Fiction | May 17, 2022

Comfort Animals 

Elise Juska 

Lionel still remembered a time when, walking around campus, his very presence commanded a certain respect. Even if students hadn’t taken his classes, they took notice of him, stood a little straighter when he nodded and passed by. Now they jostled him in the crowded stairwells, faces sandwiched between swollen headphones and sullen gazes sunk into cell phones. His wife said that with age she’d become invisible, and as Lionel made his way down the hallway, winded from the short walk across the quad in the cold, he conceded that perhaps this was now the case with him too. Time, its many indignities and betrayals, was weighing on his mind as he opened the door of the classroom where the monthly meeting of the humanities department was just beginning. 

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