Writing Class by Sandra Ramos O'Briant

          Lydia’s wall-eyed writing prof hates italics, but Wes has no problem leaving off quotation marks as long as you use abundant dialogue tags. Her last prof claimed half of all dialogue tags should be eliminated, but his eyes were normal. Wes adores details, especially those concerning traffic.

            In a class of twelve sitting at a rectangular table—without turning his head—Wes is able to level one of his eyes at each person sitting along its length. “No, not you, you!” he says, pointing at a different person than the one who just attempted to answer his question because he had looked right at her, and her, and her.

            Wes dedicated his last book to a thin, buxom girl who sits across from Lydia. Eireen’s tight-pored skin stretches over prominent cheekbones, a square jaw and a high forehead. Her overbite makes her lovely. Her front teeth are aerial acrobats, not content to merely jut out. They turn at a slant, too, and there’s a gap between them. They have no safety net.

            Lydia doesn’t know when she developed a fondness for tooth gaps, but she’s never seen one she didn’t like.

            At the end of each class, Wes reads a scene from his own work consisting of characters who remind Lydia of mimes even though he never mentions whiteface. In his scenes, they engage in disarticulated activity until a moment when they decide to say something bizarre and irrelevant. He reads his work in an urgent drone seeking some nexus of rhythm and word, to hell with content and images.

            During these dull moments, Lydia entertains herself by imagining Wes and Eireen kissing. She thinks about Wes’ remaining discolored teeth, which brighten from fudge to chocolate to butterscotch with licorice bits. It’s kismet that his essentially toothless mouth accommodates Eireen’s choppers easily.

            That Eireen could kiss his mouth is evident from her writing.

            Wes finishes reading. Now the class has to critique his work. They struggle to appreciate it. There are no words extreme enough. Lydia thinks about Eireen blowing Wes. Her teeth are aerodynamically designed to give head.

            Wes’ writing is definitely uncircumcised. And bent. To the left, she thinks, adding a final detail he’d appreciate.