Female Education
  Flash Fiction by Rita Ciresi
  Four Ways of Looking at a Wife Some Things You Can Ask Me Burned Lowlands
Disposal Bargains Office Party Old Flames On His Way to American History
Through the White & Drifted Snow Imaginative Writing Notes for a Very Long Love Story Female Education Maybe the Mermaids

  About the Author  |  echapbook.com  |  Summer 2019 Fiction Issue

Imaginative Writing

Her interview began well. She was punctual. Appropriately dressed. Had a firm handshake. Aced the interview team’s standard questions: Tell us about your dissertation. Tell us how you teach first-year composition. Tell us about your leadership experience.

The candidate assured the interview team she would give the English Department her all. 4/4 teaching load? Heavy-duty committee work? Bring it on! She’d be thrilled to serve as faculty sponsor of the literary magazine. Honored to run the reading series. Eager to visit high school recruitment fairs.

All proceeded smoothly until the department chair said, Tell us how you would teach our beginning creative writing course.

The candidate got a dreamy look in her eye. She said she wanted to inspire her students to write about tangerines and lighter fluid. Coconuts and cobras. Wax paper. The smelliest outhouse at Girl Scout camp. Metallurgy. Ursa major, ursa minor. Women who wore bee pins and dragonfly pendants. Shredded wheat.

The candidate wanted her students to write about the oddest animals in the zoo—lemurs and Komodo dragons and sad-eyed orangutans—because imaginative writing was weird, you know? Creative writers needed to be bold. Be confident. Go where Admiral Byrd and Roald Amundsen and Ernest Shackleton had dared to go: onto the ice, lads and lassies!

The candidate folded her hands in her lap and rested her case.

 The department chair cleared his throat. I’m afraid our time is up, he said. We’ll be in touch.

Confident she had left a lasting impression, the candidate went off in search of a celebratory latte.

The interview team recorded their impressions.

The rhetorician typed into his iPhone: loose cannon.

The Victorianist penned on his legal pad: Ph.D. in creative writing=complete B.S.

The department chair, who always had the final word, scribbled BAT SHIT CRAZY and crossed the candidate off his list.

Five minutes later, there was a knock on the conference room door and in came the next candidate. In his tweed jacket and horn-rimmed glasses, he looked perfectly professorial. He did not speak of lighter fluid or polar expeditions or zoos. He spoke of learning outcomes and assessment methods and the importance of helping students understand audience and purpose.

The department chair stifled a yawn. His eyes glazed over, then blinked, as outside the conference room window all manner of fearsome creatures—hippopotami, wildebeests, and wombats—floated down from the sky like snowflakes.

  © Rita Ciresi, 2019

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