untitled by Briana Weiss
Robyn was beside herself. First, her alarm doesn’t go off—her phone had died in the middle of the night, even though she’d plugged it in. She figured her roommate tripped on the cord when she got back at some ungodly hour. Then the bus was late, resulting in her being late for class. Icing on the cake, it turns out the professor decides to spring a pop quiz over something that the class was supposed to read for next time. And he wouldn’t let her retake it, or not count her as tardy because her excuse sounded fabricated.
To hell with it! She growled internally, clenching her fists so tightly that her knuckles were bone white. Third day of school and she was quickly realizing that some professors really were assholes. Fine then. In response she turned on her heel, sneakers squeaking on the recently cleaned floors, and stormed from the classroom in the middle of the professor berating her in front of her classmates.
Like she’d stand around for that bullshit.
Regrettably, this wasn’t going to set up a good first impression, but at this point Robyn was ready to raise her middle fingers high over her head and scream obscenities at the campus as a whole. Even more regrettable, because she was actually a very pleasant person…
Sitting herself down on a bench outside Harris Hall, Robyn reclined against the cool concrete and sighed loudly, stretching her legs fully until her knees popped. She tilted her head back until she could see the sky through the branches of the tree overhead, letting the quiet calm her down.
“Man,” she groaned, closing her eyes. Slowly Robyn let her muscles relax, one by one, until she was practically boneless against the bench. After settling into her new apartment and all the work involved with transferring, she was ready for a break already. Northmont University had a great education program, however. It would be worth it.
Which made this morning’s situation all the worse; Professor Gillum taught a handful of the classes she’d need for her education major. She’d have to watch herself from now on.
She heard hurried steps heading in her direction, and peeked an eye open to see a young man staring intently at what she assumed was his schedule, rushing down the sidewalk to the building she’d just left. His glasses—hipster glasses, Robyn noted, though they looked a little smaller, how nerdy—were almost at the end of his nose, and his hair was a disheveled mess.
Seeing enough, she closed her eye again, only to have them jolt open when the same young man stumbled and tripped over her outstretched legs.
He squawked and flailed, his schedule and the couple of books in his hands flying forward ahead of him while his messenger bag slid down and off his arm. He landed hard on the sidewalk, and his glasses flew off his face, skidding forward into the grass.
“Oh my God!” Robyn almost tripped herself in her haste to get up. “Are you okay? Why weren’t you watching where you were going?”
She went from concern to anger in seconds, and the poor guy looked up at her. He blinked dazedly, the fall and her sudden mood swing throwing him for a loop. “Huh?” he asked smartly.
“You didn’t hit your head, so you should be fine,” she mumbled to herself, leaning forward on her knees to grab his glasses. “Can you see?” she asked, handing them over.
He nodded lamely, murmuring a soft thanks as he grabbed his glasses and inspected them for damage. Luckily they fell close to the ground, and only the frames were scuffed. “They’re just readers,” he said. He perched them back on his nose nonetheless, blinking owlishly at her. “Uh, thanks.”
“Don’t thank me,” she scoffed, sitting back and folding her arms across her chest. “My legs are what tripped you up to begin with.”
“You should watch where you walk,” she scolded. He looked down and fiddled with his hands sheepishly. “You lost?” She stood and offered him a hand. He quickly gathered his books by his side and took it, standing up.
“Sort of,” he admitted, tapping his fingers against his books as he glanced toward the building he’d been heading to. “I haven’t been able to look around the campus much.”
“Let me see your schedule,” Robyn said, holding out her hand. He gave it to her, and she wrinkled her nose at the class he was supposed to be in. “English Grammar with Gillum, Harris 203.”
“Harris is one of the few buildings that doesn’t have its name on the side,” he explained. “I went to the wrong one first and asked for directions.”
I really don’t want to go back in there, Robyn thought to herself. She sighed and handed him his schedule back, blinking as she realized he was about half a foot taller than her. “As an apology,” she started, motioning for him to follow as she moved toward Harris again, slinging her bag over her shoulder. He followed obediently like a puppy. “I’ll walk you to the room. It’s kind of off in a corner, anyway.”
“Thank you,” he enthused, and when Robyn looked back he was positively beaming at her. She faced front again, hoping she was quick enough to conceal her blush.
She walked him to the door and motioned him in. He smiled his thanks again and ducked in the door. Not sure what to do with herself at this point, and slightly thankful that the guy had left the door open a crack, Robyn sat down outside the door to listen in on the rest of the class.
“Well hello again.” She looked up quickly to see the same young man standing over her, grinning. Class was over, and she’d just been finishing up writing down the assignment for Friday she’d heard through the gap. Robyn waved her hand a little in greeting and stood. “You weren’t waiting for me, were you?”
“No,” she said immediately, frowning. “This is my class, too.”
“Why not come in then?”
“Well…” She waved her hand dismissively. “I never caught your name earlier,” she said awkwardly, quirking her mouth and shrugging.
“Oh,” he said, looking like he would have smacked himself for the lapse. “It’s Dan.”
She smiled. “I’m Rob—”
“Dante. I’m glad you hadn’t wandered off yet.” Both students turned back to the door. The last of their classmates were leaving, and Professor Gillum stood there with papers in his hand. “I wanted to get you the syllabus since you missed class on Monday…” He trailed off upon catching sight of Robyn. She looked away stubbornly. “And I was going to ask you to try to locate Miss Voll, since you both found it fit to come to class late. She didn’t stay long enough to get the worksheet from the beginning of class.”
“Oh, thank you.” Where Robyn would have probably snapped at the slide at her earlier departure, Dan—Dante—politely took the papers and handed her the worksheet. She still pointedly looked in the opposite direction, practically snatching it from his hand.
“Until Friday, then,” Gillum said by way of farewell, and he stepped around them to leave. Robyn blew a quiet raspberry at his back.
“So. Rob doesn’t like Professor Gillum much?” She whipped her head around to face Dan again.
“Who?” she asked dangerously. He winced a little at her tone, but grinned all the same. “Robyn,” she emphasized, “just had a bad day. But apparently Dante can’t make it to class.”
“Dan,” he corrected.
“Danny,” she retorted.
“Robby,” he shot back.
“You—” She huffed. For a guy that was pretty wishy-washy before, he could be really… “You’re infuriating.”
Dante frowned slightly, and then shook himself from his thoughts. “Anyway… Thanks again for showing me to class, Robyn.” He looked to his hands, now holding the Grammar syllabus and his schedule, and grinned that sheepish smile at her again. “Think you could help me find another one? Unless you need to get somewhere?”
She rolled her eyes. “How about a map?” she suggested, walking ahead.
Catching on, Dan followed after her once again, smiling to himself.