Liza jammed the sketch pad in her backpack and checked the time on her cell. Bruce would be back from his meeting soon. He’d let her wait in his office so that they could walk to class together afterwards. It was better than the library or her tiny desk in the Art Department, but she felt weird being here and was getting bored.
She amused herself by spinning around in his big leather chair. The woman and the little girl were still sitting on the credenza. Their picture flashed past with every rotation. Liza fantasized about sticking her foot out and booting it across the room. After a few minutes she was queasy and annoyed. She stood up and looked out one of the windows. There wasn’t much to see. The trees and bushes had buds, but no blooms yet.
Liza paced in front of the wall of bookshelves. One of those rolling library ladders was attached to it. Liza nudged the ladder with her foot. It glided sideways. She climbed halfway up and kicked off from the corner of Bruce’s desk. The ladder sailed to the far wall and stopped.
Liza climbed to the top. The ceilings on the third floor were domed and vaulted, so she was pretty high. The second shelf from the top was a mass of magazines, newspaper clippings, and books. They were piled and jammed in the shelf at random. The other shelves had at least some organization to their chaos.
She slid a couple of yellowed newspaper clippings from the pile. Liza thumbed through them and realized that Bruce used to write a literary review column for the City’s paper. She wrestled a gnarled bunch of magazines free. Each had a little slip of paper sticking from the top. Liza opened one and found an article written by Bruce on the importance of studying the humanities. A smile spread across her face as she read through the first few paragraphs. He still hadn’t let her read his novel, but this was good. She read the spines of the books. They were short story and poetry anthologies.
A newer looking magazine sat on top of one pile. Liza put the other magazines back and slid that one down. It was a literary magazine. The date was from February, last month, the Valentine’s Day issue. She opened the magazine to the marked page.
It was like driving by an accident on the highway. You didn’t want to see, but you couldn’t stop yourself from looking. She could hear her heart beating. Her face must be red. Liza had to wind her arm through the ladder stop herself from sliding to the floor.