“Excuses for Late English 112, Section 004 Papers from a Large, Unnamed Community College in Virginia,” by Jessica McCaughey

Aug 17th, 2011 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

*Denotes excuses I accepted.

  1. I have food poisoning.
  2. My car broke down.
  3. My brother messed up the printer.
  4. I didn’t read the story.
  5. I didn’t get the story.
  6. I hated the story.
  7. I’m a cop and you know the big vandalism bust at Arlington National Cemetery? I had to go to that.*
  8. My brother and I share a car and he’s always playing football when we have class.
  9. I have food poisoning again.[1]
  10. I still have some proofreading to do.
  11. I’m in the reserves and they sent me to Germany.*
  12. I got a new job and it’s busy.
  13. I lost my job and I’m depressed.
  14. I thought it was due next week.
  15. It’s too complicated to really get into, but I was away from my printer, and I have a good reason, although it’s not appropriate for me to get into that now with you.
  16. My mom messed up the printer.
  17. I didn’t finish it because my husband and I run a fantasy role-playing league and I was in the woods all weekend being a monster.
  18. My computer was stolen.*
  19. Traffic was bad.[2]
  20. I thought it was a stupid assignment.
  21. I was at the beach.
  22. I have food poisoning again.[3]
  23. It turns out I’m really allergic to poison ivy? And I got it? And calamine lotion wasn’t working? So the doctor gave me antibiotics and they make it so that I can’t drive.
  24. My daughter is in the hospital.*
  25. My son messed up the printer.
  26. I think Ursula LeGuin is too confusing.
  27. I think Edward Abbey is a douchebag.
  28. I got into another school, so I don’t really need this class anymore.
  29. My sister came to put it in your mailbox, but she put it in the wrong one maybe?
  30. My boyfriend and I are having some problems.
  31. I couldn’t find your mailbox.
  32. I couldn’t find your office.
  33. I forgot what night we had class.
  34. I just kept reading the story over and over again and I loved it so much that I just kept reading it and never got to writing.
  35. My uncle is in jail.
  36. I left my wife yesterday.
  37. I wrote it, but then I decided it was shit, so I threw it away.


Jessica McCaughey lives in Arlington, Virginia. During the day and two evenings a week, she teaches English composition and literature, as well as English as a Second Language classes. Most nights, she reads and writes and grades papers and rearranges her room and watches TV shows on Netflix and drinks cider and makes usually quite bad soup. Jessica has published in The Colorado Review, Silk Road Review, Hot Metal Bridge, Phoebe, and has an essay in the upcoming Best American Travel Writing (2011)


[1] What is she eating?
[2] Professor remains unsure about relevance of traffic to arriving without paper.
[3] Why is she still eating it?

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