Reflections Of You



Hannah Flannery, a clumsy art history professor, has never thought of herself as very important. Certainly not important enough for an entourage of professional government men to interrupt her favorite class and request her immediate personage.

They won’t explain why they need Hannah or where they’re taking her. But the snubbed nose, egg-headed Chair of the History of Art and Architecture department has already rushed in to substitute for her class.

Little does Hannah know she’s going to have to follow clues on a late night escapade to a realization that will rock her world and give her life a new purpose.

Our Story Begins...

They came for the popular Professor Hannah Flannery in dark suits and mirrored sunglasses during the middle of teaching her favorite art history class at the university. 

Rembrant’s Self-Portrait with Saskia was up on the slide projector carousel. 

(The artist produced more self-portraits than any other artist before him, roughly seventy-five, and this particular etching was made in 1636. Notice his left hand holds a porte-crayon.)

The kindly, but snub-nosed and egg-head-balding, Chair of the History of Art and Architecture department had whooshed open the auditorium door and walked right up to Hannah at the podium, his round little body waggling, whispering importantly in her ear with pretzel and Coke breath, his hand secretly over the microphone, that there was an emergency and he’d take over her class now, she had his permission to go.

Hannah felt shocked. 

Her hand had fluttered to her chest and she’d accidentally glanced into one of the bright on-stage lights and been monetarily blinded. Then she saw the suits, standing professionally, one inside the threshold of the auditorium door, two outside.

The inside man nodded at her.

It was a slight, downward nod.  

His neck was rope thick.

Hannah started to walk toward the suits, then fumbled backward to noisily gather up her notes on the podium, and started to walk toward the suits again, and then fumbled backward to speak into the microphone and say, “Thank you class, Dr. Colostrum will take over now, but please remember oral presentations start next week.”

The microphone speaker whined rudely. 

Then Hannah stepped on the edge of her own ankle-length skirt and thought it might embarrassingly pull off, but she recovered. 

Finally, she reached the inside man, and he gently reached out and collected her elbow in his lion’s paw of a hand.

“Is my Michael okay?” Hannah whispered. “Has something happened?”

“Please step this way, Mrs. Flannery.”

The direction was into the hallway, but she asked again, “Is Michael okay, I must know.”

She really did need to know because this kind of situation had never happened to her before. Hannah Flannery was mousy, and notoriously clumsy, and had a beautiful laugh that tumbled through a room like musical chimes; but she wasn’t “important”.

She was also a single mother with a seventeen-year-old son in his senior year in high school, and his well-being had always been paramount, always would be.

“No, ma’am,” the man with the rope neck said. “This is regarding another matter.”

Relief flooded her chest. And then it tightened right back up again.

“What matter could this be?”

But they led her officially outside onto the interconnected labyrinth of campus sidewalks, where the lustrous, bright green canopy of oak leaves fluttered in the warm September afternoon, the air smelled smokey and stagnant, and other students milled about with brightly colored backpacks but didn’t pay too much attention to her entourage.

It was finals week coming up; they were preoccupied.

Rope Neck opened the rear passenger door of a giant black Chevy Yukon.

Engine running at the curb, parked in emergency red, the vehicle looked like it had the shoulders of a prehistoric bison on steroids. The kind of tinted-window vehicle that Hannah only saw on TV, with a professional driver to drive the important people around, and armed bodyguards, and whatnot. 

A bit out of her class range.

She often struggled to pay her mortgage. 

When Hannah climbed onto the  supple leather seat, with assistance, (her teaching notes bunched onto her lap and almost spilling), Rope Neck slid in right beside her and Hannah was sandwiched between the monstrous thighs of two robust men. 

It was thrilling for a moment, in a dangerous spy-novel way, also like looking at the Fireman’s Annual Calendar where they’ve all got their shirts off, and letting your mind wander in a bedroom way, because—nice.

But when the Yukon accelerated, and the campus streaked by beyond the windows as if Hannah had been vacuum sealed away from her familiar world, the silly thrill faded into fear.

She felt a thin sheen of sweat release under her armpits.

“Someone please tell me what’s going on.”

Hannah was shocked when a middle-aged woman with thin lips and powerful, on-target brown eyes peered around from the front passenger’s seat.

(Shocked somehow about the woman part, not that someone was there. Hannah was certainly not a postfeminist, and she was tenured; but she still always felt she was living in a man’s world.) 

“Professor Flannery, please forgive me. I did decide this was the best way to collect you, and I came along”—this was spoken as if she’d gone far out of her way—“but I’m terribly sorry I’m not authorized to speak freely to you until we’ve entered our next location. Is that agreeable? Just a quick ten minute jaunt.”

Hannah nodded, and said, “I suppose so?”

The middle-aged woman smiled, as if saying, of course it is; and then turned away, disappearing again. The lines of crows feet around her eyes had deepened, darkened in that last second of contact; so that she’d given Hannah a wise and states-womanly air of influence.

Or that of a liar.

Hannah looked out the window.

The air in the Yukon started to get stale, being shared by too many people.

[End Excerpt]