Square (a novella)

! This post was written long ago. What you're reading is not necessarily how I feel about things in 2017. This blog was started by an 18-year-old in 2001. Please, keep that in mind before you freak out.

It's January. Everything's covered with snow. She is sitting at the desk in an empty classroom with her friend Eleni. One could say that they were not really pleased for having to attend lectures that day, due to such heavy snowfall. Eleni was unhappy because it was cold, and she was grumpy, for she had to leave her warm bed that day. But Eleni had it better, for sure: she was living on her own, she was spared from arguing with the family about money and chores on daily basis, she was free to adopt some cat or dog, all of which was off limits for her friend.

"So, do you understand professor Chelssi's two most recent lectures at all?" she asked Eleni.

"Not really but we won't be able to attend workshops without them."

"Workshops...what does that even look like, given how unclear theory is? It looks as if...as if he was constantly telling us the same thing all over again, proving it to himself at the same time. Up and down, in and out, no heads, tails, odds and ends..."

Eleni sighed. She had completely different problems of her own, ever since she's moved over from the land of eternal snow.

"I'm freezing, hun. My kidneys will be suffering badly. I've only got light summer panties left. I can no longer fit into my winter ones. That taxi driving scumbag I met last summer stole a couple of those comfier pairs while I was making him a cup of coffee. After that, I did not want to see him again!"

"What on Earth made him think that you'd accept such form of eeh...courting? Did he think you would have come to take your panties back and then leave your bra at his place, as well as all your pride? Did he think that he, panty-thief, would be the one?"

"Apparently so. I would not want to be alone with him now or any other time. He's a hot-blooded small town mediterranean man, god knows what he could do!"

The other girl offered Eleni a Kinder Bueno bar, giggling.

"Yes, I said 'hot-blooded Mediterranean...let me guess, you wouldn't mind some other such man stealing your panties? For example, professor Chelssi?"

"No, no, my dear Eleni, no. I would steal HIS underwear. Why would he steal mine? Now, he's stick-thin, his hips are narrow, he would not be able to get pregnant and give birth to my child!"

They both laughed. Professor Alberto Chelssi, balancing on a thin wire between late youth and middle age, brought them together. They had met on a discussion on his essays in a gallery. She had arrived late, to see a vacant seat where Eleni had put her large handbag. She asked if the seat was taken. That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship between two girls lost in the world ruled by consumerism, all thanks to a seemingly cloudcuckoolander with unkempt hair, whose lectures werre containing elements of philosophy, mathematics, psychology and poetry. He was intelligent, the one to colour up their grey winter days. They fancied him, too. Eleni a bit less, her friend a bit more.

That part of her personality was what she considered to be embarrassing for here age of twenty-five, so she was hiding it as much as she could. Yes, professor Chelssi was an attractive man, yes she was a naive young woman with no much experience with men, but she was mainly worried if her infatuation with him would diminish her love for his body of work in any way. Her colleagues used to say, jokingly, that nobody in the whole world was as mad over professor's dogma as she was; though, unlike them, you would never hear her quote him. She claimed that she sees them as a professor whom she would like to be her mentor someday.

The classroom was quickly filling with other students. Until a couple of minutes ago, it was just the two girls in the front row. Now it was getting crowded. About one hundred of students were trying to find a place in a room that was intended for no more than forty people. Some of them were standing, even.

As on command, when professor Chelssi appeared, everybody went completely silent. he came in, left a coat in colours of a dirty and polluted river over the chair and sat down. He did not greet the students, because he greets the students only when he's leaving the classroom. He didn't say anything about the snowstorm, because he never comments on anything unrelated to classes. He smiled, which had been a rare occurrence at that point, compared to his former well-known smile that he would have on his face while explaining very complicated concepts and processes; and then he took a worn folder full of messy paper from his black messenger bag.

He headed to the whiteboard carrying the folder, but he didn't make it too far. His shoelaces were untied and he tripped. "Dammit!" he hissed through his teeth and tied his shoes. Then he got up, made one more step and fell down again, as he had somehow managed to tie one shoe to the other. He fell his face to the floor, his glasses having flown to the trash bin, landing among the ; which he was not immediately aware of as he was groping around the floor, searching for them among the pieces of paper.

Nobody was laughing, but her. One doesn't laugh at a perfect man such as professor Chelssi. She bit her tongue, got up from her seat and went to help him. First she got his glasses out of the trash bin and cleaned them with a wet wipe and against her own sleeve and gave them back to him; then she helped him get up and make some sense of his shoelaces. He did not react. He did not say a thing, professor Chelssi does not talk to his students. He bent over to collect his notes, facing the whiteboard. She went back to her seat next to Eleni, who was giggling.

"Wow, he's got an incredible bum. Maybe not like my butcher, but a great bum, either way!"

"He's got no bum at all! Two of his would fit into mine...three of his! And he's bony! And he does not smell nice! And he's rude! He could not thank me for helping him up, as if...as if I was a lower form of life, as if I were a moron just for being one of his students! What on Earth does he really think of us? That we're some unofficial society of deadbeats and hookers? That we have no clue about anything and that we're here solely to gain money on this someday? Okay, perhaps most of us are from more or less well-situated families, but SHOOT ME, ELENI....SHOOT ME IF I'M GIVING AN IMPRESSION OF A SPOILED BRAT!"

All during her monologue, she was staring at that, according to her, nonexistent backside of professor Chelssi's. She sighed. Professor finally managed to pick up all of his notes and put them back into the folder. He was giving them a lecture, gesticulating, stuttering, losing the plot every now and then. Then he would repeat something he had already said, but the sentence would never have the same word order as the first one, which he'd forget by then. The more the lecture progressed, the more she felt like she was listening something resembling Lorem Ipsum, the bogus Latin piece used to fill the blanks in preprints and on web sites...though an occasional sigh, cough or an actual sentence would sometimes shyly break through it.

"Today we'll be talking about the process of sensation...the sensation process...the way of us getting our perception of all...all things, all things and what the views on that have been like throughout history. And the process of sensation is the process through which....we get to sense something. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque commodo cursus porta. Quisque quis nibh diam, id mollis est. Suspendisse ut odio a enim vestibulum iaculis. Praesent sit amet nulla a est pretium porttitor. Aliquam ut justo nibh, consequat convallis elit. Duis luctus venenatis interdum. Vestibulum sed sem augue, id tristique sem. Integer in massa pretium sem aliquam tincidunt. Ah...and then-then... Nam consectetur porttitor sem et rhoncus. Donec non mauris vel risus porta vulputate id vel quam. Etiam ornare egestas lobortis. Vivamus in mauris velit. Ut at metus tortor, vitae elementum nisi. Suspendisse viverra congue lorem, ac elementum velit hendrerit at. Quisque vitae purus ut libero pharetra lobortis. Sensing something in reality means becoming aware of its crucial characteristics and relation to the other things. Aliquam mollis tincidunt mi id faucibus. Aliquam eu odio eget mauris aliquam porta ac at arcu. Vivamus a mi nibh, eu gravida lectus. Nunc luctus posuere mattis. Praesent vehicula auctor est, id condimentum tellus pulvinar in. Quisque et ipsum nisi, sed hendrerit massa. Donec lobortis egestas eros, nec mollis neque feugiat faucibus. Phasellus sed enim eget enim molestie hendrerit suscipit vitae risus. Sensation is an important process in the psyche thanks to which the organism finds out about the relevant characteristics of objects in its surroundings. Praesent id aliquam purus. Sed et facilisis tortor. Pellentesque ut felis sit amet risus placerat semper. Pellentesque eleifend fringilla nisl tempus eleifend. Sed hendrerit justo metus, vitae pellentesque nisi...sorry, my throat is dry. I need a glass of water. And it's stuffy in here, too. Say, how about a thirty minute break?

He walked out, having forgotten his coat, solely to come back immediately and take a packet of cigarettes and a woolly hat out of his front pocket, once again leaving the coat on the chair. He leaned his elbows against the stone fence of the balcony facing the lights of the rough, tall buildings with large windows on the other end of the street, a bus station and a park; and lit a cigarette. He wasn't paying attention to tiny snowflakes getting into his hair, beard and scarf He'd heard it through the grapevine - in the university halls and corridors where he was barely noticeable, as if he were a student himself - that his methods were lacking practical work, that his lectures were too long and that he should really make breaks more often, to catch some air. Even one colleague said, perhaps jokingly, perhaps not, that he should be sitting or standing while giving lectures, because otherwise, someday he might just fall out of the window. Could it be possible that all those people were not able to grasp the beauty of newly acquired knowledge? Of course, they spent all their lives either listening to lectures, giving lectures or both; which wasn't the case with him! He traveled the world, dug around libraries, he was appreciating the beauty of finding out new things and sensing them more than anything that would come next in the logical order of things. That flame, that hunger was what kept him going, that was the fire he wanted to keep burning for as long as he was alive. And then he'd hear that people consider him insane, a fool and that nobody understand how come that such a quiet, withdrawn man suddenly decided to give lectures.

