London Falling(2)

By: T. A. Foster




“I’ve posted your syllabus along with the reading assignments online on the class website. But I know what you’re really interested in is the project.” She raised her eyebrows and zeroed in on the students exchanging intense whispers.



A girl in yoga pants and a neon sweatshirt raised her hand. “Is it true we only have one grade all semester?”



Professor Garcia smiled. I observed the events unfolding like a stage production. It seemed this professor had rehearsed her lines.



“Your classmate in the front row asked if there is only one grade all semester.” She twirled on the heels of her leather boots and walked over to the smart board screen. She tapped a button and the screen flashed a Y, then an E, and finally an S appeared on the screen.



I couldn’t think of a time in class when I heard so many audible gasps. I kept my objections tightly locked away.



“Before I hear the outcry and protests on how this is unfair and I’m ruining your grade point averages, blah, blah, blah, let me explain how this class works. Yes, there is only one grade, but you’re not in this alone. Everyone has a partner, and together you work on a final project. Each week in class we discuss the readings and how they pertain to the project you’ve been assigned. I don’t give you random pop quizzes or ask that you post weekly on the discussion board. You are all either juniors or seniors. At this point, you know how to participate in your classes—it’s up to you what you do with the information I present in here.”



She paused and surveyed what I imagined was an entire auditorium of wide-eyed upperclassmen.



“Go home, do the reading, and at your next class, on Thursday, you get your assignment. For those of you who are required to take this class, you have a few weeks to decide if you want to drop it from your schedule. It’s not for everyone. See you in a few days.” Professor Garcia waved a hand in front of the class and walked to the smart board, cutting its power.



It was only for a moment, but I sat in my folding chair while the other students dispersed around me like ants. Class hadn’t even lasted ten minutes, and I couldn’t wrap my head around what had just happened. Maybe I was going to have more time on my hands than I realized.



***



“London! You’re here! I didn’t expect you for at least another hour. You can help me figure out this costume nightmare.”



My best friend, theater partner, and roommate looked ecstatic to see me. “Nina, you won’t believe this class.” I wasn’t sure where to start.



I dropped my bag on the floor and joined my bestie on the stained and spotted couch in the basement of the Encore Theater. Nina had scattered pages of a script and was flipping through magazine pages. We had been a part of the eclectic and fiercely independent theater group that wrote, directed, performed, and produced all of its plays since we first arrived at Carolina. My days and nights were devoted to every word uttered on this stage.



“Tell me. What is Garcia’s big project this semester? I can’t wait to hear what she’s come up with for you.” She grumbled as she folded the corners of her magazine.



“I don’t know. She’s keeping it a big mystery until next class. I’m surprised she’s not teaching in the Drama Department instead of Communication. She had this whole production lined up to deliver the big cliff-hanger just so she can shock us next class. Don’t know if I’m buying it.”



Nina laughed. “Yep, that sounds like her. I heard one year she had her class go all semester without using their Facebook or Twitter accounts, and one year they had to create their own website as a class and keep a twenty-four-hour chat going for the whole semester about stuff happening on campus. I never read it, but I heard it was intense.”



“Are you serious? Those both sound a little extreme.” I started tagging pictures as I read through scenes in the play. I didn’t like the idea of either of those projects, but this class was just a means to an end. “It doesn’t really matter to me. I have one semester left then I’m done. I’m so ready to pack my bags and head to L.A. Have you been outside today? It’s snowing again. Next year at this time, I’ll be in shorts, looking up at palm trees and sunny, warm skies. Good-bye, North Carolina. Good-bye, snow and ice. Hello, Hollywood.”