The Lecture

“And thus we find the value of X…”

Applause filled the hall. The speaker smiled and nodded his head in acceptance. The crowd began filing out, chatting with one another as they left. He had clapped politely when everyone else had so as not to appear rude, but now he stayed seated. He had come alone and knew no one.

In fact he had no intention of coming to this lecture. None of it made any sense, as though it had been in another language. He had entered the wrong room and felt awkward about leaving, so he had chosen to stay, listening to a presentation he did not understand. He heard the door shut, announcing that the last of the audience had filed out. A couple of people had already led the speaker out a door at the bottom of the lecture hall.

Lingering a moment longer, he wondered where he should go next. A voice interrupted his reflections.

“Interesting lecture?”

She was seated a few rows back, almost directly behind him. He had to twist his neck to see her, which was why he hadn’t noticed her earlier. The seat wasn’t made to be sat in sideways, but he managed to turn part way to see her better. Her dark hair framed her face, but glare on her glasses obscured her eyes.

“Excuse me?”

“Oh. I just meant… Did you find the lecture interesting?”

“The lecture?” How should he answer that? “It was okay, I guess. Not really something I’m interested in.”

“Really? Why did you come?”

Should he admit his mistake? Would she think him a fool for staying? Why did it matter? He’d probably never see her again. Who was he trying to impress? “Actually, I sort of wandered in here by mistake. I just didn’t want to seem rude by leaving.”

“Hmm. That’s a little weird.” Immediately, she appeared to regret her words and quickly tried to recover. “Also very considerate.”

“That’s okay. I was just thinking that it seemed a little weird myself.”

A little relief showed through her smile. “I’ll tell you a secret. I wandered in here on accident, too.”

He returned her awkward smile. “Well, we are quite a pair then, aren’t we?” She nodded. “I guess we should leave.” He gestured aimlessly at the room. “They probably want to lock up.”

“Well, would you like to get some coffee or something?” He hesitated. She noticed. “Or do you have somewhere to be?”

“No. No. Nowhere to be. I’d like to get a cup of coffee.” They stood and met at the top of the stairs that led to the main exit in the back of the hall.

When they reached the door, he opened it and held it for her. She smiled again, pulled a small gun from her coat, shot him once in the heart, and quickly walked away. As his life quickly seeped out of him, he found himself wishing he knew what the lecture had been about.

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