The Monster of July

Damian's life changes when one of his professors turns out to be an acquaintance he had erased from his memory. Demons from the past will come haunting him again as their relationship evolves, dragging them both in a rollercoaster of drama, angst, and yes, sometimes a bit of joy.

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6. Realisation (part 2)

           The assignment we'd been referring to was due by the end of October. Daniel had encouraged us to come seek his advice once we had a draft ready, so I went to his office one afternoon. Officially, I really needed some help with this paper, but as I walked through the bright corridor, I couldn't help feeling stupidly happy that I was going to see him. I snorted at how ridiculous I was as I approached his door. I had been to Daniel's office a few times before and it was a familiar place now. But despite the familiarity, I always felt nervous whenever I was about to enter. I read the name on the little plaque beside the doorway, as usual, like that could give me some kind of inspiration about what to do. The door was open just a crack. With a pounding heart, I tapped on it with my index. "Come in," said a voice from inside. I pushed the door. "Hi Damian, I just had a look at the draft you sent me. Sit down."

            I sat on a chair near the desk while Daniel opened my assignment on his computer. He seemed in a good mood, a little more cheerful than usual.

            "Honestly, I had a nice surprise when I read it," he started. "Your writing is very good! Usually, first year students still have quite a bit of difficulty with grammar and coherence, but you don't seem to have that problem."

            I smiled a little at the compliment. Even thought it was still fairly bright outside, the window of Daniel's office was facing east and we were not getting much sunlight at this time of the day. The neon lights were off and there was an overall hushed atmosphere surrounding us. I got lost for a moment in how elegant he was, just sitting in his office like that, his dark outline drawn by the dim light behind him. Daniel went on to discuss the content of my assignment, how I could improve it, things to remove... I tried to listen, but I was distracted by my own train of thoughts. It was getting late, maybe he would leave school after our meeting. I could accompany him outside, we might linger on the street corner before going our own separate ways. And then... I gave myself a mental slap. I wasn't sure at that moment what my intentions were regarding Daniel, but I had to keep in mind that he was my professor. I would only be putting him in a precarious position if I tried to get too close to him.

            We were almost done when a woman pushed the door and entered the office. "Oh, sorry! I'll come back later," she said when she saw me.

            "Don't worry, we were just wrapping up. Natalie, this is Damian. Damian, this is Natalie, my fiancee."

            My whole body turned to lead. His fiancee? That tall, pretty, young woman was his fiancee? At that moment, the clues I had ignored were bouncing around in my mind. The feminine blazer thrown on the backrest of one of the chairs, the texts at which Daniel had been glancing during our meeting, even his cheerfulness... I thought I might have spent at least five minutes lost in the deductions I should have made earlier, but Natalie didn't look like there was anything wrong with me and simply smiled, saying it was nice to meet me. Yeah, I thought, nice to meet you too.

            "Natalie is here for a job interview," explained Daniel.

            "Oh, I see."

            "Daniel told me about you, what a funny coincidence, isn't it?"

            I guess I had no right to be jealous of Natalie. Chocolate brown wavy hair, check. Stylish and elegant, check. Tall and graceful, check. Intelligent? To be determined, but there could be little doubt about that. They were perfect. They deserved each other. Really, I was happy for them. What a charming couple they'd make, along with their genius children who'd speak five languages by the time they'd turn seven. Even the dog would probably end up being smarter than me. Oh well.

            I got up, said goodbye in the most cordial way I could think of and left. I knew there were virtually no chances that I would ever end up in any kind of significant relationship with Daniel. But having reality hit me in the face like that gave me a shock. Why, though? Didn't I say that I would only be putting him in a precarious position if I tried anything anyway? I didn't know why I was so crestfallen. Yes, Daniel had been really kind to me, but he had never given me any hint that there was anything more to his actions than wanting to be kind. Up to now, I had been unsure of the nature of my own feelings for him, but this event made me realise that, unbeknownst to me, they had developed into something a lot deeper than I had wished. 

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