She tells me about her new glasses, what they look like, how she realized at school with the blackboard and clock getting fuzzier and fuzzier that she'd need them. Her words remind me of when I put on my own first pair of glasses, the summer before fifth grade. How I slid them up my nose in the optician's shop, and the little squares on the shop's screen door leapt out sharply, along with the trees beyond and the license plates on the cars parked by the curb.
The clouds are a powdery pink, and the glass walls of the building blush in the sunset.
They're overworked, I'm overworked. We'll muddle through this together.
A wooden stairwell, carpeted, the air thick with potpurri and the banisters twined in holly. On the wall above the first landing a mirror hangs too high for people to see their reflection. In some places it's spotted a moldy black. I wonder, if I were to drag over a stepladder, what I'd see in its surface.
Students, pale and sniffly from stress and lack of sleep.
For a few hours each week I need to use an office in their building. The office they give me doesn't open at first to any keys; who knows what’s happened, I’m told, and who was the last person to have set foot in it - maybe the lock was changed. An aura of mystery builds around the room, until at last I’m given a key that works. The lock clicks, I find a small dark room, no window, no visible light switch, a desk rearing up with its legs sticking out like a creature making a last desperate defense of its lair. An empty thermos and a granola bar sit on the other desk. From the floor a phone occasionally purrs; its blinking red light hints at messages that may never be heard by human ears.
People-watching from a library window. The first reckless forerunners of snow spin through the air.