One Fall Semester Break

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Story note: This is a rather long story.

She stepped off the plane into the brisk fall wind. It was September only, and this was such a change from what she was used to. She grabbed her carry on from the steward at the bottom of the stairs with a smile. Stupid puddle-jumper plane was so small her carry on hadn’t even fit in the overhead. She walked across the tarmac to the small regional airport, shivering in the cold wind. The little Saab plane had been a bumpy ride, which kept her awake the whole flight from Toronto. She was looking forward to getting to the place the school was putting her up in while she settled in. Thank god, she had found a teaching job. There was so little demand for Philosophy professors she thought she was going to have to go back to teaching high school physics. Not that she minded teaching physics, but it wasn’t her main interest. The offer to teach at a small Canadian school arrived as she was finishing up some research work at the Physics library that her thesis advisor had arranged. Interesting stuff, well to her at least – trying to figure out if the lack of a German bomb was really just a mistake or purposeful.

She opened the door to the airport and walked through the metal detector to get inside, dragging her carryon behind her. When she got in, a varied group of people was waiting, mostly parents and grandparents greeting visiting children and grandchildren. She took a deep breath of the warmer air; thankful she had at least packed a warmer jacket in her checked baggage. It had been a warm early autumn day when she left the Baltimore- Washington airport. Now here it was cold, so much colder and so far from her old school. No this wouldn’t be anything like the University of Maryland, but it was a teaching job and she couldn’t be fussy. She spotted someone holding a sign, some poor graduate student no doubt. Yes, she used to get the airport greeter job a lot too. She walked over to the young man, “Hello, I’m Doctor Phillips.”

The young man jumped, he had been staring at some young girl behind the ticket counter who had been smiling back, but he quickly held out a hand, “Oh great. I’m glad your flight beat the storm coming in. I’m supposed to bring you to campus. They are having a small welcome party in the department and all.”

She nodded, “Of course, informal gathering do you know?” When he nodded she continued, “Would you mind waiting a moment? I’m going to step into the ladies room and freshen up for a moment then while they unload the bags.” Not giving him a chance to object, she dragged her carry on past some giant stuffed bear and into the ladies room. She frowned when she looked in the mirror. It had been a sixteen-hour flight with the customs and the layovers in Minneapolis and again in Toronto. She looked exhausted, probably because she was. Oh well, they had paid for the ticket. She had to go and be at their little welcome party. She pulled her hair out of the scrunchie it had been in and ran a brush through the slightly longer than shoulder length tresses. Her hair had always been straight, very boring, but it was a nice color at least, a soft brown with a bit of red and copper to it. She wore just a hint of eye shadow and some lip tint. She had never been one for too much makeup, and never one for enough makeup if you asked some people. She took off her glasses and put in her contacts over her hazel eyes. After straightening her white sweater and her olive khakis, she nodded, good enough. Her camelhair coat and cute low cut boots made her almost presentable. The heels on the boots brought her up to about 5’8″ and she did work out, probably should work out more, but reading Kuhn and running on a tread mill just did not go hand in hand. Oh well, she wasn’t going to lose those last five pounds in the next five minutes so might as well head out.

She grabbed her bag and went back out. People were grabbing their checked luggage now so she did the same. She had brought three bags, actually had to buy more luggage for the trip. She handed two of the bags to her student escort, “I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name.”

He smiled as he took the bags, “Oh Doug Wilson, I’m with the Math department. I TA for Professor Ivans.” He started to lead her out to the parking lot in front of the small airport.

As they left the building, she looked around. It had gotten colder it seemed, and the clouds were looking more ominous. She shuddered a bit as they approached a Dodge Ram. She hated being on small planes in storms; thankfully, she had gotten here before the bad weather hit. They threw all four bags under his truck bed cover and she hopped up into the passenger seat. Professor Ivans was the co-chair of the Math department; they were closely affiliated with the Philosophy department here. In fact, until her arrival all the logic classes had been taught by the Math department. As Doug got into the drivers seat and started up the diesel engine, the radio came on and started playing ‘Red kurtköy escort bayan Rag top’. She smiled to herself, it seemed every time she got into a vehicle that song was playing.

