Her voice lurched between a high-pitched whine that narrowed into a “question?”-implied silence and a low throaty drop reminiscent of the stuffed way a person sounds when they talk right before throwing up. It made Ethan nauseous. And angry. It made him imagine jumping up from his seat in the middle of the dimly lit lecture hall to go and violently rage-vomit on the hapless TA’s face. Ethan, frightened and invigorated by the intensity of this desire, pulled out his phone to distract himself.
He covered the bright light with his hand and was pulling up Facebook when his phone started vibrating with a call. The number displayed was (000) 077-3300. Ethan thumbed the “Decline call” button. He hadn’t really seen the number. Is that the American Red Cross calling me again? Those fuckers are relentless, he thought. (Ethan had learned to decline phone calls after being startled from a nap last summer break by a soft-spoken magazine telemarketer. Ethan had felt guilty about wanting to tell the telemarketer he wasn’t interested and had believed the telemarketer when he told Ethan that if Ethan gave his parents’ credit card number, they couldn’t be charged unless they agreed to the deal when the telemarketer called them for confirmation. Unopened Ebony magazines still litter Ethan’s parents’ coffee table.)
After the class ended, Ethan exited the room without making eye contact with the TA. He walked outside and was immediately caught up in a stream of students moving towards the bus stop. Ethan felt hemmed in and tried to move sideways through the traffic, like he was playing Frogger in real life. He got to the other side of the road and smiled at all the space he had to himself. He took a deep breath through his nose. Now what I am going to do this weeken—his phone vibrated once. He looked at the screen, opened the text, and read “What are you going to do this weekend?”. The number displayed was (000) 077-3300.