131 Not Exactly Opportunity

It felt unreal to be back to my usual weekday class schedule the next day, with almost nobody else even aware of the emotional tumult of the weekend for me. Oh, Lee Ann did ask if I’d had any luck with my Facebook search and was pleased to hear that I’d learned something, even if I hadn’t actually made contact with the guy.

Before class, I sent off an email to George Cracraft, reminding him of our previous meeting and what had come of it, and asking if he had any information on Professor Davis. When I checked that afternoon, I found a reply:

Miss Steen,
Nice to hear from you again. Glad you found your friend. Our archives contain announcement that 
physics professor J. Rolf Davis of Rocky Lake University will be at Piques this year to continue 
an experiment into “viewing variations in time and the effects of alternative paths on future events.” 
No further information provided. Hope this helps – G.C.

In particular, there was apparently no contact information. I suppose that even if there had been, it would just have been what Dad had already found. We did have a name for the experiment, although I wasn’t quite sure what we could do with the information. I forwarded copies to Vicky, Eric and Martin.

I really should have copied my lecture notes then, but I was really bothered by my conversation with Mom, and I needed to talk to Vicky about it. She was in and free, so I went over to her room.

“Vicky,” I said once the two of us were seated on her bed, “did I ever go out of my way to think of you when we were dating?”

She looked really surprised at the question. “I told you that I had no complaints,” she said. “You were considerate and kind and you never said anything mean… or hit me.”

“But I never did anything special for you? Something that showed I was thinking about you.”

She looked blank, so I explained using Mom’s examples and the gifts Jeremy had made for me. “I didn’t need anything like that, Marsh,” she said. “Just to be cared for.”

“Yeah, but now I think I needed to be doing things like that for you.” I took her hands and looked her in the eyes. “Vicky, I promise you that if– I mean when– I change back, I’m going to go out of my way to think of things that will make you happy, more than just not hurting you. I’m going to be a better boyfriend than I was, and I’ll make sure I don’t fall out of love with you again.”

She looked a me a bit open-mouthed. “That’s… wow, Marsh, that’s really incredible. I think…” she looked away, “I know I haven’t always been as nice as I could be, but I’m really going to try.” She looked back at me again. “I can’t believe you really love me that much. I mean, I know you’re really attracted to Jeremy and that you’re in love with me, and still… you mean that you’re choosing me over him?”

“That’s what I mean, Vixy. And, well… part of that is just choosing the real me over this me.”

“Wow, Marsh,” she repeated. “And all this time I’ve been jealous. I was afraid you were going to choose him over me, and I’ve been really bitchy to you over it. But I’ve been stupid – as you said, if you couldn’t be with me, why shouldn’t you find somebody else who could make you happy?” A look of determination came into her face. “I’m going to do better, Marsh. If he’s making you happy, then I’m going to help you do exactly what you’ve promised, only for him.” She faltered a bit. “I don’t know how good I can be at figuring out what to do for a boy whose not particularly interested in sex, but I’ll try. And you’ll have to help me help you.”

I smiled at her, but my smile dies quickly. “I already know what I have to do for him, Vixy. I’m going to tell him the truth about me.”

She flinched in shock. “But… he’ll break up with you! He’ll be horrified and not want anything to do with you! You can’t tell him that, Marsh. Are you crazy?”

“I have to, Vix. Right now, he’s got this… image of me as somebody I’m not, and as you said, he’s thinking about a serious relationship, and you know I can’t be that for him.”

“Would you even want to? I mean, if you couldn’t change back?”

I wrung my hands. “I don’t know, Vixy. There’s a part of me that just wants so much to be with him for as long as possible. But I have this problem – I’m living a lie, and I know it, and I can’t ever be comfortable that way. Yes, I know I’m going to lose him – believe me, I’ve thought about this for so long – but it’s better this way. It will give him a chance to find a real girl to love. I love him so much, and I want him to be happy, and… I just can’t be the one to do it. I wish I could, but I can’t.”

Vicky stared at me. “I… I don’t believe you’re giving him up like that. Why not keep it a secret? Wouldn’t that be worth it to keep him?” She shook her head. “I can’t believe I’m arguing in favor of you being with a boy.”

