neat lines in the college handbook, stripping away the academic jargon the message was plain for all to see. But what he could already see within Ashley showed that she deserved to be at this college. It was more than his desire for her, and more than her desire for the course. It was pure potential. She glowed with it. And he wasn’t about to let that be extinguished by her circumstances. Not if he could help it.
“Some people believe Blake was a genius. Some people believe he was an idiot and his status has grown far out of proportion to his talent. You’ve already heard some critical opinion. So, Ashley what’s your take on that?” said the Professor
Ashley’s head jerked at the mention of her name, and her hair flicked up. She licked her lips and he could tell from her eyes that she was trying to recall the question she’d just heard. There were a few seconds of painful silence.
“Umm,” said Ashley.
“We discussed this in the canteen, didn’t we?” he said quickly, making eye contact with Ashley, hoping she’d take the bait. “Remember, how some people think Blake is a genius and some think he’s over-hyped.”
Ashley narrowed her pretty eyes and then he saw she got it. The canteen meeting hadn’t happened at all, but she was with him.
“Absolutely,” she replied. “I don’t think you can over-hype a man of words and visual artistry who is able to produce his kind of extravagant poetry, or reveal to us visions of a world which overlaps our own. People like him are rare, and we should always celebrate them,”
She nodded a thanks his way. He smiled back.
“Well said. And Cody, for your interruption you can now tell us your view…”
It was his turn on the spot, but he had the benefit of sleep and a quick mind on his side. He leapt into the fray in customary style…
Soon after, as everyone fled Professor Cantor’s office, he noticed Ashley leave the room first. When he got away, she was waiting in the corridor clutching her folder to her chest. Her face was framed by a wall of pale blonde hair on either side. Her eyes were on mine, but they were saying a number of things, and he needed to find out what they meant.
“Hi, Ashley. I hope you didn’t mind that I jumped in there. I could see you had something else on your mind.”
“No... Great. I appreciate it. You’re Cody, right?” She remembered his name. That felt great.
“Don’t wear it out,” he smiled. She didn’t.
“Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but I need to get this off my chest,” said Ashley. Oh dear. he had read those eyes all wrong.
“I can answer any and all the Professor’s questions for myself. I’m a big girl now, and I can even read my own books and everything. I went to school and I even made it to this college place all on my own. So I think I can manage. I know you meant well, but Cody, please, don’t do that again.”
“I’m sorry, Ashley. I just don’t want them to take against you. I know you’re working really hard – Penny told me –and I don’t want them to give you a hard time just because you didn’t hear one of his questions. Cantor can be a ball-breaker.”
“So can I. Like I said, I appreciate the gesture, but I don’t need your help. So, what else did Penny tell you?” she said.
“Yeah, right. Just because I’m an Essex blonde it really doesn’t mean I’m dumb. Okay?” said Ashley.
“What? I never thought you were! ” He said.
Cody had to nod and accept what she was saying or this was going to get out of hand.
“You don’t know anything about my life, so please don’t act like you do. I’m sure you’re a nice guy, so let’s finish this now, okay?”
She was angry. She was probably only angry because she was tired, and man, he knew he didn’t deserve to take the brunt of it. But what else could he do? He wanted to build trust with her, to build a friendship, to be able to get to know her and help her release that