"Nana, you up already?" I ask through the phone after parking close to school.
"Yes dear, you should have awakened me before leaving."
"Nonsense, you were tired from the big walk on the park from yesterday I wanted to let you rest."
"Well, thank you but next time you wake me up so I can help you."
She's a stubborn one, let me tell you.
"Fine Nana, I am starting school in a few minutes I just wanted to check on you. I'll pick Dylan up later and help you give him dinner before I head to work. Is that okay?"
She never minds putting him to bed when I leave to serve dinners but still, I feel like I should ask and not take her for granted. She's helping me after all, it's not her responsibility.
"Sure, dear. I'll keep myself busy and do some groceries while you're in school. Break a leg little bird, you'll do great."
"Thank you, Nana, love you," I say goodbye to her, smiling to myself.
She really is the best.
Leaving the car parked, I walk up to the building where I'll have most of my classes. It'd be a lie to say that I am not nervous, especially when I am visibly older than common freshmen. If this had happened when I was eighteen, I'd be terrified and anxious. But yet again, if I were eighteen when I got to college I wouldn't be going through this alone.
Oh god, how can I still miss him after all of these years?
The building is packed with unfamiliar faces that pay little to no attention to me and I sigh in relief at that. Turns out college is nothing like high school and I am thankfully grateful for that. I was never a famous girl, but I was best friends with the golden boy. I was able to see the consequences that attention brings without being in the centre of it.
I spent my days in his shadow, being tolerated and acknowledged just because of him and I didn't mind. As long as he kept holding my hand throughout the whole ordeal I didn't mind and he never did let go. Not even once.
Being in love with him was the best thing in my life, after Dylan.
Despite the circumstances, Dylan is my life and unfortunately, because of him, I had to leave my life behind.
A light gust of wind hits me in the face, making me smile. There's no time to cry over the past. I've cried long enough for the whole duration of my pregnancy. Now it's a new start, a new beginning. A new life.
After navigating in the long halls and up the staircases I finally found the first class of today. It starts with English. I'll also have Basic Maths and Natural Science and the rest will be technical subjects to learn how to teach, how to deal with the kids and psychological subjects as well. It's only suitable and I am actually excited about this.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a biologist. But ever since I have had Dylan? It's like a lightbulb appeared in my brain
Ever since, that is what I have been working for. I love dealing with kids and having him made me realize how much I want to teach little kids just like him.
Inside the classroom, there were still a few seats available so I sat around the middle area where a few seats were vacant. In a few minutes, the classroom was almost to its maximum capacity. Just then a pretty girl comes right next to me.
"Hey, is this seat taken?" She asks me.
"Oh no, go ahead."
"My name is Johanna, are you a freshman as well?"
"I am Willow. Yes, and you?"
"Oh god yes. Can't you tell? I am so nervous." She chuckles. " Aren't you?"
"I should be but oddly enough I am not." I decided to start taking my notebook from my bag while keeping a conversation. I had to make friends, right? " So, are you from here?"
"Uh no. I am from the south, Évora. Do you know it?"
"Oh yes, my grandmother is from there. I used to spend a lot of vacations there."
"Funny how we never met, it's a small city."
"I didn't really have much time to go out, uhm - work and all." I stumble a little bit on my words.
It's not that I care about people knowing about Dylan but people judge but I am not the type to just say "Fuck off". Liam was the one who did that all the time and even though I can't really do it, he taught me to at least shut people off when they want to stick their noses where they don't belong.
"Work?" Her eyebrows furrow. "I am sorry to ask but how old are you? You seem really young but your vibe screams maturity all over." Her ability to be invasive in an innocent way is really sweet.
"I am twenty-two. I know I am kind of late to start college but life got in the way and I had to postpone. I made it though."
"Hell yes, girl. That's what women are made of; we never give up!!" She hollers a little too loud for me at the same time the professor enters the classroom.
Of course, that her loud voice makes him turn towards us to glare at us with narrowed eyes. The first thing I notice is that he is handsome. Young and handsome. I may sound like a pretentious girl by saying that I was expecting a much older and much less attractive professor to enter through that door.
"Good to know that this year students are so much more invested in this class." He mentions before turning back to his desk. If sarcasm was visible, I'd see it dripping from his mouth and chin and the embarrassment makes me sunk further down in my chair.
