Her alarm bell rang in her ears. She turned around and reached for the alarm clock. 7.30am.She turned it off and when back to sleep. She couldn’t remember when was the last time she felt this tired. The whole day yesterday she was at the library, arranging and tagging the books until after closing time. She had always hated doing the inventory; and with the lack of staff; only 5 librarians and 10 helpers, it could not support the workload of this massive library.
She heard her bedroom door creaked open. “Lea, we’re gonna be late. You’re still in your pjs,” her 17 year old sister Lara spoke softly. Lara crept next to her bed and wiggle her toes. Lea grumbled. “15 more minutes,” “It’s 7.30, we’re gonna be late. I’m still in school remember,” “Have we ever been late?” Lea asked under her covers. Hesitantly, her sister replied, “No.” “Ok then, bye.” Lara rolled her eyes, and stalked out of her sister’s bedroom.
Awhile later, Lea finally got out of her bed. She felt like she had an extra half hour worth of sleep but she knew better. The clock blinked 7.30am. She went into the bathroom and turned on the shower, waiting for the water to turn hot. She looked into the mirror and started entangling the knots in her dirty blonde hair. Both sisters were blessed with beautiful blonde hair and green eyes. As the steam began to cloud the mirror, she undressed and stepped into the shower.
Lea pulled her mother’s white Lexus outside Whitaker High School at 8.10am sharp. “I’ll be done by 3.30,” Lara said through the rolled down window. “Don’t be late,” she said casually knowing that it meant nothing. Lea waved as her sister made way to the high school steps, and pulled out of the driveway.
Since her parents died 3 years ago in a car accident, it has always been just the two of them. She loves her sister dearly and they are like the best of friends. Of course there are the occasional bicker but most of the time they get along well with each other. Since their mother passed away when Lara was only 14, she looks up to her older sister and never really disobeyed her. Both of them excelled in school. When Lea was in high school, she graduated as a valedictorian. She was active in clubs such as Rotary and wrote for the high school paper, and played netball for the school team.
Lara on the other hand is currently the president of the Sciences club and represents her school in tennis. Both are adored by their teachers, but Lea is the more outspoken and friendly one out of the two. When they were young, Lara was very bright and joyful, innocently skipping around making her blonde pigtails bounce, but when they lost their parents, she became quite reserved, and it became harder to draw a smile on her face. She became more focused and goal-oriented, at such a young age, preferring to stay indoors and read than going out to the playground. At times Lea wished to see her sister’s old self again, and sometimes growing tired of this cheerful facade she puts on that hides how she really feels.
Lea parked her car at the far end of the students’ parking lot outside Whitaker University. It was the only space left. She opened the back door and gathered her textbooks and her bag. The sun was shining beautifully against the blue sky. A rare moment to be precise. The air was warm, with the occasional pleasant wind now and then. “Lea,” she turned around and found her best friend, Jasmine walking towards her. Her wonderful long brown hair bounced behind her. She was wearing her usual v-neck t-shirt with jeans yet she never fail to look attractive even in the simplest outfit. Lea waved at her then locked her car. Both of them walked together towards their first class of the day. The girls have been friends for ages. They stick together through thick and thin, and Jasmine never left Lea’s side when she was grieving over the lost of her parents. Jasmine gave her shoulders to cry on and gave her emotional support when she needed it the most. Without her, Lea never thought she could make it through. Even though their friendship was strong, Lea kept a secret from Jasmine, a dark secret she could never share with anyone.
Classes ended with a breeze. Lea had always liked university life, even when she was still in high school she longed to be among the university students. Somehow she thought that they were more matured and carefree; unlike her high school friends who were always concern about looking cool and plastic. She never really had problems with assignments and projects; she always did well, if not the best in her class. After Contemporary Art, Lea headed towards the cafeteria to meet up with Jasmine and few of her other friends.
