Excerpt from “Grace Notes”

Part IV, Chapter 4


“Let’s have that meeting while we walk to the conference,” the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, suggested.  Ilene Bullock, a round, hesitant woman, was Grace’s boss of sorts.  Her on-the-fly meetings were Grace’s least favorite thing to do; she wouldn’t be able to take notes.  And Ilene’s thinking was so less linear that Grace preferred.  The woman’s eyelids closed and fluttered for long moments as she talked in a circular, self-correcting way, ticked her tongue after every clause, and never completed a sentence.  Ever.

As they crossed the chilly courtyard, the wind unabated from the night before, Grace looked up.  Directly in her sightline, was Chad.  He was talking intently to a tidy woman, thirties, with hair the rich red of a bay colt, live black eyes and very deep dimples which, Grace was sure, prompted her to smile often without showing teeth.  Grace recognized her as the new Poly-Sci associate professor come to them fresh from her PhD at Northwestern University—they’d had a passing, trivial conversation at the cocktail party for new faculty.  She had a Midwestern name, Kristi, Debbie, Julie, and had seemed awed a little, as though she’d joined the faculty where she’d just completed her degree; her hot eyes searched everyone.