The Second Encounter
“What’s his name?” Professor Layton Wells asked the young reporter sitting across from him. She tilted her head to the floor in a vain attempt to hide her now flushed cheeks. Wells found her embarrassment adorable and couldn’t help the grin stretching across his face. This was the second of five interviews that Wendy has conducted on the soon-to-be honored Professor, yet this was the first time he was able to truly turn the tables and get her to lose her professional demeanor.
Wells, a quantum physicist, had recently gained a bit of celebrity on campus when his equation on the theoretical Reed-Wells particle was nominated for the Royal Netherlands Academy of Science’s Lorentz Medal. The medal, awarded only once every four years, is highly distinguished within the academic community and its recipient usually goes on to win the highly coveted Nobel prize. Wells was appreciative for the nomination, but never put stock in such superficial recognition; instead, placing his reverence on the scientific discoveries themselves. Besides, he was hesitant to share the full scope of his ‘theoretical’ proposals to the scientific community at large.
“Devon.” Wendy finally answered, once again locking her eyes to Professor Wells, while sliding an escaped strand of her silk brown hair back behind her ear. “His name’s Devon Meyers.”
Wells’ grin softened as he pressed on. “And how long have you been engaged?”
Wendy let out a deep, embarrassed sigh. “Two Months. We actually met in freshmen socioeconomics.”
“Ah,” Professor Wells sighed. “College romance, there’s nothing quite like it. Though I’m surprised you would consider such a committed relationship so soon with your budding career in journalism.” Wells shifted in his seat, pausing as if he anticipated Wendy to say something. When she continued waiting in silence, Wells punctuated his point by asking, “I mean, don’t you want to be free from ties that would keep you from chasing any worldly career options?”
Reluctant to allow herself to become the subject of this interview, Wendy let out a small laugh and said, “I’d rather spend our time focusing on you, Professor.”
“Of course,” Wells nodded in apology. “You must forgive me, my first doctorate is in psychology and while my practice is now limited to only the most special of patients at the hospital, I do tend to miss the ole’ couch and chair psychiatry.”
Wendy accommodated the Professor’s explanation with a smile, which melted his heart. It was this same smile that convinced Wells to accept the young and beautiful reporter’s offer in the first place.
A school girl’s smile.
He had been hounded by many reporters since the announcement of his nomination, but had little time or interest for any of them.
Enter grad student, Wendy Sharp.
Wrapping up her major in Journalism Studies, Wendy decided for her final she would write a exclusive column on the now famous Professor. Though landing said exclusive was not as easy as she first thought. Professor Wells kept odd hours and was hardly, if ever, in his office. The few phones calls she did get through were met with a cold, irritated voice which said, “I’m working.” Followed swiftly by the loud slam of the phone receiver against its base. To be fair, Wendy understood the feeling of annoyance that accompanied the interruption of work. So, she didn’t hold it against the Professor when he was less than cordial, and continued her mission for the interview.
It wasn’t until she knocked on his door and Wells saw the brown haired beauty with her electric smile that she finally won him over.
“Please, Wendy, call me Layton.”
Wendy’s sheepish smile made the dimples in her cheeks impress. This was the second time he suggested her to use his name; the first was during their earlier interview. Admittedly, Wendy was curious as to how she was going to address the Professor during these sessions, but using his first name seemed too informal. She settled on being professional and stuck with his title instead. Using anything else would just seem odd. Plus, the way he suggested she use his name seemed, to her, a bit--
“During our last interview you went into great detail about how the discovery of your theoretical, Reed-Wells particle could change the world.” Wendy recalled while looking at her notes from their first session. “Such great detail, in fact, that it would go over the heads of most readers. Could you possibly explain in layman terms what advancements this particle, if found to exist, could mean for the world at large?”
Wells looked down at his watch, letting a pent-up breath loose from his nostrils. “Layman terms--” Wells let his words trail off as he looked around the room, his gaze falling on an unsolved rubiks cube atop a nearby table. He snatches up the cube and holds it up in front of Wendy. “The world as we perceive it exists in three dimensions. Length, width, and depth.” The Professor runs his finger along the sides of the Rubiks cube, twisting and turning it in his hands. “Each of these dimensions can be observed and measured. But there is a fourth dimension, that as of yet we’ve only ever been able to perceive. Time.”
Wendy began writing on her notepad, but only let her gaze slip from the Professor momentarily.
“Until the discovery of the Reed-Wells particle, we’re all simple passing through this fourth dimension with no way of observing, measuring, or altering it in any real way.” Wells continued fiddling with the Rubik's cube, sliding each of the colored walls in one direction or the other. “But with this particle we can finally have a window into how this dimension works. How it flows through the universe and affects the world around us. Maybe even find a way to see it’s path and possibly even alter it.”
Wells turned the small color cubed in his hands one last time, aligning all the tiny colored blocks into a solved arrangement.
“So, time travel then?” Wendy asked, hoping to have a great hook for her article.
Wells put the small cube back down on the table and paused in thought. Wendy couldn’t help but notice his gaze never moved from the watch worn around his wrist. It was an interesting watch, Wendy thought. She found it hard to concentrate on anything else as the watch’s ticking amplified the deafening silence in the room. It seemed the professor had the same problem as well, as his stare never strayed from it.
“I’m afraid that’s still the stuff of science fiction stories.”