An Ode to Breakfast, Emma Lassiter
We pass each other in our reshall and I ask, immediately, how you’re feeling. You stare, dazed, thinking 3:48 am is the wrong time for checking in. You’re wrong—it’s the perfect time. Because it’s never the wrong time for community building and I am your Resident Advisor, your guru of wellness. I begin what you assume is a rehearsed monologue detailing all the exciting events Reslife is hosting this weekend. You stand in half lurch, nodding, frozen—unable to cross the bridge of awkward resident-RA small talk that bars you from slumber—until I pause for a breath.
You seize this moment, tell me you’re sorry but you’re very tired. You think your hint was taken. It was and I tossed it out. Now I hook onto your admission of poor energy levels as grounds to ask how you’ve been sleeping, how you’ve been eating, how classes are going, if you feel your voice is heard. You mumble generic responses and I sense your indifference. My eyes narrow.
I ask why you didn’t come to our hall circle tonight.
There were pizza and puzzles. Why didn’t you come?
You say you just couldn’t make it and look around for someone else to foist me on. But there’s no one—it’s just you and me, and now I’m leaning against the wall, blocking the path to your dorm door. I maintain eye contact so intense my pupils dilate as I explain how vital inclusion is for students to thrive. You begin to wonder why an institution of higher education can’t treat you like an adult—like other housing complexes in the real world—and not have self-care worshipping enforcers of happiness prowl near your room every night, that room that you’re already going thousands into debt for.
My head cranks to the side and I correct you: I’m not prowling, I’m community building.
Chills sprint down your spine and you try to back away. I walk forward.
You attempt to flatter me. You say you love my new CONSENT IS SEXY bulletin board, that you can’t wait for the ice cream social I’m planning next week. It’s ineffective. I’m now blasting you with a torrent of affirmations—I VALUE YOU ARE DOING AWESOME—that begins to slur into Jurassic snarls.
You turn to flee. My howls boom down the halls. The lights begin to flicker and all the posters on the wall flutter. You start to run. I pursue. You crash through the stairwell door and I’m right behind you, quoting this one TED Talk that will totally change your life.
You bound down the stairs, whip around corners while screaming. You’re hoping the echoing wails will attract attention. But I’m still catching up. You can feel my breath on the back of your neck. I’m explaining the four pillars of wellness. You’re getting tired. You’re exhausted after a grueling day of classes and work, while I am sustained by my unyielding devotion to restorative practice. I tackle you at the bottom landing while shrieking “Positive Vibes!” You give up. We lay still, wheezing, recovering.
I suddenly realize how my actions might be impacting you. I apologize. I tell you to go ahead and get some rest. Let’s process this in the morning—we’ll have a circle. You’ll come to this one, right?
About the Author
Seth Wade · University of Vermont
Seth Wade studies English and philosophy at the University of Vermont, where he’s currently finishing two senior theses. He’s previously been published in McSweeney’s, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and The Gateway Review, and was a finalist for The Southampton Review‘s Nonfiction Prize for 2020. During his free time, he’s playing videogames or doting on his black kittens Edgar and Junji. This piece first appeared in The Gist.
About the Artist
Emma Lassiter · University of Central Arkansas
Emma Lassiter is a senior studying creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas where she is the Editor-in-Chief of The Vortex Magazine of Literature and Fine Art. She has interned with Et Alia Press and The Oxford American, and her photography has previously been published in Salmon Creek Journal. This piece first appeared in The Vortex.