"Damn girl, that man is hot as fuck." Johanna whispers too loudly.
"Shhh" I try to shut her up but he still looks up at us with a cocked eyebrow and all I can do is blush, madly.
Oh god, I hope he doesn't start to pick on me. I was a real nerd at high school, I wasn't the teacher's favourite that was Liam as well but I had the perfect grades and I hope this professor isn't from that type that once he puts you aside will fail you no matter what the effort you put into things.
"Very well..." He starts after clearing his throat. "I am Arthur Adell and I will be with you for English subject for the semester. I know this course is directed mostly to basic education but you will have plenty of preparation for your teaching techniques in another subject so after an agreement with the other teachers I'll be focusing on what regular English subject should be."
I hear loud groans across the classroom making me giggle quietly.
"I will pass a few sheets with the books I expect you to have read and written a report about. Delivery dates are also on the sheets as well as the guidelines you should follow. In class, we will discuss 5 books - which are not on that list. I expect you to read those as well and come to class with things to say because the fact that you get involved and actually know what is being talked about will define 30% of your grades."
Everyone groans loudly - again - while I happily scribble notes about what the teacher's saying. I love reading so that won't be a problem. When it's appropriate I even read my books to Dylan. He loves to fall asleep hearing me reading and we eventually run out of books that were appropriate to him. Then, he started asking me to read to him my books, that 'I am a grown-up too' vibe that he has, has me laughing often but eventually I gave in.
It's funny to put him to sleep because he keeps interrupting me to know the meaning of words or situations he doesn't understand. I even witnessed him falling asleep while talking. Adorable!
A nudge to my ribs snaps me out of my thoughts. When I notice my surroundings it's entirely quiet and a few faces are looking at me, Professor and Johanna included.
"Have you finally come back to us Ms....?" Mr Adell asks, sarcastically.
"Hanlon." I finish for him. "I zoned out for a moment, yes; I am sorry everyone." I smile apologetically.
"Well darling, if you prefer to daydream instead of paying attention you can serve yourself out. There's no point in being here." I gasp at his rudeness and for a moment I felt the need to lash back at him.
I mean, I just spent like 5 minutes scribbling with a smile on my face, thinking about my kid. There's no need to overreact in this way. However, his taunting won't make me lower to his level; I won't snap back.
That is not who I am.
"Of course, Sir." I grit my teeth.
I am not the one to believe in first impressions but he certainly left a negative one on me. How can someone so beautiful seem to be so ugly on the inside?
His jaw clenches and I can sense his discomfort when I look him in the eyes but I quickly look away. I try to not let it get to me but it still intimidates me and makes me uncomfortable to this day.
After a long minute in silence, he clears his throat and continues, jumping straight away into work, making us write a page about one of our favourite books, to hand over by the end of class. It goes by quickly actually; I get so immersed in writing about The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde that when I noticed I had only five-minute left.
Once the bell rang everyone stood, handing over the paper before leaving the class. I was one of the last ones, along with Johanna since we packed up slowly. When I get to Mr Adell's desk I have barely put the sheet onto the table when he talks.
"I hope it doesn't happen again Miss Hanlon, I'd hate to think my class is filled with spoiled brats."
"Looks can be deceiving Sir, I certainly was hoodwinked with your good looks. But rest assured because it won't happen. Never again." I turned away from him before he could answer me back, rushing outside.
Outside warm air hits me and it does nothing to help my burning cheeks. I am sure I am blushing like crazy. I don't know what's gotten into me to answer to him like that, I mean he's a professor he can very well make it his mission to fail me.
What have I done?
I hate confrontation, I hate these types of toxic interactions... I am probably screwed.
"Girl..." Johanna tsks at me when she gets outside. "I have never seen eyes burn with fire like Mr Adell's after you answered him back."
"Oh god, I don't know what's gotten into me. I don't snap back or anything like that." I stress.
Johanna puts an arm over my shoulder and laughs.
"Well, sometimes there are people out there that bring a side of us that is usually buried deep, deep down." She teases.
"Well, no can do!" I say with determination. " I don't want a war with him. He's the one calling the shots inside that classroom and I can't afford to fail or my scholarship is gone."
"Come on then, I think some coffee and food will do you good to destress." She laughs at my nervousness before making me follow her to the Café for a well-deserved break.