Hello Internet! Welcome to Monday Spark! As you know, I’ve had other authors participate in Flash Fiction Friday, but why let them have all the fun? Every Monday I pick my own prompts and run with it. Today’s story takes us to the not so fond memories of college graduation coming at us like a speeding freight train. Will it all be on the final exam?
by Lex Chase
Prompt: “What was that noise?”
Cole scribbled lecture notes until he wore grooves into his paper. He had to keep up with every word that flew out of Professor Hutchinson’s mouth. Once he comprehended one sentence and jotted it down, he had to commit another to memory. The maddening cycle never ended. But this time, this time, Cole would graduate.
Everything Professor Hutchinson said would be on the exam. Every last syllable, every last word choice, no detail too small. The students had to rephrase it in their own words, but mix one poor word choice, and fail instantly.
Markus sat on the front row. Slumped over and too cool to care, Cole didn’t care for his arrogance and bubblegum philosophy. Markus raised his hand—well—kept it raised all of two seconds before butting in.
“So. It’s like Instagram.”
Cole threw his pen. The cheap Bic bounced down the auditorium steps.
“What the fuck kind of question is that?” he asked, infuriated that Markus would open his mouth and stupid would fall out.
Every pair of eyes in the packed auditorium turned to him in bewildered swivels.
“It’s like Instagram? Instagram?” Cole hurled his notebook at Markus, papers flying like a jetliner contrail.
Students dived under their desks, and Markus casually shifted in his seat as Cole missed his mark. The notebook slammed into the wall and the chalkboard shivered.
Cole slammed his hands on his desk. “Professor Hutchinson is lecturing about the impermanence of time and you mention Instagram?”
Professor Hutchinson’s eyes widened, but kept his composure. He would talk some sense into Markus. Cole expected nothing less of Hutchinson’s brilliance. Perhaps Hutchinson would expel Markus on sight. One less to compete for the top grade on the final exam.
“Now, class,” Professor Hutchinson said with a slow patience. “We’re all adults here.”
Cole’s frustration got the best of him. Also those eight bottles of 5-Hour Energy shooters from the night before fueled his rage. He would pass this exam. He would graduate. He didn’t care how many people he had to step on to get there. He needed this moment. Cole wouldn’t rest until he shot to the top of his class and then walked across that stage.
“Can we get back to the point?” Cole demanded. Markus didn’t deserve his remorse. And Security was welcome to try pulling him out of his seat. The mindlessness offended Cole to the point his skin crawled.
The students remained silent. One girl trembled. Another clasped her hands over her mouth and muffled her barking sobs.
Markus, the insignificant speck of a boy, looked like he could shit himself. One could hope.
“…..what was that noise?” Markus asked Professor Hutchinson.
Hutchinson bowed his head and then pinched the bridge of his nose. He held his head high as he met the gaze of every student.
“I’m sorry class,” he said, as he fidgeted with his wedding band. “I’ve called the exorcist twice this month, but none of them can seem to put Cole’s spirit to rest.”
Cole fell quiet and then settled into his chair. He picked up his notebook and then returned to furiously scrawling his notes.
The maddening cycle never ended.
But this time, this time, Cole would graduate.
Copyright © 2015 Lex Chase. All rights reserved.