Document Type


Publication Date


Department 1



I lean against the chalkboard and wait for the young woman to speak. I feel especially put together because I am wearing an outfit; I bought all three pieces at the same time, indicating my financial stability and dedication to appearance.

It is a Friday, and this introductory physics student is casual in her sorority letter jersey, jeans and sneakers. Her hair is long, her skin porcelain; these traits do not distinguish her from her sorority sisters. She is exceptional, however, in her habit of obsessively leaning forward in her front-row desk, as if preparing to dive over the top. Perhaps she is an equestrian, so accustomed to having only her legs and hands in contact with her horse that she does the position whenever she is eager. She grips the desktop, her feet swept back, athletic, energized, in the two-point position of an event jumper.

“Professor Stephenson, you must need to do laundry.”

I laugh a little at my own expense, inspect my skirt for chalk.

“You wore that same outfit last class.”

I am relieved. This sorority woman, this possible equestrian, is only commenting on my absent-mindedness. She keeps leaning forward, waiting for my response. Her ponytail fans down the back of her soft cotton jersey. I smile at her. She is so very pretty. I also register the surprised faces of the other students and how they pause; I see with full clarity the sorority girl’s strong white fingers, her confident hands, that same confidence in her voice as she addresses a professor as if we were peers. Still smiling, I turn towards the ever-forgiving slate board. I pick up the chalk and write Ohm’s Law on the cool, flat, forgiving gray surface. Class begins. [excerpt]

Required Publisher's Statement

Original version is available from the publisher at: