“Um? Oh! Come in, come in. Ah, where’s Beatrice?”
Adelaide and Gwendolyn entered Professor’s office. They did not appear to be happy with him. Adelaide closed the door softly and turned the lock. “She doesn’t know we’re here.”
“Ahh…then I can guess this visit is concerning her.”
Gwendolyn said, “It is. What’s happening with you two?”
“Just a sec, Gwen. Professor, we know we’re about to butt into your private affairs…business… but when it concerns Bea we think it concerns us, too. Please forgive us if we seem to go too far. But we have to do this.”
Gwendolyn jumped in again, “We’re worried about her! She’s been avoiding us, like she has a secret and she’s started spending a lot of time with that weird Alexandropof.” Then she added in a softer voice, “He’s not good for her like you are.”
“Umm, Gwen may be exaggerating just a little but we are worried that she might be slipping back into self-destructive behaviors. If there’s anything we can do to help patch things between you two… we’ll do it.”
Professor stood up, turned away, and walked to the window behind his desk. He laid his fingertips lightly on the windowsill, as if it were piano keys, and stared at them. It was always hard for him to talk about feelings.
“I care deeply about… no, that’s a lie… I love Beatrice. Can you believe it? And I thought she might have feelings for me. But wasn’t I just being a foolish old man? Having silly thoughts? Imagine how easily an old recluse would be infatuated by the attention of a pretty face. Wiser men have been fools before. So… I went for some advice…”
“Mistress, wasn’t it?!” Gwendolyn blurted.
He ignored her comment and continued, “…advice which said I shouldn’t encourage her. Or myself. And that was logical. Because I don’t want her to be hurt, or to hate her life again, by… my leaving.”
Adelaide said, “She’s going to be sad for you for a very long time after you’re gone. Rejecting her now only starts her sadness sooner… and makes it last even longer.”
“I know. You’re right. It was not good advice. Last night, I decided to ignore it. But I don’t know how to explain myself to her… or even how to start. Too much may have passed under the bridge.”
Gwendolyn said, “It’s easy. What you said to us… say it to her.”
“Now, while the mood is in you,” Adelaide added.
Gwendolyn opened the door. “I’ll go get her!”
“No! Wait. Let me do it my way.”
Adelaide said, “Only if you promise to do it now. She’s in her cubicle, working.”
They waited until he began moving. They weren’t going to let him off the hook. As he passed them at the doorway, Gwendolyn stepped in and gave him a little kiss on the cheek. “You want to do this,” she said and then she shoved him out the door.