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1.2: Not Who You Think I Am

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Orientation was on Tuesday, but Timmory had no interest in being somewhere she didn't need to be and ditched at lunch. Classes didn't really start until Wednesday, so it was on Wednesday morning that Timmory drove Julia to campus with all the anxiety in her heart she said she didn't have. They took too long to find a parking spot. Despite its location in the heart of a small town where most students lived in dorms or within walking distance, parking at Acadia University turned out to be surprisingly hard to come by. They found a space in a far corner, and as the time crept a few minutes past 8:30, the pair scampered across campus to find their first building. It was less easy to find the room, and even less so finding a place to sit among the packed rows of seats. They had to sit a couple rows apart with Timmory opting for the chair further back, eying the boy that Julia sat next to with hot jealousy. While their professor outlined the syllabus and proceeded into the first lesson, Timmory struggled to pay attention, hastily jotting notes before her eyes drifted elsewhere, to the windows or multitudes of heads that sat before her, to Julia and the boy—her new, if temporary rival. When the class ended, she was first on her feet and shimmying to freedom, waiting for Julia at the end of her row.

They walked together outside, but Julia broke off in another direction. "My next class is in the Beveridge," she said, bracing for Timmory's melodrama.

Timmory stared ruefully in the direction of the building. "Lunch?"

Julia nodded.

"I'll meet you here." Timmory watched Julia flit away, her friend tossing one last confident smile. What did it take to be as optimistic as Julia or her parents? Whatever it was, clearly it was something Timmory lacked. She withdrew a crumpled map of the campus from her backpack, a souvenir from orientation the day before. Pinpointing her next class, Timmory cut through the mingling streams to another building.

Her second class, Geology of Earth, was in a building adorned with shiny rocks and old fossil replicates. Her quirky professor encouraged students to experience the texture of piles of dirt she lifted up in her hands. The class ended late and they were released into a surging crowd of students already on the way to their next class, and Timmory panicked, realizing she hadn't checked the location of her third class. She stopped by a second-floor window and consulted her map, only to find she had to travel all the way across campus again. Maybe she should have planned her schedule better. Ugh! I wish I knew where I was going! Frustrated, Timmory oriented herself with the surroundings of the building outside, then was distracted by migrating herds of humans below.

Among them, a man in a blond bun walked backwards, speaking with his hands to a woman and two children. Timmory watched him point. At one building, at another building. At her building, at her in the window, although he likely didn't know it; she felt exposed when the two children looked her way, and she caught the eyes of the little girl.

Then a reflection moved in the window. Timmory's attention shifted behind her, crystal clear out of the glass, the face of another student. Watching the family too. Or watching her?

When she turned the face was gone, but Timmory remembered distinctly red hair and saw him up ahead. She paid absolutely no attention to him as he walked the same path to her next class. She purposefully lost him in the rush between buildings, then spent too many minutes finding the room. By the time she arrived at her third class, Introductory Cultural Anthropology, it was already in session. Timmory peeked in and spied a mass of students staring at the professor as he reviewed office hours. She didn't want to intrude. Surely, she could just listen to him talk out here, right? But then she'd need a syllabus. What if he popped some random first day quiz? She couldn't just bust in like she was spying on them from outside. But if she walked in now, everyone would stare at her. Timmory bit her lip. It was by some miracle of God that he implored the students to turn to their neighbor and introduce themselves. That was a big part of anthropology: getting to know people, he said. Timmory slipped in, scanning for an open seat. An opportunity at the end of a row. Beside her, her neighbor's conversation was dying down. As she tucked her backpack between her feet and settled in, he turned to her with a smile.

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