Excuses, Excuses

by Stacia Levy

“I’m sorry about my late paper, Professor Friedlander,” the sweet young student said. She stood in front of my office desk, woolen scarf wound around her neck although it was a warm spring day. “My printer broke down.”

“Uh-huh.” I was singularly unimpressed. I’d heard the my-printer-ate-my-paper story somewhere before.

I struggled through the haze of my hangover to remember her name. Sandi. That was strange—I connected her straw-straight hair and downcast eyes to the name but had never noticed her killer body, the lush boobs, and a great ass. And I’d usually notice that. Well, maybe it was because I only saw her sitting at a desk.

“Yeah, the broken printer.” I scooted my chair back from her, suddenly uneasy for some reason. “Why didn’t you save the essay to a thumb drive and print it out at school?” Come on, aren’t you part of the generation with the USB cord trailing from your ass? Figure it out!

“I’m sorry.” Color rose on her cheekbones, which were all at once higher, more defined than before—Michelle Pfeiffer cheekbones. “My brother took my thumb drive back home with him when he visited this weekend.”

I sighed. So many crises. “And you couldn’t go buy another one?”

“I’m sorry,” she repeated. She twisted a piece of hair, which suddenly seemed blonder than it was before—nearly platinum. “I had a family emergency.”

Ah, yes. The generic “family emergency.” Strange how their families were so dependent on my most irresponsible students. “Yes?” I said. “What’d you do—help deliver your big sister’s baby?”

“No.” Again a blush tinted her peaches-and-cream complexion. “My grandma was sick, and I had to help her.”

Oh, great. Sick grandma stories now. Like I’d never heard that one before. “Sandi, this paper was assigned over two weeks ago. Did you help your grandmother for two whole weeks?”

“Yes.” She gave a long-suffering sigh. “I had to help her around the house, fix her meals, give her medications, administer her insulin shots, meet with her doctors—” As if to convince me of her honesty, she looked at me directly for the first time. Her eyes were enormous, emerald green, fringed with curly black lashes.

“Okay, I get it.” The creeped-out feeling ratcheted up a level. How had I not noticed her eyes before? They were only the most unique eyes I’d ever seen, maybe on the planet. I struggled to remember if she usually wore glasses.

I fought the nervousness with sarcasm, which usually works. “And let me guess, did your uncle die too?” Sick grandmas, dead uncles—epidemic among my students when papers come due.

She didn’t blink. “Yes.” And now her lips were fuller. She was transforming into a freaking fashion model right in front of my eyes. I must really be stoned.

Just stoned, and weirded out, enough to really let loose. “Sandi, cut it out. You’re truly going to have to do better than this. I’m through with the stupid excuses. What’s really going on? And why are you wearing that scarf?” Of all the bizarre things about her, I had no idea why I fixated on the scarf.

She sighed and unwound it. Two huge red puncture marks adorned the side of her neck. “I didn’t want to say before, but—” She shrugged.

“Vampire bites.” Fear clenched my groin. She was turning even as we spoke!

Which of the other students—? I tried to remember if she had a boyfriend.

“Well,” I finally managed, backing my chair all the way up to the window. How much would it hurt if I jumped from the second story? “Yes, that is an excuse.”

And a new one on me, at any rate. I had to give it to her.


Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing