Liza’s head was barely functioning by the end of the night. Macroeconomics was one of those courses that tricked you into thinking that it was interesting, but a few classes in, the formulas and charts had you checking to make sure that you hadn’t accidentally enrolled in a class for economics majors. Unless you were Bruce, who always looked like he was watching the series finale of his favorite TV show. That night, he’d stayed behind to speak with the professor about one of the case studies in the text. Liza went outside to have a cigarette while she waited. She sat on a bicycle rack and watched Bruce and Professor Walker through the window. They were deep in conversation. Bruce had a wide stance with one leg and hip thrust out. His arms were crossed, though he gestured a lot. He was wearing jeans and a wrinkled black t-shirt. Liza smiled. If she was going to go out with a professor, she was glad that she’d found one who broke the stereotype. Walker, not much older than Liza, was sporting wire rimmed glasses and a full beard. He looked like he was wearing a professor costume for Halloween.
She flicked her cigarette at the butt can. The two men were still talking, so she lit another. Bruce kept looking out the window. Was he looking for her? Suddenly she felt silly and wondered if she should leave. More than once, Bruce had said that she didn’t have to drive him. It occurred to her now that he didn’t want her to drive him. Maybe he hadn’t come right out and said so to spare her feelings. That would suck. It wasn’t an entirely far-fetched idea either. She had yet to see his house. Liza wondered if the woman and the little girl from the picture were part of the reason. Liza did a mental shrug and forced it all out of her mind. She got the sense that the woman and little girl were permanently out of the picture. Bruce obviously didn’t want to tell the story, and as long as they stayed out of the picture, she didn’t really want to hear it.
Liza resisted the urge to light up a third cigarette. She stood up and paced around in front of the bike rack. She would never admit this, but Thursday evening was the highlight of her week now that her life was a series of repeating tasks. Liza dreaded watching him disappear through Adams Square at the end of the night, and she thought about him often during the week. She looked at her watch. Almost half an hour had gone by. She felt stupid and decided to go home. She wheeled around towards the parking lot and there was Bruce coming toward her. “Were you waiting for me?”
Shit! Did he want her to be waiting for him, or did he not want her to be waiting for him? “No, I was smoking and…checking my phone,” said Liza. Yeah, that was plausible, because she totally had to lurk right outside the building to do those things.
“Uh huh,” said Bruce. He was smiling. “Shall we?” he asked, holding out his hand.