Sara Sidle was livid. Well, truth be told, she had left livid behind a minute ago and was well into the range of being totally pissed off. Her voice broke as she looked at her advisor and snarled, "You have got to be kidding me! I've been going to school for four straight years without a break. I was taking the summer off to get ready for graduate school at Harvard. I still don't have a place to live, I need to try and find a job out there…" she trailed off helplessly.
She was trying very hard not to whine or cry, but felt the frustration welling inside her. This was going to be her summer-a chance to hang out with friends and just take it easy before she headed to the East coast and they entered the job market. As much as she enjoyed the challenge of college, spring break had just ended last week and Sara had already calculated the number of minutes she had left in the classroom before the freedom of three blissful months of vacation. The most complicated thing she had planned to do was to see how much time she could spend at the beach. She wanted to be a typical 22-year-old for just one moment in time.
Dr. Edward Sayers shook his head in sympathy. "I don't know how this happened, Sara, really I don't. You need one more science class to graduate and since its March, it's too late to get you into a class this semester," he said. "You're going to have to take one class this summer. It will only be for eight weeks. There will still be some time to kick up your heels before you have to buckle down in Cambridge.
Sara scowled at the man who had been her advisor and mentor for four years. "What about a correspondence course or some kind of independent study?" She queried. "Couldn't I get a waiver of some kind? I have taken almost every advanced science course offered here. I should have close to 130 hours and only 120 are needed to graduate"
Again Sayers shook his head. "You have to have a lab science-outside of your major. Two courses are being offered this summer that meet the requirement. Intro to Archaeology and Intro to Entomology," he said. "Professor King has taught here for years and really does make the subject interesting and doesn't dwell on the popular culture aspects. It isn't a horrible course to take during the summer. The other class is taught by a visiting professor from the Los Angeles coroner's office. I met him briefly last year and he has done remarkable work in determining time of death from bug activity on the corpses. He published a paper a couple of years ago.
She sighed and shuddered visibly. "So I am looking at either bug geeks or Indiana Jones wanna-bes?"
Sayers looked at her and smiled, "These are freshman level introduction courses, no matter what you pick, you will probably be able to sleep through them and still get an A," he said, knowing full well she wouldn't dream of slacking off this close to the end of her Bachelor's degree. "I grabbed the syllabi from last year; I thought that might help you decide which one you would prefer."
Sara glanced at the pages. Intro to Entomology had a lot of fieldwork, tests and quizzes but no papers to write. Intro to Archeology had only two tests and there was a 20 page paper due on the last day of class. She immediately recalled a paper she had written for an Advanced Religion class her junior year that had traced inconsistencies in the history of the Catholic Church and possible solutions to what had happened to the chalice from The Last Supper. It had piqued the interest of her friend Dan who had asked if he could use some of her ideas in a short story he had written and hoped to expand into a novel. Her mind promptly realized that with just a little tweaking she could resubmit the same paper. With enough changes, it couldn't really be considered cheating and she could still keep her job for the summer. That wouldn't be bad-it would be nice to have some extra cash in her pocket in the fall. Her scholarship covered tuition and books, but she might be able to rent a studio apartment if she saved her money."
"Intro to Archeology, here I come," she said without enthusiasm.
"Cheer up," replied Sayers. "You still get to attend graduation and I will personally deliver your diploma to you the day after grades are processed. This won't mess up your studies at Harvard-I have a close friend in the Physics department…and just our good fortune, his wife works in the Registrar's office. Plus, I think you can do some tutoring this summer if you like."
Sara smiled. "I really do appreciate everything you've done for me these last four years. You helped me find my way from an undecided major to the field of physics. I know I wouldn't have even had the chance of going to Harvard if it wasn't for you. I know this whole science class goof isn't your fault. I should've double checked my requirements when I signed up this last semester. You've been a good friend and a great teacher"
Sayers felt his face reddening at the compliment, "It's been a joy having you around. You made an old man delight in teaching someone again. I know Myra is going to miss you at the restaurant and the kids will miss their, 'Auntie Sara' helping them with their homework," he said.
He knew his wife and kids would miss her terribly. She had become part of his family, even though he knew very little about her "real family." He still had five long years before he could consider retiring and was already feeling depressed that he wouldn't have her to challenge him in four months. Sara's exuberance had been contagious and she had reminded him why he loved physics and why he loved teaching.
Sara gave the man an unexpected hug. "I am not out of your hair for a few more months," she said. She sighed again deeply and with a hint of melodrama. "Archeology…do you hear the same John Williams soundtrack in your head that I do whenever that is said out loud?"