The Student Union was lit up from the fresh mid-afternoon light. A part of the building was laid with bricked walls and there was a substantial amount of windows; designed to favour the sun rays to retain warmth and brightness. It was the only place where I enjoyed the company of other students without running into familiar faces. I often sat on the island chairs at the center of the Union while the plants placed in between backrests were an additional privacy.
I stared at the postings of the different shape, colour and texture of papers regarding all sorts of inquiries. It could almost pass as a collage if art was intended. Suddenly, a blur stepped into my vision as my eyes gradually adjusted to the person who stood in my view.
“Paula, are you OK?” Ally’s beautiful face lifted the sunlit room to another level.
I was just in the process of recognizing her, “Yeah, I am. Hi.”
“Hi. How are you and everything else?” She seemed to emphasize on ‘everything’.
“I’m good. Better actually. And everything is good.”
“I hope so.” Ally sounded like she lacked water in her throat, “Listen, may I talk to you in private?”
I looked around to see if a change in location was necessary. The continual flow of students heading for opposite directions only gave me the comfort that we weren’t obvious enough to cause attention. My eyes turned to her and finally realized the stress in her face. She wanted to let something out and it ought to leave her lips before she could make a sound.
“I think we’re fine here. What’s wrong?” I smiled in hopes of settling her down.
“OK.” She exhaled long enough only to inhale twice the amount, “Remember what we talked about last week?”
“Which one?” I had some idea but I had to make sure we were talking about the same thing.
“You know what I’m talking about.” Her motherly instinct kicked in again.
“Yes. What about it?”
“I’m not a tattler. I don’t think it is my business. My business is about you being more than just a colleague but a friend.” She reasoned with her conscience before she could say anything.
“Thank you.” I appreciated it nonetheless, “You are too.”
She smiled in gratification that my reaction justified her doing the right thing. She continued, “I really don’t want to make a fool of myself with delusions and accusations. Just some questions and I’ll go from there. OK?”
I nodded my head.
“Are you and Ric serious with each other?”
“I think I am as much as he is for me.” The trivial game had started.
“Have you ever talked about the consequences of your actions? Of being together?”
“We have. Right now I don’t think we have anything to worry about.”
She glared right pass my face and it made me look back. The person seated not far from us may have been minding his own business but his unintentional direct look at our way caused Ally to glare back at him. He snapped out of his daydream with confusion.
She looked back at me, “Do you trust Ric?”
“I do. I don’t see why not.” By this time I started to wonder how she could make me open up to her freely.
She looked around once again before speaking, “I think you’re not alone in this romantic situation with him.”
I began to worry with this statement. Never did I expect this kind of accusation. No answer left my mouth.
“Paula, I don’t mean to cause you any harm. And I told you that this may just be me thinking too much into what I’ve seen…”
Before she could speak any longer I had to interrupt, “Wait, what are you saying? There’s someone else? What did you see?”
“Since two weeks ago I’ve been seeing Jamie enter his office at different days.” She had finally breathed normally and the elephant was out of the room. She detailed further, “At first, I didn’t pay attention. You know, students have every right to speak with teachers and administrative alike.
“But it seemed to happen more frequently. Like she knew when he would be in. After a few times I opted to stick around when I can just to see what I could pick up from it. Jamie would come out of Ric’s office and her reaction was harmless. The day I found out about you two completely surprised me. All those times I thought my suspicions for her were dead on. I had no idea that it was you who would generate this romance with him.”
I finally understood why Ally was telling me to be careful last week. The equation still wasn’t adding up properly, “So if you’ve stopped your suspicions with her and content with mine instead, then why this talk?”
“Well, like I said before, maybe you’re not the only one with this ‘thing’ going on with Ric.” She threw caution in the wind.
“Where are you getting that idea?” I sounded more desperate than intrigued, “I thought you were just overanalyzing your suspicions on her.”
“I thought so too!” Ally defended her notion, “Until last week before our class together, I saw them talking at the library. It looked serious.”
My throat felt dry.
“It was too damn serious. You know? There were more emotions involved than what’s expected between a teacher and a student.” She shook her head, “Why do I see these things? Why am I involved in this?”
“Thank you.” I held her shoulder in appreciation of her insight.
After a brief pause, she ended her reason, “Jamie left off that conversation crying.”
I was lost once again. If that incident happened before our class, then why did Jamie act as if nothing happened? I understood there was a time and place for things but I found no foul play. I began to jump on the bandwagon and the idea of competing with Jamie wasn’t too farfetched.
Ally stood up and pointed at her watch. She said nothing to give my thoughts some privacy but reminded me of the time. I followed her to Room 2510 during which I composed myself. A crowd had gathered by the entrance looking at memo attached on the door: “Class has been cancelled.”
There was a mixed reaction to the note. Some classmates enjoyed the early off but others who still had other classes later became annoyed. I stood there wondering why Ric never mentioned anything. Ally was looking around before checking my reaction. I knew what she was doing as I also noticed that one person wasn’t there. She shrugged her shoulders to no avail.
I paced my walk to Ric’s office in attempt to find him there. I was halfway down the hallway when I caught him step out of his room and went the opposite direction without noticing me. My voice was useless as it failed to shout his name. Public display was a pet-peeve. Just before I paced myself even faster to catch up to him, I was jolted in disbelief. Jamie soon followed out of his office and strutted my way. My feet froze and I couldn’t move them. Our eyes met while she passed me but no words were exchanged. I couldn’t clue in on how she felt or maybe I felt clueless altogether.
My heart was beating hard in its most negative way and my mind was in disarray. Seeing it for myself was a harder pill to swallow than hearing it from Ally.
I kept my place from where Jamie had left me staring. My fingers searched its way around the QWERTY of my phone to ask Ric a simple question, “Are we meeting at the station?”
Almost instantly, as if he had been anticipating my message, he replied, “No.”