Thirty-Four: Changing Minds †

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I was gawping down at my Psychology project in my lap as Johanna came barging through the door.

She tripped over, composing herself a moment later in prior to closing the door. She chucked her things down on the bed from where she was stood before making her way over. Her phone had fallen on the floor so she bent down, mumbling inarticulately to herself as she picked it up and chucked it on the bed.

"Dammit," she whispered after flopping onto her bed like a fish diving into the water after being out of it for too long.

"What's up?" I asked, shuffling some papers to the side. My folder was at the end of the bed out of the way with my notepad.

She sighed, lying back. "I got my essay back," she replied. "It could be better, let's leave it at that. My professor was saying about how I should be improving drastically by this point seeing as it's already the tenth of November."

Please don't remind me of the date, I mused. We're just counting down the days until Christmas Eve, aren't we, Jason?

I glanced at her. "Maybe she thinks you have the intelligence within you to make it better. Who knows, maybe on your next try you'll ace it and get top marks; maybe you'll even be top of the class, you know," I articulated, trying to give some uplifting words of encouragement.

"I hope you're right," she breathed.

"Is it my turn to share a problem?" I questioned after a moment of dwindling silence due to Johanna flicking through her science books.

"What's up with you?"

"Maybe I shouldn't do the project on Jason," I notified. "I mean, what happens if he finds out? If we announce them to the class and word gets round – which, the first day was a prime example because you already knew Jason was shifty and was soccer captain – so what happens to me? I'm the bad guy. Maybe I should just do it on soccer players in general," I sighed. "But that would be so boring and typical."

"I think you just answered your own question," she acknowledged.

I got up, gathering up all of my assets. I got my notepad, folder and questions at the ready in my arms, tucking the free-from-answer question sheet into the notepad, and then shoved them into the folder. I marched to the door, abruptly remembering my key card on my desk. I retraced my steps before smearing it on the table and marching out.

"I'll be back," I called out just before the door slammed shut. I winced at the proverbial reverberation.

Strolling down outside into the athletic grounds, I glanced around. No one was practicing soccer. That left the library next to be one of the main places Jason would be. Following my own instructions, I entered the library and stood mindlessly in the threshold, craning my neck around to see if I could even catch a glimpse of Jason.

And there he was: sitting on his own at one of the tables with his books out in front of him. How could someone so shifty act so nonchalant in public? It was like he had a doppelganger and this was the good division of himself.

Commencing to prance to him, bouncing on my feet virtually, I stood to the side of him. He looked up. "Oh, Tiegan." He relaxed instantaneously at the mere sight of me because I witnessed his shoulders dropping.

"Can I ask something please?"

"I guess you could ask me something else," he retorted, an amused smile on his face that it almost appeared crooked. "I admit, that was quite good on my behalf."

I rolled my eyes and took a seat next to him, retracting the chair. I sat down as I spoke, "Can I do an interview? With you?" I asked, hopeful and nibbling on the edge of my bottom lip, placing my folder and the contents on the table in front of me. My body was turned, however, so I was facing Justin with the back of my chair against my right arm.

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