Author’s Note: Thanks to my beta-reader, Anik Duclos, and to my dear friend and brainsib, Deb, for telling me I absolutely *had* to watch this show.
I decided this morning that I should probably go down to the university and clear my stuff out of the lab. We’ve been back from Alaska for a week and there’s no point in continuing to postpone the inevitable. So I stopped at the grocery store on the way, to pick up a few apple boxes. Apple boxes are always good for packing.
I’ve been working for about an hour and making good progress when I hear a knock on the open door. I look up to see Declan hanging in the doorway, a mischievous grin on his face and both hands behind his back.
“Can I come in?”
I nod and continue packing. “It’s a free laboratory.”
“Got a couple of surprises for you,” he tells me as he crosses the room to where I’m standing. He’s still wearing that grin. One hand emerges from behind his back with a piece of paper, which he slaps down on the counter in front of me.
I look at it, then look back up at him in surprise. “This is–”
“An extension,” he confirms with a nod. “I told your dissertation committee that you had been called away suddenly on a family emergency, and gave them my personal guarantee that you would never miss a deadline again.”
His personal guarantee? That means he put his own job on the line. For me.
“But…why?” I’ve never been a very talkative person but, right at the moment, I’m so dumbfounded that I’m reduced to one-syllable words.
“Come on, Miranda.” Declan smiles again. “Did you really think I’d let you be thrown out over something you had no control over? Besides,” he shrugs, “I kinda like having you around.”
I’m still flabbergasted. “Thank you,” I say dumbly.
He shrugs and smiles again.
“What’s the other surprise?” I ask, noticing that one hand is still behind his back.
His grin grows even bigger as he brings the other hand out. In it is a video cassette–“Back to the Future.”
“I decided that your education in pop culture has been sorely lacking and, as an anthropologist, it’s my job to correct that. So, what do you say? You, me, Marty and Doc and a bowl of popcorn in my office after my last period?”
I open my mouth to protest. I have a deadline again now and I doubt I’ll get a third chance if I miss this one. I have a thesis proposal to write. I don’t have time to watch a movie.
Then I remember the feeling of the wind and the spray on my face as the waterfall rushed up to meet me. I remember Declan’s smile as he watched me belt out “Midnight Train to Georgia,” a song I didn’t even know before that morning. I remember the last time I did something just for fun. And I remember that I liked it, especially his smile.
So, I nod. “All right. I’ll be there.”
Much to my own amazement, Declan isn’t surprised. He just gives me a knowing grin and a thumbs-up and turns to leave. “Don’t forget the Mrs. Fields’ cookies!” he shouts over his shoulder as he disappears.
I turn back to my box and begin to unpack it.
There’s something to be said for second chances.