— Ok, class, that’ll be all for today. Have a great weekend. Please stay safe. I want to see you all at 100% capacity on Monday to discuss your midterm papers.
(You can hear the rustling from the notebooks closing, people getting up, their bags hitting everything around and seats moving as they exit the classroom).
— Not you, Genny. Please stay behind. We have to talk.
The student had barely gotten up from the seat. Was standing right there next to it, and sat back again at the end of the room. The professor had to walk all the way across.
— Can you tell me the reason why your writing assignment was completely blank? At first I thought it was an attachment mistake, so I waited for the follow-up with the correction. Two days passed, and nothing. I replied, and you didn’t even bother to answer back. You know this is a third of your grade, and you can’t afford another bad evaluation. What is the problem?
The student looked at the floor, to summon the strength for his next words, then looked at the professor:
— I don’t have anything to write about. I just keep staring at the computer, and nothing comes out. I’m thinking of dropping out of this class. I was gonna go to the registrar’s office right now.
The professor was relieved because he prepared for the worst possible scenario coming from this conversation. Criminal activity, psychological problems, domestic violence… The possibilities kept getting more serious.
— You just have a case of classic writer’s block. Nothing to be worried about. All you need is a topic you’re familiar with. Here, I’ll help you out.
This changed the student’s whole mood. A huge load was lifted.
The professor went on.
— Simple as pie. “Write about what you know”.
— But I barely know stuff.
— Well, “write about what you love”
— The only thing I truly loved was my dog, and he died a couple of months ago. I can’t even look at his pictures without breaking down. I loved him so much…
The professor interrupted immediately to avoid a melodramatic scene, and straying from the point.
— Ok, no dog then. You eat everyday. What about food? There’s pizzas, pastas, hamburgers, Thai, Mexican, junk food, French gourmet… Food is a great subject to write about. What’s your favorite food?
— Oh, that’s a start. Write about all the different types of cereals. You got oat, wheat, corn, granola, sugary ones, healthy ones, homemade, commercial brands… There are so many to choose!
— I only eat one. Cocoa Pebbles.
— For real? Only one? And it’s cocoa pebbles, you say.
— Yea, It’s my favorite. I’ve been eating it since I was a kid.
— Then write about all the types of milks you can choose from! Oats, almonds, soy, coconut, skim milk. What they are made of, their nutritional value, how the cocoa pebbles flavors mix and match depending on which you use, how the temperature changes…
— But, professor. I don’t use any of them.
— What? Sure, there are a couple more I didn’t mention. But it’s all milk-
— No. What I’m saying is that I don’t use milk at all. I eat my cocoa pebbles with orange juice. Oh, or orange flavored Tang if I’m out of OJ. Although it’s too watery for my taste.
Both of them looked at each other. There was a dreadful silence all of the sudden. Even the footsteps of the other people walking in the hall were deafened. The professor was completely shocked and the student was just starting to become more comfortable talking with him. They kept staring eye-to-eye until the professor broke the trance.
— The registrar’s office closes in 10 minutes. You can make it across campus if you leave right now. I wish you the best of luck in the remaining years of your life.