Counting Teeth

Monday. The beginning or the end of the week depending who you ask. A day so carefully created it deludes to the idea of new hope.

Patiently apprehensive you jig next to your belongings, waiting for the nurse to return. Without so much as a knock she materialises before you; a shower of blue glitter. Peering at her clipboard she smiles broadly revealing her lungs, “You are negative. No more Divoc. Back to college for you today. Wear your breathing apparatus and silk gloves.”

Leaping high into the air, you didn’t get the chance to thank her before she vanished. Two whole weeks had been spent cooped up in one of the sterile isolation pods. The whole space was bland, even the stinging disinfectant that rained constantly down in a fine mist. Clumsily, with excitement, you looped the strap of your breathing apparatus over your head. Fingers wiggle easily into the slippery silken gloves.

Silently you watched the roof of the world turn into a detached slate of grey. Fearing a shower of rain, you picked up the pace keeping to the edge of the path. Skirting around the lampposts and trees. Shoes pattered along, stumbling slightly where the roots had pushed up; fighting back against oppression.

Each hissing inhale served to remind you of what you had. You had a life, unlike so many people. Choices, freedom and decisions at your whim. Easily disposed never really contemplating what it would be like to have no say or control. Overhead a single shimmering metallic body of a giant dragonfly hovered. Steady whoap whoap whoap droned monotonously, four fragile glass panels twitched and stirred the heavy air.

A ghost of a smile tugs at your lips. Mysterious, known and unknown. Skipping up the concrete steps you shove open the stubborn door. Brightly greeting Mr Macintosh who sat behind the reception desk. Whose nimble fingers danced over clattering keys, angrily reprimanding college canteen.

Drifting down the endless corridors, you expertly dodge the throng of mindless students. All who had their heads stuffed full of new information. Until at last you find your professors office. Alarmed by the panting breaths creeping out under the wooden panel. Stained acid chartreuse by garish light. What only could be described as sulphurous turned the pure air into toxic soup.

Your professor was an eccentric man. Perhaps a little mad; madness is needed in a dry cut world. Neither to told nor be-folded into precise box. One of a kind. One to be sneered at by the judgmental and prejudice eyes that lurked on the street corners. Never knew what he would say next but always could rely on his good nature.

Rapping sharply on the door, you pulled your hand back unsure. Shaking your head slowly, you rolled your shoulders adjust the weight hanging between your blades. “Enter,” a seriously stern bark. Twist, turn and thrust was all that was needed to open the divide.

Temporarily rendered mute and frozen by the sight before you. Accolades lined the walls, a large bookcase, a computer; everything a professor would need to prepare high quality lessons. Nothing unusual.

Your professors wiry salt and pepper hair exploded from the confines of a hat. Not a normal hat, oh no. A large Victorian jelly balanced atop his head, a shade of rich Byzantium. Contained and shaped by a heavy black belt, to the point of ludicrous proportions. His jacket attempted to match in pansy velvet. Beneath a shirt belonging to midnight embraced his chest. Pinstripe trousers lingered confused, clinging to thick tree trunks, in case answers may be sought. Poking out from under stout table, a pair of shoes that could only be described as absurd were seen. To top it off a single beam of sunlight formed a perfect circle protecting a slither of moonbeam, hung from his ear.

Nervously, you pushed back a wayward strand of hair,“Professor, may you help me catch up on the work I missed, please?” Silence swept in on the cavorting eddies. Awkwardly, you scratched your neck anticipating the heavy hand of judgement.

At last your ears picked up the rumbling dorsal tones, “You’re not who I was expecting!” Piggy eyes squinted down an aquiline nose.

Resurfacing from your bag, clutching your notebook, you stared bewildered, “Who were you expecting, professor? I knocked on the door?”

“I was expecting President Anura,” coarse words lisped out dressed in spittle. Backing away you discreetly wiped the dropped beads from the little window in your breathing apparatus.

Click, click, click. It sounded something akin to bone bouncing off bone. Following the withered liver spot infested hands, you witnessed your professor counting. Counting various shapes, some square, some blocky, some pointed. All had varying numbers of legs…

”What are you staring at? I told you I wasn’t expecting you, you should have emailed me to schedule a meeting with me. Although, having Divoc is not really an excuse for falling behind especially with the lessons being streamed live.” He never looked up from his task, as the callous reprimand was delivered.

Stuttering through your realisation you asked, “Sir, are those teeth?”

“Yes. I covered the art of bargaining and negotiation in the democracy lesson. The PowerPoint is on Fledge if you need a recap. Drop me an email and I’ll arrange a meeting with you tomorrow.” Clearly dismissed you scuttled hurriedly out of the office.

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