Fiction—”Once there was an empty classroom”

Its stomach grew between ripe Science classes and a weedwork of electrical wires and the pink-feather of insulation. The door remained unlocked; the lights were flicked on in the morning by a sleepy department head and flicked off by a custodian whose back vac made her a ghostbuster. A general lack of students kept the air icy and mostly free of the muck-must of human bodies, a scent corrupted by cheetos and armpit and the cheese of feet, although the room occassionaly fed on students looking for a place to study, romantic couples with forged hall passes, and a red-nosed assistant principal who napped on Fridays by the cabinets—some of their grease and wet spray of conversation remained behind as particles on the carpet. The only noise was the buzzing tempo of air-conditioned lungs.

Since classrooms have no natural predator, the room sat, and sat, like a forgotten box of baking soda in the fridge—without purpose—without function — absorbing funky odors. The first pang of its profession came with the appearance of a bearded fellow, shaggy and shortsighted as a bear with spectacles, who lumbered into the room and occupied the desk, a vantage which offered the desktips and distant blue cabinets—a corner where he wouldn’t fear a sneak (in truth, the fellow only dreaded poisoned coffee). The hermit hid there, received his paycheck, watched for enemies at the door, and put up posters that read, “You never fail until you stop trying,” and “It’s okay to not know but it’s not okay to not try.” Perhaps he operated under that mantra of bibles and baseball movies: ‘if you build it, they will come.’

No one came. The fellow died in the fetal beneath his desk.