Short story: The University Tribunal


‘Only Professor Coleman is allowed in, Miss,’ said the porter, his bulk blocking my entry to the panelled room.

Rex put his hand against my cheek. ‘I’ll be fine,’ he said. ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ He smiled, a brave smile, but I was dismayed to feel tears welling. I cried so easily.

I let the porter lead me to a wooden bench along the corridor where I sat and imagined Rex standing in front of his peers, unapologetic, intransigent. After only ten minutes the door opened, and as Rex stood there looking at me, grim faced, my waters broke.


For those who don’t know how Friday Fictioneers works, this picture (this time supplied by Jennifer Pendergast) is our inspiration for our weekly online writing group hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Each story is only about 100 words long, so why not read a few others: click here to read some more or to join in.

And please comment below with any suggestions on mine, or just to show you’ve visited.

46 thoughts on “Short story: The University Tribunal

  1. This was so redolent of all that goes with acadaemia – porters, panelled rooms, committees of one peers, that the beautifully irreverent breaking of the waters came like a breath of fresh air! Well done Claire, I know I say that every week but… 🙂


    • Thanks Sandra. Glad you enjoyed it. Comments after yours suggested that my hints at what happened were a little too subtle. Rex is a professor, the narrator his pregnant student, and he is facing the tribunal because of their relationship. Difficult to get across in 100 words!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Totally got it, Claire! I loved the not-too-subtle subtlety. As I’m a romance writer, I’d like to see Rex come out smiling, but still… I loved it!
        Greetings from Greece!
        Maria (MM Jaye)


  2. I wondered at first whether the “waters broke” line was a fancy way of saying she started crying, but then I decided that would be an unsatisfactorily cryptic ending and the straight reading was much better rounded. It took me a second, but I don’t think you should change it. And “I cried so easily” is all of: a) a great clue, b) a fantastic pre-echo of the waters breaking and c) a great character insight.
    Great stuff, Claire!


  3. Nice one.. (though I read it again to get it…I am a bit slow…)
    This prompt inspired so many to write about college or something related to academia….
    Wonder why I saw it in such a tragic way???


  4. Claire, Good story as usual. I couldn’t quite get the bit about the waters either at first because she mentioned crying. When I read the comments I understood what was happening. She has stuck by him so I hope he accepts his responsibility. Well written as always. 🙂 —Susan


  5. Knocked up in college! The crying so easily was the first hint, but really I had no idea what poor Rex would be facing. I hope he is not a professor and she his student! But, these things do happen. He would be ruined then. Oh well, pretty grim!


  6. Very interesting story, Claire. I’m left wondering what the Professor did, or didn’t do, that he must answer to his peers. I’m thinking that the baby is the issue… she being a student? Really well written and just the right details to leave us wanting more. Editing note: in the first sentence, I don’t think you want Porter capitalized.


  7. Have to agree with the previous comments. After my initial read, the story was missing something, a crutial link. Reading a second time after the comments, it made a lot more sense. Well written nonetheless


  8. Dear Claire, Excellent story and believe it or not I understood what happened when her “waters” broke. But, it appears that he had a bad “meeting” with his peers or the Chancellor because his face looked grim – or he’s just a rotten worm that is the worst kind of man. Good job Claire! Nan 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s