I was 17. I was a poet. I was frustrated.
You know how there's always one person you respect and are just awe-struck by? My high school English teacher was said person. And said person was ripping on a piece I'd re-written too many times to count at his request.
"Show. Don't tell."
"But how do I show without telling?"
"Use your images. Show me the cliff. Show me the snow."
"But how do I - "
"Just show me."
I stood here now, thinking about the countless times I'd been here before. He in his chair, I in my sneakers, with the desk between us. He'd always lean his elbows on the desk, whatever piece of work I'd given him stretched between his slender fingers as he read. His lips had the habit of pursing themselves while he did that. And his blue eyes that could cut glass would soften when he'd lean back in this chair, put his hands behind his head and stare me down. It was like a game for us. Who would cave first?
And then that damned dialogue. Short, relentless, and unyielding.
Countless times I'd walked away, countless times I'd reread his penciled in comments, countless times I'd uttered strings of profanities (sometimes in different languages) and threw out the originals, scribbling down a new version. I'd almost always miss the trashcan though, the wad of tempered trees bouncing to the floor with an almost inaudible thud.
Now I stood before him, he leaning back in his disarming pose, me staring him down defiantly. I swear a I saw a bemused glimmer behind those rectangular glasses of his.
The trash bag made a soft rustle as the printer spit out strings of letters and words.