He'd also overheard what the female students thought of him, but he was by no means upset by that, as he'd had a girlfriend for a while. Just like him, he considered that cute and funny. Like, what was going through their heads? A professor and his students? Such nonsense happens only at the countryside colleges, unless people got smart there as well, eventually.

The powdery snow was slowly turning into slush. A particularly large snowflake put out professor Chelssi's cigarette. Fine. It had already burnt down to its butt, anyway, just like the previous one which he actually forgot to put in his mouth. For how long has he been on the balcony? Has half an hour passed by already? He should go back and lecture the rest of what he'd had on his mind. They want practical examples. In a science discipline based on theory. And they don't want such examples to be related to mathematics. Had they wanted to specialise in mathematics, they would've studied elsewhere. They don't understand anything further than logic, they're not into it, they only know to anxiously write down and then learn it by heart, as if it was some kind of their paternoster. It will surely take them a long time to start thinking, for real.

He returned to the classroom. His coat was lying on the ground. Nobody had stepped on it, but nobody picked it up, either. That hyperactive girl who didn't even look like a highs chool student has not returned to the classroom yet, she must be eating and stuffing herself with fruit juices somewhere nearby. If she happens to burp during his lecture, it won't be the first time. She always does it quietly, with her mouth closed, solely so he would not notice it; not knowing that it's so clear to guess that somebody had just burped, based on their face and throat movement. He knew it whenever she was swallowing lumps, he knew it when she was feeling uncomfortable because he leaned in too close, and she felt as if she wanted to disappear. A funny, funny child she was. How old was she, anyway? How did she make it to the university, so young and green?

He was imagining her walking on her tiptoes, as if she was trying to dismantle an unexploded bomb and dancing ballet at the same time; picking up the coat, removing the nonexistent dust from it and putting it back on the chair. Then she'd squeal and start to shiver, as she would notice that she stepped on the belt. She'd remember that, while walking around the park, she stepped into the mud or something far worse. She'd bring some water and wet wipes and try to clean the coat, but she would stain it even further. Maybe she'd burst into tears upon realising that and then her Greek friend would come to comfort her, so it would eventually turn out that her crying was far more important than the stained coat. Kids. They see everything through that me, me, me, more me and even more of me prism. He used to be a kid too, overemphasized and he hates that, but he also loves it, because such overemphasis made him what he is today - a calm man.

It was only after thinking up all this that he picked up his coat.

The students were slowly returning to their seats, some of them with their hair wet as much as his, some girls looking a bit more fresh, as they were using every single break to obsessively correct their make up. And here come the gals from the front row - Eleni is carrying...good grief, whatever it is, there's a bone sticking out of it and it's quite large. And the girl brought half of the bakery with her. Now she's sitting there with a lot of greasy crumbles in front of her, slurping on something that he wouldn't even touch with a long stick, eating something that was accumulating deposit in the blood vessels solely by looking at it. Then he caught her licking her greasy fingers. The same moment she looked straight at him and bit her tongue once again.

"Eleni! I could die of shame just about now!"

"What happened?"

"Professor Chelssi saw me lick my fingers. Now he's going to think that I'm a slut and that I want to sleep with him...or something like that!"

Eleni blushed and stopped carressing a pack of rabbit meat she bought at the butcher shop. What if the professor has seen what she was doing as well? Of course, she was in love with the young, manly butcher with his strong, hairy arms and he was the polar opposite of the professor; but still, what if it would turn out that two girls on the loose were sitting there in the front row? Now, was she a Jezebel if she was dropping by the butcher shop every single day and getting her milk and eggs there, even though they were of far better quality at the farmer's market; if she had just bought an entire rabbit, solely to see the butcher? Or maybe she was just futile in her attempts?

Professor Chelssi got up after the very last student came in and closed the door. He took a permanent marker out of a pencil case and went up to the whiteboard. One hundred of souls reached for their notebooks and one young man got out a digital camera, intending to use it to record the rest of the lecture. The first time they did such a thing, Professor Chelssi felt as if his heart had stopped for a moment, and shivers were running down his spine, shaking it all the way from the neck to the nonexistent tail. Why can't they interpret what he says as they like it, instead of how they think he's interpreting it? Over the time, he got used to it and decided not to get involved with them in any way. He either thought it was too late...or that, simply, it was no longer worth the effort.

"We'll end this lecture with a simple illustration. One could say that I'm connecting it with the process of sensation."

He drew two parallel lines. The class was waiting. He knew that at least half of them did what he just did, just in their notebooks.

He drew another pair of parallel lines, intersecting the initial two at 90 degrees. He removed everything outside of their intersection.

"This geometrical shape, a geometrical picture is loosely connected to today's lecture. You're free to go home now."

He took his folder and the coat. The class was silent.

She drew the very last line, so intensely that she tore the paper. She looked at the drawing and jumped, like a wild animal that's just been shoot.

"A SQUARE. IT'S A SQUARE. All of its sides are of equal length!"

Professor Chelssi was leaving the classroom. At one moment, he stopped and looked at a group of students heading for the front row, shrugged and went away. He considered coming back to show them that what he had just drawn was never meant to represent a square, but why would he do so? He determined that the rest of the class will come to the same conclusion, that it was clear.

"A square, you say?" asked Wim from the back row, who was standing all along the lecture, "And explain me, what was that square standing for? What does a square have to do with our sensations?"

She was not able to give a response to that.

"Wim, I only said it was a square. A nice-looking square, too. His technique of drawing it was unusual, but again...that's what he wanted...I guess. To draw a square!"

"Maybe it's actually a chart, maybe the sensation process is so even that he accidentally presented it in a form of a square!" said Vatroslav, the oldest among the students, much older than professor Chelssi himself. "I just had that thought, because my daughter recently learnt something similar in her physics classes. Uniform linear motion. It's just that the arrows on the chart are missing!"

"Arrows...they look like conifers...you know what I'm talking about!" added Wim, absent-midedly.

"Wim, are you still smoking weed? It's punishable by law here, I already told you so! Maybe you would have a better approach to this if you're sober. I don't know if the professor would appreciate you doing this!" said Nadine.

"How do you know that he did not smoke weed in the past and that he's not smoking it right now, where did you get such an idea? He's prone to such things, just like all of us, at the end of the day. I don't think he would mind me doing it!"

"Nonsense! Professor Chelssi would never waste his time on everyday distractions like you and me. He's probably spending days and nights preparing such deep lectures! I'm still having goosebumps, especially from the end part. And you only want to lit up your stinky joint!"

"The two of you are missing the point", noticed Bao, "The point is that professor Chelsea drew a square on the whiteboard!"

"CHELSEA?", Wim and Nadine gasped at once, and tall Pere turned to his shortish colleague, almost threatening him.

"How can you be worthy of this man's great lectures if you cannot even read his name right? Yes, the spelling is CH-E-L-S-S-I, but this is not the bloody London borough to be spelled that way! In this case, CH is a K, and the S is doubled, so you don't read it like a Z. His name is Chelssi"

Such arguments were unpleasant even back at the times when most of the students met at the gallery, at the discussion panels related to the life and work of professor Chelssi, at the time they could not even foresee that one day he'll be lecturing them. Bao just made a honest mistake, but amongst them, this was bordering with a betrayal. Young and passionate, they were glorifying their mad fervor.

Eleni said goodbye to her friend, who had just got in her father's car, wondering if she should take a different road home, so she wouldn't have an excuse to visit the butcher shop once again. The other girl was fastening her seat belt. Her mother, riding in the back seat, was annoyed with hos she would always jump in and slam the door like that; but the father was in a great mood - they were heading to a large supermarket, where each of them would take a trolley and wander amongst the shelves, looking something from a list and ending up with plethora of things they did not need at all. They were living pretty large sums of money in such places, taking food that would expire later, clothes they would not like anymore at the second glance, duplicates of home appliances...

"Daddy, " she started, "Has it ever occurred to you that we mostly buy what we don't need?"

