6:23 PM, a mid-December evening. Campus is nearly empty and the Bright Complex mostly dark. Finals are over and most of the faculty is gone. A single, sad, solitary athletic trainer shuffles slowly through the hallway, abandoned and alone.
This is where he used to draw up plays, she remembered wistfully, running her fingers over the blank whiteboard. She could feel the tiny bumps of marker remnant through her fingertips and remembered fondly the time he took a few minutes to explain to her what they meant. Weak backer, strong safety, slot receiver. The bold strokes he made were dig routes, slants, and fades. Fades, she thought, how appropriate.
Then the film room. How many times had she discreetly watched him sitting alone in there in the dark, the lights from the projector reflecting off of his sunglasses? Taking notes, always so serious. A brilliant mind at work. Hesitantly, she crept into the darkened room and sat in the same chair. She closed her eyes.
Finally she worked up the courage to go to his office. It was depressing how clinical and instant the transformation had been. Gone were his stacks of colorful binders, his vintage coatrack, his mahogany longcase clock, and the tasteful abstract painting. Just an empty husk of a room with an impersonal commercial desk against the wall. But she knew the business and how rough it was. "Goodbye," she mouthed silently, and turned to leave. Then she noticed something on the windowsill: something black protruding from beneath the closed blinds. Cautiously, she approached and inspected it more closely. It was plastic and small and rounded. Hesitantly, she began to pull on it, then realized she needed to move the blinds to extract it. She stood staring in disbelief.
Oh, my God, she thought, amazed. It can't be. It was. There in her hands she cradled a tangible connection to him: a pair of his sunglasses. Forgotten, perhaps, in his haste? Or perhaps not. Perhaps he had left them for her, she thought hopefully.
She was halfway back to her apartment when she did it. She gently lessened her grip on the sunglasses and placed them on her passenger seat and picked up her phone. Her graduate advisor picked up on the third ring.
"Hello, it's Maggie," she said cheerfully.
"Maggie...what can I do for you?" asked her advisor curiously.
"Sorry to call you on your cell, but I needed to let you know something," she said apologetically.
"That's okay...what is it?" asked her advisor helpfully.
"I want to transfer. For next semester. Can I do that?" she asked eagerly.
"Well..Maggie...I don't know. That's very sudden and you've missed the deadline and next semester is your last one in the program. It would be very difficult. May I ask why?" asked the advisor.
"It's something very personal, but I have to transfer. Can you help me?" she asked plaintively.
"I'll do my best," the advisor said, finally. "Where do you want to transfer to?"
"Texas Tech," she answered happily. "I need to be in Lubbock."