Her frown deepens, but I have to let her go—there’s a line forming behind her. “Later.” I let her know that we’re not finished with this conversation as she moves on. I’m in purgatory by the time we’ve reached the end of the line. I’ve been ogled, and had eyelashes batted at me, silly giggling girls squeezing my hand, and five notes with phone numbers pressed into my palm. I’m relieved as I exit the stage along with the faculty, to the strains of some dreary processional music and applause. In the corridor I grab Kavanagh’s arm. “I need to speak to Ana. Can you find her? Now.” Kavanagh is taken aback, but before she can say anything I add, in as polite a tone as I can manage, “Please.” Her lips thin with disapproval, but she waits with me as the academics file past and then she returns to the auditorium. The chancellor stops to congratulate me on my speech. “It was an honor to be asked,” I respond, shaking his hand once again. Out of the corner of my eye I spy Kate in the corridor—with Ana at her side. Excusing myself, I stride toward Ana. “Thank you,” I say to Kate, who gives Ana a worried glance. Ignoring her, I take Ana’s elbow and lead her through the first door I find. It’s a men’s locker room, and from the fresh smell I can tell it’s empty. Locking the door, I turn to face Miss Steele. “Why haven’t you e-mailed me? Or texted me back?” I demand. She blinks a couple of times, consternation writ large on her face. “I haven’t looked at my computer today, or my phone.” She seems genuinely bewildered by my outburst. “That was a great speech,” she adds. “Thank you,” I mutter, derailed. How can she not have checked her phone or e-mail? “Explains your food issues to me,” she says, her tone gentle—and if I’m not mistaken, pitying, too. “Anastasia, I don’t want to go there at the moment.” I don’t need your pity. I close my eyes. All this time I thought she didn’t want to talk to me. “I’ve been worried about you.” “Worried, why?” “Because you went home in that deathtrap you call a car.” And I thought I’d blown the deal between us. Ana bristles. “What? It’s not a deathtrap. It’s fine. José regularly services it for me.” “José, the photographer?” This just gets better and fucking better. “Yes, the Beetle used to belong to his mother.” “Yes, and probably her mother and her mother before her. It’s not safe.” I’m almost shouting. “I’ve been driving it for over three years. I’m sorry you were worried. Why didn’t you call?” I called her cell phone. Does she not use her damned cell phone? Is she talking about the house phone? Running my hand through my hair in exasperation, I take a deep breath. This is not addressing the fucking elephant in the room. “Anastasia, I need an answer from you. This waiting around is driving me crazy.” Her face falls.
Published on Jun 2, 2016