"Maybe we won't be able to do so for much longer, there's been quite a lot of talk about some sort of a worldwide economy recession, " said the father and inhaled some smoke. He simply had to smoke in the car! That would be as if professor Chelssi was smoking in his lectures. Now, before they enrolled in his classes, she and her colleagues had no idea that the professor was a smoker, they have never seen him with a cigarette before.

The mother seemed to be able to read her daughter's mind, solely by her reflection in the windshield.

"Penny for your thoughts? No, wait, let me guess, it's that professor man. What was he telling you all about today, anyway? Do you even listen to his lectures, given how much you dribble over him?"

"Hihi, of course I'm listening! He was telling us about the process of sensation.I wrote it all down, though not exactly the way he worded it, my notes are an abridged take on it; some parts of his lecture were not really going anywhere."

The father seemed to understand his daughter's age better. He smiled and asked her if professor Chelssi has the most beautiful smile in the world. She turned red in her face and started stuttering.

"No, he only smiled once today, briefly. But he had his hair down...and he drew a square at the very end of the lecture, which probably wasn't that important at the end of the day...but I liked it!"

"So, the univesity doesn't ask the bastards of hippie whores and their pimps to tie their hair and trim their beards?"

"You're saying nonsense. This is not the army. As far as I can recall it from our daughter's stories, he didn't really have that long, priest-like beard, it was something much more moderate. In the end, no woman would look at him otherwise. He's got a girlfriend, right, sweetheart?"

"Yes, daddy, professor Chelssi has got a girlfriend. We saw her with him, twice. She's thinner than him, but it seems...it seems as if she was slightly fatter in December than she was in October. Eleni and I have been daydreaming of what it would be like if he cooked a nice meal for us!"

"Eleni? I did not recognised her when she waved goodbye to you? How's her hahahahahahaha butcher doing? Has he at least invited her to have coffee with him? She's all over him, a real man would've done something by now!"

"No, dad, she invited him to go see a movie with her, but he told her he was busy."

"What is she looking for, then?" father raised his voice, "If a man wants a woman, he will do absolutely anything to get her. It wouldn't even stop him that his apron's greasy and dotted with bloody, neither would the fact that he works at his father's shop. He would sweep that girl off her feet! My advice to her would be to give up and let him go. And you, if you were listening to the other professors the way you listen to that Chelssi man, you would've had a doctor degree by now, and you don't even have your master yet, you barely made it to your master studies!"

"Father...I was the best student in the generation at the end of the first semestre! And a master? It never occurred to you that you could pursue one, too?" she responded, in slightly disappointed tone.

It was not worth it. She distanced herself from the conversation as they were crossing the bridge, trying to count the ships trapped in the ice that surrounded them earlier during that particularly cold winter. Perhaps that winter seemed colder than usual, because the country with most gas reserves was blackmailing its neighboring country, notorious for its bad luck; so they announced that they would block all the pipelines the next day, regardless of how it may affect the others. Perhaps they should be thinking about that, too? Just in case, she put a large blanket in her trolley at the supermarket, as well as a couple of pairs of warm socks. Later on, she pursued her father into buying a large piece of bacon. He put it in her trolley, demanding that she pays for it. Even though all three of them were making more than enough money, they would often argue over paying for groceries, and later on over carrying the bags. This time, she carried all the seven grocery bags up to the appartment. The lift was, naturally, not in function.

The next day, the heating was still on, but the situation seemed to be somewhat dense.

Professor Chelssi woke up in the middle of the afternoon. Though he had a day off, he was usually not the one to sleep in, regardless of how late he went to bed. However, when he came back tome last night, with snowflakes in his curls, Kyra was waiting for him...the same cheerful, slim young woman whom he'd given the keys after three months of dating. She had wanted to cook him dinner, not knowing that he had already booked a table at a restaurant with live music, as well as two theatre tickets. She greeted him wearing a light, loosely-fit night gown, removing the stained apron after the very first kiss; right after she jokingly hit him upside his face with the kitchen glowe. Smell of burnt food was lingering through the apartment, and the dress suits waiting to be worn for the night out got all wrinkly when they tumbled over the back of the large living room sofa. She was screaming like a wild cat and jumping on him as if that was a rodeo, while he was just smiling and blissfully looking at her, with his eyes half-closed. He could afford the luxury of being the quiet one in her embrace, unlike it was the case with the lectures. Here, she was doing all the talking, moaning, screaming, hissing and neighing.

He had overslept the daylight, it was getting dark already. He sat up. She was sitting on the other side of the sofa, curled up, once again wearing the nightdress that she, having jumped onto his lap, hurled and threw on the top shelf, containing all those dust-covered books that he hadn't believed for a long time, the books that no longer contained anything fitting his newly acquired views of the world. Over the nightdress, she put on one of his sweaters.

"When did you wake up, my love?"

"Meh...sometime around eleven in the morning. I had no idea what to make for you, breakfast or lunch...by the look of thinks, I'll be preparing dinner."

"Better not! I mean, there's no need to. With a bit of luck, we can go to the restaurant today, to have the gypsies play to us and drink some fine wine. We'll tell them we got the date wrong. If they're already all booked up for tonight, I'll make us something and open that bottle of wine I got last year...I could stuff some veal, it will be done in an hour or two...meanwhile..."

"Meanwhile, I'd better tell you what woke me up. The dean from that faculty where you're teaching called, he was talking about some square. Strange!"

"A SQUARE?" professor Chelssi jumped from underneath the covers, in a savage-like manner. With his hair unkempt, wearing nothing but a single sock as the other one fell off as he was tossing and turning, he was looking around the messy room until he found the telephone.

"Good evening, is that the dean of..."

"Chelssi, is that you? I asked the young lady who took the call to relay the message. I'm calling you because of that square."

"What square are you talking about? Are you sure it's not square metres?"

"No, your square!"

"I have some sort of a square?"

"Could it really be that a man of your caliber does not understand what I'm talking about? You have drawn a square at the end of last night's lecture. You have given your students a hard challenge, looks like there was a lot of argument over that. Our sociology professor saw them bicker about it one hour after you had left home. I have taken the lesson off the e-learning platform to have a look at it, the square was there...I mean, it was on your scans. Have I already told you that I really, really like it that you're scanning your notes? It gives your lectures a raw, authentic, personal feel. But that square..."

The professor was so nervous that he kept on scratching one ankle with the other feet while he was on the phone, eventually managing to take the other sock off. Meanwhile, his girlfriend turned the radio on and started dancing around the room. He declined the invite, showing her to keep it down. But she kept on, occasionally approaching to pinch his tight After the fifth pinch, he hissed like a tomcat who no longer wanted to play with a ball of yarn, he grabbed the first item of clothing that was on his way, took the telephone to the bathroom and locked himself inside.

"As I was saying, my dear colleague, you have confused your students."

"You don't understand it. My drawing was not supposed to represent a square, not at all. An irritating female student..."

"I hope you're not talking about the best student in their class. She looks like a child, but..."

"but that child could lead the department for psychological warfare in an army. Whatever she says, everybody accepts it, as if..."

"...as if you have said it, right, professor Chelssi?

He was cold; so he reacher for what he grabbed to wear before his lover grabbed him in the living room. Bloody hell, he took a tote bag with a bra inside. He couldn't possibly put that on. He bent a towel over the toilet bowl and sat on it, one elbow on his knee, carrying the phone in that hand. During the rest of the conversation, as the dean was rambling about the connection between the square, the lecture itself and the entire matter, he spent most of the time starring at his nude feet, solely to get up from the towel and step on it.

"With all due respect, sir, the students misunderstood me. So did you. The example was not tightly related to any of the things you talked about during the last half an hour. Now I need to end the conversation, I'm yet to eat for the first time today. I was busy with..."

"...preparing your next lecture? Way to go, professor, you're fitting so well in our collective! I'm sure that the students cannot wait to hear what you've got in store for them, same goes for my colleagues and me. It's a great honour to..."

Since it didn't seem that the dean was intending to hang up at any point and his legs were getting stiff from standing, professor Chelssi leaned on the cistern....and jumped away. He accidentally flushed the toilet and dropped his phone in the bathtub. It broke and two digits went down the drain.

Kyra knocked on the door.

"Pretzel, is everything fine? What kind of noise was that?"

He unlocked the door. Much to his surprise, Kyra still had her clothes on - both the night gown and his sweater, with her hands on her back. He knew what she was hiding, her didn't even have to look. She had probably rummaged their entire home already, to find the bottle of wine he was talking about; but one cold stare and a blank facial expression prompted her to hide it. He went to his study and turned the laptop on.

