Grading Papers

He picked up her expository essay with a spark of renewed interest in grading papers. As he fingered the edges of the stapled pages, he noticed blood. A paper cut. “Figures!”

She was always the one among his students to cause him problems. She was also the creator of curiosity in his class. He sometimes wished she’d never signed up for the course, that he’d never laid eyes on her, but at the same time he found her processing methods fascinating. Where did she come up with the stuff she poured onto paper and handed to him at the end of each semester? She had a dark mind, he knew, and an intriguing one, as well.

Had she been better at spinning tales, she might have been able to bring some elucidation to his mind through her writings, but he didn’t believe her. What she tried to sell as real–what some believed to be prophetic–he approached as fantasy. He bandaged the finger tip that had garnered his attention a moment before, and cautiously returned to the paper that he knew would hold his attention now for the better part of an hour.

“What if all we know about those creatures that roamed the earth so long ago is fantasy, and the reality is something much more bizarre? What if the truth is that two dynamos of creation, one grander than the other at the end but both as determined throughout the process, were the architects of those monsters that walked among us? What if all earthly knowledge proved insufficient for determining correct conclusions about such things? What if the myth of science was wrong, and there was something more sinister at play in the creation of our world?”

Okay, she had his interest, but only in a pulp fiction sort of way. He read on.

“What if, one designer looked upon the creations of the other with a hideous sense of jealousy?  What if, in a fit of rage, this second, lesser engineer set out to replicate the actions of the first, but failed? What if the dark nature of the lesser made it impossible for him to create anything of beauty, and what if his jealousy would not allow him to stop working out the plans he had to best his fellow?  Would it not make sense that in his endless attempts to create something dazzling, yet stifled by his dark nature, he might fashion the horrific? And being frustrated in every way, might he not refuse to give in, and instead continue on creating bent, misshapen, and  grotesque  facsimiles of those divinely inspired inhabitants of the garden?”

A trickle of cold sweat was forming on that area above the professor’s upper lip.  He was envisioning bodies broken by disease or mishapenned from the womb. He was remembering that treacherous tale authored by Mary Shelly.  He was imagining the evil that walked streets free every day, in every corner of the world he knew; a world that faine safety, but was revealed to be anything but safe on the nightly news.  He could not refute the supposition she made that evil existed.  He’d seen it operating in his own home, his own marriage, the life of his own drug-addled son.  Evil was real, and while her propositions about origins was not something he could believe, he did believe in its presence.

He returned to grading a paper he knew was going to keep him up tonight.

“What if the lesser, trying as he might to create beauty, could never reach beyond a foundation of pain,  ugliness, and dark, unreasoning flesh?  What if what came out of the magician’s hat was only wickedness, stupidity, and detraction?  What kind of menacing rage would be unleashed upon the earth then?”

 

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