The next six or so weeks will be mega. Much like this fella, I’ll have my head down and focused on my work. The thing about a PhD is the same thing with any big project: you have to focus on one task at a time or you’ll easily overwhelm yourself. My helmet is down; my torch ignited.
Now he was being trusted to give an opinion. He felt a strange amount of responsibility to offer sage advice that would steer her down the correct fork of the crossroads to choose. He could see that she was talented, but it was also true that…
“You’re right, Lyle. I get it. Thank you.”
She stood quickly and tore out the page of her notebook that contained her poem before handing him the notebook itself.
“Maybe now it’ll help you.”
He took it with unsettled bewilderment and watched her dart out the door, nearly bowling over another bohemian walking his dog.
He was still in a bit of shock and began to flip through the pages of the notebook. He stopped when he found a page toward the front with a sketch of a man in a tailored suit carrying a takeaway coffee cup and a bag not unlike his own. Behind the man were more men in suits that featured fewer and fewer details as the queue extended until they were little more than stick figures. At the top of the page were scratched the words “The Last March of the Lyles”.
She was gone and he could picture no future in which she would come back. The rear wheels of the pickup truck that she had driven away from him had kicked up a cloud of dust that was still settling. The sun slipped suddenly but silently behind the gentle slope that peaked behind his house as the last of the dust gently landed and rejoined the driveway from which it had been stirred. Life under the sun continued on the far side of the mountain but here on his side of the mountain the sun had set on him and him alone.