three. Values & Principles

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In the subsequent 20th century classes that I attended, I learned quite a few things about Alexei that I would rather not know. According to Ro and Jenna, Alexei was:

One. A firm believer in the principle that nice guys finish last. It took me a while to figure out what this meant, and once I did, I almost choked on the sip of water I was swallowing.

Two. In an on and off "relationship" with a Harvard law student, named Nirvana. After hearing her name I was overtaken by a very strong feeling of kinship –her name was just as weird and ridiculous as mine.

Three. According to many, a future presidential candidate.

Four. Very reluctant to engage in relationships and avoidant of commitment.

And even though my knowledge of Alexei's personal life was increasing by the minute every time I bothered to show up at one of these classes, my knowledge of 20th century literature remained pretty much stagnant.

I didn't really bother to listen to the professor as he drawled on and on about Oscar Wilde. Instead, between my conversations with Ro and Jenna –who were paying about as much attention to the class as me –I spent most of my time drawing the guy with the crooked nose that always sat in the same seat, just a few places away from me.

I was in the middle of finishing another sketch of him during the ten minute break, when a shadow fell over my sketchbook.

I closed it hastily, and looked up to meet a pair of astonishingly green eyes. My breath caught in my throat, and I pressed the sketchbook into my chest, cheeks burning.

"Hey," Alexei said as he settled into the seat next to mine. I resisted the urge to move one seat away from him, and forced a smile.

"H-hey," I muttered.

"The semester is almost over," he began with a small half-smile, "and you've missed more classes than you've attended."

I shrugged.

He pointedly looked at my sketchbook. "And from what I see, you weren't exactly taking notes either."

The way his eyes glinted with mockery made me want to arrange an impromptu meeting between his head and any hard surface available. I clenched my jaw and resolutely kept my eyes down, glaring at my lap.

"Look, do you want me to help you with the final essay?"

My head snapped up in surprise. "Wh-what?"

"I figured that you could use some help for the final essay, since you missed more than half of the classes and you were kind of distracted during the ones you actually did attend." He glanced over at the guy with the crooked nose and my cheeks got even hotter.

"Look, I –I really appreciate the offer, but I'm not actually a student here." I couldn't maintain eye-contact with him for more than a few seconds at a time –there was something really unnerving about the color of his eyes that made my thoughts lose all coherence.

"Huh?" It was his turn to look completely caught off guard. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that I don't attend Harvard." Seeing no change in his puzzled expression, I babbled on. "I work at the library two days per week. I just wanted to see what a Harvard class was like." I shut my mouth then, belatedly realizing how pathetic I sounded.

He remained silent, but  his eyes were still wide. "So thanks for the offer, but I won't need the notes." At that, I stuffed my sketchbook into my backpack and stood up. I hovered there, unsure of what to say –or even if I was supposed to say anything. Finally, as the awkward silence continued, I realized that the best course of action was probably to leave. Without further embarrassing myself, I turned on my heel and almost jogged to the exit of the classroom.

Robin des Bois ✓Where stories live. Discover now