NPR logo Amelia


For Round 8 of our contest, we asked you to send us original works of fiction that begin with this sentence: "She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door." Our winner was "Rainy Wedding."

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. She couldn't do any more. Amelia handed the test booklet to the proctor seated at a small, metal table just outside the door.

"You'll have free time until lunch," advised the proctor.

"Thank you."

Amelia cocked her head momentarily, then started down the hall toward her room. She didn't turn her head, but she knew others were chattering in clumps along the wide hall that always smelled of cleaning solution. They were comparing notes about the exams, the most recent one in particular. Amelia was generally not included in the camaraderie, but she didn't care.

She didn't want to be here, didn't need to be here, shouldn't be here. Absurd to be taking meaningless tests at the age of 42. It was all right for the others, but she didn't belong. She nearly reached the door to her room when she heard him clattering behind her.

"Amelia, 'Melia. That's you, right?"

She sighed with exasperation. "Yes, Dwight. Of course, it's me."

"Did you just leave the last test? Didn't you think it was hard? I don't think I was ready for it." Dwight was only in his 20s and tended to blabber incessantly. He reminded Amelia of a mindless kitten who demanded your attention all the more when you told it that you don't like cats. The more you'd push it away, the more it purred and wrapped around your ankles. There was no amount of rudeness that could discourage Dwight.

"Dwight, you didn't have to take it today if you weren't ready," said Amelia with exquisite patience. "It's not that kind of thing. There are no drop-dead deadlines. If you didn't do well, you can retake it in three weeks."

"Three weeks? Then that's the deadline, isn't it? Do I have to make an 'A' in everything to graduate?"

"Dwight, we've been through all this before. Please go talk to someone else. Find your adviser if he isn't hiding from you. I'm tired. I'm very tired."

A shrill buzzer reverberated throughout the building. Amelia startled at the harsh sound. That was something else she didn't like. Couldn't they play music or something else pleasant to note class and meal times? Conversations in various parts of the corridor simultaneously changed in tone. The herd turned toward the cafeteria.

"Amelia, I'll walk with you to lunch. How 'bout that? You can tell me about your other classes. I bet you're doing great things 'cuz you're so smart."

Amelia could visualize him chasing a ball of yarn, and wished she had one to toss down the hall so he'd run away. Why was the most irritating person in the vicinity obsessed with her?

"Dwight, I'm not going to lunch yet. You go on and find some nice young people to talk with. I'm very tired." Amelia was almost certain that she'd already said most of that.

Amelia stepped into her room and hurled the white, red-tipped cane across the room. She heard something shatter that she'd have to locate later and clean up.

"Self-sufficient" was a phrase the instructors used incessantly.

"I hate Dwight. I hate always being in the dark. I hate blind school and, most of all, I hate that damn Braille test."