Doug looked over as he shifted the truck into first, “Is country all right with you?” She nodded, and he continued on, giving her a pseudo tour of the town as they drove through it. It was definitely not much more than a college town – the standard dinner, the ‘mall’, and the movie theater. Soon they were approaching the school. He drove a bit through campus on his way to where hey were going; since it was still before fall semester, the campus was pretty deserted. They pulled up to the student union, parking in a reserved for faculty spot. “Here we are. There is a faculty area on the top floor.”

She nodded as she hopped out of the truck, the heels of her boots clicking on the concrete. “Thank you.” She followed him in through the deserted student union, occupied by only one bored student sitting at the info desk reading what from a distance appeared to be some cheesy romance novel. They stepped into the elevator and Doug pressed the button for the third floor. As the doors shut and the elevator started to move, she had to stop herself from nibbling on her lower lip. It was one of her annoying nervous habits: that and nibbling on the ends of her hair, but she tended to keep her hair up to stop that one.

As the elevator doors opened, Doug led her farther down a hall to a large wood double door. Conversation could be heard form the other side of it, which got louder as he opened the door for her. It was pretty much what she had expected — a bunch of professors sitting and standing around round tables sipping punch and eating finger food. She started to think that maybe this welcome reception was just an excuse for them to take a small break from getting ready for fall classes. Inwardly, she was very happy that she had had the summer months to get ready instead of teaching any summer classes. She had three classes, an intro to Plato, and two lectures of Symbolic Logic. She was ready. She was ready for class, what she wasn’t ready for was this. She was always so awkward meeting new people and here were a lot of new people.

Doug walked up to a rather tall gentleman in a gray wool sports coat. She followed having no better idea of what she was supposed to be doing. “Professor Ivans, this is Professor Phillips. He smiled as he introduced her to the older gentleman. She wasn’t sure how old he was, at least in his 50s, but not old enough to be retiring yet. He had very neatly kept gray hair with just a hint of some brown still in it.

His eyes twinkled, a soft brown, as he held out a hand, “Doctor Phillips, wonderful to finally get a chance to meet you. I had been guest lecturing in Quebec when you had visited the campus this summer. He smiled as he shook her hand “I am very glad that you are freeing up some of my staff by taking over two of the logic sections actually.” He laughed a little, actually a very relaxing sound, “I suppose Dean Martin explained you’d be staying at my guest house while you get situated here?”

She nodded; all the information had been included along with her tickets and work visa information. She smiled at the professor; he seemed very sweet. The ring on his finger caused her to hope that she could enjoy some good food too. She hadn’t ever really learned to cook, well anything more complex than breakfast. She tended to just charge up her student ID card and eat in the cafeteria. That or she would just forget to eat and end up at the 7-11 at 2AM. “Yes, she said your guest house was very lovely as well.”

He nodded and smiled, “So people tell me.” He turned to Doug handing over some keys, “Could you put the Doctor’s bags in my car please? I was hearing it was going to rain so thought it would be better to do that now than after the party”

As Doug nodded and ran off, Professor Ivans lead her around. Soon she was chatting with most of the Philosophy/Religious Studies department as well as a few people from Computer Science and Physics. Shortly, everyone was on a first name basis. Once she had politely explained this whole ‘professor’ thing was still so new to her that she kept on thinking they were talking to someone else, no one in the department had a problem switching over to her first name. Towards the end of the conversation as a crack of thunder could be heard, Professor Ivans … or Robert … said, “Ahh, Doctor Phillips, I mean Anya, If you would like to leave and get some rest, I am sure it was a long trip all the way from Washington DC.”

Anya smiled, “That would be wonderful, as pleasurable as this has all been, I am on a three hour time difference.” She followed him, saying goodbye to a few people as they headed out the door and to the elevator. When they reached the door to the parking lot the rain was coming down in a torrential maltepe escort bayan cold down poor.

