The Professor at Lewis Hall

by Angela Kempe

That was rude. I’m not a morning person either, but didn’t have to give a dirty look.

Dr. Gallegos watched the student cross the street and vanish into the distance. She felt a dizzying jolt of pain in her head, regained her balance, and continued toward Lewis Hall for her early class.

Only off in emergencies or if I’m throwing up. That’s the rule! she reminded herself.

She tried to reposition her heavy messenger bag, but the strap still cut into her shoulder, so she hurried down the sidewalk.

“You look horrible,” Jonathon said as she passed through the door.

“Yeah, I’m sick today.”

Dr. Gallegos felt bloated and congested and had a terrible headache. She began searching for her Ibuprofen. She kept a bottle just for occasions like this and if she took 800 mg, there was hope it might start working before class.

Jonathon moved his gaze back toward his phone. The students were always on their phones. She remembered when people used to talk to each other before class. The pain in her head intensified, so she took her pills and closed her eyes.

This is going to be a bad day, she thought, remembering her thirty minute lecture and the three classes that lay ahead.

“Woah! Dr. Gallegos, you look bad today!”

Dr. Gallegos opened her eyes.

“Thank you, Lexi. I can always appreciate your honesty. Hopefully, that will continue during discussion.”

She had meant it to be funny, but her statement came out mean. She struggled to smile to prove it was a joke, but Lexi stomped to her seat and started scrolling through her cell. Dr. Gallegos tried to breathe through the pain. She set her laptop out on the podium, turned the main computer on, and logged into her powerpoint.

“Already 8:27?” she said, reading the computer screen.

She bent down to find the papers she had to return and the pain in her head overwhelmed her, so she gave herself a few minutes to kneel behind the podium and gather back her strength.

You can do it. The semester’s almost over!

“Are you alright Professor?” Jacklyn asked.

Dr. Gallegos had moaned out loud.

“Yes, Jackie. I’m just sick.”

Jacklyn stumbled back with wide eyes. Dr. Gallegos stood up. Those that were looking, recoiled in fear, but the doctor stood in front of them, perplexed. One student tried to start a sentence, but the words wouldn’t come.

“Okay guys!” she laughed. “It’s only a headache!”

“Your face!” Lexi shouted.

Screams rolled through the auditorium. One student ran out the back door. Dr. Gallegos brought her hands up to touch her forehead. Felt a long hard ridge along her brow as students began running out the hall. Their panic infected her. She felt faint. Felt an icy chill spread down her trembling limbs, but continued her hands down her temple to her cheeks where the skin was also lumpy and sharp.

Her eyes welled up with tears as she sifted through all the explanations in her mind with no result. Just then, she noticed Jonathon. He was the only one left in the empty hall. He sat back in his seat and shoved his hands in his sweater pockets.

“You were always my favorite teacher.”

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