Outside, the sun was bright and hot on his face. Mark brushed the long fringe of dark hair out of his eyes and trotted down the steps, thinking about what to do with the rest of his day. Students swarmed around him, and he paused to check out a cute girl, probably a freshman from the way she still clutched her bag close and barreled straight ahead, intent on getting to her next class. He remembered those days, so sure that the slightest slip up would doom his education. Three years made a big difference.
He smiled, and nearly forgot the nervousness he’d felt in the auditorium. His stride took on a jaunty hop as he decided to hit up the café before heading over to Pete’s for a game of Call of Duty. He rounded the corner of Chatsworth Hall, and stopped dead in his tracks.
The old man was sitting on a bench across from the Hall’s entrance. He straightened, expectantly, as if he had been waiting for Mark. Mark glanced around, hoping that there was someone else who could have caught the old man’s attention, but the area was strangely empty. He gripped the straps of his back pack and started walking again, pointedly ignoring the stranger.
He stopped cold again at the sound of the gravelly voice, but quickly recovered and continued walking.
“Please,” the man called again. “I need to talk to you.”
Matt stopped and turned. He was far enough away that he felt safe, though he did take a moment to wonder why he felt so threatened by an old man. He looked as if a good wind would knock him over.
“Sorry,” Mark said. “Do I know you?”
The man didn’t say anything for a long time. His mouth moved as if he wanted to say something, and his eyes, that in the auditorium had seemed so intense, looked doubtful. Mark waited for almost a full minute for an answer that didn’t come.
“Sorry, man…Sir,” Mark said, turning away. “I have somewhere to be.”
Mark didn’t stop.