Robert took a glance out the door, “Stay here, I’ll bring the car around.” He seemed to think nothing of the chivalrous gesture as he darted out without even a coat to his car.

When she saw how close it was she smiled, she could have made that jog. Heck, she had walked in much worse. The train for the metro rail had stopped a good mile from her work this summer, and with the hurricane season, even that far up the coast they had had some very wet days.

Robert pulled his Ford Taurus up to the door and leaned over to open the passenger door form the inside as she darted to the car. As she closed the door she laughed, “I hadn’t realized exactly how much colder it was going to be here than back in Maryland.” She shook out her damp hair, oblivious to how her sweater had gotten damp enough to cling to her chest a bit. She also didn’t notice Robert trying not to notice, or the awkward pause in the conversation.

Robert started making small talk; soon they were talking not about the school in general but about math. Anya smiled to herself. It always came as such a shock to the science types at schools when they found out how much science some liberal arts people knew. When she started to talk about her research this summer she knew she had managed to go from another liberal arts person in his mind to someone who might understand things. By the time they reached his place slightly out of town, she was nodding as he described what he was doing. A few things she needed explained, but for the most part, she could follow along. Understanding the philosophy of science and the history of it had proven to help her understand science itself very well. At least well enough to handle a conversation in a car more than well enough.

Robert reached up and pressed the button to open the garage. After he put the car in to park, she got out and started to help him pull her bags out of the trunk. “Are you having the rest of your things shipped?” He asked as he started to help her bring her luggage into the main house.

She laughed a little, “Actually this is it.” She smiled as he looked surprised, “Well there is a box of books en route but, for the most part this is it. I never had much time to accumulate things. Laptop is in my carryon.” As she entered the main part of the house, it was dark, and surprisingly quiet.

Robert turned on a light, “Would you like something to drink? Coffee or Pop, water? It’s a little ways out to the guest house and I thought maybe the rain might let up a bit.” He started to walk towards the kitchen leaving her bags in the living room.

Anya looked around. From the dust and general lack of décor, she began to see her hopes of a home cooked meal crumble to pieces. “Umm just some water would be great. Where is a bathroom? I just need to take my contacts out.”

While he clunked around in the kitchen with glasses and ice cubes from the sound of it, she walked down the hall following his directions to the bathroom. Once inside she took another look at herself. She looked tired. She pulled out her contacts and put on her thin wire framed glasses and pulled her hair up into a ponytail. She splashed some water on her face, but it didn’t help her look any more awake.

When she got back to the living room, Robert had the local weather on. As she walked over towards him, he was frowning, “They aren’t predicting any let up for at least a couple hours. We could make a dash for the guest house now, or later, which ever you prefer.”

She smiled, there was no way she was making him get wet just to get her bags to the guest house. “If you had a spare room we could just take care of the bags and everything in the morning.”

He nodded, “Of course that would be a lot easier. I’ll be right back, just let me make up a room real quick.” He had on grin as he walked up the stairs.

Anya looked down at the glass of water on the coffee table. She sat down on the couch, sipping at the water as she watched the local news. Nothing exciting evidently had happened in the area, as the news seemed to consist of high school sports news. She set her glass of water down, noticing the red lipstick ring on it. She shut her eyes for a moment enjoying that the couch was incredibly comfortable.

When Robert came back down the stairs, he saw her sleeping on the couch. She was beautiful in a very not aware of it way. How long had it been since there had been lipstick on one of his glasses? He didn’t even want to think about it, must be a good twenty years. Her hair was up off her neck. She looked young, much too young for him. He doubted she was thirty, much too young for him. He hadn’t realized when he had decided to be a professor those many years ago how full of temptation that job was going to be. How many times some pretty young thing mecidiyeköy escort bayan had been in his office, offering to do anything, anything at all to pass his calculus class. How many times he turned them all away. He knew others didn’t turn them away. The thought of it at once aroused him and repelled him. If they had only put the same effort into going to class then maybe they wouldn’t have been offering such things.

