Sunday, April 12, 2015


#NovelSnip is a tiny portion of my fiction writing project.  All week, I've been writing about Norah, mostly about her reaction to getting a bad grade in Shakespeare class at St. Bonifacius College for women .  I'm a little behind on my goals, but I have written more than 5000 words in April.  That's nothing to sneeze at, I think we can agree.  Anyway, here's Norah, freaking out:

Forty minutes passed while Norah scribbled Jones’s main ideas - mutilation, impotence, retribution - in her notebook.  She kept her eyes down, her left hand planted on her desk, her right hand gripping the pen.  Finally, Jones gathered his lecture notes and tapped them on the podium, straightening them into a neat pile.  “All right,” he announced.  “It’s time.”  He reached down to his briefcase and drew out a manila folder.  “They weren’t terrible,” he said, “for a first attempt.”  He scanned the class.  “Now,” he continued, a paternalistic smile creeping onto his face, “if you’re at all displeased with your score, take heart.  Many of my students find their strides later in the semester.”  He propped his elbow patches on the podium and started calling out names.  “Miss Faris,” he began, and a dark-haired, plump girl rose from her second row seat, hand outstretched.  “Miss Anderson,” another girl, a petite gal from Iowa with a button nose, smiled shyly at Professor Jones, whispering her thanks.  Norah’s gut twisted.  “Miss Donaldson,” Jones said, eyes twinkling at Mary Jane.  “Excellent work.”  Norah squeezed her lips together, smashing them into a line.  Six more girls were summoned to the front, while Norah waited, closing her notebook, sliding her Collected Works into her backpack.  Finally, Jones glanced at a paper and called, “Miss Sullivan.”  Norah’s mouth was too dry to speak.  She rose, shuffled to the front, and took the paper between her thumb and forefinger.  She placed it face down on her desk and breathed once.  Then, she peeled the upper left corner up toward her, peeking underneath. The professor had scrawled in red flair pen across the top.

“Miss Sullivan,” she read, her fingers shaking against the page, “While I appreciate your effort, this is a rudimentary attempt to explain The Ophelia Syndrome.  I encourage you, yourself, to be bold in your ideas, as you wish Ophelia were.”  Her face hot, Norah lifted the paper a little higher and kept reading. “ Office hours are open on Mondays and Wednesdays between 3 and 5.  Before the next paper comes due, we should chat.”  

Norah’s eyes bulged and she bit her bottom lip hard.  She pulled the rest of the paper from the desk, like she would a card from the deck in gin rummy, guarding the front side with both hands.  She willed herself to flip through the pages.  Jones had caretted in a comma here or there.  On the fourth page, there was a capitalized, underlined “NO,” in the margin.  Norah felt a dull ache in the center of her forehead.  On the fifth page, beneath her last sentence, Professor Jones and drawn a hasty, glaring C.  A buzzing blared in Norah’s ears and traveled to that headache spot in her forehead.
We can all agree that getting bad grades is no fun.  To Norah, it's more of a life-or-death thing.  Until next week!


jdoc said...

I can totally relate, Norah! My first paper in college earned a C. It was devastating. Do you think Norah will go to the office hours? I hope so.

mm said...

I know the feeling, and you did a great job sharing it.

LH said...

I really needed a little more.

The professor needs a cuff to his ear.

LH said...

This is funny. I thought it ended after one paragraph and I was quite desperate to know what the comments on the paper were. Then I commented. Then I went to read #novelsnip again and I found out there was more. My prayers were answered. In conclusion, Disregard first sentence of last comment.

Anonymous said...

I can see it and I can feel it! Keep it up! Love, mom