Again, she beat me to my advisor’s office, my crying girl. I heard the sniffling as I sat in the chair outside the door.
“You could’ve called,” Professor Morceau suggested.
“You refuse to get a cell phone. I think we both know why a call wasn’t possible.” She released a mirthless laugh. I heard shoes padding back and forth across the floor.
“Sit down at least. It can’t be that bad.”
“I can’t sit. I can’t stay. I have to get back before Ollie wakes.” She sighed heavily. “We have to meet the doctor in a few hours for the test results. If they can’t tell you over the phone, it’s bad.” She hiccupped.
“Does ‘we’ mean you finally reconciled with the father?” Professor Morceau’s voice sounded flat.
“No, we is me and Ollie, same as always. Us against the world.” She released a mirthless laugh.
“I don’t know what to say.” Professor Morceau sighed.
“You never know what to say. Words were never your thing.” She sounded angry and frustrated. “I’ve gotta go. I don’t even know why I came here.” Then the door flew open again. This time, I was prepared.
Standing, I held out a handkerchief. I’d started carrying them with me after the first time I met her. “Here. Take it.”
She stared at me a moment. This time the tears spilled over her cheeks and rushed down her face. Reaching out, she held the soft linen in her hands a moment, then she fell into my arms. I held her close while I murmured in her hair. “I don’t know why you’re crying,” I whispered. “All I know is I wish I could take your pain away.” It wasn’t much, but it was the truth. My heart had ached for her since our first meeting. The pain was both real and acute.
For several minutes, we stood there with her face buried in my chest. Professor Morceau looked at us thoughtfully, then backed away and disappeared inside his office once more. When she finally stopped crying, she gazed up at me sadly. “For some reason, I believe you.” Then she wrapped her hands around my neck, forcing my head toward hers. Her eyelids shut, but mine never did as she leaned in and touched her lips to mine. A warmth spread through me, building like a wildfire, sparked from a simple kiss. As quickly as she had burst through the door, she backed away and rushed down the hall, taking my handkerchief with her.
From then on, the crying girl was forever in my heart and thoughts. I never told anyone about her. There was nothing to tell, really. I didn’t even speak about it with Professor Morceau, since it seemed rather personal to him. Over time, as the years passed, I gave up and decided I’d never see her again.