It was one of those surprisingly warm fall days. Students sensing the season’s change were filling the quad with the noises of Frisbee and acoustic guitars. The sunlight drifted down between the old oak trees that lined up in front of the old stone buildings that had watched over students for a hundred years. Mia loved the classic architecture, the stone buildings cold and forbidding to the outsider. Everything about this place felt collegiate, felt like a world unto itself.
Mia sat down and felt the sun on her face. She leaned back, stretching her face toward the warmth, feeling the grass under her hands. She dug her fingers into the dirt reaching the cool soil beneath. She breathed in the quiet moment, her body relaxed. It had been a busy week, a busy month. The first month always was. She should be studying. But the sun felt too good to get up and head back indoors. Her mind too cluttered by the phone call from home that woke her this morning.
“Hey.” The word broke through her thoughts.
Mia looked up and saw someone getting ready to sit down next to her. She recognized him immediately. Everyone knew him by name, a son of privilege that came out west for college. Their paths had not crossed until this year. And then only across a crowded room at one of the many parties that littered the neighborhoods surrounding campus the weekend before classes began. He had been talking to a group of guys standing around the makeshift bar. His arm wrapped around the shoulders of a girl with long blond hair wearing a very short skirt. His hand hung down in her front proprietarily. Both had clearly been enjoying the alcohol that was free flowing.
And now this guy was sitting down next to her, smiling.
“Hey,” he said again. Mia’s body tensed.
“Is that your way of saying hi? Of introducing yourself?” Mia asked, her tone clearly annoyed by the interruption.
His grin faltered for a second and then grew stronger. His eyes were now smiling along with the rest of his face. He was amused by her response. This girl was not going to be charmed as easily as he had hoped. But as he looked over at Mia, he could see that she was definitely worth charming. Her long brown hair fell in waves. She was tall and thin but not skinny. He could not see her eyes behind her sunglasses but she had a few freckles that sprinkled her nose and cheeks so he was guessing they were blue or green.
“Pardon my rudeness. My name is Timothy Ogden Dillard. My friends call me Tods,” he stated formally.
She looked at him dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, the sleeves rolled up an attempt at casual. “Seriously. Tods? You do realize you are no longer at your prep school, right?” she asked not wanting an answer.
Now his smile faded a bit. He was well aware that he was no longer in prep school. His father had said the same words to him before he left home. He had used the same tone, dismissive and disappointed. Each email, each corporate annual report emblazoned with his name reminded him that he was now an adult, now required to learn the family business and to start to contribute to the family’s legacy.
Tim met her scathing tone with his own, “Do you have a name? Or were manners not part of the curriculum at your public school?”
“Timothy,” Mia said her face flush with anger, “I am leaving.”
Mia heard him call after her, “You can call me Tim.” How completely obnoxious she thought as she walked away.