“I just have to do the right thing,” I said, miserably. “I’m not happy about it, but I don’t know how long I can put it off – Mom says it will just get harder for both of us.”

“So you’re going to do it the next time you see him?”

“I… don’t know… I mean I have rehearsal tonight and I’m supposed to study with him tomorrow, but it’s going to upset him, so maybe I shouldn’t do it when he has to focus on studying, only I’m not sure if it’s better to wait… maybe this weekend if we’re not really busy?”

“Don’t ask me; I think you’re making a big mistake.”

“Yeah, but I don’t see a real alternative, here.” I was looking down, feeling horrible about the whole thing, and she touched my chin to get me to look at her and then gave me a hug. It was the most supporting I ever remember her being, and maybe – jut maybe – it was a positive sign for the future.

When I awoke the next morning, I checked Facebook again, only to find a message from the guy who’d said he’d been talking with Brain. This one said, “He says he’s sure he doesn’t know you – maybe you’re thinking of somebody else?”

Oh well. I hadn’t really expected that to work; I was obviously going to have to try something else. At this point, Dad’s idea of offering legal help seemed to be the best idea on the table, but I wasn’t ready to try it until I was sure we couldn’t come up with anything better.

I was just gathering my bathroom supplies when I heard a pounding on my door. “Marsh!” came Terry’s excited voice from the other side, “have you looked out your window?”

I hadn’t, so I looked now. It was snowing hard and while it wasn’t very light outside yet, it was clear that several inches had fallen overnight.

“Founder’s Day, Marsh!” Terry shouted gleefully. “I just checked the website. Classes are canceled! Woohoo!”

Her enthusiasm was infectious and I couldn’t help grinning – I could certainly use the day off; there were so many things to do. I had fallen behind on my notebook transcribing, I needed to review my songs and my lines, and… then it hit me. I was free for the day, and so was Jeremy. What I really would have liked to do was to spend it with him, but… I’d put off telling him on the basis that I didn’t want to upset him in the middle of his class schedule. That excuse wouldn’t work today. The freedom from classes gave me an obligation that I couldn’t easily justify putting off any longer.

I showered and prepared for the day weighed down by what I had to do. At breakfast, some of the girls saw my mood and joked about it. “Don’t worry, Marsh, you’re only missing one day of classes!” they said. If only they knew, but then I could hardly tell them, now could I?

But even after I got back to my room, I delayed. I guess I was trying to think of a reason to put it off; maybe we could have just one more day together, I suggested to myself. But no, I couldn’t justify it – especially know that I knew I was going to tell him. He’d see my mood and ask and I couldn’t lie to him; I couldn’t keep telling him that I was keeping a secret.

It was mid-morning before I finally took a breath and got myself moving. I carefully put on my coat and boots and mittens; I knew I was stalling, but as long as I was going to do it, what did that matter? It was going to be a very sad moment for both of us, why rush into it? But all too soon I was dressed for the snow and I let myself out. Fortunately, Terry and Lee Ann had already found other things to do – I didn’t want to have to explain my mission.

The trek to Jeremy’s dorm had always seemed so long; now I couldn’t believe how quickly I had arrived. Slowly I ascended the steps, furiously trying to think of something I’d missed, some very good reason not to tell him; but I couldn’t think of anything. And then I was on his floor and I started walking slowly down the hallway, nodding somberly to his hall mate who gave me a curious look as I passed him. I imagined the smile on his face when he opened the door, and how I’d have to stop him when he reached for me, and the horror in his expression when I told him the truth. Then I reached Jeremy’s door and, heart pounding, lifted my fist to knock.


  1. TJ says:

    I think I hate you, that a stressful ending, and you except me to wait till Wednesday now, aggg.

    Great chapter, can’t wait for Wednesday now, heh.

  2. scotts13 says:

    “especially know that I knew I was going to…”

    No “k”.

  3. Estarlio says:

    Oh Marsh, you plonker; you’re letting the information out of your control. You’ll be the crazy lying girl no-one wants to know. Even your best friend required some sort of proof, and you don’t have any.

    Nice cliffhanger anyway.

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