Liam sat drumming his fingers on the table, watching the clock. He'd known that she'd be late. The librarian had given him the same private room as last time. It was on the first floor, and it had a large window that looked out on the library's entrance. Liam could see her coming down the campus path, walking quickly with her head down. She had on a tuque, and strands of bright red hair poked out from the hat's bottom. She had on the same brown quilted jacket that she'd worn the last time. As he watched her rush in through the front door, Liam hoped that this would go better than their first interview.
Seconds later, Tillie threw open the door, stepped into the room and shut the door way too hard for a library. Liam winced.
Tillie smiled apologetically and started to explain, â€śI'm sorry I'm late but....â€ť
Liam held up his hand. Tillie stopped talking and her smile faded.
Liam pulled out a chair, â€śI don't mean to be rude, but I don't really care why you're late. I just want to get this over with.â€ť
Tillie set her book bag down on the floor and took off her jacket. She took
off the tuque and shook her head. She had the brightest red hair Liam had ever seen. She wore it fairly short; the ringlets stopped about chin-length. She had on a faded t-shirt with grease spots all over it and a pair of jeans.
Liam wrinkled his nose, â€śWhat is that smell?â€ť
Tillie looked chagrined, â€śThat's what I wanted to tell you. I didn't have time to change. I was working in the dish room at the cafeteria, and it's impossible not to get liquefied food and garbage juice all over you. It's really quite gross. Sorry.â€ť
Liam shook his head, â€śDid you talk to your mother?â€ť
Tillie's expression changed and her voice was soft, â€śYes. I spoke with her yesterday.â€ť
Tillie seemed lost in thought and Liam tried not to show his impatience when he asked, â€śWell?â€ť
Tillie's pale blue eyes rested on him and she said, â€śOh, yeah. She said it was OK to tell you. She just asked that you treat our story with respect.â€ť
Liam rolled his eyes. Why did he have to be paired up with the only sophomore in their creative writing class? Everyone else in the class was a senior. Liam had groaned when Dr. Julius handed out the biography
assignment with their partner's name listed at the top. Dr. Julius said he
had made an effort to match up people who appeared to have little in common or to not know each other well; that way the interview and the biography would be objective, fresh. He'd certainly succeeded in Liam's case. In this very private, very preppy school, where nearly everyone's
family had money, Liam had landed the one partner who was clearly on financial aid and actually worked in the cafeteria. Liam shook his head; just his luck. Then, at their first meeting, Tillie had refused to tell Liam any more than the basics about her family. Her mother is an artist. Her stepfather is a pastor at a nearby church and the family lives behind the church. She has three much younger brothers and, while she has known her stepfather almost since birth, her mother hadn't married him until Tillie was 5. She'd been the flower girl for their wedding. And, that was it; nothing more. Liam had become frustrated with Tillie, but she wouldn't budge. She said the real story was her mother's and that she wasn't going to share it until she got her okay. She said her story started when her mother and aunt met.
At this point, Liam put his head in his hands and asked, â€śYour mother's sister?â€ť
Tillie had nodded.
Liam asked sarcastically, â€śWell, didn't they meet like most sisters? You know, one of them comes home from the hospital and the rest is history?â€ť
Tillie furrowed her brow and shook her head. Stubborn.
So, Liam had agreed to wait until the next interview, until tonight. This had better not be some sappy sob story about how rough she's had it, he thought to himself. Tillie started.