“Please, call me Summer.”
Summer had a new adviser. By her count, this was the third – fifth if you counted that one who hadn’t lasted long enough to see her or that one who had kicked her out of his office, out of his classroom, and tried to kick her out of his department but failed.
Mattie MacEachern seemed like a pretty nice sort. New to the college but not new to teaching, looking to settle down someplace small and safe to raise three kids with also-a-professor spouse, and a pretty enthusiastic teacher most of the time.
At the moment, Dr. MacEachern was frowning at Summer.
“You’ve been here for six years.”
“Yes.” There was no point in arguing with the obvious. “It’s a really great college, Dr. MacEachern.”
“I don’t see any problems with the bursar’s office….”
Dr. MacEachern flipped through pages on the website, trying to access the correct file. Summer could have gotten right to the correct page – but that made teachers a little uncomfortable, at least their first year or two.
“The settlement for my father’s death left a generous stipend.” Summer didn’t inflect that at all. There were so many ways people could take it, and none of them ever ended up all that good. “My first three years here were also heavily supported by scholarships, and I did a lot of Work-study work.”
“Past tense? Not anymore?”
“Other kids need the scholarships, Dr. MacEachern.”
Summer had held one more major in her time here than the number of semesters she’d been matriculated, but in all that time, she had never stopped taking theatre classes and working in the theatre department, taking part in theatre club, and generally being a theatre kid. If she couldn’t give just the impression she wanted with any set of words, she really didn’t deserve to be here.
The thing was, at the moment, she didn’t want to give any impression. She wanted to see what Dr. MacEachern did when given nothing but facts to work with.
“So your family is paying for your education out of pocket, then–”
“No. The people responsible for my father’s death are paying for my education out of pocket. And they will continue to do so.” She lifted her chin and stared her new adviser down. “I mean, I keep getting money either way,” she added with a small quirk of her lips, because Dr. MacEachern really wasn’t all that bad, at least not so far. “But once I get my bachelor’s degree, the amount goes down considerably.”
Dr. MacEachern looked down at the notes sitting carefully in a light-blue folder; the professor looked at the computer screen. After a pause so long it couldn’t be called pregnant or expectant anymore, the professor looked back at Summer’s face. “You have-” The folder was shuffled. “You have had how many majors in your time here?”
“One per semester. Plus one time where, uh, things really, really didn’t work out.”
“You have an outstanding GPA. For a small school like this, you are doing wonders for its overall academic average – although not so much for its graduation rate.”
“I know.” She didn’t bother to be modest. She was book-smart. So was Winter.
“And you have – you have friends here?”
“Bishop’s doing grad work across the street at Zimmer U. Melinda’s working on her masters in education here, for the most part.”
“And you are continuing to pursue, it appears, a complete survey of every class provided by this college.”
“Well.” Summer leaned forward, smiling finally. “Only if you can help me. There’s a class – it’s actually a higher-level math class focusing on business statistics – that’s only offered once every four years normally, but I didn’t have the prereq last time it came around, and that was, ah, that was last year.”
Dr. MacEeachern pinched a generous nose. “I have to ask, Miss Roundtree. Are you asking for my help in getting the class offering scheduled moved? I do happen to know who would be teaching it, yes. Or are you asking for my help in finding other things to fill the remaining two and a half years until it’s available again?”
Summer chuckled. “Dr. MacEachern.” She half-bowed from a sitting position. “I think that you and I are going to understand each other just fine. Oh, I have my hopes for classes this semester. And since I haven’t tried your major yet… it seems like it’s time for me to change majors again.”
“I-” Dr. MacEachern studied the paper Summer passed her. “I think, Miss RoundTree, that I might enjoy having you in my classes. But- please bring aspirin next time.”