"What are you doing?"

"I need to edit the last set of notes. There's been a mistake, something that would never cross my mind...but I had told you already, my students are peculiar!"

Having left the bottle of wine on the first available chair, she sat on the table and looked at her boyfriend remove the fifth page of the scanned set of notes where the drawing was, saving it again in the suitable format and uploading it to the platform.

"What was their problem with those doodles?"

"Doodles? Finally, somebody who did not call that a square, because it's NOT supposed to be a damn square! If you look at it more closely and tilt your head, you'll notice that its sides are not of equal length, that there's even a extra line that I did not manage to remove, and, sincerely, it's not like I cared about removing it. A square...yeah, right. At the end of the day, who will understand me if not my wonderful girlfriend? If only I could cancel all the remaining lectures until the end of the month and not get out of the apartment at all..."

"Of course I understand you!", Kyra grinned, but he was not paying attention to that reply.

"...this way, I can't remove that blabbermouth from my classes. She's the loudest person of them all! Thank heavens, my contract does not oblige me to talk to students, I think that little girl would cause my head to inflate and explode. Hadn't the dean told me that she had graduated, I would think...I would think that she's just a child secretly listening to the lectures; one of those teenage girls who fall in love with male students and stalk them. I read about that in a book, where all the main characters were students, and there was a little girl in the crowd. A CHILD. What an absurd, what horror! Perhaps it was not a book, but it most certainly was some sort of literature...I read so much that I can't remember every single thing...now, where was I?"

"You were telling me about the little girl who was getting on your nerves. How old is that child, at the end of the day?"

"She's twenty-five."

"She's not a little girl! I'm twenty-seven, remember?!"

"In a couple of weeks, you'll be twenty-eight...and you're a mature woman, she's a brat and she doesn't understand how things work. Here's a photograph of the class while on an excursion that I, luckily, was not obliged to attend."

"Is that the chick next to the one with a huge grin?"

The professor was confused.

"How did you know?"

"How did I not know? I am reading you like an alphabet, Pretzel. I believe you mentioned her once and told me that she has a friend, the one who brings raw meat to each class. At first I thought they were trying to cast some sort of a spell, but nah. The chick's friend has a crush on someone working at the butcher shop...and I have this feeling that both of the girls are such losers that there's no way in hell that anybody ever had a taste of them, if you know what I mean. Oh, and the chick herself...she's got the hots for you, that's visible from space!"

He didn't like the sound of that, so he decided to dismiss it. His darling was looking at everything through sexuality, he couldn't discuss the rows that would occur during his lectures with her. At the same time, she was clearly the link he was missing, as he often couldn't even think of the difference between that she would call masculine and feminine principles.

"I'm going to cook that lunch...dinner, whatever. Leave that wine, I will open it. And get dressed, we could have a walk after we've eaten, I could use some fresh air. My nose is runny...where the heck is my handkerchief? I thought it was in my pocket. Why are you laughing at me?"

"Pretzel, what handkerchief? What pockets? You're naked! Buck-naked!"

"Oh...yes. I forgot about that somehow," he mumbled and ran to the living room, where he found only one sock, a pair of underpants, a shirt and a sweater. But he couldn't find the trousers. She went after him, walking like a puma, to eventually kick him in the backside with his trousers tied in a knot.

"You forgot about a lot of it somehow. For example, where is your other sock? For example, where are all the other 'other socks' from various, similar situations? For example, you're yet to defrost the meat we're supposed to eat for dinner. Say, perhaps we should go to that restaurant, after all?"

The next day, while going through the rabbit leftovers and grouping what was still edible in one and what she would give to the feral dogs and cats into another bowl, Eleni received notification of a chat message. It was her friend...why didn't she call yesterday? Oh yes. That date was a holiday in her family, so is today's date.

xIseethroughUx: Hey!

GreekCanuck: DARKNESS, WHASSSUP? Merry Christmas!

xIseethroughUx: Thanks for remembering it, what happened to the bunny?

GreekCanuck: The bunny was delicious. A part of me would like to think that the handsome butcher hand-picked it himself so he would show me that he does feel something for me after all, but he's shy. Anyway, did you download the notes? The ones with that square?

xIseethroughUx: Yes, I downloaded that as soon as I got home. Go see it, I know your Internet is unstable so I won't be sending it to you. They're probably keeping some kind of statistics on who downloaded the lessons and who did not...?!

GreekCanuck: You're paranoid, I doubt they would take such things into consideration when giving us our grades!

xIseethroughUx: Maybe they do. Who knows? I always have this feeling that they know how much we've been studying, how long it took us to prepare an exam.

GreekCanuck: Anyway...I have just downloaded the notes. There's no square. Four pages of the lecture, all scanned.

xIseethroughUx: Square and the introduction paragraph to it should be all over the fifth page. They must be there, it's just that you did not scroll to the very end. Your computer is playing up!

GreekCanuck: I'll send you the file, so you can see it yourself. There's no square.

xIseethroughUx: I'll send you mine too, so you can see there is square. call yours sensation02.pdf, I shall call mine sensation01.pdf, OK?I

GreekCanuck: Why would you change the file name, when only I should change it?

xIseethroughUx: For sorting purposes, so they could always come up in searches and listings one after another, to make it easier to find for me. Send it over!

---You received the file sensation02.pdf from GreekCanuck.---

---You received the file sensation01.pdf from xIseethroughUx.----

xIseethroughUx: So, do you see that the square is there?

GreekCanuck: I do, everything is the way it was when he gave us the lecture. And do you see that there's no square in my file?

xIseethroughUx: I can see it and I don't get it. Actually, I get it. HE IS ANGRY WITH ME! I said something! Maybe...maybe he even thought I set something up so he would fall down, because I wanted to touch him so badly! But that's impossible! I am not a manipulator, you know me, Eleni!

GreekCanuck: Where did you get all that from? On the other side, I'm convinced that the universe hates me. Maybe it hates you, too. You know how much I'm yearning for my butcher, if we could only share a single kiss...I want it as much as you want it for professor Chelssi to take you seriously and stop seeing you as an in-your-face nerd.

xIseethroughUx: How did you know what I wanted? I never told you about it!

GreekCanuck: It's all so obvious to me. I think it's obvious to your dad, too; he's pretty poignant. Your mother's hard to deal with, just like mine. And professor Chelssi is a smart man, he notices a lot of things...at the end of the day, it's his profession!

xIseethroughUx: That is exactly what makes him qualified to mess around with me? It's not fair! What would be his goal? For my grades to go from A's to D's, for me not to be able to get work done and to, I don't know, commit a suicide? To put down everything that's inside of me? Why? What for?

GreekCanuck: I don't know. Maybe it would all be different if you weren't the best student in the class? Many teachers hate good students...actually...how to explain what I'm thinking of...they consider it to be some sort of madness, isolation, a personality disorder. On top of it all, you're a girl

xIseethroughUx: I cannot change that. I guess I'll be imagining myself being his own teacher's pet if I were male. I don't know. I am so not smart anymore. I'm off. They're calling me to join them at the table.

GreekCanuck: Ah, the Christmas dinner! What are you having?

xIseethroughUx: Tukey. It was roasting for a couple of hours. After that, we have some chocolate pralines, some expensive ones we've been saving for this particular occasion. And yesterday we had such an amazing risotto with frutti di mare, it was finger-licking good!

GreekCanuck: All those things are aphrodisiacs! If you end up in an orgy with the professor, don't say I have not warned you beforehand!

xIseethroughUx: Hehe...bye, see you later!

GreekCanuck: Arrivederci to you, too!

She went to the kitchen. Her parents were already done with the soup. She looked at them, wished them a good meal. They were ignoring her, offended that she didn't come on time. She coughed.

"Are you ever going to respect anything? Since you're not willing to take part in preparations, at least come promptly when we're inviting you to sit down and eat. Isn't anything sacred to you? Not even Christmas?"

She looked down and sat on the chair, with her limbs stiff, as if her entire body was in a cramp.

"I'm sorry, dad. I downloaded professor Chelssi's most recent lecture. The square I told you about in the car was there. This was last night. A couple of minutes ago, Eleni downloaded it too. There's no square in her file...the whole page is missing. Something happened!"

"Chelssi again! What kind of nonsense is this? Lecture just like any other maybe he was told to omit some of it so he wouldn't put too much pressure on you all before the exams."

