The pretty girl with the black hair, turned around in her seat. “Hey,” she whispered.
Joe, dutifully trying to write down what he could understand through Professor Pfunder’s heavy German accent, looked up. Joe remembered her. She had sat in front of him every single day that semester. One didn’t forget a face like that, full and round with full, round lips. Her nose was straight, just shy of being called bold. And her hair was a deep black that shimmered under the fluorescent lights. For a moment Joe thought she was talking to him because he had done something wrong, liked kicked her chair or something, but then he noticed that the girl was smiling.
He didn’t remember talking to this girl during his first day of classes, or any other day, though looking at her he wished that he had. “What’s up?” he said.
“Do you get this?” asked the girl. Pfunder was talking about how nuclear reactions from supernovae created the heavier elements in the universe, a topic Joe found almost as fascinating as time travel.
“Yes,” said Joe. He smiled. “You would too if you paid attention.”
The girl made a sour face. Another girl a few seats over shushed. The girl with the black hair shushed back. “I mean,” she said to Joe, “do you want to start a study group or something? I have a few friends in this class. Maybe we could get together once a week or something and exchange notes.”
“Right. Study group,” said Joe. He nodded absently, trying to follow Pfunder’s words. In truth, now that a conversation had actually started he wished the girl would leave him alone. Wasting time with her would get him no closer to Jason.
To his surprise, she slid a small piece of paper onto his notebook. It had her phone number and dorm written on it. And her name: Gwendolyn Bennett.
“We’ll talk after class,” she said with a glint in her eyes. They were big and dark, like Sandra’s. “Right now, I’ve got to pay attention.” She turned back to her notes.
* * *
Joe hoped that this Gwendolyn would forget about the study group idea, but to his chagrin she waited for him as he gathered his things. She was about Joe’s height and very well-shaped, quite different from Sandra who was short and petite. His eyes, despite being connected to an adult brain, couldn’t help but admire her form, stuffed as it was into black slacks and a white blouse. The clothes fit her well.
“So you should probably tell me your name now; it’s only fair,” she said. “I can’t go around calling you ‘Hey you.’”
“Joe Gallagher,” said Joe.
“‘Gallagah.’” she said, giggling. “Boston?”
“I don’t sound that bad,” he said. He slung his backpack over his shoulders. “But yeah. I mean, I’m from Lowell, not Boston. How about you?”
“New Hampshire,” said Gwendolyn, not, Joe noticed, New Hampshuh. Her diction was very crisp without a hint of regional flavor. “The nice part. Not the flannel part.”
Joe shrugged. She had probably gone to private schools then. It made him wonder why ended up at NHU. “So where are your friends?”
“They were sitting over there,” said Gwendolyn, pointing towards the other side of the hall. “They came in late.”
Joe motioned for Gwendolyn to walk down the aisle in front of him.
“You could meet them tonight, if you’re free,” she said.
“Yeah? One class in and you already want to start studying?”
“No, not studying. The Improv Club is doing a show at the student union and we were thinking of going. Would you like to come along?”
Joe groaned. “Please don’t tell me Professor Brennan is performing.”
“I have no idea who he is, but what do you say?”
He almost said “No,” with the trained reflexes of a spoilsport. But something stopped him. Maybe it was the realization, insane though it was, that he was one of the few people in the universe who could actually change his own past. Whatever it was, it was enough. “Sure,” he said. “Why not?”
“Exactly: Why not? Let’s get some coffee before we go. This class almost put me to sleep.
With a tinge of guilt, Joe agreed. He wanted to follow the path that led him to Sandra and Jason, but it would be nice if things weren’t in rigid lockstep with the past. He could discipline himself later. Besides, he needed a break from Nick. And maybe, just maybe, the Improv Club would distract him from that other thing, too monstrous to confront right now. Continue reading “Reset: Chapter 13: Tuesday, September 4, 2001 (2)”