When I got to my room, I reviewed the assignments I had written in my pad. After packing the books and notebooks I thought I would need, as well as some other miscellaneous supplies, I headed back outside. Walter was waiting for me on the Stanton steps. His bag looked as overstuffed as mine.
We trudged our way back across the street and into the main entrance of the library. I knew from one of our campus tours that this was a quiet study area, but I had no idea where we could study together. I turned to the stern-looking librarian sitting behind the large circulation desk. Even though I kept my voice low, it still echoed in the cavernous space.
“Um, is there a place we can go study? Like, without having to whisper?”
The librarian pursed her lips and pointed towards a white corridor. “There are study rooms upstairs.”
I nodded and led the way into the more modern section of the library. We followed a staircase to the second story. After passing through another corridor, we found the study rooms. I turned to Walter. “Now what?”
He shrugged and led the way into a room with glass windows looking into the corridor. There was a table in the middle of the room to work at, as well as a pair of large, comfortable-looking leather wing-backed chairs. I pointed to the chairs as I put my bag on the table.
“I better not sit in that. I’ll probably fall asleep.”
Walter nodded, placing his bag across from me. “Tell me about it. So, what should we work on first?”
As he unpacked his bag, I examined my assignment pad. I was still overwhelmed and had no idea where to begin. “I don’t really feel like reading yet. How about Latin?”
I followed his lead, placing all my books in a neat stack on the table beside me. After finding some loose-leaf and a pen, I opened my Latin book to the assigned page. As Walter read the story out loud, I followed along. For some reason, it was easier for me to understand the foreign words if I saw them instead of just listening to them. As he read, I kept glancing at the glossary beneath the passage.
He looked at me when he was done. “Okay. So, I know it’s not part of the assignment, but I think we should translate this before we answer the questions.”
I nodded. “That’s not a bad idea.” In fact, it was such a good idea, I decided to write the translation as we went. It slowed us down, but I hoped it would make answering the questions easier.
Walter read the first one. “Question number one. What is the name of Cornelia’s father?”
I looked up from my page. “Do we need to write these in complete sentences? And do they have to be in Latin?”
Walter looked at the syllabus again. “He didn’t say. I don’t think we learned how to write complete sentences in Latin, though.”
I shrugged, reading my answer aloud as I wrote. “Cornelia’s father is Cornelius.” I waited for Walter to write the same before reading the next question. “What is Cornelia doing?”
I slowly wrote my answer on the page. “Cornelia is writing.”
It took us nearly an hour to complete all ten questions. At that rate, I would be spending most of the day, as well as all of study hours, working on my assignments. So much for my one-day weekend.
“Hey, we have the same math homework.”
I looked at Walter. He had my assignment pad in his hand. As he put it down, he pointed to the words I had scribbled at the bottom of the page. “What’s that?”
I could feel my cheeks growing warm and I couldn’t quite meet his eyes. I pulled my vocabulary journal from my bag and passed it to him. Ashe flipped through it, I explained. “I have a vocabulary journal. Whenever there’s a word I don’t know, I write it down and look it up later. Those are the words I heard yesterday that I meant to look up. I’ll do it later.”
He shrugged as he returned the journal. “You don’t have to. I’ll help you out. A syllabus is—well, aren’t you going to write this down?”
I raised my eyebrows. He was smiling at me. Not the kind of smile that implied he was making fun of me or thought me ignorant for having such a bad vocabulary. It was the kind of smile that said he really wanted to help me. With a shrug, I opened my vocabulary journal to the next line and wrote out the definitions he provided me before we started our math homework.
By the time we finished all twenty problems, it was time for lunch. I had never spent so long working on my homework before, and I wasn’t even halfway done. How on earth was I going to do this every night?
Right now, though, I had a bigger problem. My books were scattered all over the table. I didn’t really want to pack everything away to bring to the dining hall, just to bring it all back upstairs after lunch. When I voiced this concern aloud, Walter nodded.
“That’s a good point. I’ll be right back.” He grabbed his phone and disappeared without an explanation.
I walked over to the window, peering out at the students below. People were walking in small groups between the buildings. A number of them were heading towards the dining hall, but many were also heading towards the MAC. I wondered how they had time to hang out with each other when we had so much homework to finish.
