Character Story

Theme: Write a story in 15 minutes about a doctor who loves hats and has a tattoo of a crowned wolf.

Character Story

I opened the door to my classroom and walked inside, finding most of my students already waiting for me.

“Good morning, class,” I said as I set my belongings down on my desk at the front of the room, including my dark brown fedora. It was my favorite hat, one my wife had given me when we first started dating. I had taken good care of it, but despite my best efforts it still didn’t look the same as the day she had bought it. Rain will do that to fabric, you know. Even good-quality fabric like this.

I took off my trenchcoat and scarf, laying them on the back of my chair and then buttoning the top button to my suit jacket.

“Professor,” one student called. It was unusual that I received a question this early in class, but I didn’t care – I liked my students, and they liked me. Fortunately I was able to decide to teach only graduate level students, which meant that all my students were at least almost as passionate about English as I am, having spent nearly ten years studying it in college and graduate school in order to get a PhD.

“Yes, William?” I responded cheerfully. It was a good day. Fall – my favorite time of year. The trees yellow, orange and red, the air brisk; all perfect for just a walk through the park or city where I could simply think about things. These perfect days often inspired me to do some writing as well, if not for a novel than for a short story, which I have written many of. I recalled how just on my walk through the campus this morning everything was so beautiful. The trees, the plants, the sky, the weather…

“You said you’d tell us the story behind that tattoo,” William said. Oh, yes, the tattoo. Ever since one hot summer day when I had worn a short sleeve shirt, they happened to glimpse the bottom of a tattoo on my upper arm and wouldn’t give up trying to persuade me to tell them about it. Of course I didn’t care much that they knew, but it was fun seeing how much they really cared – after they brought it up at the end of class yesterday for the first time in over a month, I told them I’d tell them tomorrow; today.

I could see they were all looking at me expectantly, suppressed smiles on their faces. The thought of me having a tattoo was ridiculous to them. Hell, it was ridiculous to me, too, but I was young then.

“All right,” I conceded. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt.” I took off my suit jacket and rolled up the sleeves to my collared dress shirt until my whole arm was exposed. Before they had seen just the paws of some sort of dog or something, but now for the first time they saw the whole thing. It was a wolf, sitting, with a crown on his head. Between gasps, chuckles, mutterings, and their facial expressions, I could tell that they were amused, if not surprised. I suppose seeing a tattoo like this on a forty year-old man was funny enough in itself, but the image itself was rather cool-looking. Not some cartoon or anything like that.

“Yes, it’s a wolf wearing a crown,” I said, answering the question that was in each of their minds. “Believe it or not, I got it because I loved writing when I was in college. There was even this writing frat, and this was the entry fee. Seemed cool at the time.” I laughed, and they politely did the same.

“We called ourselves the Crowned Wolves.

“But why was that the symbol of your frat?” another student asked.

I began rolling down my sleeve again, buttoning it at the cuff. “That’s a story for another time, I’m afraid. Now, back to the writings of Tolkien…”

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