“You’re the only student I’ve ever asked out.” he said as though that was reason enough for her to consider his proposal.
Arda knew she probably could believe that because students usually walked on eggshells around him.
“I don’t want a sugar daddy.” she repeated.
“If you change your mind, let me know, Arda.”
Arda did not believe that she would ever change her mind.
“No problem.” She told him still.
“Don’t worry,” he said to her. “Refusing me won’t affect your grades or my responsibility in guiding you properly in your project.”
He pulled out a file from the table with her name on it, retrieved a copy of the paper she had with her, ticked the last project topic among the three project proposals and stamped Approved on it. Then he handed it over to her and she gave him the one in her hand. He endorsed it too and stuck it in her file.
“Let’s talk about what is expected in your first chapter.”
He spent some time teaching her while she took notes and when their session ended fifteen minutes later, she thanked him, stuck her materials in her bag and zipped it before rising to her feet.
“See you next week, Arda. Enjoy your day.”
“You too, Sir.”
“Ray.” he corrected.
“Now, that is better.”
She smiled and he returned her smile, waving her off. Arda exited the office and the moment she shut the door behind her, she heard her phone ringing and vibrating inside her backpack. She retrieved it from the bag and saw that the call was from Luke.
Arda stood a couple of yards from the professor’s door in the hallway and took the call as people occasionally walked back and forth in the hallway.
“Hi Luke, good morning.” she said.
“Good morning my dear, how are you?”
Arda could already picture him smiling as he talked patiently with her. How could she not have accepted him earlier? She wondered.
“I’m good, thanks and you?”
“I am still basking in the euphoria of your acceptance.”
Arda smiled. “That is so good to hear, Luke.”
“I really cannot wait to see you. Are you done with your Supervisor?”
“Yeah, seconds ago.”
“Good, how was it?”
“Great.” Arda was starting to enjoy having someone special to talk with.
“Okay. So can I come and pick you up right now? I know it’s not yet 12:00pm but if you’re free, I would love to steal the rest of your time.”
“You sound so greedy.” She drawled and he laughed.
“I didn’t know you had a sense of humor.”
“Maybe I do.” Arda was enjoying her talk with him and she found herself twirling a strand of her hair. She felt romantic.
“I like that. So should I come?”
“I thought we agreed that you should not. I’m supposed to take you everywhere, remember?”
“I’m sorry. I totally forgot.”
“No problem. What do you say to meeting at Landmark?”
“I say yes.”
“Fine. See you there, baby.”
“See you.” Arda responded and he ended the call. She had never been called baby affectionately by a guy because she had never dated anyone. She admitted to herself that it did feel good. She had come to school with the mindset of focusing on her studies and staying clear of guys, relationship wise. She did not want to be distracted so that she would graduate with good grades.
Arda watched a girl heading towards her direction. The girl was a graduating student of history and therefore, her course mate. She had the appearance of a pure bookworm or a nerd and she currently looked nervous as she kept chewing on her lower lip.
Her eyes were resting behind clear medicated glasses that exaggerated the size of her eyeballs. Her curly hair was lengthy and held in a rough ponytail. Her petite figure was clad in a red knee length checkered skirt and white tee shirt. Arda found her wedge black sandals cute. It tempered her nerdy look. Not that she was judging her, thought Arda. After all, everyone was entitled to his or her own style.
“Hello Arda,” the girl said, coming to stand beside her.
“Is he also your Supervisor?” she asked, pointing at Ray’s door.
“How was your first meeting?”
“I’m nervous. They say that he is difficult with project students. He likes perfection, etc etc.”
Arda had heard the rumors. Didn’t even Jacob mention it to her that morning?
“I think he’s okay. You should just go there with an open mind.”
“Are you just saying so because…?” Tracy began and hesitated.
“Well, there are talks by some of our course mates.” She said, not bothering to elaborate.
“What kind of talk?” Arda pressed.
“That you’re seeing him. That he is sweet on you. They say that you may have influenced his being your supervisor.”
Arda laughed. “I’m glad they think I have that kind of influence.” She said with a note of sarcasm. “I don’t care and I don’t owe anybody any explanation. When they are tired of talking, then they can face their projects.”
“Anyway, if it’s true, please talk to him so that he can be cool with me, please?”
“I’m not seeing him, Tracy.”
“Hmn. Okay. I guess I’ll see you around.”
Tracy glanced at her thin banded wristwatch and Arda followed her gaze to find the time at 11:10am. She also noticed that there was a mark on Tracy’s wrist. It lay just above the wristwatch and it was the image of the sun.
At first glance, it was a tattoo but it seemed to look like it had the markings of a mole on it, like hers, which meant it was probably a birthmark.
“Thank God, I’m not late.” Tracy said and Arda nodded, giving her a supportive smile. Arda watched her take a few steps that brought her before the door of the professor’s office.
“Um…Tracy.” She called and Tracy turned sideways to look at her.
“I’ve just noticed your tattoo for the first time.”
Tracy took one glance at her marked wrist and looked back at her.
“Yeah, sure. It looks interesting.”
“Is it a birthmark?”
“No, of course not,” Tracy responded. “It’s a tattoo of the sun. If it was a birthmark, it would be weird don’t you think so?” As she spoke, she was unconsciously covering the mark with her hand. “You know, you’re the only one who’s ever asked me if it was real. What makes you think it is?”
Arda thought about her question. She also noticed how uncomfortable Tracy was as she talked about the mark. She herself had often felt that way. It was either Tracy knew the truth or she was hiding something. Arda wanted to tell her about her own mark but she also thought of what her parents had said, warning her about bringing unnecessary attention to her mark. What if Tracy’s parents had told her the same thing her parents told her? That would explain why the girl was acting dodgy about the mark.
They shared something in common as far as she was concerned. She had the image of the moon and Tracy had that of the sun. Both were birthmarks. Was she reading too much into it? Maybe it was just a meaningless thing but she had started thinking it probably wasn’t. She was confused but she did not want to push it for now.
“Oh, nothing.” She finally answered Tracy. “It was just a thought.” She smiled to take off the tension that was clearly starting to build between them and Tracy returned her smile.
“Bye.” Arda told her.
“Bye.” Tracy responded and knocked on the professor’s door. Arda turned and walked away as Tracy let herself inside the professor’s office. As Arda went on her way, her mind was on Luke, but it was also in a state of confusion as she thought of the marks and the letter including the gift from the anonymous man. She guessed that time would clear the confusion. For starters, Luke would probably be the trigger it would take to either ignore the anonymous man or begin to take him seriously and seek help if things got out of hand.