The main cafeteria

Maggie heads toward the corner cafeteria table where Oscar’s laptop is open at the Oscar Wilde Quotations Page.

Oscar pronounces, ” ‘Education is a wonderful thing, provided you always remember that nothing worth knowing can ever be taught.’ ”

Jake laughs, then chokes on the pop he’s drinking. Kate pounds him on the back until he can breathe normally again. Jake grins, then asks, “Got any more, Oz?”

Oscar laughs. “That’s the spirit. You’ll be pleased to know there are scads of them. Wilde was the undisputed king of wit.”

“So tell me another,” prompts Jake.

“‘The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.’ ” says Oscar,

“Mmmm,” says Kate, “I like that one. It’s wonderfully wicked. Gives you permission to do pretty much anything.”

Oscar does a Groucho Marx eyebrow waggle as he says, “How about this one: ‘The book of life begins with a man and a woman in a garden; it ends with Revelations.'”

Maggie laughs. “I don’t think Liz would like that one.”

“Or this, one of my very favorites: ‘Women are meant to be loved, not understood.’ ”

“Boo! Hiss!” Kate tosses a French fry at Oscar, who deftly catches it in his mouth.

Maggie slides in beside Oscar, who laughs, and says, ” ‘Nothing succeeds like excess.’ ”

Kate looks over at Maggie. “Krystal still hasn’t showed. I thought she was really up for the club.”

Maggie shrugs “She is. I don’t know what happened but I’m sure she’ll be here as soon as she can. How’s everything else?”

Jake says, “Liz is coming to take photos for the paper, and Amelia will write the article.”

“How we doing for food?”

“We’ve laid in a few cases of pop and chips, cheezies and pretzels. I thought instead of charging for it, we just leave a glass jar for people to drop donations in.” Says Kate “And maybe order pizza if that isn’t enough.”

“No beer?” asks Oscar.

“No license. The computer centre doesn’t have a liquor license. If we’d set it up earlier we’d have had time to apply for one, but we didn’t. So, no license, no beer.”

“Too bad, it would have been a good fund raiser.”

“I doubt Gates would let us use the room if we had beer.”

“Good point. Cootes would’ve gone for it, though.”

“Of course Cootes would go for it. He left most of his brain cells in the sixties. I swear the old geezer still thinks he’s a student. We’d all be so much better off if he retired.”

Oscar looks over at Maggie. She still looks a bit rough. “You sure you’re up to this Mag? Still time for a nap.”

She sticks out her tongue again but this time Oscar leers. “Don’t tempt me girl.”

Suddenly uncomfortable, Maggie gathers her things to cover her embarrassment. “I’m fine, lets just start. I’ll sleep later.”

They gather their things and head out, waving at Eric seated by the glass wall overlooking the oval.

Eric smiles and waves back at Maggie, then turns back to his laptop. A quick re-read of the draft email doesn’t pass muster, so he deletes it. He doesn’t want to sound whiny is all.

Beginning again, he types:

Where are you? You said to meet you here. I thought we were going to get something to eat before the computer party. I could have eaten without you but now it’s too late, they’ve shut down so only the vending machines are open. Joy. Rapture even.

He looks up and scans the room again, but it’s emptying fast. With everything closed down nobody is coming in.

If you weren’t coming why did say you were? I could be working on the essay due tomorrow, or researching my thesis, but no, here I am. Waiting for you.

He sighs. Elsie never wants to go out. Not that he minds staying in with her. The sex is incredible.


He doesn’t know what her favorite color is or even if she likes jazz. Just sometimes he’d like to be able to talk with her, find out what makes her tick. He smiles to himself. Well, besides that.

O.K. look, how ’bout this. I’m heading over to Callaghan’s. If you want me to bring you something let me know. I have my cell. Call. Tweet. Something.
xo eric

This time Eric doesn’t read it, he just hits ‘send’ then shuts down the laptop.

Pulling on his jacket, he zips up, feeling in his pocket for his car keys. Not there. Must be back at the Res. He stuffs the laptop unceremoniously into the bag, shouldering it and heads back to Fyfield House. It’s a long way to Callaghan’s without wheels.

At the building Eric waves at the night porter and heads for the stairs. He’s been sitting too long and energy is bursting out of his pores so he takes the stairs two at a time, running all the way up to the fifth.

A swipe of his card and he’s in.

Heading for his room, he thinks how quiet it is. Not a soul in the common room. Everybody out and about doing something or other. As he should be … would be … will be when he finds his keys. He’s left the room open as usual, and drops the computer case on the desk, then roots through the knee hole drawer but they aren’t there either. He frowns, where? Checks the floor by the desk, bedside, closet. Nothing.

Nobody would bother to steal his keys. His car is a beater.

Eric thinks. Last night after the pub with Elsie. He could hardly believe she came out with him. Damn the girl can dance. He smiles. Dancing was so great. Gotta do that again. He probably left the keys in her room. God knows he couldn’t see straight when he came back down after. Maybe she’ll be there and they can go to Callaghan’s and get a bite together. So he heads back through the common room and up the stairs to the girl’s floor.

Strictly speaking, it’s off limits. But as Romeo says, “with love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls, for stony limits cannot hold love out.” Eric smiles to himself as he heads down the corridor toward Elsie’s room. Who is he to argue with Shakespeare?

There’s a crack of light under the door. Good.

Elsie must have come back, great. Maybe she’s changing for him. He smiles, taps softly once and pushes open the door to the room he knows as well as his own.

Except it looks a bit different just now. The point of view is just wrong.


There’s Elsie’s unmistakable cascade of auburn hair fanned out over the pillow in soft erotic waves of spun silk in contrast with her pale skin, adorned with a delicate tracery of faintest blue veins. Her face is flushed, her eyes closed as she undulates on the bed.

Her long legs are bent and spread and her red polished toes knead the bedding. That’s his Elsie all right. The thing that’s not right is the sweaty guy kneeling at the side of the bed, head buried between her legs.

They’re going at it so hot and heavy they haven’t even heard him. Elsie did a good job training him to move quietly so he can slip in and out without disturbing the dorm mates. Right. Softly, on little cat feet.

Eric watches a moment, stunned, not really taking it in.

At first.

Not until the guy’s hands begin to slide up her torso.

Shaken by the enormity of the betrayal, Eric chokes back a sob and withdraws, softly pulling the door closed. He leans against the wall and squeezes his eyes closed. Trying to breathe.


That’s a picture that’ll be hard to get out of his head.

Like ever.

Eric shudders and starts shuffling down the hall in a daze. It’s hard work, pushing his way through the heavy air. As though walking under water.

He stops at the fire door to the stairwell and it hits him that Elsie was…

As the anger wells up he knows he can’t even think about going back. Pushing open the door he thunders down five flights of stairs and bursts out into the chill of the evening. Outdoors. Fresh air. Clean air. Not like the shit in his head.

He breathes in great gulps, suddenly feeling nauseous. Blowing air out his nose he decides to jog to Callaghan’s. Only a couple kilometers. What the hell else is there to do?

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