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Black And On Top
Black And On Top
Nicholas walked in through the maze of cubicles, his term paper wringing between sweaty palms. The red D atop his paper seemed to burn into his palms. Fucking Sociology. What the fuck does a Computer Science major need with Sociology? He felt like a centuries-lost explorer wandering through the wilds of some unmapped continent. The layout of cubicle walls seemed to have no rhyme or reason other than to ensnare unfortunate co-eds. The whirr and chunk of copy machines, beeping phones and murmured conversations gave the TA offices a jungle-like feeling. This whole floor of the Sociology building, swarming with TAs and Grad Assistants, smelled of stale coffee, sweat and toner.
Nicholas flipped overgrown bangs from his face to better read the passing nameplates. The strings of illegible consonants read like a Dr. Seuss nightmare. He was three seconds from saying, fuck it, I’ll just crumple this fucking paper into the pocket of my hoodie and go nap on the quad, when he came to the dark heart of his exploration. A cubicle emerged before him, only two of its modular, carpeted walls visible. A fake brass nameplate hung beside a purple velvet curtain serving as a door, its letters reading “Ochebe, Alexis Q.”
Nicholas, feeling stupid but not knowing what else to do, knocked on the wall nearest the curtain door.
“Uh, hello?” He said. “Hello? I’m Nicholas Mattersby, I e-mailed—”
“Well don’t just stand out there shouting your problems, Mr. Mattersby,” a strong, thick voice came from inside the cubicle, fluttering the velvet curtain ever so slightly.
Nicholas swung the curtain aside with the flat of his forearm and ducked into the cubicle. A smallish aluminum desk sat just ahead of the back wall, its surface cluttered by an outdated computer and some papers. Alexis sat smiling behind the desk, the glossy kinks of her brown hair pulled into a loose ponytail. Small modular shelves around her head held a number of wood-carved nick-knacks: masks and idols, heads and horses.
Thumbing the last crumb of her lunch from the corner of her plump lips, Alexis extended an arm toward the well-worn chair sitting opposite her desk.
“So Nick... do you mind if I call you Nick?”
Nicholas sat in the aluminum-frame chair, its threadbare and squashed-batting upholstery giving exactly zero cushion against the hard metal surface. “Actually,” he said, “I prefer Nicholas.”
Alexis pushed out her lower lip and nodded. “Nicholas it is then. What can I do you for today, Nicholas?”
Nicholas uncrumpled the term paper from his fist and smoothed it over a small pile of manila folders on Alexis’ desk. “I was actually wondering if you could maybe re-look at my Soc 110 term paper? I’m not sure if you were the grading TA or not...”