College Man

photo courtesy of
photo courtesy of

Day 12 – Writing 101: Write a post inspired by a real world conversation – add an element of foreshadowing. Very interesting. Let’s give it a go, shall we?

Robert tapped his fork on his tray and leaned back against the hard plastic chair. His free arm was draped over the back of the chair and he watched the room with the casual look of an emperor surveying his court. What he saw didn’t sit well with him. At every table in the cafeteria that he could see sat old people. Not just older grandparents, but ready for a nursing home old in  his opinion.

“What is this? Bring your grandparents to college day?” He said to James.

James was the redhead on his left. He didn’t laugh. James never laughed. Robert liked him, he was a good kid, but the boy was perpetually melancholy.

“You know, James, you’ve got to lighten up some. What you need is a girl.”

James grinned and a small airy snicker escaped him.

That’s more like it. Poor kid. I think those psychology classes are bringing him down.

A pamphlet lay on the table in front of James and Robert read the title Dementia: How to help a loved one who doesn’t remember. He shook his head. “You need to stop readying that stuff. It’s bring you down.”

James looked down at the pamphlet. He stared at it like he was absorbing the title.

Really needs a girl.

Robert looked around the room to find just the right girl that could really put a smile on James’ face.

“Now, there we go. Must be a freshman. Young, pretty. But, she looks familiar.” Robert nodded in the direction of a young girl with a blonde ponytail and tanned skin.

He noted the mint colored pants and shirt she wore. The shirt would have hung loosely except for a thin black belt around her waist. She stopped at several tables and talked with the grandparents.

Sweet girl, too. Oh, she’ll do nicely for sourpuss over here.

“What d’ya think? Nursing student?”

James shook his head with another stifled chuckle.

“C’mon. She’s a real looker.” Robert suddenly sat up straight. “Hey, she’s comin’ this way. Straighten up James. Today’s you’re lucky day.”

“Hello, Robert, how are we today?” The pretty blonde said when she reached their table.

Robert froze. She knows me? Where have I seen her before? Quick, Robert, think. You should remember someone this pretty, especially when she looks at you like that.

He looked at her shirt and saw a name tag.

Oh, thank the lord! The nursing school still makes them all wear name tags.

He smiled. “Why, I’m just fine…Jill.” He made his best, most engaging smile. “Have you met my buddy, James?” He leaned his head toward James.

“Buddy, is it?” Jill asked. She looked at James.

“College buddies.” James answered without taking his eyes off of Robert.

“Oh, I see. Well, James. I was wondering if I could steal your buddy for a moment?” She took Robert’s free hand in hers.

Me? Oh, James, sorry bud. But, love is a fickle thing. I guess it’s my lucky day.

“Well, where we headed, Beautiful?” Robert stood and held her hand a bit more firmly.

“Oh, let’s just go for a walk, shall we? We can talk.” Jane smiled. The way her lips curved up in the corners made Robert melt. All he could do was nod and smile.

“See you later, then?” James asked. He stood as Jane led Robert away.

“Yeah, later James. Much later.” Robert waved his hand at him.

“Love you, dad.” James said, just loud enough for Robert to hear before he disappeared around the corner and out of the cafeteria.

“You too, son.” Robert said with his eyes still fixed on Jane.

Then he stopped and looked back at James. His eyes scanned the cafeteria again.

Son. Yes, that’s who James is. My son. He’s my son, and I’m…I’m not at college. Have to remember. Not at college. So, where am I?

He felt Jane pull on his hand again.

“I see  you’ve come back. How are you, Robert?” She said and smiled sweetly.

“I…” Robert looked at her and into those eyes. Eyes that held compassion, he could read it, but they also held pity. He hated pity. “I’m just fine. Why wouldn’t I be?” He tried to smile, but he knew his voice sounded gruff.

“Good. Come now. Let’s finish our walk, and then you can tell me all about your college days.” Jane said and turned him away from the cafeteria.

“Wait. I can’t…I can’t go with you.” Robert’s heart began to beat faster. “James?” He turned back to the cafeteria. “James? Come here son. I want to go home. Where’s Laura? Where’s your mother?”

James walked briskly to them and put a hand on Robert’s shoulder. “It’s OK dad. It’s OK.”

“I didn’t mean to…I…” He looked back at Jane. “Tell your mother, I’m not flirting. OK? Tell her I’m just going for a walk. Yes? Tell her I love her.”

“I will, dad. I will.” James patted his shoulder and Jane finally managed to pull Robert away from the cafeteria.

“Did you meet Laura at college?” Jane asked.

Robert nodded and looked down the hall.

Oh. Laura should be getting out of class soon. Can’t let her see me with this pretty little blonde. This girl’s cute, but she’s no Laura.

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