Can I Borrow Your Notes?

by Becoming Writer | 0 comments

By Tina Seward

Larry Hartford hadn’t been in class for a week, he had a test in two days, and he needed someone’s notes, fast.

He opened the door to Room 214, Dr. Charles Deffenbaugh’s Introduction to Archaeology class.  No matter how early Larry came, the dark-haired guy on the front row was always there first.  Larry knew three things about him:  his first name was Todd, he sat in front, and he said something in every class.  Maybe his notes would be decent.      

“Excuse me?”

Todd raised his head.  “Yeah?”

“Could I borrow your notes for last week?  I’ve been out of town.”

“That’s not my fault.”  Todd turned back to his notebook.  

Larry, annoyed, silently said a quick prayer for patience.  “I know.  But—“

“Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”  Todd didn’t look at Larry.

“My stepdad died last week,” Larry said.  “I got back from the funeral yesterday.”

Todd raised his head.  “And I should believe you because . . .?”

They were interrupted when Dr. Deffenbaugh entered the room.  He looked like a rumpled cross between Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein, but when he lectured, he didn’t come across as an unapproachable intellectual.  

“Good morning,” Dr. Deffenbaugh said.  “Larry, how are you?  Losing your stepfather so suddenly had to be difficult.”  He placed his briefcase and laptop on top of the desk at the front of the classroom.   

“Thank you, sir,” Larry said.

“How’s your mom?”

“She’s doing as well as can be expected.”

Larry noticed Todd looking at Dr. Deffenbaugh.  Then he heard a ring binder snap open.  

“Here.”  Todd shoved several pages of notes at Larry.  “You’d better bring them back before the test.”

“Thank you.”  Larry took the pages.  “Where can I leave these for you?”

“I’m in 317 Cook Hall.  Just shove them under the door.”

“I live there.  I’ll drop them off.”  Larry moved to the second aisle and sat behind Todd.

During class, Larry scribbled notes and listened as Dr. Deffenbaugh lectured on archaeological ethics.  Halfway through, he noticed that Todd hadn’t said anything.  He always talks at least once.  I hope he’s okay.  

When 8:50 rolled around and class ended, Larry picked up his books and shoved them into his backpack.  He looked up and saw Todd disappearing through the door.  

I’ll copy these notes at the library and get them back ASAP.  

Larry crossed the campus green, trotted up the library’s front steps and entered the door, shivering as the cool air hit his skin.  Ten minutes later, with the copies in his backpack, he followed the sidewalk towards Cook Hall.  By the time he got to his dorm, a sheen of light perspiration covered his skin.

He skipped the elevator and took the stairs to the third floor.  When he found room 317, he dropped his backpack on the floor, opened it, and retrieved Todd’s notes.  He bent over to push them under the door.  Then he heard vomiting.

He stood up.  He’d heard the same sound in his mother’s bathroom, right after the limousine came to take them to the funeral home.   She’d excused herself to the bathroom.  Then Larry heard the same sound that he was hearing now.

Larry rapped on the door.  “You okay?”

More vomiting.  Then, “Who’s there?”

“It’s Larry.  From Deffenbaugh’s class.  I brought back your notes.”

The door opened slowly.  Todd’s pale, sweaty face stared out.  

“You look awful!”  A faint smell of vomit came out of the room.  Todd leaned against the door frame.  

“I brought your notes.  Are you—sick?”

Todd spun away from the door and dashed for the small sink inside the room.  

Larry said, “I think you need to head for the health center.”

Todd rinsed his mouth out and spat into the sink.  “Okay,” he breathed.

“I’ll come with you,” Larry said.

Fortunately, Larry and Todd didn’t wait long at the health center. When Todd went back to see the nurse, Larry decided to wait for him.

Why do you care?  The guy was nasty to you.

Larry’s reaction surprised him.  Because he needs someone.  

When Todd came out, Larry asked, “What’s the verdict?”

“Stomach flu.”

Larry grimaced.  “I take it you’re going back to your room and back to bed?”

Todd nodded.  

“Let me come back with you.”

“If you want.”

They walked back together, managing to make it back to Todd’s room without Todd throwing up.  

“I can take care of myself from here.”  Todd unlocked his door, and as he opened it, he staggered slightly.  He dropped his keys on the table in the room, then stretched out on his bed.

Larry looked around the room.  Books sat neatly on the small shelves in the room.  On the table lay a pad of paper, next to a small container that held pencils and pens.  Larry saw no food and guessed that Todd ate at the cafeteria.  

He’s not going to have the energy to get to the cafeteria.  

Larry glanced over at Todd.  His eyes were shut and if he wasn’t asleep, he would be soon.  Larry left the room and softly closed the door.

He climbed two flights of stairs and unlocked the door to room 524.  Once there, his eyes swept the area.  His stuff, and his roommate’s stuff, tended to mingle together because neither of them were very organized.  But even among the disarray, Larry found what he wanted—a small hot pot that he’d brought with him. He used it to heat food when he didn’t want to go to the cafeteria.  Cans of soup, chili, and Spam sat next to the hot pot.  Dishes that had been washed but not yet put away sat on the table.

Larry selected two cans of chicken noodle soup, a bowl and spoon, and the hot pot.  Then he left the room.  

Back on the third floor, he opened Todd’s door and slipped inside.  Todd had crawled under the covers.  His clothes lay in a pile besides his bed.  

Larry put the soup, bowl, and hot pot on the table.  He took a pen from the container and scrawled a note on the pad of paper:  Thought you could use the chicken soup and the hot pot to heat it up in.  He added his phone and room numbers, then left.

Later that day, while in his room, Larry got a text:  Need your hot pot?

Instead of texting back, Larry went to Todd’s room and knocked.  At, “Come in,” Larry opened the door.  Todd was sitting up in bed, his back propped against the wall.  

“How are you feeling?” Larry asked.

“A little better.  I ate some of your soup.  Thank you.”

Larry nodded.  

“I haven’t had a chance to clean out your hot pot—“

Larry waved his hand.  “Don’t worry about that.”

Todd swallowed.  He didn’t look at Larry as he spoke.  “I owe you an apology,” he said.  “My mother would say that she raised me better.”

Larry pulled out a chair and sat down next to Todd’s bed.  “Were you sick this morning in class?”

Todd nodded.  “I didn’t feel like talking to anyone.  But—I do get asked for my notes a lot, and—like I said—I’ve loaned my notes out and haven’t gotten them back.  I thought you were lying about your stepdad dying, and then when Dr. Deffenbaugh asked about your mom . . . I decided to be nice.  Then I wasn’t sure if I was going to get my notes back.  You were pretty quick.”

“I made copies.”

Todd smiled.  “I guess I was wrong about you.”

“Same here.”  It was the first time Larry had seen Todd smile, and Larry found himself smiling back.  

“I—I don’t mean to be rude again, but I—I don’t –“

Larry stood up.  “I understand.  You need to rest.  Feel better, okay?”



Two days later, Larry pulled on his backpack, opened his door, and saw Todd standing there.  

“Hi,” Todd said.  “Here’s your hot pot.”  He held out a plastic bag.

“Thanks.”  Larry took the bag.  Inside, he found the hot pot, bowl, spoon, and two new cans of soup.

“You didn’t have to buy the soup.”

“I wanted to . . .  make up for being rude.”

Larry took the bag and laid it on the table.  “The best way you can make up for being rude,” he said, “is to walk with me to class.”

“I haven’t had breakfast yet.  Will you join me in the cafeteria?”


Larry left the room and went to have breakfast with a new friend.

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