"Mom, it was just a square and a short introduction right before it. I can show you both files, split screen after lunch, that's the only thing that makes them differ from each other! He has not changed anything in the rest of the file, he has not changed the title, or the file name!"

"Hmmm...is Eleni sure that she downloaded the entire file?"

"Gosh mom, you're clueless when it comes to computers. HADN'T SHE DOWNLOADED THE ENTIRE FILE, SHE WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ABLE TO READ IT. FOR GOD'S SAKE, FOR GOD'S SAKE, FOR GOD'S SAKE!"

She jumped with her chair. Her parents were confused. Her father turned to the balcony glass door and waved to the outside. She knew that gesture well, ever since her earliest childhood days. That was his own code, his own way of telling her that she's gone a bit gaga. There's nobody outside, they're on the fifth floor and too far away from the other buildings for everyone to see such a signal. Then he pointed to the toilet at the other side of the kitchen wall. That was his way of telling her that she's started "crapping on her mouth" and that she should relieve herself. She gave up. She could not explain anything to them anymore. She quickly slurped her soup and took a long piece of turkey breast.

One week later, the class gathered around again, waiting for professor Chelssi's lacture. They were standing in front of the building. Vatroslav was dropped by his wife and daughter. Wim was acting a bit strange.

"So, Smurf, have you seen how that square of yours became significant, all of the sudden?"

"I'm not a Smurf to you...and I did not draw that square. I only said it was a square!"

"Of course it's a smurfsquare. Most of the rectangusmurfs, or, better, parallogargamels are squares!"

"Incorrect. There is no such statistics! A square is also a rhombus...you first have to narrow the choices of parallelograms to rhombi." said the quiet young man who has never said anything before in a lecture, or during the breaks, "But, if we were to look at each side of that square, or just a rectangle, as a part of a sensation that would...perhaps mean that each side of it is representing a phase and that the changes from one phase to the other are sudden! And...once you've figured out something to its very core, you're at the beginning of the process again!"

"Such a Craposmurf, you are..." said Wim, nonchalantly.

"Am not! My name is Adam!" shyly said the quiet one. "And I wanted to talk to her, not you...sorry."

She took a look at that Adam guy. She did not remember him from the bachelor studies, he's probably arrived from someplace else. Physically, he resembled professor Chelssi a little, as if was a youngish cousin of his. He was talking about each single thing with great excitement, as if negativity absolutely did not exist, without even rambling on stereotypes such as positive thoughts, unconditional love and other things that would surely cause her to switch off immediately.

"And so...I think our professor has told us something very important and special, and it will result in a big idea in each and every one of us. Maybe even today. Hey...you look tired. I hope I'm not being too boring?"

"No, Adam, it's not you. I'm tired. We were celebrating that other New Year last night, my father made doughnuts, that's out family tradition..."

"With holes?"

"Yes, with holes," she said, almost surprised that Wim, who was now talking to Vatroslav, hasn't jumped in to mention Doughsmurfs or Smurfs with holes."

"All the doughnuts are beautiful", Adam continued, "but the donuts with holes, they have a special warmth to them. When you're watching movies, either live action or animated, all donuts have holes. If somebody was writing a book about this exact moment, provided that there was no me and my question; the reader would still know that the doughnuts made by your beloved father have holes...as you had described them in such a loving manner!"

She wanted to thank Adam for his kind words, when they spotted professor Chelssi. He got out of a taxi wearing a pair of white trousers and stepped straight into a muddy puddle. He was about to swear, then he noticed his students, changed his mind and waved to them, having pointed to the watch he was not wearing, and went inside.

"Eleni, have you seen this? Adam, Wim, Vatroslav...? He almost used a four-letter word!"

Vatroslav was the only person to pay attention to her comment. He told her to come closer to him.

"I don't know, but sometimes...sometimes, you know, every now and then I have this impression that you're affected by every single thing professor Chelssi says...I mean, you see something you shouldn't be seeing, some kind of hate towards the entire world, towards all of you, perhaps towards you, specifically. Whatever he says, it's as if he had crushed your skull with a mallet.

"Kafka."

"Kafka? What does he have to do with all this?"

"Franz Kafka once said that we should be reading the books that wound us and stab us, otherwise there's no point in reading. I would use that analogy with this whole situation you're describing, regarding me and professor Chelssi."

"Or perhaps you should just keep your mouth shut?"

How could she keep her mouth shut? When on Earth was she able to keep her mouth shut? That was the complete opposite of what she was standing for! What's up with that Vatroslav guy? He's a father of two, he's got a couple of grey hairs, wasn't he supposed to mellow with age? What kind of misogynous nonsense is that, the thing with keeping her mouth shut? After all, she doesn't want to talk to him about that bloody square, hadn't the pirates, pirates in the XXI century captured two ships in a gulf somewhere? Is anybody here interested in the rest of the world?

"I see that you doubt my words, and you have taken such a spiteful look at me that you probably think I'm patronizing you, too. It's not the way I see it. I only want to help you see things for what they really are. Has this got anything to do with the square from the previous lecture?

She nodded her head and started tapping her feet. She was not listening to Vatroslav. She had an impression that she was observing a dancing bear or something like that. That picture stayed in her mind all night long, while she was wondering why she cut classes that day, looking at the tree with a single nest in its fork through her window. During the winter time, only freezing magpies and hungry pigeons would drop by. This was not helping. Not even her honey tree had a solution to this and a dancing bear was forming among the ice patterns on the window, inside of a large square. It was all so much different in the summer time. She couldn't wait for the spring and summer to arrive, so the street would turn into a scattered green oasis, a complete opposite to this batallion of worn out facades and grouchy windows, where all the blinds were different, as well as window frames, as nobody here understood the order, flow and aesthetics. People were dumbing themselves down. And professor Chelssi? If only she could stop thinking about him, she'd be better off doing something else? May he be whatever he wants to be, C-H-E-L-S-S-I, this way, that way, he's lacking some basic human kindness. A long time ago, she hard heard a song where a woman sung to her boyfriend, her lover, her secret crush that he lacks sugar. As opposed to the imaginary or maybe not such an imaginary man, professor Chelssi looks as if he had never tasted any sugar. Does that mean he's stuffing himself with saccharin, aspartame, those artificial sweeteners? Nah, professor Chelssi is above all that. Now Wim would probably explain that he's more than a regular man, a regular smurf, more than a smurfman. After a lot of unnecessary polemics, Vatroslaw would say the same; so would that dumbass Bao. And the irritable Nadine. And Pere, Suvi, Efraim, Selim, Peter, Jasna, Jimmy, Chi, Noriko, Nana, Esteban...all of them! Even Eleni would say, after a short break, that professor Chelssi is not just a regular man; that he's not a man messing around the limits of an average man. He's not a person like our parents. He's not a person like us. He's not a person like the other teachers. He's not like other people.

Or maybe the problem was that he, at the end of the day, IS all that? What would happen if she said so? Would she still be the best student in her class? How can she even be the best student of her generation when she graduated with such a low average and she was basically accepted into the master studies as a human experiment?

She spent the next hour or two tearing some post-it notes to smaller pieces, the plain, yellow ones. She was writing down the worst she'd heard more than once during the lecture transcribed word-by-word from the audio recording courtesy of Efraim, that weird guy with a camera; noting how many times they were repeated, even when they were buzzwords, which she then eliminated from the kitchen table where she was gluing the rest of the notes. then she used a different colour market to write down the word 'square' and she tried to make it fit in. It was not really necessary anywhere, but at the same time, it could fit everywhere. Maybe that square really was not necessary in order to understand the entire lecture, at all? Maybe she just had to sense it? As in...some strange type of practical work?

Maybe it was no square? After all, nobody made her get up and yell what she yelled, nobody made her give a name to what was drawn on the whiteboard! Not all shoes are sneakers, not all shoes are boots. What was wrong with her to categorise a geometrical shape? At the same time, professor Chelssi did not ask of her to apologise to him, which would have made her feel much better, maybe she would have been able to sleep all these nights. Maybe she would be a bit calmer. How many times did the word 'maybe' cross her mind, as if it was a buzzword of its own? Horrible. She needs to pay more attention to her vocabulary, this is starting to look embarrassing. Then again, embarrassment is her everyday. She's always embarrassed because of something, this time because of a geometrical shape that was not a square, but she called it a square, so everybody concluded it was a square because professor Chelssi did not say or do anything, absolutely anything to let them know they were wrong.

