Emma: An Exercise in Using Rare Words in a Short Story

By Barry B. Wright

Emma took in a deep breath before opening the door to Stoddard Hall. Her first time attending a cocktail party, she felt nervous. Other than her boyfriend, Andrew, and perhaps a few professors, she would not know anyone present. Andrew’s university, located in the city, was located on a much larger campus than the one she had attended. Though her university had a laudable reputation it had not yet arrived at the world academic status that his had achieved. Inside Stoddard Hall, her eyes gorged on the multiple plaques and portrait paintings lining the walls of its gothic cathedral-styled interior. Monachopsis began to take hold of her; she felt like a fish out of water. She would have backed out of this place had she not promised Andrew that she would attend. Where is he?! She wondered, peering at her watch. I’m on time!  Her search momentarily settled on the full-length mirror on the wall beside her and she took a moment to adjust her hair and dress slightly.

She credited herself with being a keen observer and rightly so since her PhD was in human behaviour. On the outside looking in, it took very little effort on her part to discern that concentration (or lack of) within each group darted here and there oblivious to the usual etiquette of social intercourse. In other words, the room was a chattering mixture of anecdoche pods of deaf-eared conversations where everyone was too preoccupied in their own thoughts.

Her digital watch marked the passage of time painfully slow. She retrieved a vodka martini with three olives lined along a plastic sabre-styled stir stick from a nearby table. Surprised by how thirsty and hungry she was she downed it quickly and went for more. By her third glass, time began to skip along nicely as zenosyne had settled in.

Fixed in place and supported by a pillar, she attempted fruitlessly to focus her thoughts. The lub-dub-lub-dub-lub-dub pounding in her right ear made her aware of her increasing rubatosis. Anxiety? She mused. Probably. A hand gently brushed against hers. Startled she turned. “Andrew?” she slurred. “Where have you been?”  She felt like slapping him but the opia effect from the intensity of his blue eyes neutralized that thought and kairosclerosis overwhelmed her. Unable to contain herself, she wrapped her arms tightly around him, her martini glass smashing on the floor.

“Wow! You’ve never greeted me quite like that before.”

Silence like a wet blanket had settled over the hall as all eyes stared in their direction.

“Here, come with me,” he said.

“But the broken glass.”

“Someone will take care of it.”

He took her to the library off the main hall and closed the door. For a moment she paused, closed her eyes, and inhaled the odour of leather studded wingchairs and couches. Her gaze took in the walls of mahogany bookshelves filled tight with old-leather bound titles both prolific and profound. Vellichor enhanced it all at a momentous pace. It felt like home, similar to the old used bookstores she frequented, suitable for a PhD and accomplished author as she. This was where she felt most comfortable.

He kissed her and she him. They stayed long enough for her to caressingly run her fingers along the spine of every book.

Exiting the building, umbrella up, walking as one under its protection, laughing, happy and very much in love, and holding adomania at bay, they leisurely splashed playfully through the puddles into their future