From 'Autumn Pressure', Specer Hardy is now at University and becomes taken with a girl.
|It was mid-term in the fall of Spencer Hardy's first year at University and he plucked for the picturesque wander through the autumn trees in the park rather than catch the bus home. A sunny autumn afternoon in England was too rare a gift not to be made the most of, and this type of scenery allowed for a philosophy of his own, a vacation from the stuff he was being taught in his lecture.
He greeted the arch that led to the courtyard of Princess Alice Court with a wry smile, clutching a bottle of wine in his hand; he was almost overcome by the beauty of the vintage six storey building, and the calming chorus of the fountain's splash as the centre-piece.
With it being Friday there was a lot of activity in the courtyard, students pouring in and out of the doorways on each of the four sides to head home on the train or to fetch a mountain of alcohol for whatever parties they had planned that night. The buzz of the city nightlife was a few minutes' walk away, and within sight from Spencer's fifth storey bedroom as he opened the door to his kingdom.
This was a very definitive room. Each of the four walls was plastered in posters and fliers; a wall for art prints growing from a large Gustav Klimt piece; another plastered with vinyl records and other assorted rock memorabilia, row after row of books placed upon two shelves parallel from the window and above his bed, and the other wall had been covered tip to toe in plain white paper that had since become a canvass for artistic graffiti and random musings that Spencer felt like sharing.
The view from the window was spectacular but he'd never seen it like this before. He could see the tops of old trees slowly swaying beneath an array of tall apartment building's with balconies and the city's iconic cathedral watching over it all in the background. The sun let through a bold beam that ran down the floor and up one of the walls which gave everything a golden filter. He felt as if he'd walked into a beautiful piece of art, an installation, held higher in regard because it couldn't last, it was just a moment, a single perfect moment.
Spencer, naturally, was a philosophical type of guy, and he believed that everything in life was about having a sense of timing, that little events could have a big impact on his life, and he felt that this evening was too perfect for it not to have a profound and lasting impact. This made the thought of Ashley coming round to his room later all the more frightening.
"Ashley Harding-Smith,Wow." Spencer slung his bag weighted with books into the corner and shook his head smiling, hop to go over the material and plan the presentation. Spencer hadn't made the distinction in his own mind that he was very, almost in a state of disbelief.
Ashley was this character that he had noticed in a few of his lectures. She'd occasionally turn up late, and so aptly everyone would notice her like a bolt of fiery ember struck into an ashy burnt out fire. Dyed red hair for emphasis, an understated and probably ethical fashion style, and a bag populated with badges promoting some cause or band; everything about her formed a walking question mark to Spencer.
This girl had those most attractive of traits to him; opinions, depth, mystery, a zany quirkiness that made everyone shut up when she talked, and the grace and humility to only take centre stage when she had something interesting to say.
Ashley didn't fit any stereotypical social grouping that seemed to overrun the campus and Spencer certainly didn't either. Being twenty-three years old in his first year set Spencer apart from your average fresher, but it wasn't age as much as experience that set him apart, he'd had to grow up quick.
He went back to earlier that afternoon in his mind, for ecstasy as much as analysis.
"Ok people, that's the presentation I want you to make, but here's the twist; I've randomly paired you up, no working with friends on this one" Professor Harrison, like most Professor's was a very intelligent man but he triumphantly retained an empathy and a kinship with those much his junior. He walked over to his lantern and pulled out a piece of paper. Spencer was about halfway to the back of the theatre and was one of the few students who sat alone rather than in groups.
"This is going to be interesting" a prophetic thought before a turn of fate. Spencer's hazel and green eyes where now magnetic to the Professors steely stance.
"Group 17: Spencer Hardy and Ashley Harding-Smith"
Almost inconceivably to Spencer he was paired with the only person he seemed to take any notice of. Most people took more notice of her than anyone else; she was that type of girl, with that type of way about her, but this was big, this was exciting, and despite an age gap, Spencer felt a twinge of vulnerability.
The pairing was all that he could think about as he huddled through the small doors at the front of the theatre with everyone else. He'd planned to email her on Monday and arrange to meet in a coffees hop to go over the material and plan the presentation. Spencer hadn't made the distinction in his own mind that he was very attracted to Ashley, but a tap on the shoulder , turning round to gaze in her chocolate brown eyes forced his hand.
"Hi, you're Spencer aren't you?" Spencer nodded and took a step to the side to allow the influx of student's ease of exit from their supposed incarceration.
"Hi, I'm Ashley, we're working together on the presentation" Her voice seem to carry a more intense attractiveness when it was directed solely at him rather than addressing an audience.
"Oh yeah, yeah should be interesting that, do you want to swap numbers, maybe meet up next week?" Spencer was trying almost in vain to disguise his disbelief that she actually knew who he was.
Ashley grinned, "Why what are you doing tonight? I thought we might start early, get one up on the competition, as stifling as they appear!"
What Spencer was now doing tonight was pacing around for two hours deciding what to wear; he hadn't done that for years. He kept a militant like eye on the clock up until the point when the buzzer rang and she made her way up to his room. Tonight he was trying to restrict the quiver in his hand as her amazing figure sat on his bed and later he was hopeless to conceal how much of a good time he was having, how well they were connecting, until conversation took a more impacting turn.
"Ok, I'm thinking now with the benefit or should I say disadvantage of a couple of glasses of wine but, I think I know what makes you interesting to everyone" Ashley was either employing a form of flattery or shedding some actual truth, either way, Spencer's lips widened across his face in a type of mock embarrassment, but his concentration remained intense.
"They might not know it, but they feel it, and I see it, you're affected, you're affected in some big way, but I know you see beauty as well, I think you're scarred, I think your covered in beautiful scars Spencer" Consumed by her and deep in her eyes, had just found the best shrink of any he'd ever had to see, and felt like she'd just detonated a seismic bomb in the small space between them and now the vacuum was pulling them together.
He leaned in from his chair slightly, "I can't tell you how amazing it feels to know that someone see's me like that without having to carve me open with questions" Every conceivable amount of gratitude and affection gathered in Spencer's eyes and sailed effortlessly through the storm and into Ashley's. Their heads slid together and her plump lips were soon slowly meeting Spencer's, this isn't the beginning of attraction, this is the beginning of something deeper, something more hurtful, shockingly spectacular in every way.
The kiss couldn't have lasted more than a few moments, but it felt mutually euphoric, as if it was too beautiful for them to share alone, as if angels had gathered around them and blessed the sacred bond of two souls in unison. Spencer drew his head from hers and saw her in her own state.
Vines had surrounded them, the moon hung low just behind her shoulder and floral fantasies had filled the room entirely. The lagoon in the corner spread lily's across its surface as it was filled with the trickle from the tiny waterfall above. Just behind the orange tree to her left was a sense of company. Little bolts of electric blue lights climbed from the moss floor and became supernovae like a flash from a very old camera, making a statement of this moment's beauty.
They'd drew in the angelic guests all by themselves, and something was there for every living thing to appreciate, then she spoke and the room was back to normal again.
"This wine has really made me not want to submerge myself in that presentation anymore" Spencer felt the same exact lack of interest in their presentation, but he was in a different sort of inebriation entirely.
"I know exactly what you mean; how about I crack open another bottle and we watch a film?"
"That sounds.....a lot more enticing!"