This girl was different though, besides the obvious that she wasn’t trying to seduce him. He had a feeling she actually had gone to class. Moreover, to have graduated from the schools she had, she had to be smart. Heck to keep up the conversation they had in the car she must be very smart. There she was, lying on his couch looking near angelic she was so relaxed. It really had been a bad idea to have the welcome reception right as she arrived. He had taken trips to the east coast of the United States and knew how arduous her travel must have been. Poor thing, she looked exhausted.

Robert stood there looking at her for a little bit, trying to decide what he should do, he didn’t want to wake her up. While he thought it over, he carried the carryon up to the room he had made up for her. The rain was still coming down in torrents. Through the window of the spare room, he could see the guesthouse whenever a strike of lightning hit. It hadn’t seemed that far away this morning when he was a little upset his peace and quiet was going to be interrupted while this new professor got settled into town. He remembered grumbling about why Dean Martin didn’t put her up in one of her extra rooms. Now that guesthouse seemed so far away from his empty house.

He walked back down the stairs, and clicked off the TV. Anya was sound asleep on the couch still. He hated to wake her but he had to “Ms. Phillips?” He gently touched her shoulder, his eyes focused on the bare flesh of her neck, “Anya?”

Her eyes flickered open and she seemed momentarily confused, “Oh, Oh!” She quickly sat up, “I am so sorry, I must just be very tired from …”

He smiled and cut of her apology, “It’s quite alright. We should have realized your travel would have been tiring. Let me show you up to the spare room. I already brought your carry on up there.”

She smiled at his offer and got up off the couch, “Thank you.” She grabbed the glass of water from the coffee table and followed him up the stairs. As she looked around, she couldn’t help noticing how empty the house was, in her tired state she perhaps spoke before thinking, “You live alone here?” Her cheeks burned red for a moment at her presumptuousness in asking.

He was glad she wasn’t able to see his eyes widen for a second, “Yes, Yes I do.” As they approached the room, he opened the door for her, “Sleep well.”

She smiled as she walked by him “You too, see you in the morning,” She proceeded into the room, throwing her jacket in a chair as he closed the door and took a deep breath before heading to his own empty room.

Robert closed the door to his empty room and started to take off his clothes. It didn’t occur to him that it was only 7:30. He folded his shirt neatly on the chair next to his bed and set his folded pants on top of that with his shoes under the chair and his jacket hanging over the sides. As he lay back in bed, pulling the old quilt over him, he tried to figure out why the house hadn’t seemed empty this morning, but now it did.

* * * * *

Over the course of the next two months, things didn’t change much for Robert. Classes continued and a cold snap came through so Anya was staying at the main house in the guest room still. He was having his two TAs over for dinner to start looking over the midterms. Anya was sitting at the dinning room table while he cooked dinner. He had learned to cook at least passable fare since his wife died. Anya seemed to like it, and she tended to cook breakfast, so he didn’t mind cooking dinner normally. Anyways, Anya was low on the totem pole and didn’t have any graduate students assigned to her, so she had to teach nine credits of class plus another six one-credit Symbolic Logic recitations. Poor thing had been working so hard this semester. He felt like he was helping her a little by cooking dinner, otherwise he was worried she would just forget to eat. He paused as he stirred the spaghetti sauce. Doug and Neil would be over in about an hour. He put some noodles in the boiling water and gave them a quick stir before looking out into the dinning room.

Anya was intently going over mid term blue books. Her hair was tied up in a knot behind her head and she was wearing a pair of jeans and a cream colored heavy sweater. Her bare feet were drawn up on the chair under her. As he watched her grade papers, he tried to ignore his physical reaction to how she nibbled at the eraser of her pencil as she marked a correction here and there. How a stray lock of her hair had slipped from the rest of her hair and lay gently against her neck was almost more than he could bear. Her being in the house had made it seem more alive. He felt younger with her just being around. He took a deep breath and went back to cooking dinner, stirring the noodles until his body started to relax, damn embarrassing at his age getting hard just watching a girl grade papers.

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