Chapter 55: Influences

I walked out of my last class of the day, prepared to go straight to Professor Firestone’s office. He’d sent me a reminder in my last class of the day, and the Professor of that class snidely reminded me that Professor Firestone was a ‘stickler for tardiness’, whatever that meant.

Olivia was waiting in the hallway.

“Uhh… hey.” I crossed the hall and lightly kissed her cheek. “I have that meeting with Firestone in like… five minutes.”

“In that case, we’d better hurry.” She said quickly, slipping her hand into mine.

I frowned, allowing her to walk with me. “Okay, but I’m probably going to be a while you know and I mean, I can just catch up with you later or something. I’m sure you don’t want to be hanging around Firestone’s office waiting for me.”

Olivia shrugged. “I’m sure it’s nothing, it probably won’t take so long.” She mused. “I don’t mind waiting.”

“Oh, sure, okay.” I agreed. We walked through the hall and through the north quad, quickly finding out way to the stone cobblestone walkway that led to the office buildings. On the main floor of the largest buildings was Professor Firestone’s massive office.

I held the door open for her, and we walked down the hallway. We reached the receptionist’s desk.

“Mr. Hanson,” The receptionist stood, “Professor Firestone has been expecting you.”

“Oh, okay.” I nodded.

Olivia plopped down on one of the chairs in the reception area. “I’ll wait here.” She answered, smiling up at me.

I nodded, moving into Firestone’s private waiting room. I knew I had nothing to worry about, I hadn’t done anything wrong, and my marks were insanely good.

I still felt nervous. I couldn’t even sit, I paced the room. I glanced at the books on the shelves and at a few of the awards that had been presented to Pine Crest Academy over the years.

I sighed, glancing out the window at the passing students.

The door to Firestone’s office opened and he appeared in the doorway.

“Mr. Hanson. I’m very sorry to keep you waiting. I do hope you weren’t waiting long.” He said sincerely.

I shook my head. “No, not long.” I answered awkwardly.

“Okay, if you’d like to come in…” He offered.

I nodded and followed him into his office, plopping down on the chair across from his huge desk.

Firestone closed the door behind himself and sat down in his chair. He did something completely out of the ordinary for him. He was usually so stiff and formal. This time he sat back in his chair, folding his hands over his abdomen.

“Well, to be honest, I didn’t think you had it in you.” He paused.

I wasn’t entirely sure if he was speaking out of shock or if he was insulting me. I waited patiently for him to make his point before I decided. I knew punching this guy in the face for insulting me wasn’t going to end well.

“Your professors have updated me as per my request about your marks. They’re phenomenal, I must say.” He mused. “I definitely didn’t expect you to flourish this well here at Pine Crest Academy.”

“Neither did I.” I answered. “I asked professor Harper this morning if she’d made a mistake. I thought maybe she’d reversed the numbers or something.” I admitted.

Professor Firestone smirked. “I can assure you that our professors here do not make those kinds of sloppy mistakes.”

I nodded. “Well, I guess that’s good.” I mused.

“Anyway, what I called you in here for, was not only just to congratulate you on your exceptional marks and officially making the honor roll” He paused. “But I also want to extend your privileges. Not only will you have free reign of the library, but you will also have unlimited photocopying, internet access and book borrowing privileges. But you’ll now be free to join extracurricular activities.”

I rolled my eyes.

“It may not be cool, or the in thing to do.” Professor Firestone insisted. “But something as simple as joining a sports team or participating in a study group looks very promising on a college application…”

“Hmph.” I answered.

“May I ask, what are your plans for college?” Professor Firestone asked. He sat forward in his chair and folded his hands in front of him on the desk.

“I don’t have any.” I shrugged lazily.

“Do you have any goals or hobbies that you would like to pursue?” Professor Firestone inquired.

I frowned, shaking my head. “Nope. None.”

Professor Firestone frowned. “Huh. Well, your presence here at Pine Crest Academy sets the perfect foundation for any post secondary education that you choose to pursue. A lot of colleges will accept you on the spot, especially considering your current grades. If you do decide to apply for college, I’d be very happy to stake my reputation for a letter on your behalf.”

“Thank you. But right now, all I want to do is finish High School.” I answered.

Professor Firestone nodded.

He paused for a few moments. “Are you still getting along with Thomas? I’ve heard from the staff advisor for the chess club that he’s come out of his shell since you started here. He’s getting more aggressive with his chess playing. Before you came here he was quiet and reserved, he’s changed a lot.”

I shrugged. “He’s a good kid.”

“And I’ve been told you’re spending a lot of time with Miss James.”

“Yeah…” I could immediately feel myself getting uptight about this line of questioning. I was waiting for him to make his point. “Her marks are better than mine so I’m not corrupting her or anything…”

“No, on the contrary. I think she’s been a very good influence on you.”

I nodded.

“Is there anything else you need to discuss with me?” Professor Firestone asked.

“I don’t think so.” I shrugged lightly.

“Okay, then thank you for your time.”

“Sure.” I stood up and left the office, quickly moving through the private waiting room into the reception area.

Olivia stood, picking up her books from the chair next to her. “That was fast.” She mused.

“Yeah,” I answered, taking her books from her, determined to carry her books for her.

Without taking her hand, I led her back down the hall. I pushed through the door that led outside.
Olivia followed. “Is everything okay?” She asked, lightly touching my arm.

I slowed my pace so she could match it. “Everything is fine. It just sucks getting hauled in there so he can bust my balls like that.”

Olivia frowned. “What did he say?”

“Same old bull shit.” I sighed. “Asked about colleges, asked about hobbies and extracurricular activities… He said I’m a positive influence on Thomas and you’re a positive influence on me.”

Olivia nodded. “Well, you have helped Thomas a lot…” She mused. “He’s got actual friends now.”

I sighed. “Can we just not talk about this? Sorry. But that guy just pisses me off.”

Olivia laughed softly.

“Come on. We’ll go to your dorm and you can change, then we’ll go to mine and we can go out for dinner. That should get your mind off of Firestone.” She smiled up at me.

I returned her smile, moving his arm around her shoulders and pulling her closer to me. “That sounds perfect.” I leaned toward her and kissed her temple.

She giggled sweetly.