She found them sitting at a table in the middle of the cafeteria, where they always sit. She carried her tray and started walking towards them and then all of a sudden she felt as though her legs were cemented to the ground. She couldn’t move. Her eyes were fixed on the young man in front of her, Daniel Rehan, the captain of the basketball team. Her mind just went blank. He was leaning against the wall, talking to his friends. He looked so attractive in his black sweatshirt rolled up and worn out jeans. His blue eyes glanced over to her, he must’ve noticed her staring at him, and he gave a slight nod. Lea smiled sheepishly.
“Lea!” Jasmine’s voice boomed across the cafeteria, shattering her daze. Startled, she almost toppled her tray. She moved towards the table quickly and plopped down. “Oh my God! I must have looked like a complete idiot!” she said, blushing. She glanced over to steal a peek at Daniel. He was still talking to his friends, holding a Coke can in his right hand. “Well, he’s the idiot for not noticing you all this while!” Jasmine said matter-of-factly. “How long has it been? Two years? God damn it, Lea, do something!” “Yeah, if he’s not making the move, you should,” their other friend, Julia piped in. “Are you guys out of your mind? He has a girlfriend! Who’s that girl again? Faith?” Lea said. She took a bite into her salmon sandwich. Jasmine rolled her eyes. “You’re so backdated. They broke up like, two days ago or something. I didn’t think it was serious; I thought that it was more of a fling. You know how Faith can be,” Lea just shrugged.
Jasmine knows almost everyone in university. Literally. She was in the same cheerleading team as Faith James, until recently she dropped out because she wanted to concentrate more on her studies. She had been behind her studies these couple of months because of cheerleading practices, and decided that it was best to quit and focus on catching up. Lea knew Jasmine couldn’t stand her, and she was aware of the subliminal rivalry between the two. But although Jasmine quit, she’s always in the know. Lea nicknamed her ‘mamarazzi” since she always gets first hand knowledge in the latest gossips.
Standing in front of the wooden door, Lea took a huge gulp of air and released. She looked up at the brazen tag on the door which read ‘Dr. Alec Van Nostrand’ and knocked softly. Earlier in the afternoon, she had bumped into her lecturer on the way to her car, and he had asked her to drop into his office for awhile. After quickly dropping her books in her car, she rushed back to the main office. Sounds serious. She thought. “Come in,” the voice behind the door replied to the knock. “You wanted to see me, Dr. Van Nostrand?” “Ah yes, Ms. Maine. Do come in,” He beckoned her to the seat in front of him.
Dr. Van Nostrand seemed ancient to her. He looks fairly youthful, in his late 40s with dark hair and streaks of grey and has no visible wrinkles despite his age. His voice was deep and husky, with deep British accent and the way he spoke reminded her of people from the 1900s. “I understand that, from your grades, you are doing very well in Psychology. And it seems to me that you might well be one of the best students, if not the best, in your class,” he said.
Lea smiled acknowledging the complement. “As you know, we are having a little crisis with the tutorials, with Shelley Caden resigning and the syllabus in amok. So I was wondering if you would like to consider tutoring, maybe take up a couple of first and second year groups, to fill in for Shelley.” Lea eyes widened. She would love nothing more than to tutor, but she never really believed in herself to be able to do it. It is a big responsibility, tutoring other students, because their understanding of the subject depends a lot on your capability to teach. She didn’t want to be held responsible for the failing of her students. But this is a chance of a lifetime. To be asked personally by her mentor, she couldn’t turn it down.
“I would love to sir, but it’s just that I don’t think I’m the right person for it,” she said humbly. Her lecturer gave a little laugh. “Ms. Maine, usually those who want to tutor just volunteered. Most of them have no solid understanding themselves but they do it anyway because they have the passion to teach. I see passion in you. And here I am asking you to tutor, don’t take it for granted. And besides, I’m always available if you need help,” Upon hearing that, Lea beamed. “Well in that case, I would love nothing more. I’m truly grateful, even honoured to do it!” “Great,” Van Nostrand replied. “Monday then.” They shook hands, and she made her way out of the office feeling as if she had just won the lottery.