And it's evident she's getting on his nerves. She's swallowing up the whole of him with her eyes, because he's handsome, despite looking like an eastern orthodox priest who has spent a couple of years in a concentration camp, such as the one where they used to make lampshades out of human skin...no, not that one, make it a labour camp. At the same time, even with the distance that was bigger day by day, even with that gleam in his eyes that was more and more glass-like, he still has those cute dimples when he smiles. And freckles. When she helped him up, she saw that he has freckles even in the places where most other people have dark circles under their eyes. She was by no means into of freckles, but she was into his freckles. It was a shame that he has to wear glasses like most of the teachers, because he has such beautiful eyes...if one had left olives for pizza outside in the cold for a while, they would turn that colour.

She looked at the clock. Two in the morning already. For how long has been struggling with these stupid thoughts? And why hasn't she even touched the translation she was supposed to be paid quite a lot for, just the amount of money she needed for this month's cosmetics, paying the bills, buying some new books and CDs, and the pocket money? Why was that bloody square still a priority.

The messenger beeped.

GreekCanuck: Are you there? I'm going nuts. My younger sister is panicking about university applications. i'm so glad i don't live at home right now. She's a scary person when she's stressed. Like, really, really scary! :s

xIseethroughUx: Can she be worse than me? I can scream at the top of my lungs, toss everything off the table on the floor and hit my head against something. I used to be like that if I couldn't solve a math problem or something like that.

GreekCanuck: That's my sister, with her calculus and physics.

xIseethroughUx: Exactly my symptoms. It included tossing a random item out of the window once, too...it was an alarm clock. I think it happened because of arrays. I still don't understand arrays.

GreekCanuck: At least it wasn't something more important....like a laptop. What'd your parents do?

xIseethroughUx: They calmly told me that I have not studied enough.

GreekCanuck: That's unfortunate. Parents never realise how much they mess up their kids. They always want to push their beliefs and their goals onto their kids and then they get depressed when the kid doesn't deliver and suddenly, it's the kids fault. On the other side, there are weird parents, such as my butcher's father. Today he hugged me and kissed me. I'm feeling uncomfortable with that.

xIseethroughUx: Are you sure that he doesn't, perhaps, think that you're coming there every day for him, and not for his son? That he doesn't think you're into older men?

GreekCanuck: I don't know. I really don't know anything anymore. By the way, are you coming to the lecture tomorrow? You disappeared right before we got in last week.

xIseethroughUx: Understand it...I was not able to face him after the whole thing with the square. And then the secretary called our landline to ask where I was. So embarrassing. This time dad will give me a lift. Who knows what he and mom thought I was doing; while in reality, I was at McDonald's for three hours, eating my brains out.

GreekCanuck: Isolation has never done anybody any good. But wait, whom am I telling this to? I have not seen anyone over the course of these six days, other than the cashiers at the supermarket, my butcher and his dad. Oh yes, I visited the old lady next door once. I don't know...anyway, see you tomorrow, it's getting late. If you arrive there before me, claim OUR seats.

xIseethroughUx: Same if you arrive there before me, Eleni. Good night!

GreekCanuck: Night!

The next day, two friends arrived to the lecture at the same time. They were the first, as usual. Sometime later, Adam showed up.

"I've been looking for you, I really wanted us to talk!"

"Me?" asked Eleni, trying to stick a pack of ten eggs under one of the radiators."

"No, the friend of yours. But you...can imagine how interesting would it be if, under the heat of the radiators, chicks hatched from those eggs. Ten new lives, here with us. Wouldn't that be delightful?"

"Curiously enough, I told her something like that as well. And given that they are organic eggs, who knows? Either way, you and I were talking to each other the other day, when Wim interrupted us, right?"

"Yes, exactly. And I've wanted to tell you that each side of the square could stand for more than one idea. I was not right when I said that each of the sides could represent a phase of the process of sensation. Now I think that more ideas could exist in each side of the square, as well as in the entire square. They're the ideas that you can...that you can literally glue to the sides of the square. If it was made of wire and if each idea was hanging from a piece of rope, that would be a good analogy. Did you know that they make particularly strong ropes in some parts of the world?

With gleam in his eyes, Adam was quickly changing subjects without even noticing it. She has not befriended a guy ever since her best friend grew up and started chasing little hussies, scheduling up to three dates with them in a single day; but it seemed she could become friends with this particular guy. He was unusual, nothing like those swines who only thought about screwing.

"I liked your idea, Adam, but it looks like he changed his mind. I hope he didn't have a problem with my reaction. You see, I only THOUGHT it was a square, an illustration to the lecture that came before it, a perfect combination of emotions and word games. It can fit into anything and also fit into some of our own insights, perhaps into things we may write on our own at home. Wasn't the point of this to encourage people to have their own mind, their own originality and not to live for becoming carbon copies of Alberto Chelssi; and not to get every single thing he says as some sort of a mantra? There's one thing he needs to realise: that he can't stop people from wanting to analyse his ideas and theories, he's a professor after all, of course people will have their own interpretations of what he says and does, he said so himself once, as far as I can remember. The more intriguing and mystical he is, the more he will get analysed. It's in human nature and it has absolutely nothing to do with logic. Why is he bothered with us doing it? And one more thing - he doesn't want people to blindly follow him, yet when someone's obviously NOT blindly following him, he seems to be offended by that; instead of appreciating people who do take his words AS AN ADVICE, yet forming their own opinion. I don't get it...I really don't get it!"

"Now you're talking like him...you've said the same thing three times", said Eleni, jokingly. She was sitting on the floor next to the radiator, caressing the tops of eggs in now-open box, absent-mindedly. Has the handsome, dark-haired butcher picked each and single one of them with his own bare hands? She then looked on as her friend was talking to their colleague. Then Wim got into the classroom.

"I've been looking for the two of you! Last night, with help from my...uh...divine inspiration, I remembered something, related to that square!"

"Please, don't make it all about the Smurfs!"

"Smurfs? What Smurfs? I wanted to say that I can recall professor Chelssi once saying that he likes building stuff up from separate parts, part A and part B make C, that makes sense. That's something to take a part in. As my biological father always used to say, 'SURPRISE ME'. Such streams of thought should be a surprise to both the creator and the admirer of those creations. Surprise one's own self, surprise the others. That's the subconscious for you. And given all that, nobody is able to grasp what's real. Furthermore, my dear...the only advice anyone needs is already within them. I think Chelssi would agree."

"Wim, I do agree that the advice is inside of us, but many of us are really lacking common sense when it comes to ourselves, we are not able to have a look at what we're doing from somebody else's point of view. Many of us see ourselves as worst people in the world, usually because of the way we were brought up, we often bear our own burden of doubt on our backs, our own cross, the weight of which makes us wonder if we're right or wrong, way too often."

She took a short break, sighed, put her arms down and continued, starring at some faraway, blinking light through the window.

"..In other words, sometimes you need somebody...someone else to tell you what you can find inside of you. At least that's what it's like with me. That doesn't mean idolising somebody, that doesn't mean taking every single thing they say as the one, only and universal truth; that's just accepting the way they see the world and it may or may not lead you to a sensation of your own. I guess my approach is untypical and a bit harder to explain. Sorry if I confused you."

Wim did get confused for a moment and scratched his head. Now all four of them were standing at the window, looking at that unstable light which kept on turning itself on and off without any sense and order, whatsoever.

"I hope I would be correct in assuming that, by 'advice', you mean learning. That would clarify much of what you've just talked about. Sorry, I'm a sucker for clearly defined terms. Sometimes I think that the professor is telling all of his stories automatically, that it's a very important part of his approach, to let the words flow. And to somebody else, all of that could be a complete, total, worthless nonsense. Who knows, if he sees all of this as his personal catharsis, there's a chance he might be feeling guilty if somebody is taking something of their own from it, like a moral of their own story..."

"I guess I do mean learning. If someone gives me a proper heads-up, a proper clue for something, I am not going to do exactly what they're saying; but I'm going to find my own way of doing it."

Someone coughed behind the four of them at the window. It was professor Chelssi. Should they ask him when he got into the classroom, how much of this has he overheard? She wished she could just fall into the ground. She grabbed Eleni by hand, Adam soon followed them. The professor remained alone with Wim at the window. He got a packet of cigarettes out and offered him one without saying a single word. Wim refused, the cigarettes were just not IT. Professor shrugged and lit it up. Wim noticed Efraim, the guy with the camera, said hello to him and went over to talk to him.

After he'd finished his cigarette, professor Chelssi knocked on the whiteboard a couple of times. All the students who were still in front of the classroom got in and sat down.

