear nothing. The dream ended there. I walked into the kitchen, opened the top of the refigerator and attacked the ice tray. The girl stood in the doorway and asked questions. I didn't answer them while I put ice, lemon juice and seltzer together in two glasses. I put my glass on the table, sat down facing it, and complained. She reached across the table and patted my hand. Her eyes were uneasy. She smiled too softly and spoke too indulgently: "You exaggerate so, honey. Those kids deserve all they get." I grinned, picked up the glasses, and went out to the kitchen for more seltzer. When I came back she frowned at me over anxious dark eyes and said: "The trouble with you is your nerves are shot. You've been through too many papers in the last few days. Keep it up and you're going to have a nervous breakdown." I held up a hand with spread fingers. It was steady enough. She looked at it and said: "That doesn't mean anything. It's inside you. Why don't you sneak off for a couple of days' rest?" "Can't sister. Somebody's got to stay here and grade the papers." Her eyes got large and then narrowd to black-fringed slits. She leaned toward me, upsetting her glass with an elbow: "Then let's talk scratch." I grinned at the greed in her eyes and said: "Not just yet. We'll have to see how you work out before we start scattering pennies around." She called me a damned nickle-nurser. I grinned and handed her a paper from the stack. She pretended it took her nearly five minutes to read the fifteen hundred words the kid had written. I gave her my fountain pen and held a notebook under the paper, to stiffen it while she scribbled her comments at the bottom, and to have it in my hands as soon as she had finished. I looked it over and said: "You can't tell some kid that. Where were you raised?" "I was raised in a convent," she told me. "I won the good behavior prize every year I was there. I thought little girls who put extra spoons of sugar in their chocolate went to hell for gluttony. I didn't even know there was such a thing as profanity until I was eighteen. The first time I heard any I damn near fainted." She let me look her over, having all sorts of confidence in her belief that, like a lot...
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jimy666izstoned@gmail.com & Scott Eric Kaufman: An Epistolary Romance 9:39 a.m. yo, i want to take yr literary jornalism class but i'm not on campus tues. would it be alrite if i came on thurs? cuz last qtr my comp teacher let me do this and said i wuz a great writer. i read all the time and would be an assett to yr class on thurs and woundnt talk to much cuz i wouldn't be there any tues. u wont regret it. 12:01 p.m. Dear Jimmy (?), You really do seem like a great writer. Who was your instructor last quarter? Best, Scott 12:02 p.m. thx for the fast reply. i would tell u who my teach wuz last qtr but he said i shouldnt tell any body about our deal. cuz if it got out he would be fired for helping me out. but i'm not lyin he did let me skip tues. so can i be in yr class? 3:48 p.m. Jimmy, Normally I don't respond so quickly but your email compels me to. Are you sure you can't tell me who your instructor was? I promise not to tell. If I let you in the course he and I will be in the same boat. I have good reason not to tell. Best, Scott 3:49 p.m. dude i would love to u but maybe after im in the class. im so happy u think my emails r compelling. i told u i wuz a great writer. so can i be in it? cuz i need to know so i can arrange my work sched. 8:14 p.m. Jimmy, What do you mean "i wuz a great writer." I thought you said you are a great writer. I'm not sure the class can afford a student whose best days are behind him. Also: Why can't you attend class on Tuesdays? Best, Scott 8:15 p.m. cuz i have to work. and i didnt mean im not great anymore. my friends laugh at what i right all the time. everyone says i should be a writer. so can i be in yr class. 9:36 p.m. i really need to no soon so i can figure out my sched. 10:01 p.m. dude if ur tryin to decide maybe i can tell u who my teach wuz last qtr. shes not at uci anymore she got a job somewhere in the south like colorado. 10:45 p.m. i have to go out now but if u can call or msg me at XXX-XXXX. thx dude. 12:41 a.m. sry 2 txt u bt i trnd fon off fr acidnt. did u call. GBTM sn as u gt ths. 1:51 a.m. wuz dat u GBTM sn. 2:47 a.m. dude we came home cuz my firend said he should tell u how i can write great shit and 6:21 a.m. so can i be in yr class r not? i sent my teacher from last qtr an email and she said she doesnt know u so she cant trust me to tell u. but i...

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