by Bailey Powell Aldrich
This was my semester, I thought. All focus, all work ethic. The School of Visual Arts was notorious for shaking down first year students for every bit of self discipline, time management, and work quality consistency a novice could muster. Failure to succeed in any one of those areas and you’re out, and sometimes you’re out either way. The required art kit was awkward in shape, like a lumpy, oversized door mat hanging against your body from two short handles you hoist onto the shoulder, and was accompanied by a container crossed between a respectable looking toolkit and a Caboodle. Walking to art lab was more of a waddle, and of course I lived in the dorm furthest away from campus. Step-clunk-clunk. Step-clunk-clunk.
When I arrived I cut across the classroom to a friendly looking easel just my height, one that wouldn’t mind spending the next three hours with me. I unloaded my art kit and tilted my head and shoulders back to stretch as I took a deep, relieved breath. I bent over my bag, fishing for India ink when I felt my phone vibrating somewhere in the art supply abyss. My fingers found the smooth, round flip phone and the display screen read “Dad”. I tossed it back into my bag, slightly annoyed because he knew I was in class. Why was he calling? Whatever. Where’s my India ink? Class was starting.
Three hours later I thoughtfully repacked the art kit to transport everything back to the dorm and slung it over my arm. I pushed my cheap, ironic sunglasses on as I walked out to the dorm shuttle. Air gushed from the shuttle’s pneumatic door closers as I took the perpendicular seat behind the driver and we jolted forward.
I felt my phone vibrate again, my brother Duncan calling this time. Flipping the phone open to answer, I saw I’d missed three calls from my dad during the course of class. A wave of heat coursed down my back and limbs when I heard Duncan say my name.
“Bailey,” he panted.
“Alex got in a car wreck.”
“Is he okay?”
My voice was unnaturally high with panic and my breath became choppy and inconsistent. I heard shuffling around in the background, muffled voices.
“HELLO?” I called.
“No,” he said.
More shuffling, and the call disconnected.