Friday, September 7, 2012

Aftermath of a Dissertation


Prompt: Two People Come Out of a Building and Into a Story

“Are you sure you’re all right?” I didn’t want to hover (even if I was, essentially hovering) but Drew was a mess. No broken bones, but he was limping carefully down the shallow steps, and his face was one big bruise. He had done really well during the presentation and follow up questions. It had been a very tight, well researched paper, and he hadn’t flinched once during the debate or challenge phases. I thought his footwork had been a little ungraceful and some of his arguments a little too glib, but overall, it had been a great dissertation.

“I’m fine, Kay,” he said. “Quit fussing, girl.” From the slight grin he shot me and his tone, he had apparently decided to be amused by my concern. “It’s not like I lost any teeth or broke any bones.” A beat. “Or maybe you’re just worried that someone will think you’re beating me up.”

“I’m told making domestic violence jokes is in very poor taste,” I said. As a means of revenge, I looped my arm around one of his. He did not attempt to pull away, which was nice, even though I was now supporting him as he limped along. “I’m more worried that people will think the panel went too easy on you, for political reasons.”

“First human to pass the weird space elf bar exam.”   

“First human to be crazy enough to want to become an adjudicator in the first place,” I said. “It will be even more fun working with you as a junior partner than it was as a consultant.”

“You think so?” Drew asked.

“I know so,” I said. “What should we do to celebrate?”

“Right now I mostly want to celebrate with some ice packs,” Drew said. “And maybe sleep for about a million years. But maybe we could go out later in the week. Maybe have a party?”

“Sounds like a plan I can be happy to endorse,” I said as we walked toward the car. “I’m driving,”

“I can drive, it’s not like I’m concussed--”

“I can hear your voice, but it’s just sounds that make no sense,” I said. “Are you sure you didn’t hit your head?” I gave Drew my very best (and sharpest) smile. Grumbling, he went to the shotgun side and got in. “I let you drive on the way here, even though you were so nervous you really, really shouldn’t have been behind a wheel.”

“And you didn’t say a word, just held onto the ‘oh shit’ handle,” Drew said.

“An aptly named car feature given the way you drive,” I said.