Amanda is studying for her college admission test. What strange words they use!
My story today features seven words from “Word of the Day” posts on my fellow blogger/writer athling2001‘s blog.
- mystagogue – one who understands or teaches mystical doctrines
- psithurism – whisper of wind in the trees, noise of leaves that move in the wind
- habromania – a form of delusional insanity in which the imaginings assume a cheerful or joyous character
- cunctation -procrastination; delay
- pultaceous – macerated; softened; nearly fluid
- hiraeth – homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past
- bodement – an omen; portent; prognostic; a foreshadowing
The tutor was late again. Amanda waited at the table in the Wayward Coffeehouse off Roosevelt Way in Seattle, where the back half of the room was taken up, as always, by role-playing gamers. This was haven for SFers and geeks – not that she minded, but she didn’t think she needed a tutor anyway.
She’d told her mother she wanted to review for the SAT using online tools, like her friend Emmanuel had suggested. He was one year ahead of her, and that’s what he had done, and he gotten great scores on the college entrance test. He was going to Yale or Berkeley – still hadn’t made the decision.
But all this had fallen on deaf ears, as her mother had insisted, “No, a tutor will be much more efficient.” So her mother had found this guy, who turned out to be an overworked, underpaid graduate student at the local university. Teaching too much, not getting his own research done, tutoring college exam prep was just a sideline “so I can fund my music,” he had said. So far she hadn’t been impressed.
She took out the list of words he had given her “to review” last week. Some of them didn’t make any sense. And they didn’t look at all like the words Emmanuel had shown her in his review material. Mystagogue – a guru. Psithurism – a wind whisper. Hapromania – delusions of cheerfulness.
Huh? These didn’t even make sense.
She looked around hopefully as the door opened behind her. But it was just another one of the gamers, who made a beeline for the back table and joined the throng of cheerful and chatty people already immersed in Dungeons and Dragons or something like that.
Cheerful and chatty. She almost wanted to join them. But she went back to the list of words, dutifully writing the word, a definition, and a sentence using the word, to reinforce the meaning in her memory.
Cunctation – procrastination. Pultaceous – softened texture, like well-chewed food. Ugh. hiraeth – homesickness, nostalgia for the places of your past.
If only he would get here – no, if only he would not show up. Then she could go home and tell her parents that the tutor had skipped. Maybe they would dismiss him, and she might be able to persuade them to let her do the online review she wanted to.
The door opened. But she didn’t look up this time. She’d copy out the few words left on the list, and if the tutor had not arrived by that time, she would pack up and go home.
Energized, she quickly copied down the words and their meanings. She would come back to the sentences when she had the list written – going over them a second time would help her remember them, too.
She had just reached the last word, bodement – that was easy – an omen, like foreboding – when the tutor rushed up to the table, out of breath as usual. “Sorry,” he said. “My girlfriend just broke up with me and I couldn’t get out of the house on time to get here.”
Amanda’s heart sank. Really? He had to tell her about his personal life now?
“That’s okay,” she said half-heartedly. He unloaded his pack, took out his laptop, and said, “So, did you review the words I gave you last time?”
She held up the list.
“Oh no. Are those the words I gave you?” Flustered, he dug through his folders – he had six or seven in his pack that held various review sheets – and pulled out another sheet of paper, a dog-eared copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy page and handed it to her. “These are the right words. Those are for something else,” he said, taking back the review sheet she had been holding.
She’d wasted a week.
“I don’t know,” she said.
“No, I’m sure those are the right ones this time.” And it did say “SAT REVIEW WORDS” at the top of the page he just gave her.
He flipped open his laptop and powered it up. “Go ahead and get started on those words, and I’ll bring up the math worksheets I want to give you today.”
She hesitated. How did she know he hadn’t made another mistake?
Just then her phone bleeped – its text signal – “Sorry,” she told the tutor – and she grabbed the phone and clicked it to “vibrate.” But not before she caught a glimpse of the text that had come in. It was from Emmanuel. “Everything OK?” he asked.
No. Everything was not okay.
“I’m sorry,” she told the tutor. “I don’t think this is going to work out.”
“What? – Oh, did you bring the check?” he asked, looking up from his laptop.
She started putting her things into her backpack. “I’ve got to go,” she said.
“Oh. Well, I’ll text your mom about the check, then.” He looked confused. It wasn’t the first time, she thought.
Afterward she told her mom the whole story. “Really, Mom, I can do a better job preparing on my own. Emmanuel aced the test last year, and I’ll use the same stuff he did.”
Her mom still wanted to hire another tutor – “There are lots of students at the University looking for this kind of work -” but thankfully her dad overrode her mom and said, “Let it go, Carina. I’m sure Amanda can figure this out by herself.”
And she did.
Do you have those days when you’ve got time to write, but you don’t particularly feel like writing anything? I had one of those today. Per my #productivewriter series, I try to think about something that inspires me to write, not just write something dull. A new story? Nah. Something for my “little book” projects? Nope. A poem? Maybe, but … not really. Oh! Wait! I have not done my “word of the day” stories in a while. I’ll do one of those!
And then (of course), once I wrote the word-of-the-day story for this post, I felt like I was on top of the world. What else could I write? … and then I started working on another writing project.
Why is that? Hmmm … maybe writing this story reminded me of being a writer, that I can imagine things and characters and places, and that they can surprise me, even delight me. Yay!
As an aside, the Wayward Coffeehouse is a real place that some of our SF writing group meets at periodically. Do you ever try to write in a coffee shop? Are there favorite places you like to go for a hot beverage? Do you prefer more noisy, talkative places, or do you like quiet, thinking places?