09/26/2022 Snippet, UNNAMED STORY.

Awkwardness!

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No, it was not that easy.

To begin with, we had to actually convince [Lecturer] that we were both interested in assisting her project, and interesting enough to be worth inviting along. Fortunately both of us were in degree tracks (English for me; Mythological Studies for Beverly) which she could take seriously. [Lecturer] also took us seriously, which was gratifying at the time. Now I wonder why I hadn’t noticed the subtle ways that [Lecturer] made sure that we were truly ready to go wander the wilds of Massachusetts for two weeks. At the time, I simply assumed she had perhaps been looking forward to striking out on her own.

After we finally convinced [Lecturer] to let us come along, Beverly and I had to make arrangements with our departments, on everything from course credit to insurance. Our oft-stated lack of need for a stipend ironically ended up getting us an almost-reasonable per diem for food; I made sure to remember that lesson, although at this remove it now seems to be rather pointless trivia. I am no longer planning to pursue a career in academia, and particularly folklore.

To put it mildly.

By the time June rolled around, Beverly and I had already decided to save our money on hotel rooms by simply sharing one. I was surprised to discover that this bothered [Lecturer] slightly. Or at least I think it did: “It’s none of my business,” she told us, when the subject came up.

“…But?” I offered hesitantly, after the silence went on a little too long.

That got me a grin, at least. “But it’s none of my business,” [Lecturer] replied. “I’m neither your kinfolk nor hers, and you’re not kids who need a lecture. You wouldn’t thank me for one, either. Am I right?”

“Yes,” replied Beverly.

“So there we go. We all know each other’s opinions, so no need to keep chewing on them. We all have to live in this world. Well, for a time at least. So let’s look over the reading list again.”

Later that evening, Beverly said to me, “I’ll bet she’s religious.” She said it quietly, too, like she was worried about eavesdroppers. Which might have been an issue on campus, but I was pretty sure that our departments didn’t have my bedroom bugged.

“Probably. That’s the same kind of thing as believing in ghosts, don’t you think?” I fluffed my pillow. “It’s all supernatural stuff, really. I think we’re okay, as long as she doesn’t make us do Bible studies.”

Beverly started gathering up the blankets around her. “Yeah, that’s fair. She doesn’t bug us, we don’t bug her. It works out for everybody.”

And, on that note of shared, slightly smug tolerance, we went to sleep. Meanwhile, the world outside – a world that does not care about humanity’s opinions or mindsets, and is at best indifferent about humanity at all – continued on its inexorable way. Would it have been better, if we had just stayed in bed? Probably, but doom is notoriously inevitable.