Calvin stood and stretched and then reached down a hand to Stella. She realized she could use the help. She had been so engrossed in the conversation that she hadn’t realized how stiff she had become from sitting on the ground. There was nothing like a sore body from doing nothing more than picnicking on the ground to remind herself that she wasn’t eighteen anymore. Upon standing, Stella stamped the numbness out of her leg and made a mental note to add a yoga class to her workout routine when she went to her gym tomorrow. She had noticed during the course of conversation that Calvin was keeping himself fit.
“Cut across the quad and then hang a left at the fountain. The math building is the one that resembles a prison minus the barbed wire.”
She smiled ruefully, feeling like incarceration might well be better than taking a math class. “Well, I guess I’ll see you Wednesday,” Stella said as she gathered up her bag and trash.
Calvin reached out a hand to take her lunch tray. “Right, don’t forget to read the first two chapters and sign up for a lab time.”
Stella had almost forgotten what had reunited the two of them. Calvin went to kiss her cheek at the same time that Stella had a momentary thought flash through her mind that maybe it was against school policy to be kissing her professor. She stiffened and stepped back at the last second, causing Calvin to stumble slightly as his lips met air instead of flesh. Stella mentally kicked herself as she simultaneously grabbed his arm and apologized. Why had she done that?
Stella hoped that her awkward maneuver hadn’t ruined one of the most comfortable and frankly, intimate encounters she’d had in a long time. She had caught Calvin furrowing his brows slightly as he recovered his step, but his face was placid again as he waved goodbye and she headed in the direction he had pointed her. Stella tried to put her gaffe out of her mind as she tried to focus on her upcoming class.
Knowing she had to pass the basic math class was what had almost derailed Stella’s decision to go back to school. Math had never been her forte and beyond the basics of balancing her checkbook, estimating gas mileage, converting recipes and the like, she found she had hardly ever used it in the decades since dropping out of college. Say what you will about Phil, Stella admitted, but he had been a champ at helping Gemma with her calculus homework.
Basic Math 111--math for general studies--was disastrous. Stella had no idea what was going on and it surely didn’t help that the class was taught by a TA with no previous teaching experience and a voice that rarely rose above mumbling. He stationed himself behind a lectern and projected the equations he was doing from his ipad to the large screen at the front of the room. Stella couldn’t remember ever learning this stuff. In fact, there were certain mathematical symbols that she was certain had been invented in the lengthy interim since her last math class. A quick peek at her schedule told her that she was indeed in the right class. She tried to quell the panic rising up from her chest as the TA turned the lights back on and assigned three pages of homework.
Stella hurriedly tried to finish copying down the sample equations in her notebook, but the screen was soon blocked by the bodies of the other students. She realized they were lining up to take a photo of the board on their phones. Stella was suddenly feeling very old and very far removed from her previous student years. But she determined this was the kind of change she could get behind and grabbed her phone to line up with the other students. She also decided to stop by the Math Department Office on her way out of the austere, gray building and line up a tutor. She had taken on bigger challenges in her life; a little old math class wasn’t going to stop her.
As Stella wove her way across the quad, through students young enough to be her grandchildren, her thoughts kept returning to Calvin. What were the chances or reconnecting with him? It had been over half a lifetime since she had seen him, but those years seemed to melt away this afternoon. She had enjoyed renewing their friendship this afternoon so much--minus the embarrassing farewell, of course. Stella’s mind drifted back to the relationship they had previously, back when they had promised they were going to marry each other. Stella hadn’t had feelings like that for a long time. The divorce was fairly recent, but Stella realized those feelings had been missing from her life for a long time before Phil ran off. Stella felt herself blush a little remembering the first kiss she had shared with Calvin. Was it nostalgia or hope to rekindle some passion that was making her feel so warm on the September afternoon? Stella laughed at herself; a romance with her biology professor was just what she needed to get her college career off to an auspicious start.
Check back tomorrow to see if Stella's romance with her professor has a chance!