Dad and I wondered around for the next couple of hours, working off breakfast, and killing time before his date. When it was time, we walked back to the Rise and Shiner. I gave dad a hug, told him to have fun today and climbed into my car. Since I was already out and about, I figured I would make good use of my time and work on my thesis before starting my shift at The Upper Cut. My bachelor’s degree is in Ancient History, which naturally means that I work as a waitress, while I earn my Master’s degree. Once I have my Master’s, I plan to teach at the Central Ohio University, as an adjunct, of course, while I work on my Ph.D. So, off to the library I went. Technically, I could probably do all my research from my laptop at home, but I happen to like the library with its musty old reference books and old-fashioned carrels. I thought for a moment about looking up my little fertility figurine while I was digging through the books, but dismissed the thought. One of these days I would research it, but not today. I wasn’t ready yet. For now, she was my mom’s gift to me, and that was enough.
I walked into the library, smiled at Mrs. Steen, who was doing something official looking at the main desk, and headed to the back stacks. A few minutes later, loaded down with six rather heavy reference tomes, I sat down at an empty table and dug my index cards and my phone out of my purse. The cards were, of course, for taking notes. The phone was, of course, for texting with my best friend and roommate Sam. Sam, otherwise known as Samantha Abernathy, is in her first year of residency at Mercy Medical Center, and she usually texts me when she comes up for breath to complain about the asshat doctors, or the asshat patients, or the asshat nurses. Asshat is Sam’s favorite word. Sure enough, halfway through my examination of The Art of the Athenians my phone buzzed. “Just off peds rotation. Poor kiddos. Dr. Jamieson should get snipped. Treats sick kids like an assembly line. Asshat!” I shook my head in sympathy. “Sorry 2 hear it. Hope the rest of your day is asshatery-free. Wanna meet for drinks later?” My phone buzzed again immediately. “Yesss! 10:30 at Ralph’s?” I smiled and nodded vigorously. “Perfect! See ya there. Stay away from asshats. J” She sent back an appropriate emoticon, and I turned back to my research.
Two hours later, armed with great information about all things Athenian and artistic, I was gathering my stuff and getting ready to head out. I would run home, feed Zeus, go for a quick walk, grab my work stuff, and be off to The Upper Cut for the Saturday evening feeding frenzy, otherwise known as the dinner shift. I hadn’t bothered with lunch. My Shiner breakfast was still warming my insides, and I figured I would grab a bite at work later. I wondered how dad’s date had gone. He hadn’t called yet, and I was hoping this was a good sign. I made a mental note to call him tomorrow if I didn’t hear from him by then.
Walking down the library steps, I heard a familiar male voice yell my name. I turned back to see Professor Holloway hurrying to catch up. “Hello, Ellie,” he extended his hand. “Hi, Dr. Holloway,” I replied, somewhat confused. Dr. Stephen Holloway had been my undergrad academic advisor and favorite history prof. I had known him for four years. I knew and liked his wife Jessica and absolutely adored his two kids, Will and Emma, who were often camped out in his office during the day, when Jess was on business trips. What was with the handshake? “You left this on the table,” he offered, and I looked at the hand extended toward me. My phone winked in the sunlight, apparently happy to see me. “Oh!” I gratefully accepted the phone. “Thank you.” I smiled at him again and noticed for the first time that he didn’t look his usual dapper self today. The trademark neatly pressed button-down had been replaced by a frayed sweatshirt, his khakis were wrinkled, and his bare ankles showed above the ripped up chucks. His hair whipped furiously in the wind, and I noted with surprise that it was a mass of dark red curls. I guess I had never seen it this long before. He must not have had a haircut in months! His face showed several days’ worth of stubble, and his eyes, normally a clear blue, were shadowed. What the hell!
“How are you, Dr. Holloway?” I said. “Is everything ok? I mean, I don’t usually see you on campus on Saturdays. I mean, you look…. I mean, I haven’t seen you in a while….” I stopped talking, afraid I would say something tactless or stupid or both. Dr. Holloway shook his head. “I was cleaning out my office and found some books I needed to return to the library.”
“Cleaning out your office! Why?” I was seriously confused now. Dr. Holloway’s office was, admittedly, always a cluttered mess, but he had always insisted that the clutter was by design and he knew where every book and document were and could find anything he needed in ten seconds or less. “I’m taking a Sabbatical, Ellie. For a year. I’m a bit behind in my research, and I need to write something soon. You know, publish or perish. I have lots of uninterrupted, quiet days ahead of me now.” He looked away. “Jess left me,” he said simply.
I was stunned. The Holloway marriage always seemed to me like the perfect twenty-first century relationship. I often thought that, if and when I got married, I would love to have a marriage like that. They seemed so great together, laughing at each other’s jokes, raising their kids as partners, supporting each other’s career choices. What the hell happened?
I didn’t realize I had spoken that last part aloud. “I don’t know,” Dr. Holloway said, the sadness in his voice breaking my heart. “She just said it was over. She loves me but isn’t in love with me anymore. What does that mean? She took my kids. They moved into a condo on the south side.” He shook his head. “My kids are in a condo.” His voice broke. “What kind of life is that? They should be at home. What do I do now?” He suddenly looked up, as if noticing for the first time that I was still there. “I’m sorry, Ellie,” he said. “I shouldn’t be unloading to you like that. I’m sure you have things to do. Take care.” He walked quickly past me and I watched him disappear around the library corner, heading to his office in Drewer Hall.
I climbed into my car and drove home.
Title – Library Chapter 4
Excerpt – Dad and I wondered around for the next couple of hours, working off breakfast, and killing time before his date. When it was time, we walked the Rise and Shiner
Tags – Dad, Upper Cut, Steen, Sam, Samantha, Abernathy, Jamieson, Ralph’s, Zeus, Shiner, Stephen, Holloway, Jessica, Will, Emma, Jess, Ellie, Alla Reese, Alla, Reese, Olympian, The Olympian