William G. Brown


Sitting in his armchair, his legs folded up. The left leg peaks like a mountain, the right leg flows under like a river, and his stomach rests in the valley. Leaning back, his right elbow perches on the armrest while the left arm extends outward to hold The Newark Advocate upright. Next to his chair is a table with a lamp and his white coffee cup. He lets go of the left side of the paper, allowing it to flop over, and reaches toward his mug on the stand. He loops his index finger through the handle, lifts the white cup, brings it to his lips, and tips the creamy coffee into his mouth. A few drops of the coffee dribble down the side of the mug and drip onto his white t-shirt. He tilts his chin towards his chest. His puffy cheeks strain downward. Locks of his wavy-red hair tumble onto his forehead. His brown eyes observe the brown stain. His frowning face observes the discoloration. Then he lifts his head, shrugs, and returns to reading the paper.


She breezes into my office. The papers on my desk rustle. She buttons up her black cardigan and sits. She says, “Let me show you something. I asked for bangs. Check this out.” As she pulls the bobby pin from the tassel of hair smoothed back on the top of her head, her dark bangs tumble into her face. Several strands fall just below her moist, hazel-brown eyes, some seem to fall to the round tip of her nose. She asks, “Can you tell?” Examining her bangs suspended in front of her glasses, I see that a few strands are an eighth of an inch longer than the one they lie next to. I see one strand is an inch longer than all the others. Then she lifts out the lock she is hiding in her part. She locates it, pinches it between thumb and index finger, extends it out straight, and lets it go. The dark brown hair flops down and touches her chin.

I smile. What else could I do?

Her thick pink lips curl upward. She puffs up her round cheeks and blows the unusual strand of hair from her face; it falls back into place. She puts the bobby pin in her mouth while she brushes the bangs back up onto her head. She sighs. “Well we were both laughing and then . . . she apologized a lot.”

“How much did this cost?” I ask.

She pins the hair down. She says, “It’s free for students.” Then she sinks her fingers into the hair hanging down her back and fluffs it. “Well,” she says, “the rest of it looks really nice.”

Will is an alumnus (2008) who currently teaches English at Columbus State Community College.