"Today I will give you another lecture over the process of sensation..."

"ON the process of sensation, dammit, he annoys me so much sometimes..." she mumbled, through her teeth. She felt as if he just looked at her angrily, for a moment.

"Another lecture over the process of sensation. As you can see, we have two parts of the lecture on the whiteboard - an introduction on the essence of sensation and essence of sensation."

When did he manage to write all that? For how long had he been in the classroom, while the four of them were standing at the window, looking at that stupid light, almost certainly resting on the top of the spike of that stupid suspended bridge? Has the inauguration of that black man started already? What has that tennis player done at the opening day of the tournament in Australia? Darn, why is her brain wandering around, why is it running from through? Professor Chelssi overheard their conversation and she was now an even bigger fool than she was after that thing with the square! Even with all that taken into consideration, she cannot keep quiet, she just cannot keep quiet...

"Eleni...any idea what we need the introduction to the lesson for? Couldn't he have put it all together, as a single lecture with two subtitles? Either way, the introduction does not make any sense, he'll probably repeat what he said in the introduction a couple of time during the crucial part of the lecture...he's a great lecturer, but he's not good with organising his lectures, he's really, really not good at it!"

Eleni hasn't responded a thing. Adam was trying to signal something with his hands from his seat, but she didn't see him. Professor Chelssi approached the desk, leaned over it, his hands on the edge of it and coughed. As if they were under his command, both girls put their hands on their laps. Eleni was calm, her friend was messing with the ends of her sweatshirt, and she felt something pulsing through her thigh, like some kind of an electricity. Then she sneezed.

"I would like to ask the students to be a bit more quiet. I'm reminding you that the master studies are not for everybody, just for those who are interested. No, I'm not telling anybody to leave the class, I'm just telling you to pay more attention to it. It is obvious that you wanted to be here...so, act according to your own will."

He went back to the whiteboard and deleted the first part.

"So, we're switching over to the lesson itself....Nunc in malesuada sem. Vivamus convallis nisi quis augue elementum eget pulvinar risus sollicitudin. Cras eget dolor dolor, ullamcorper bibendum nunc. Maecenas imperdiet eros tempus odio sollicitudin bibendum. Aliquam in quam nec felis tincidunt sodales. Phasellus ultrices, erat quis pharetra vestibulum, elit tellus tincidunt massa, in pharetra leo augue quis justo. Cras venenatis nisl nec quam rhoncus ornare. Pellentesque rutrum, dolor a luctus fringilla, neque nulla dictum velit, quis faucibus dui orci eu nisi. Maecenas semper dui at erat aliquet egestas. Nam nisl orci, accumsan sed rhoncus varius, fermentum at nisi. Mauris placerat eros quis ante sollicitudin nec accumsan quam sagittis...."

Not only that she was not able to follow once again and that all of his words were turning into a nonsense, but her other leg started pulsating as well. A couple of times, she sighed loudly, as she was feeling short of breath. The words kept on getting slower and slower, flowing into something that resembled tapes listened to over and over again, turning into ghosts' chants on a cassette player the head of which had not been cleaned for a long time. He's messing with her mind. He really is messing with her mind. It's like that book about a little girl who was telling a lot of lies, so her father and brother started turning all her lies into truth...in the end, she saw a bear and at the same time her brother had disguised himself as a bear...she couldn't remember the ending at all, but she was hoping that the little girl was not strangled by the bear. Professor Chelssi could never be a bear. He's not hairy. Had he been hairy, hairs would be peeking out of his shirt, as it was the case with that infamous butcher of Eleni's, his skin tone ould be dark, not varying from deadly pale to baby-rose as it does. And what's a bear with glasses, wearing an argyle-patterned pullover, anyway? God damn them rhomboids! They're closely related to squares! And he's so handsome in that sweater, if only he would smile. On the first class of the first semester, he leaned over to her and smiled. She bent backwards, his eyes lightened up and he came even closer to her. She probably left the wrong impression on him, of some mad little girl who was secretly listening to the lectures at the university, because she was so silly and passionate, and she was wearing a cartoon-themed T-shirt. Green. Made of viscose. Yikes, she will never, ever wear that around him again. Perhaps she looked as if she was throwing herself at him? That T-shirt is really accenting the lines of the body...even though it's high around the neck, if she's wearing that one cane easily say that she's got perky breasts. No. She should be dressing in a way so he couldn't even make sense of her body! From tomorrow on, she will be wearing different trousers and she will never, ever be wearing viscose again. Now, if these heart palpations would only stop...she was used to sweating and having her heart beat only slightly faster when he would approach them, but...but...but...this probably had nothing to do with him being cute, yet never telling her bravo, super or...ouch!

"I would like to ask you to come here on Friday as well. I'm not yet sure what we'll be talking about, it's an extra class; but we have to respect the plan and program. Thank you for your attention, have a good evening!"

Okay, he actually THANKED us, which he never does...but how come he finished the lecture so fast?

The following night, after Efraim had sent her the audio file as she promised to transcribe it all, she was astonished to see how much of it really is there, how complex and demanding it is. She was cursing herself for not having enrolled in some other faculty, where one could study exclusively from home. All of this was making much more sense when she was reading it slowly, bit by bit. And the transcribed lecture was so much better than the notes, you get to hear more, you get to hear it all...and by the way the professor was saying it, you know what the important parts are - he would cover them in a single breath. When he would stutter, that means he was struggling to find the right words himself. And he's so handsome when he's stuttering, to top it off. He's got those luscious, full lips, although they are unusually pale...as if, as if somebody put a couch covered with red leather outside in wind and snow and left it there for a while. Together with those olives...how come that someone so beautiful, so much angel-like, can be so cruel? Maybe...maybe if she wasn't so embarrassed to actually exist whenever he was around, if she could keep her mouth shut, maybe they could be friends, maybe they could discuss things over and be equal to each other? But no, that was not going to happen. Men hang out with younger girls only when they're smitten by them, and then they lack common sense...whatever the one who takes their heart is like, they would see her as somebody above the average and in reality, she will only be a prop, filling a hole in their free time...but whatever such a girl does, it will be insignificant compared to what somebody who bothers them is doing...somebody who bothers them the way she bothers him with her sole existence! Terrible, terrible, terrible! How to wash that hallmark away, without skinning yourself alive? Ow, the TRANSLATION. It has to be done by morning. She'd better start working right away!

On the other side of the city, professor Chelssi was sitting in his study, starring at the laptop as if that wicked appliance was interrogating him about a committed crime, as if he was its only suspect. Technology was so frustrating to him sometimes. Hadn't it been mandatory to prepare notes and upload them to the e-learning platform, he would've never got to the point where he was right now. The file was stuck. He hated Vista, the worst operating system ever made.

Kyra entered the room, wearing nothing but a a robe.

"Pretzel, I have filled the bathtub, there's enough space for two. Care to join me?"

"Sure...but I've got no idea on what kind of a lecture to give to these kids tomorrow. And these lectures are very meaningful to them, I wouldn't want to turn up there and stare at the ceiling for one hour and thirty minutes. At the same time, this is a big achievement for me. I never thought I would be teaching, I think I already told you that I have a problem when it comes to speaking in public?

"Yes, you did. You also told me that your students are a bit..."

"...obsessed? Indeed they are. I should be used to that by now, but I am not. Years of research have done their thing, people are reading what you have written without paying much attention to the matter, they find something to identify with and they create some topsy-turvy image of the man who's hiding behind the lines written. From that moment on, nothing I could say would matter to them, because it doesn't fit into the image they have of me. What I am the way I am is not what they take me for!"

Silence. They both were thinking.

"And again, there are people such as that little blabbermouth I already told you of, who try to rise above from it all, but they're forcing themselves to do so. She's aware that the approach most of her colleagues are taking is wrong, but her problem is that she wants to form a different picture, a different way to approach it all, long before her mind has managed to connect it all, she wants to christen a ship that hasn't been built, a ship that exists only in two dimensions on paper. I have never seen anything like that, nor I know what I am to do. The worst thing is that her reputation of a loud know-it-all appears to be causing everybody else to believe everything she says. if I was to say that the sky is blue and she then said that it was blue-violet, guess what would remain in their minds?"

"That the sky was blue-violet?"

"Precisely!"

"Well, may it be blue-violet, then!", Kyra winked.