My phone played an unfamiliar ring tone, bringing me back to my senses. I gave it a curious look as I picked it up. I thought I had silenced it while I studied. And I had never heard that song before. And, this didn’t look like my phone.
Walter must have taken mine. But, there was something familiar about the number that had popped on the screen. It was mine! Should I answer it?
I decided it couldn’t hurt. “Hello?”
“Melinda?” I recognized Walter’s voice immediately. “Good. You answered. I was worried you wouldn’t. Come on down to the front entrance. You can leave your stuff. Oh, but bring my phone.”
Walter ended the call without waiting for an answer. I glanced around. I didn’t feel right leaving my vocabulary journal behind, so I tossed it into my backpack before heading downstairs. I found Walter in the vestibule in front of the main entrance and passed him his phone. He returned mine, explaining that he had added himself to my contacts list.
I wasn’t really sure how I felt about that. Normally, I didn’t like people touching my things. But, it wasn’t that big a deal. It’s not like having his name in my phone made him my boyfriend or anything.
Actually, I realized as I set my lunch tray beside my roommate, I should have everyone’s phone numbers. That way, we could tell each other when we were going to lunch. Sarah had the same idea, so we quickly exchanged numbers. By the end of the meal, I had the contact information, as well as pictures, of all eight people around the table.
I was in no rush to get back to the library, so I stayed at the table with my friends until everyone else started to leave. Eventually, Sarah, Larry, Walter, and I were the only ones left. Deciding I should probably try to tackle my next assignment, I brought my tray to the dishroom.
“Melinda. Wait up.”
I turned around to see Walter carrying his tray behind me. I waited for him and we walked back to the library together.
“You going to stay? Or are you gonna try to catch the game?”
Walter shrugged. “If I watch the game, I’ll have a lot of homework to do later. But, if I do my homework, I’ll miss the game. Two strong teams. It should be a good game.”
I didn’t have an opinion, but it didn’t seem like Walter was looking for one. He wasn’t really talking to me, just thinking aloud. I let him ramble all the way back to our study room. As soon as we crossed the threshold, he gave a mournful sigh.
“There’s no way I’ll finish all this if I watch the game. I’ll catch the highlights online tonight.”
We opened our physics books and I read the first paragraph aloud before looking at Walter. “I have no idea what I just read.”
He smiled. “It’s just the introduction. It’s telling you that Aristotle—you’ve heard of him, right?”
I rolled my eyes. “Yes.”
“Well, he was one of the first contributors to the branch of science that we now call physics. The important part of that paragraph is the last line: this chapter is going to teach us about what physics is and why we need to study it.”
I nodded and wrote that in my notebook before reading the next paragraph aloud. Walter graciously summarized it for me. For the entire chapter, we took turns reading and I wrote down Walter’s summaries after each paragraph. Although it took twice as long to read the chapter, by the end I had a page full of notes that almost made sense.
We decided to reward our efforts with a quick tour of the library before beginning our English assignments. When we returned to the room, I looked longingly at the leather chairs.
“I wanna sit there to read.”
Walter shrugged. “Okay.” He grabbed his book and sank into one of them. “Yeah, I’m going to fall asleep if I stay here.”
“Why don’t we read aloud?” I sat in the other chair, nearly melting into the seat. It was beyond comfortable.
“If you read to me, I’m going to fall asleep.”
I shook my head. “Nah. We’ll take turns.”
Walter shrugged. “Okay. Let’s try it.” He opened his book to a random page. “Once upon a time—”
I smacked him. “You’re trying to put me to sleep, aren’t you?”
He laughed. “What page are we reading, anyway?”
I rolled my eyes. “I thought you knew. I left my assignment pad over there.” I waved towards the table.
Walter got up with a sigh, going to the table to check the assignment. “Okay. So, you wrote that we had to read chapter one.”
“Is that the section about the Gods, or does that mean the introduction?”
Walter returned to his seat. “I have no idea. I say read both just to be on the safe side.”
I groaned. “I had a feeling you were going to say that.”
Together, we read over fifty pages, switching off each paragraph. Walter was very animated and we had a lot of fun reading together. By the time we were done, the dining hall was open.
Pat’s story will begin in March