It was a quiet morning in the Writing Center. I stumbled in alongside my brother, my jacket still on. My nose and cheeks were still rosy from the brisk outdoors. Cool winter light filtered through the windows, brightening the faces of the interns. I sat at my table, preparing myself for the possible conferences ahead. I placed my pen by my right hand and my notebook by my left. Warm laughter and morning greetings echoed throughout the room.
“Anna.” called my brother, Will, from the other side of the room. He had set up his supplies at his desk and was turning over a small, gelatinous shape in his hands. I squinted, trying to figure out what it was. It reminded me of the brightly colored sticky hands that I had used to receive at carnivals or as small prizes in eclectic arcades. “Catch,” finished Will, tossing the shape to me in a sharp overhand. It stuck to my hand, and I unclasped my fingers to study it.
It was a small, sticky skeleton. Will had found him amongst his assorted bag of candy at his table. The skeleton was about an inch in length, and moldable beneath my soft touch. It was clear, and its skinny arms and legs were topped with balls for hands and feet.
“Carrington,” I exclaimed, “look at this!” Carrington leaned over to examine the small skeleton. He looked up at her. I was almost sure I could see a twinkle of mischief in his hollow, rubbery eye sockets.
“He’s very cute,” Carrington said, smiling down at the small skeleton. I vehemently agreed. The skeleton had some indescribable quality, some hidden magic beneath its stick surface. We named him Timmy, and dotingly allowed him to stick himself to any surface he so pleased. We passed him between tables. Timmy stuck to Carrington’s travel mug, and slid down, doing awkward flips as he fell. I’m sure Timmy must have gotten tired from all of the socialization, but his bony smile never faltered.
Timmy, our sweet skeleton son, quickly became dirty. We cared for him, peeling dust and other loose substances from between his ribs. Timmy glowed in the dark. We turned off all of the lights and passed around the glowing skeleton. We were so proud of our little boy.
When we left the Writing Center that morning, we left Timmy behind. He sat in the utensil cup, lonely amongst the unmoving pens and pencils. He stayed there, waiting until night fell in the school. I imagine he climbed from the jar and scurried up the walls, sticking himself to the windows. Yet, in the morning he was where we left him. Who’s to say what Timmy does at night? It is impossible to know. He is the skeleton of the Writing Center, the spirit behind every conference that occurs. Timmy is always watching.