A quiet, vibrating hum broke the silence of the morning. Samuel stirred with its repetitious voice. Today was the day.
Samuel tightened his tie as his advisor, Charles Parkton, took the stage and began to make a few announcements. Samuel took a sip of hot, raspberry tea from his tall, black travel mug. His younger sister, Aletheia, had made it for him before he left for school early in the morning. Glancing up and to the right, he saw a few of his friends, parents, two younger sisters, and extended family, seated on the balcony chairs. Sweat exited the pores of his hands. He knew that they were here to support him, but somehow their presence made everything seem a little more nerve-wracking. He didn’t feel cold, but a nervous chill made the hairs on his arms stand erect, making him thankful for his suit.
“And I am now honored to introduce today’s speaker, Samuel Wade, presenting the research and conclusions of his dissertation on Polluted Speech, Free Speech, and the Preventable Depravity of Western Civilization. Samuel . . . .,” Charles beckoned Samuel forth.
Samuel rose, with portfolio folder in hand, and walked calmly towards the stage. Comforting applause drowned all other sounds in the room before Samuel spoke his first word.
“Thank you all for inviting me here today. This is truly an honor and privilege. Before I formally begin, a terse example of the fundamental idea behind my research is appropriate. Let’s imagine that the disposition of this room is very fresh, cool, and fragrant smelling. Actually, we don’t have to imagine, because, in fact, it does smell rather nice in here. Now say that I declare to you that this room is stuffy, smelly, and quite disgustingly humid. For those of you who are smart and intelligent, you would be quick and wise to call me out as misrepresenting the truth. Yet what about those who fail to think critically, and respect me far beyond doubt? Surely I have altered, in their minds, the “ethics” of weather laws. I have declared cool to be warm and fresh to be stale. It would seem that, as the room is not actually stuffy and stale, that it doesn’t make a big difference what I think and say. Yet it is not my words themselves that hold power, but the false interpretation of them that provokes the creation of ceaseless division and falsehood.”
Samuel’s words rolled on – the audience intrigued and captivated by them. It seemed to Samuel that the time passed by in a few minutes, yet it had been almost three hours, including the break. And now, as he had come, so he left, but the applause more passionate and voluminous. The faculty board had tried and questioned his ideas. He had answered. All the attendants, including Samuel, had been asked to exit the room as the decision was made as to whether or not he would be awarded his degree.
About forty-five minutes passed before a decision was reached and the people welcomed in again to that great domed room. As Samuel’s mother had expected the vote was 7-0 in his favor. Although a few small revisions needed to be made, Samuel was now done, ready to enter the world of journalism as a professional journalist.
Having been congratulated by the faculty members, his friends and family, Samuel headed out of the building towards the parking lot with his family. His mother had prepared a barbecue with much delicious food that was waiting at home. Samuel had looked forward with much joy to fellowshipping this day with his friends and family. He opened the car door for his mother, and then proceeded to walk with his two younger sisters, Rachel and Aletheia, to another lot where his own car was parked.
“See you at home!” He told his parents. His two younger sisters had insisted on coming with him, and he was glad for it. Wanting to have some fun, Samuel declared, “first one to the car gets shotgun and music selection!” His sisters looked at each other, smiled, and raced towards the car. From everyone’s perspective, it seemed like a tie, so a deal was made that whoever selected music had to sit in the back.
The happy bunch was eventually all buckled, and Samuel began driving towards home, passing familiar intersections and sights. He had made this drive at least a thousand times. Green-light. Go. Red-light. Stop. Samuel smiled at his sisters’ playful remarks and silly jokes.
“Knock-knock,” Rachel said.
“Who’s there?” Came the reply.
“Knock you!” Laughter ensued, mainly because Rachel, who though her jest was extremely clever, burst out laughing. Red-light. Stop. Green-light. Go.
“I wish David was here,” Aletheia spoke softly.
“Me, too,” Rachel replied. “At least he’ll be home for Christmas!”
The car grew silent with thought. Red-light. Stop. Green-light. Go. But the car didn’t make it through the intersection. A blue pickup truck had blown a red-light and smashed the driver’s side of Sam’s silver Toyota Corolla. The air bags, front and rear, smashed forward with lightning speed. The car spun round, rearing into another accelerating car in the right lane. The bundle of vehicles slid to a halt. Stillness and silence followed.