3rd draft. Beginning of chapter 1.
|Rushing down the stairs, Mia checked her phone. She'd been waiting for the philosophical debate on Freedom for weeks, so it was imperative she attended on time.
Following her fellow students Mia entered the lecture hall and looked around for her friends, Ben, Sarah, Ruby and Chris who escaped the house quicker than her. Unfortunately, she couldn't spy them so went to take the only remaining seat at the front and placed her laptop on the table. Sighing to herself, she made a promise to not snooze her alarm again. Out of all the days to be stuck at the front it had to be when the guest professor was an ex-acquaintance of her parents .
Carelessly the speaker slammed his books on the table. Immediately Mia shifted in her seat to face him, trying to ignore the creeping feeling that something was off about today. Maybe it was because Mr Neckerson brought his books; usually guests only have a few props to command the stage.
"Welcome Students to the Lecture on Freedom. How would you describe freedom? Would you say it's a social construct designed to keep the public pleased? Would you say it's the ability to choose? But choose what? Does it exist? Should we question its' existence if it makes you happy? At the end of this session, you will have more 'answers' to these questions as well as more questions about this wonderful phenomenon."
Suddenly the arching doors at the back creaked open. A mass of faces turned from the quadragenarian professor to the noise where Mia spotted Ruby and Ben slide into the hall. Inwardly, Mia rolled her eyes, the disturbance seemed to freak out Mr Neckerson. He took a couple of paces and quietly stammered, almost as if he thought someone else was going to barge into the room. Almost as if he were dreading but expecting someone. Quickly, though, he got back into his stride.
"Ha, a slight diversion. We all had the choice to ignore me and look at these two late students. Or did we? Watson, the Behaviourist Psychologist, would argue that we didn't. That, in fact, we have learnt through our previous life experience that we should make note of any surprising event. Alternatively, it could be encoded into our biology from our evolutionary pasts. Back when we had to rely on our wits and instincts to protect us- that noise could have been a predator, in which case knowledge would be imperative to enable us to make our escape or fight."
A chuckle rumbled through the class as the professor imitated aggression. Mia looked at Mr Neckerson, a fairly good-looking man if you like the older, arrogant, sandy-haired type. Whilst he spoke his elegant, long fingers seemed to be trembling, almost like he was nervous. She took a moment to notice a prominent tan line on his left ring finger. She wouldn't have noticed it if he hadn't been unconsciously rubbing it. Frowning to herself, she shook her head as she realised that Mrs Neckerson had competition. Mia had liked Steph Neckerson too, she and Nathan would often pop by her parents’ house in Cambridge for a few drinks. Her frown deepened as she deduced his removal of the ring likely meant he wasn't as careless with his affair as he were his books.
His lecture ended as Mia wondered if his freedom spiel included his affair and absent-mindlessly took some notes. A shame, all her excitement and respect for the speaker had gone. The hall emptied while Mia struggled to find her phone and Neckerson gathered his books. She was kneeling hidden when the side stage door was flung open.
A beautifully poised woman strode in. Dressed in a red blazer over scarlet tapered trousers and a white slimline blouse, Steph always knew how to make an entrance. Being a professor of performing arts, Steph embodied the stereotype perfectly. Sniffing she spoke softly:
"Nate, again? Well, a student, she replaces the cocktail waitress. It's quite sad how they all cling to you after your oh so important and clever lectures. I must say, isn’t it illegal for a professor to be involved with his student? I distinctly recall it being an abuse of power."
Gaining her breath, she examined the room. Mia peeped around the corner, disgusted at the man she once knew, but not surprised. An awkward time to pop up and announce herself, she decided to sink down a little further.
"This little lecture is about freedom, hey babe? You speak of freedom, and you sneak around behind my back. Although, I guess I can see how you truly do walk the talk. Apart from at our wedding when we promised to be together forever, that must have been a lie. Regardless, darling, I want a divorce."
She declared all this in a flourish and cold manner, but her thunderous look betrayed her frustration. The venom in her eyes spooked Mia who was frantically thinking of ways to make her exit. As Steph swept out of the room while Nate was still trying to think of a suitable response, she left a parting vow of:
"Don't worry, darling, I made sure to tell administration exactly why I needed to visit. I expect the police will be here to ask about your illegal activities imminently."