Curtain Strings

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Ophelia sat nervously at her desk, not a single trace of her unease evident on her pale, almost bloodless face. Today wasn't a bad day for her, although she felt weak she wasn't throwing up and the coughing seemed to have subsided over the last week. Opi wasn't exactly feeling up to try running a marathon, or even down the hall to catch the elevator, but she didn't feel like she was shaking hands with death either. And for once the strange tumbling in her gut was merely nerves, a normal, everyday reaction that anyone doing something for the first time would experience. It was refreshingly average and as much as Ophelia wished that she wasn't nervous right now, she luxuriated in the completely normal sensation.

Today her class went live over the internet. She was in the comfort of her apartment, although her brother Westley had insisted that she not be alone so Nathaniel and Grace were here with her, and her students were all watching her on the projection screen. One of the marvels of modern technology that Opi was reluctant to use but grateful to have. "Good morning everyone, I trust that you are all behaving for Colby. Colby, is everyone there?" Ophelia asked her TA for two of her classes. He had been her student last year and had an impressive mind, a slightly older student who had returned to University after he realized that maybe a career as an athlete wasn't going to happen.

"Yes Ms. James. Everyone is here and we're all eager to hear from you." Colby replied with a broad smile on his face. If she wasn't being broadcast to the entire class, Ophelia would have rolled her eyes at the man's unflappably optimisitc attitude. He had suffered an ACL tear that had ended his baseball career just as it was starting and yet it had never once slowed him down from finding a new dream to chase.

"I think since you are all accomodating my needs so nicely, we can dispense with some of the formality. Ophelia is fine, Ms. James just makes me think of my mother." Ophelia gave a rare smile, only someone who knew her very well would be able to see how tired the lines of her mouth appeared to be.

"Thank you Ophelia, and your classes are behind you 100%. The week's lecture sheets have already been handed out and we are all accompanying from here." Colby sat back in the front row, ready to jump up and fiddle with the computer on his end should the need arise.

Outside of her office space, Ophelia could hear her niece Grace discussing with Nathaniel the class work, keeping their voices low. This was a class Nathaniel was enrolled in, though he was here in the apartment should Opi need a strong back to carry her to the hospital should everything go wrong. Grace was along because there wasn't an obstacle on the planet that the young red head would let stand between her and her goal, and in this case Grace's goal seemed to be to keep Ophelia alive and well through sheer force of will. She knew that if she were to lean over and look out at them, she'd see Grace curled up with her sketch book, working on a project for the class she was skipping to be here. Nathaniel would be near by, gonig over the class list Ophelia had to see if there was anything he could help with. He'd been the one to print off the class sheets and had been the mastermind behind the cornicopia of technology now invading Opi's office space.

Ophelia hadn't known it at the time, but the moment Nathaniel had left her in the care of her family, he had gone to the school and started to corral all the equipment and permissions she would need to keep teaching. He had been her unknown valiant knight, battling against the curmudgeons of the college board and sweet talking the cinema professors. When Grace had called Ophelia with 'a plan' in mind, Opi really should have suspected something, but her niece was more like Opi was than anyone admitted outloud. Although Grace had the red hair of her mother and the temperment of her father, she had the cynical view of the world that Ophelia bore. Although Grace leaned towards pessimism more even though she was so young still, she was a smart young woman who hid a surprisingly creative streak under her jaded words.

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