It’s a sunny day, everyone is cheerful. I’m dead tired because of midterms, but I am cheerful too. Red Square is full of a flood of people walking to and from classes. Some walk alone, backpacks on shoulders. Some walk with a group of friends, talking together. Some walk in couples, boy and girl holding hands.
I slip in the door to my classroom. A placard on the brick outer wall states the number: 112. My friend has saved me a seat, I sit down and we begin to chat about springtime. She’s from the eastern side of Washington where snow trades off with sun. I tell her of springtime down in Olympia and the order of the blooming flowers: crocuses, daffodils, tulips.
Class begins; our professor goes over what we need to know for midterms. It’s sunny outside. The class is getting more comfortable with each other. One of the fellows says something hilarious, there is a ripple of laughter broken by my usual loud laugh (the kind that bubbles up from you and is quite full of mirth).
We soon break into small groups to discuss writing. My friend has to go to another group. There are four people in my group, including me. One girl is red-haired, another looks like a twin of my cousin Kim. The last member of the group is a fellow that looks like a writer; he is studious and looks smart but doesn’t seem the sort that’s interested in athletics. I wonder, would he survive backpacking in the mountains? I hear later that he’s studying philosophy; that figures, he’s definitely the thinking sort.
We each share our writing in turn. The red-haired girl writes of a memory in first grade, it is very well-written. The fellow tells the legend of an old house that he’s staying in; apparently the house had a dark past. And the Kim look-alike writes something that I can’t remember anything about, I just remember it was hilariously quirky.
We discuss writings and talk and laugh; it feels like the writers’ group back home except I don’t think these three are Christians. I think I am most happy when the sun is out and I am discussing writing.
My gaze wanders outside, beyond the window. Knots of people stand talking, a skateboarder skims by with a loud clamor on bricks, a student idles his two juggling implements in hypnotizing arcs and patterns.
I fade in and out of the writing discussion, enjoying the talk. The fellow’s eyes are smiling a bit. Mine are smiling too, but that’s because I enjoy chatting and laughing in a writers’ group—nothing more. I doubt he’s a Christian. During the conversation I hear he’s rooming with a girl, yet he is not married to her. And without a second thought or apology, he used one of the abominations of curse words. Two strikes and he’s out.
I suddenly notice our group is the last one, all the others have left.
The room is nearly abandoned, sunshine beckons. Our group soon finishes. My writing was the last to be discussed; I’ve received helpful critique as well as encouragement—a writer’s dream.
I glance down at my desk and notice a tiny drawing in the upper right-hand corner. It’s drawn in a pen’s blue ink and is thick with many tracings though is smaller than the length and breadth of my little finger; no wonder I didn’t notice it at first.
It’s an imprint of a heart with an arrow through it. Oh great, I think, Another love-sick college student daydreaming about their special someone when they’re supposed to be paying attention to school.
Come to think of it, it is nearing Valentine’s Day. I glance at the imprint again. A heart; the embodiment of love. An arrow; the source of pain. A heart with an arrow through it. Yup, definitely drawn by some lovesick person.
I once told God He could send me on a hundred mile backpack trip or to the desert for missions. Anything rather than talk to boys. A hiking trip I could face, a missions trip I could face. But face boys? They terrified me.
The last sentence of the last writing has been discussed; everyone gets to their feet, talking together. I am quiet, sinking into my own thoughts and contemplations, forgetting for a moment that class is over and I’m the only one not moving.
I hastily stand up and sling my purse over my shoulder. I withdraw my notebook from the desk’s face, glance at the etching one more time, then walk out into the sunshine.