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NORTH CAROLINA L I T E R A R Y RE V I E W

She was a woman and therefore had everything to prove and finite time to prove it in. woman and therefore had everything to prove and finite time to prove it in. She’d scanned the room. She was an early arriver – always would be – so of the few people there before her, one struck her forcibly. His hair was gingery and, if not quite messy, cavalier. His shirt was unnecessarily vivid. He was the secondcutest boy in the room. For her self-image as it then was, that was about right. She sat beside him and made some comments about cigarettes, and when he smiled she decided he was the cutest boy after all. He was not yet Corin. She was not yet Dorinda. She put the lemons back in the fridge and closed the door. She put her hand on the hood of the car to steady herself. It was still warm from the drive home. She had no idea how and when campus mail was gathered and delivered, but the necessity of the situation overcame all other considerations. She drove fast. It was Friday afternoon and there were no evening classes, so she had her pick of parking places, and chose a coveted one next to the door. Probably the letter would still be lying in the box. She would COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

Prodigal by Kimberly Wheaton (oil and cold wax on cradled wood panel, 24x24)

get it out. Could the box be lifted up and shaken like a piggy bank? She would pry it open with a screwdriver if she had to. She would go to the post office, or wherever the mail went, and sort through whatever had to be sorted through. She opened the glove box to fetch the screwdriver, just in case. Once at the academic hall, she hurled herself against the door, jerking the handle. It didn’t open. Though it had pulled open the thousand times she’d used it before, she pushed on it, as it by some magical process the operation of the doors changed after hours. Immovable. It was definitely locked. Regular faculty had keys to the outside doors, but adjuncts did not. She was turning toward the campus police office to get an officer to open it for her when she saw an officer walking, as if summoned, straight toward her. She flipped the screwdriver into the landscaping. A distraught woman wanting into a locked building with a screwdriver in her hand sent the wrong message. She hoped the officer had not seen. She almost smiled as she remembered the prayer Corin and she had devised long ago to solicit divine aid for their comprehensive exams: “O Pan and all the woodland gods, be with me now at the hour of my need.” “Ma’am?” “I wonder if you could let me in? I seem to have left – uhm – some important papers, student papers, and of course I’m only an adjunct so I don’t have a key – ” “Happy to, ma’am. I just need to see your faculty ID.” The heavy realization that her purse – with her ID – was home on the kitchen table sank into her viscera. “Officer, I seem to have left it. Could you? I mean, it’s very important. My students are expecting – ” The officer shook his head ruefully. “I just can’t do it. There have been too many incidents after hours, mostly students, but – you know.” A gleam came to his eyes and he added, “You look like you could be an undergraduate anyhow, so I just can’t risk it.” He smiled a big smile, intending a compliment to ease the sting of refusal. She decided to pretend to take it that way. She smiled and looked at the pavement. Moss grew in the little cracks, emerald and turquoise. It was unexpectedly beautiful. “I could follow you,” he said. “I could go up to your office with you, and that way nobody would be in there unescorted, and nobody would get into trouble.” The momentary leap of hopefulness flickered out. She had almost, for a second, believed her own

Profile for East Carolina University

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

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