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Joe Umland, Teppenpaw
I'm not sure I'm really helping.
Mon Jun 12, 2017 12:13

When he’d heard that Professor Nash was taking over Intermediates as well as the Advanced class, Joe’s first thought had been to go ask his brother for the run-down on the guy’s teaching style and classroom policies. It was one thing to see the guy in the dueling club, which Joe had started attending since his conversation at the Feast with Jozua, but quite another to have him as a non-elective teacher, after all. He had actually been walking in the direction of the Aladren table when he’d remembered that he had no idea what kind of reception he could expect if he just walked up to John and started acting as though everything was normal.

They could not, he thought, go on like this, not least because the end of the year was beginning to loom in earnest. Reason told him that John would have to eat crow and come home then – it wasn’t, after all, as though John really had anywhere else to go. Clark might have helped a school friend down on his luck for a few weeks last summer, but there was a world of difference between that and actually agreeing to let said penniless friend who had been out of sight and therefore presumably out of mind for a year move in with him – but then, reason had said John would surely come home at Christmas. Reason had also said that John would go to church on Ash Wednesday, and he hadn’t done that, either. Joe was getting worried, but didn’t know what to do about it. Which was itself a problem, as he had thought of what he had always been taught was the correct answer – prayers and penances, relying on God to fix the problem – but just couldn’t seriously believe that this would actually work….

Not relevant, he told himself firmly as Professor Nash introduced himself to the class. He took that concern and imagined writing it on a blackboard in his head, then erasing it. The traces were still sort of there, he was aware there was a concern, but this exercise was rather helpful for pushing it far enough out of his mental line of sight to allow him to focus more on other things. Today, the other topic was poltergeists.

They were, Joe thought as Professor Nash lectured the class about them, kind of interesting now that he thought about it. What, exactly, was a spirit of chaos? Ghosts pointed vaguely in the direction of the immortality of the soul (he quickly shut down the self-writing chalk’s efforts to re-inscribe a mention of his current religious proto-doubts on his mental blackboard; somewhat relevant, maybe, but not helpful just now), but something that was never alive, yet could not be harmed and was apparently at least somewhat sentient? The ability to annoy someone was, after all, on the manipulation spectrum, and even if the poltergeist was just doing generally annoying stuff, Professor Nash had said it was possible they experienced emotion and did things purely for enjoyment. Plus, Joe was sure he’d read something when he was a kid where one could talk….

The assignment, however, had nothing to do with these questions and Joe doubted it would be a good idea to theorize too much about them in his short story. Including things he couldn’t say for sure were facts might not lose him points, but he had no way of knowing (without asking, anyway, and that was the kind of thing which ended with one’s classmates becoming irritated and making a point of tripping one up on the stairs) that it wouldn’t for sure. Better to focus on doing something vaguely interesting with the facts as he knew them.

There was, he began, then crossed that out, remembering why he preferred artistic projects that let him make something over those which asked him to write something that wasn’t a report. Joe liked to read as much as the next member of his family, but he had never felt that fiction was his strong point in writing. He’d rather write up text for an oral presentation, really. It was five o’clock, he tried again, then decided he didn’t like where that sentence felt like it was going in his head, either. Hopefully he’d have time to make a clean second draft on another sheet of paper.

Five minutes earlier, the Cascade Hall had been clean. It wasn’t a total wreck yet, but Jim thought it was only a matter of time. He had ducked under the table when the poltergeist had started flying across the room throwing an armload of sausage rolls at people at different tables, but some people were probably going to start throwing things back soon.

He was giving this paragraph a critical look-over and absently trying to figure out how to make a plot out of it when Raine asked him about examples. “Pretty different, yeah,” he agreed. “I’ve got a poltergeist trying to start a food fight so far – I know some people might like it, but it would annoy the teachers and plenty of other people, so I figured it would work. I guess I could stick in the part about gum in the locks somehow, though – maybe that slowed the people trying to run out down so they could get hit with something in the back.” That would cause chaos among the Crotalus girls for sure, he imagined, and not an inconsiderable number of the others. “I’m…hoping, anyway, he’s grading on how much chaos we stick in and not the literary quality of these things, because I don’t really know how to make a plot out of it when it can’t really have a conclusion – unless it’s a mystery where the poltergeist frames somebody and they have to prove it wasn’t them? I don’t know if that would be focused enough on the poltergeist, though. What do you think?”

  • I'm not sure what you want from me... Raine Collindale, Teppenpaw, Sun Jun 11 07:47
    Another new teacher! Raine despaired. It wasn’t like she thought any of her old teachers had particularly glowing impressions of her, but at least they all knew where they stood with each other.... more
    • I'm not sure I'm really helping. — Joe Umland, Teppenpaw, Mon Jun 12 12:13
      • It's the thought that countsRaine, Thu Jun 15 08:59
        “Yours sounds really good,” Raine smiled, as Joe explained his story, praise that was backed up by the amused little smile that had appeared on her face as he described the scene. “I-I used the gum... more
        • Even if I end up making things worse?Joe, Thu Jun 15 17:54
          Joe was curious about what the ‘other stuff’ Raine had made up was – she was rather quiet, and so he wondered sometimes what was going on in her head – but didn’t ask. If she’d wanted to say, he... more
          • I generally trust your intentionsRaine , Wed Jul 5 08:43
            Raine was pretty sure that most of what Joe said was thinking out loud rather than actually seeking input or opinion from her. Having grown up with Kyte, who struggled to keep any of his many... more
            • Only generally?Joe, Wed Jul 5 11:02
              Raine seemed to agree that the ideas Joe had were at least not terrible, so he decided to go with them. Girls, he’d always heard, were supposed to be better at telling stories, so if she thought it... more
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