It was the final semester of Calvin’s undergrad career. He only had two more business classes to complete, one final math class to breeze through, and he’d be done. Unfortunately, in order to keep his scholarships, he had to have a full schedule — 12 hours.
Jason had tried to talk him into another computers course. But the constant “you need to know this sort of thing for your future!” and “I can help you out! (for a price)” didn’t outweigh Calvin’s overwhelming dread of having to suffer through another semester of technology getting the better of him. He’d done that last year, and while it did yield a boyfriend, he was not willingly going through the experience again. He wanted a class that would be easy, low stress. He wanted a class he could breeze through, without a lot of thought required. He also wanted one that would fit in his schedule. In the end, he found his class:
He’d always made up stories as a kid. He had a great imagination — which he had recently gotten back, thankfully. It’s be cake. Writing was like riding a bike, surely he’d pick it up again. Or, maybe his dad’s bicycling was a better example: it was more work than reward, but darn it you just kept at it!
Their professor was a grad student, just a few years older than most of them. Due to the virtually nonexistent age gap, he dropped most of the formality and asked them to simply call him Christopher. This initial show of equality helped to break the ice greatly for Calvin who had been getting an increasingly hard knot in his stomach as the first day of classes approached. (Those stories from when he was a kid? Yeah — dinosaurs and aliens. How were the literary snobs in the English department going to pass him with that sort of material!)
It was an enjoyable class, not his favorite, but Calvin didn’t hate it. Writing, it turned out, was exactly like his dad’s bicycling experience. The brief feeling of butterflies when he got a paper back that wasn’t covered in red ink was not worth the countless hours of staring at the blank paper loaded in his typewriter while Jason played videogames loudly in the background, trading his usual “DIE! DIE! ALIEN SCUM!” for “I TOLD YOU SOOOO! AH-HA! TAKE THAT!”
Midway through the semester, they finally had an assignment that Calvin felt he could truly throw himself into working on. He wouldn’t be able to hit the keys fast enough.
They were to find an object in their dorm room or apartment that was very important to them — whether it be a concert ticket stub, a photo of a family member, or that t-shirt they’d not washed for three years — and describe it in detail. In such great detail that everyone in class was going to draw what they described. (That part Calvin wasn’t too excited about, but then –) Then, they would each present their item to the class and compare it to the drawings in order to test their descriptive skills.
Calvin knew just what “object” he was going to use. The minute he got back to the apartment, he pulled Hobbes down from his shelf in the bedroom and sat the stuffed tiger on the desk beside the typewriter. There was not enough paper in the world to put every hair on the toy’s head into great enough detail. That night, the “I told you so”s turned to “Hey, Hobbes wants to play Halo.”
“Hobbes is busy right now,” Calvin called back over than clank and ting of his typewriter.
The day of Calvin’s presentation, he packed Hobbes in only the most luxurious of paper bags and awaited his turn anxiously. Not only did all of his classmates’ illustrations match Hobbes almost to the last detail, but Christopher gave him an “Excellent job, Calvin” that made him smile in a way that Jason wouldn’t have approved of.
As the hour ended and Calvin set about gathering his things, Christopher stopped him for a moment. “Would you mind if I talked to you for a minute?”
“No, of course not.” Calvin stopped just short of packing Hobbes back in his bag.
“Where was it you’re from again?”
“Ohio, outside of Cleveland.”
“You know, I lived in the suburbs out there for a while when I was a kid. It was a little town called Chagrin Falls, we had a huge forest out past out house, it sounded a lot like where you grew up.”
“Are you kidding? That is where I grew up!”
“Really? Small world, huh? So… I was wondering, about your tiger there, Hobbes. How…” he searched for the right word. “How did you two come to know each other?”
Calvin puzzled at this for a moment, cocking his eyebrows in question. “I found him. Out in the woods.”
“Because you see, I used to haul all of my toys out there to play, and I actually misplaced a, well, a certain tiger, to be matter of fact.”
They both glanced over at the stuffed tiger in question. Although he could not move and his stitched-on face remained unchanging, both boys knew that the toy wore an expression that read, “Well, this is awkward…”