He put his hand in hers and let her walk him to the bathroom. While she was rubbing the soap on his back, he was starring at that same blinking light on the top of the suspended bridge through the window, the very same light his students were starring at from the window of the classrooms where he was giving his lectures, on the other side of the city. The light was as irritating, as unstable from this side and it was bothering him. At the same time, he couldn't stop looking at it. How could something so irritating be so interesting? And what colour should that light be, either way?

"EUREKA!" he screamed out loud, splashing so intensely that the soap bubbles started flying all around the bathroom.

Then his mood changed and he smiled.

The following evening, the class gathered again. Professor Chelssi was observing them.

"Here's that guy with the rastafari knit hat again, next to him is the one with a pointy nose and a camera. There's that big-boned blonde woman, there's that man who's significantly older than me, yet he's coming to listen to my lectures. There's that young chap with a smile on his face, who loves the entire world, doesn't know anything and knows it all at the same time. In the front row, there's the dark-haired girl with a large chunk of something that looks like mortadella next to her notebook, and next to her, there's that little girl. She looks as if she had been up all night, the dark circles underneath her eyes are so widely-spread that it seems she could nibble on them. She never seemed so absent-minded, even I seem more present in the current day and time than her at the moment!

While the professor was closing the windows, as icy rain started to fall, Eleni addressed her friend.

"Have you managed to finish that translation? Are you going to get paid for that?"

"Don't ask me...I feel as if I was tricked into driving a truck carrying biohazard substances over a tight wire. If I had not died today, I will never die. I wouldn't even come to the lectures today, but they're professor Chelssi's ones. I woke up at 2.30 PM, jumped under the shower, brushed my teeth and ran over here, my heart in my heels.

"What really matters is that you made it, eventually! You know, I spent the whole last evening talking to the butcher. He's perfect, he really is! He told me that he's still in love with his ex-girlfriend, but that he could not return to her. He also asked me if I would proof-read his autobiography, since I'm so educated?"

"Whoa, Eleni, he's perfect, indeed!"

"Whom are you talking about now? My manly butcher or our sweet, clumsy professor?"

"Both of them are perfect, of course...but in this particular case, it's the butcher!"

The usual chit-chat suddenly died of, so this time the girls didn't even manage to giggle or throw in some subtle comment regarding the professor's backside, or the lack thereof, depending on which one of them would be talking about it. The silence was more unpleasant than ever. The professor was standing by the whiteboard, smiling broadly, after so many lectures where he wasn't in such a good mood. He took his scarf off.

"Today I'll be telling you about a square!"

He drew four lines on the whiteboard, just like he had previously done in that class over two weeks ago, but this time he clearly wrote 'SQUARE' right above it.

"So, this is a square that depicts the process of sensation described in my lectures. I do not feel that the constant re-reading of notes and transcripts from my lectures is necessary in order to understand the point. This is just my way of offering something to those of you who are interested."

Everybody frenetically clapped their hands. He was looking at them, more curious than he was ever before, or after. Wim seemed confused, his face was in a cram, but the packet in his pocket will probably help him forget this in a dark alley behind the faculty building, after the classes. Adam was not smiling. He kept on looking to the left, then to the right. Eleni was laughing with her hands on her mouth, so her resonant laughter was turning into spitting on that unlucky chunk of mortadella.

Her friend, however, had turned a whiter shade of pale. She was rubbing her hands and blowing into them, as if she was suddenly feeling very cold. Then she covered her face with her hands. He could not see the look on her face. He was expecting her to laugh at herself, or be slightly embarrassed because she was somewhat cute when she was embarrassed. At the point when he added quotation marks around the word "SQUARE", when he gave that insignificant shape a name first given to it by her, classified it, categorised it the way she did it in a hurry that night; it seemed as if he had sucked in everything that was left of her childhood, all of which was previously glued to her chubby cheeks and braided into her messily tied hair. She grew up, all of the sudden. Has she had that narrow, barely visible line on her forehead before? Impossible! How come he never noticed she was a grown-up person before? A grown-up person with a twisted picture of the world around her, a grown-up person with severe panic attacks? Look at those sad, huge eyes...she's got to be at least twenty-five years old!

But she's a students. All students are...students. They need to study. And learn their lessons, eventually. If we were all on a ship and survived a shipwreck he would not be on the same boat as them, the students. The further his own studies were, the more and more he felt a connection with these people. Gosh, is that girl crying?

He said good night to the class and went outside really fast. The only people who remained in the classroom were the two girls from the front row.

"Sometimes he's so cute...honestly, even cuter than my butcher!" said Eleni.

"I think he has a problem with me."

"How did you deduce this?"

"It was me who called that square a square."

"True, that"

"WHAT KIND OF A GAME IS THIS?"

"You are asking the wrong person. I can't figure out the game that's going on between myself and my butcher, let alone the game that's going on between you and professor Chelssi. Maybe you're really good at interpretting his thoughts?"

"I...I think I am!"

"This was a good sign. And obviously, he does not hate you."

"A good sign?"

"Yes, now you guys are communicating. It's an unconventional form of communication!"

"But why...now I finally understand the hidden meaning between that famous phrase, 'be careful what you wish for'..."

"This is a step forward, you have advanced in your communication. I'm happy for you!"

"But why is he doing this to me?"

"He's probably trying to let you know that he acknowledges your existence? He's got to be too shy to invite you to sit down with him after the class, so he could tell you where he thinks you're wrong and what's good about your overall reasoning."

"There's no use comforting me over this...you sure know that this is not it, just as much as I do!"

"Really...I'm annoyed by the way he's been, too. Why couldn't the two of you just be friends? Just like my butcher. If he wants to have sleep with me, he should just tell me. I'm all for it! Autobiography-schmautobiography!"

"I don't know where to draw the line anymore."

"I wouldn't know that, either. Maybe it really wasn't a square, but he didn't know how to call it, until you said it was a square? You helped him out! That's why it's a 'square' and not a square..."

"This is making me me so weak in my knees. I don't know how to explain this anymore. My heart won't stop racing. I adore professor Chelssi and I despise him at the same time, but I admire so much and...I hate him so much..."

"I think that's the right way to describe it. Be proud of yourself. I have to head to have dinner with a friend of my dad's and his wife, they had no idea I lived in their city until recently. Come on, pack your bag and go home. Cheer up."

From that moment on, everything was like a large blur, slowly spilling over everything.

She grabbed her coat and the umbrella, she walked out of the classroom, backwards, colliding with a couple of students in the hall. She spent the afternoon and the evening, which almost didn't differ at this time of the year, dragging her feet along the darkest parts of the city centre, occasionally stopping by a grocery store to buy a bottle of water, gummy and jelly candies. She was never craving such kids' treats as much before. Icy rain was falling all along, without hesitating, skipping the moment when the raindrops are visible right before they hit the ground, fall apart and start forming concentric circles. Maybe it was going to rain forever? Maybe it was not raining over anybody else, maybe he had her own dark cloud following her everywhere she was going? Her delicate straw of utopia bit her back, slapped her upside her face in return; therefore anything was possible from that moment on. Has that this happened to anybody before, she wondered to herself? Should she tell everybody about it? Should she protest? No, that would not be like her. Should she break away from everything, head over heels? No, that wouldn't be like her, either? What would be like her, anyway? Whatever she would do, it would be a trap, it would be a desperate yell for a bit of attention...and wasn't this attention already? Unwanted, wrong, obscure, sinister, but still, attention?

She came back home, her hair messier than ever, with a hood over her hat. Her mother said that she looked like a plant that was watered way too much. Would that mean she was rotting? She was coughing, but there was no phlegm, it was the dry cough. He legs were still pulsating and they were not showing any signs of stopping. She lied down, taking off her coat and shoes only, curled up on the couch, under the blinking light of the lamp and the bridge that was visible from her balcony as well. She fell asleep and dreamed that she bumped into professor Chelssi as he was taking out the trash, that she introduced herself and that he responded: "Yes, sadly, it's you. What are we going to do about it?" to which she screamed: "WILL YOU EVER COME TO REALISE THAT I'M NOT AN IDIOT?"

That last thing, she seemed to have yelled out loud, as her mother was standing by the couch, shaking her. She felt that she owed an explanation to both her and her father, as he always had to know every single thing. She told them what happened.

"There are far worse things in this life. Today they killed some children in Norway and Belgium at the same time, and you don't know anything about it, because you aren't interested in the current events at all. Your father will probably have better advice for you."

"Daddy...?"

"Your doings are futile, my child. You could die and he still would not give you what you want."

And what is it that she wants?

Novela je prevedena sa srpskog i objavljena na mom drugom blogu. Original možete pročitati klikom na ovaj link

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