As dinnertime drew closer, the cold, October fog that settled over the Champlain campus was no closer to burning off than it had been that morning. Students scurried about, either to the dining hall or their next class, bundled up in baggy sweatshirts and warm jackets. A few of them even went as so far to put on scarves and caps, clearly unfamiliar with the New England chill.
One of these newcomers was a girl wearing a oversized blue pullover and black leather gloves. She was clearly out of her element, weaving her way through the crowd as quickly as she could and apologizing as her book bag bounced off the unsuspecting students around her. She made her way for the stairs by the Hauke Center, only stopping when she noticed a boy in paint stained sweatshirt tailing her.
“Hey, wait up,” the boy called after her, slowing to a trot when he realized she was paused at the top of the stairwell. His cheeks were rosy pink, but the way he stumbled to a stop told the girl in the blue pullover that this was not on account of the cold. “Um, you’re in my concepts class?”
Wrapping her gloved fingers around the handrail impatiently, the girl looked him up and down. He was tall and gangly, his blonde hair wild as though he had just rolled out of bed. “I don’t think so,” she answered at length, clearly finding nothing about the flustered boy recognizable.
“No, you totally are,” he insisted, ducking to the side of the stairs so that a group of female students could pass them by. He drew a bare hand from his sweatshirt then, offering it to her in what seemed like an awkward invitation for a handshake. “We have Capone.”
“Oh?” the girl glanced between the boy and his outstretched hand, then shook her head. “Yeah, okay, right. I remember you now.”
“So, do you, uh, know what the homework is?” the boy asked sheepishly. He drew his hand back into this stained sweatshirt, shifting uncomfortably on his feet as though the few seconds of exposure to the cold air had been too much.
The girl in the blue pullover drew up her hood and began to jog down the stairs. “Portraits and Persons,” she responded, calling back over her shoulder to him. “Chapter two. Sorry, I really gotta run.”
“Yeah, no, that’s cool,” the boy called after her, accidentally knocking shoulders with another passing student. “I’ll, uh, see you in class?”
From the base of the stairwell, there was no response. The girl in the blue pullover had disappeared into the fog, leaving her bumbling classmate to hover about the landing behind her uncertainly.
“Stupid,” he muttered to himself quietly as he watched her go. Tentatively, he placed a boot on the top step, then spun around and ducked back into the crowd shaking his head. “Stupid, stupid.”