Running Into My Childhood Bully a Decade Later
- Genre: Romance
- Age: 18+
- Status: Completed
- Language: English
- Author: Aster A. Parks
I took a deep breath as I entered the Student Center of the University of Watermill. On the top floor was the Dean’s office, where I was currently heading. It was my first day as a newly hired professor, and I was more than excited. I had been finishing my PhD abroad for the past two years and was happy to be back home. I had recently bought my old childhood home in the cul-de-sac that was several miles away from the university. I, of course, did not mind the commute, as it was better for me than living in the nearby city where most of the students who lived off-campus tended to stay. I had so many thoughts in my head as I came to the Dean’s office. I was more anxious than I had ever been before.
“Ah, Edgar! You are here!” The Dean greeted me when he noticed me standing by his office door as he walked down the hallway.
“Good morning, Dean Hammond,” I greeted him warmly.
“It is good to see you are a bit early. Better than being late on your first day,” he said as he extended his hand out to me. I shook his hand and nodded my head in agreement. “Now, as I said when I hired you, you will be collaborating with our other Professor of Philosophy for the first semester. You two are the only professors of philosophy we have right now. We just received the funding to allow us to hire two of you, but we also want to promote relationships between the two of you,” Hammond explained.
“Your university is known for supporting positive relationships between professors and students alike,” I smiled.
“Yes, we do pride ourselves in supporting our staff and students. They are necessary for our university to run,” Hammond laughed as he motioned for me to follow him. “Have you decided what you would like to be referred to as yet?” he asked me.
“I must admit it, I find it odd to have my peers refer to me as Professor Crown. I think I will just stick with being Edgar for now,” I told him.
“The professor you are shadowing is the same age as you, and he also only goes by his first name,” Hammond smiled.
“Wow, I thought I got my PhD fast, but he’s been a professor here for three years already,” I said in surprise. Hammond laughed.
“No, no. You are exceptional. Our young professor does not have a PhD like you. Our university is willing to hire professors who only have a master’s degree to teach certain classes. He is one of our alumni students. He graduated from our university on our fast-track program,” Hammond explained.
“Did you hire him immediately after he graduated?” I asked.
“We did. He is quite brilliant…” Hammond paused. “…but there is something unique about him. He comes off as a brutish jock rather than a genius professor of philosophy,” he sighed.
“Genius comes in all forms, I suppose,” I laughed lightly. We were walking through the communal area of the university at this point. I noticed some of the students were watching us, and I felt anxious again.
“This is the second humanities building. It is small for now, but once we get more funding and donations, we hope to make it bigger. It has two classrooms for philosophy, three theology classrooms, three different history classes, and an ethics class that rotates between the philosophy professors and theology professors,” Hammond said as we entered a strangely shaped building that one could easily find right next to the communal area. It had a large bottom floor but only half of the top floor.
“What…a creative-looking building,” I commented.
“It is hideous, I know,” Hammond sighed. “This was to be a building for art classes originally, but the art professor that we assigned to manage everything just blew the money and created this disaster. The building got renovations two years ago, so classes could start in it at least, but it is still nowhere near ideal,” he explained.
“You must have been angry with the professor,” I nodded.
“I fired her,” Hammond told me. “We have a no-tolerance policy for foolishness,” he spoke with an agitated tone. He cleared his throat and guided me over to the steps. “The two classes upstairs are our philosophy classes. Your office is in between the two classrooms.” We walked up the stairs together, and he took me to the office. I saw the disappointment on his face when he saw it was empty. “Where is that brat?” Hammond asked in agitation. I chuckled lightly. He dragged me over to one of the classrooms and swung the door open. “Austin! I told you to meet us in your office!” Hammond declared. I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw who I was meant to be shadowing, and my childhood flashed before my eyes.
“Hey, dweeb! How would you feel if I would crush that nerdy brain of yours!” Austin laughed as he held a baseball bat in his hand. I froze in fear as my friends stood up for me.
“Leave him alone, you big dummy!” Tommy yelled at him.
“You’re just jealous that he is smarter than you!” Jessica said.
“I am not!” Austin yelled angrily. He raised the bat like he was about to hit her.
“Don’t touch my sister!” Joshua lunged at him. I came out of my frozen state just to experience my first panic attack. My friends left Austin, who they had managed to beat up, alone as they rushed me home. Austin had always been my terrorizer, but he became my reason for developing a panic disorder that day.
As the memory of my first panic attack flooded into my brain, I felt a panic attack about to start.
“Welcome to the university, whatever your name is…” Austin said without looking at me. He was fully involved with the papers he looked to be grading.
“Do not be rude!” Hammond went over to him and smacked him across the head.
“Hey! That is assault, you old fart!” Austin complained.
“If you did not act like a callous asshole, I would have no need to do such a thing!” Hammond scolded. The sight was almost comical, and my panic dissipated. Austin looked at me for the first time, and I could tell he remembered me.
“Shit…” He sighed as he looked down. I could not tell if he was looking down in disappointment or shame.
“What? You show respect to our fine new professor.” Hammond grabbed him by the face and pinched his cheeks. “You are such an asshole! I ought to fire you! Such blatant disrespect!”
“Um…sir, please calm down,” I interjected. Hammond let him go and straightened himself up.
“I apologize for my outburst. This is Austin Keeler. Our professor of philosophy,” Hammond introduced.
“It has been a long time, Austin,” I said, forcing a smile.
“I do not expect you to be kind to me, Edgar. I am sure you would not have taken this position if you knew I was the professor you were to be partnered with,” Austin sighed.
“I am…surprised, to say the least…I never knew you had the ability to think, let alone get a degree,” I insulted.
“I am aware that this is a shock. There was a reason I was the way I was when we were children,” Austin stood up. “I know I am late, and do not deserve it, but I hope you can forgive me for my unruly nature as a child…I am in desperate need of someone to share the class load I have been assigned here, and hope you can still see this as a career opportunity, even if it means you have to deal with me,” he said to me as he came over to me.
“You two know each other?” Hammond asked in confusion.
“He was my childhood bully,” I answered. Hammond looked at Austin in anger.
“Seriously!? How could you do such a thing, considering what you had been through!” he yelled.
“Is it not basic psychology that explains why?” Austin said with a bored expression. Hammond’s anger dissipated.
“You are correct. It was because of my PhD in psychology I was able to help you…” He looked at me. “If you choose to stay, Edgar, I hope the two of you can heal from the past scars you have both obtained. However, if you do not wish to take the position, I fully understand.”
“Well…” I looked at Austin. He was looking at me with pleading green eyes. I was not a petty person, and I had already bought my childhood home. “It will only be a semester that I have to collaborate with him directly, so I think I can manage that. Though, do not expect us to become friends,” I told Austin.
“I do not have friends,” Austin shrugged nonchalantly. Hammond facepalmed at his comment.
“Because you lack proper etiquette,” he sighed in defeat. Hammond came over to me. “Listen, if at any point you change your mind, please feel free to tell me. I will not force you to do something that will affect your mental health overall.”
“I appreciate the concern,” I extended my hand out to him. He took it and gave me a firm handshake.
“Austin, you better not screw this up, or I will ring your neck,” Hammond threatened him.
“Yeah, yeah. Old fart,” Austin mumbled. I could tell I would have an interesting time working with these two. I was also hoping that facing my bully head-on would give me the closure I so desperately wanted…but what did Hammond mean about helping Austin? I could not help but wonder what I was missing.