The White Space – Y. Robles

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“Do you even exist under that flannel shirt?” Emmy laughed out the line of the poem. Grace sat stiffly beside her, wondering if the laugh was a good sign, but watching Emmy laugh was a prize in itself. It had been a full semester and Grace still hadn’t been able to nail down what was so elusive about Emmy. Her style was as cool as you could possibly get while still maintaining professionalism. She looked like a Fair-Trade Gap Model, but with a softer body and glasses that accentuated her sophistication. She seemed like one of those people whose thoughts flow out eloquently and whose intelligence wasn’t watered down by communication. In their class discussions Grace envied this as she tried to string together the thoughts that seemed to become a mess of half-thoughts whenever her tongue became involved. Writing had become the perfect solution and the perfect cop out. She could be tongue-less if she could write. When Emmy announced to the class that she would be holding her last office hours of the semester, Grace felt like she was looking right at her in a pulling way that said “figure me out.”

When Emmy finished the poem she leaned back. “I can really picture this, like you’re standing on the lawn with some frat boy.”

“Hmmmphh,” Grace attempted a half-laugh to be polite but felt contempt for the fact Emmy thought she was the “frat-boy” kind of girl. The poem was a sonnet with symbolism of a guitar being tuned by someone breaking the heart of the instrument. It was cliche, but there was something comforting in cliche to Grace. Like writing poems about broken love or developing a schoolgirl crush. Grace pulled at the sleeves of her blue and white striped shirt and tucked her fingers over the fabric.

“I think you just have a lot going on here with the symbolism of the guitar and music and the title doesn’t really tie into that.”

“Oh yeah. I’m in a camera class and I think I just became obsessed with the idea of shallow focus,” Grace rambled off with her eyes to the ground, sparking a lapse in the conversation. Emmy nodded slowly and scrolled down the pad of Grace’s laptop and arrived at the top of the next poem.

“Mermaid.”

“Mhmm.” A look ran across Emmy’s face as she began scanning the lines on screen. It was a look of intrigue or maybe of discomfort, Grace still couldn’t quite pin her down. It seemed to take her forever to finish. Grace turned her face back to the screen and read through it herself to measure the amount of time it could be read. The tension that was building in her body became paralyzing as she started to read it over the second time and Emmy remained quiet and unreadable.

“It’s good!” she said in a voice that was higher than Grace had ever heard it reach. “I think you could do a little bit more with the imagery in the beginning but it’s a really strong first draft,” she turned to Grace with a tight smile. Grace let her wide eyes hit the ground and began to nod.

“Okay, awesome. Thank you.” She looked up again and met Emmy’s blank face.

“Was there anything else you wanted to go over?” she asked softly, but also to indicate their time should be coming to a close.

“Nope, that was it.” Grace folded down the screen of her laptop and loaded her things into her backpack. She lifted herself out of the chair and started towards the door.

“Good luck with your portfolio,” Emmy called out as she was leaving.

“Thank you,” Grace attempted a smile and caught a last look at the green and blue mermaid tattoo on the inside of Emmy’s arm.

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