Now Is The Time For Us To Be Sweet

Not exactly Valentine's Day: an English professor in Chicago, lost in grief, begins dating a student.

"I can't even figure out what it is in Eric, why he sometimes reminds me of my old boyfriend. It's something in the way their faces shift, but I can never pin it down to a feeling or a cause. It surprises me right out of sleep."

Thirty Seconds From Now

The present and future collide with the romance,collaboration, and tensions of two college classmates.

"Right now, the beanbag thunks into Scott’s left palm. His eyes still itch and he feels the grief he’ll feel again at the end of the semester. A ghost Scott moves to shut the dorm room door. If he closes the door, he and Tony will never meet. Tony will never learn how to hurt Scott in a way that only he can be hurt. Tony will never hurt him in a way that anyone can be hurt."

The No Talent Kid

A high school band teacher engages in a psychological battle with an earnest yet musically-challenged student.

"Mr. Helmholtz started to shout after Plummer, to bring him back and tell him bluntly that he didn’t have the remotest chance of getting out of C Band ever; that he would never be able to understand that the mission of a band wasn’t simply to make noises, but to make special kinds of noises. But Plummer was off and away."

Gryphon

A substitute teacher entices and repels her students with mysterious "substitute facts."

"'Pyramids,' Miss Ferenczi said, still looking past the window. 'I want you to think about pyramids. And what was inside. The bodies of the pharaohs, of course, and their attendant treasures. Scrolls. Perhaps,' Miss Ferenczi said, her face gleeful but unsmiling, 'these scrolls were novels for the pharaohs, helping them to pass the time in their long voyage through the centuries. But then, I am joking.'"

Hands

From Winesburg, Ohio, this classic short stands as a model of character description and authorial empathy.

"The story of Wing Biddlebaum's hands is worth a book in itself. Sympathetically set forth it would tap many strange, beautiful qualities in obscure men. It is a job for a poet."

Bad Education

With fewer and fewer students having the income necessary to pay back loans (except through the use of more consumer debt), a massive default looks closer to inevitable.

On the emerging student loan bubble.