Home > Off the Record (Record #1)(14)

Off the Record (Record #1)(14)
K.A. Linde

Her in-box lit up before her eyes as Professor Mires began the lecture. The majority of the emails were clothing stores asking for her business, and articles from the newspapers that she followed. And there at the bottom sat one email from a Ms. Heather Ferrington. Liz clicked on the email and read through it. Her stomach dropped when she saw the date. Wednesday. Next Wednesday. As in a week from now. Two whole weeks without Brady.

Liz knew she shouldn’t have been disappointed, but she wanted him here sooner. Of course, he was busy running for office and all. There was no way he would be here today or tomorrow or any sooner. Not to mention the university probably didn’t have immediate open space either.

But that left her another whole week to obsess about Brady.

A new message came in and Liz clicked back to her in-box. Her heart skipped when she saw who it was from. Hayden Lane.

She hadn’t thought about him in a week. Before Brady had catapulted into her life, she had been so set on Hayden. They’d had their pseudo date before he left and then that awkward moment when he had basically said they couldn’t date. She still wasn’t sure what Hayden was feeling or if he was into her. Didn’t really matter right now anyway. Hayden was in D.C., and she was aching in all the right places for a Senator she could never really be with.

Liz,

How are things at the paper? I’ve been following your column and love what you’re doing with it. Wish I could be there. I’m seriously missing it. Can’t think of anything I’d like to be doing less than getting people coffee. Hope your summer has been more eventful than mine so far.

I received an email from the Maxwell campaign’s press secretary last night. They’re doing a special presentation next Wednesday. Wasn’t sure if she contacted you or not, but I thought I’d attach the email here. We should definitely be there. I think Maxwell’s primary race will be the one to watch. Your last article about him really got the student body to pay attention for once. I’d recommend introducing yourself to him. I know you disagree with the guy, but it would be great for the paper if we could get an interview.

Let me know how it all goes. Hope you’re still considering a trip up here. I’d love to show you around.

Hayden Lane

Editor-in-Chief

Liz read through the email twice, getting more irritated the second read through. She seriously wanted to have words with Heather Ferrington. Why did she call her at midnight last night if she had already emailed Hayden the details the day before?

Then there was the part about Brady. She had already introduced herself to him…all of herself. If she managed to find herself alone with him for an interview, she wasn’t sure she could guarantee that it wouldn’t happen again. If only Hayden knew what he was saying by pushing her toward an interview with Brady.

Her anger slowly deflated. Hayden kind of seemed to…miss her. He had asked about her summer and even asked her to come to D.C. to see him again. She hadn’t thought he was serious about her visiting. Now she was thinking about when she could fit it into her summer schedule. Probably the end of July. Right after the journalism class let out would probably be best.

Taking a deep breath, she jotted out a reply.

Hayden,

The paper is great. Everyone misses having you around to keep us in line, but we’re making do without you. My summer has been generally boring besides the column, which Professor Mires said I could use for my class project. Sorry to hear your summer isn’t everything you wanted it to be. Do they have you doing anything besides acquiring coffee?

I received this information from Ms. Ferrington just before your email. I’ve already agreed that we’d cover it. I’ll see what I can do about an interview. If he’s read my article, I doubt he’ll give me one, but I’ll do what I can.

Liz cringed at the obvious deception, but it wasn’t as if she could tell Hayden she had slept with Brady. She continued with her email.

A trip to D.C. sounds great. What about after the end of the term? I think I’m free late July, if that works for you.

Love,

Liz paused. That was probably all wrong. She backspaced the valediction and tried again.

Best,

Liz

She hit Send and waited for a reply. She had taken too much time writing it to begin with. She had no idea what the professor was lecturing on now. It had been rough trying to say everything she wanted to say without going overboard. She had decided in the end to keep it as short as possible.

Liz didn’t know how long it would be before she got a reply, but she couldn’t text him while she was in class. So she waited. When the email didn’t come, she finally gave up and paid more attention to Professor Mires’s lecture.

Right before class ended, the return email popped up.

Liz,

Yes, I exaggerated. I am doing some research, but it’s mindless. Save me from myself.

Late July it is. I asked off for the last weekend in July, so don’t change your mind.

Go get back to work!

Hayden Lane

Editor-in-Chief

Liz smiled brightly and even laughed at his last line. Hayden wanted her in D.C. and he had taken the weekend off. She had plans to be with him for the weekend. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach as her remembered crush blossomed inside of her.

This was probably more realistic than Brady anyway.

Professor Mires completed her lesson and began packing up her bag. Liz and the rest of the students in the class followed suit. Liz shut her computer down and stuffed it back into her backpack. She had a lot of work to do before Brady came into town, and she knew she needed to get started tonight.

“Miss Dougherty, may I have a word with you?” Professor Mires asked as Liz walked past her.

“Of course,” Liz said. She hoped she didn’t get in trouble for being on her computer all class. She was normally more focused than she had been today, but with both Hayden and Brady swirling around in her thoughts, it was hard to concentrate on the lecture.

Liz stood off to the side while her classmates filed out of the lecture hall, leaving them all alone.

“I wanted to discuss the recent assignment that you turned in,” Professor Mires said, taking a seat on the wood stool in from of the podium. “Was this from your newspaper column?”

“Yes, I thought you said it was okay for me to use that,” Liz said. Her heart was racing. Professor Mires had never pulled her aside to discuss her academic work like this…no one ever had. She usually received high marks across the board.

“It is. I don’t mind you using the articles for the assignment at all. I think real-life practicum in journalism is essential to improvement and potential job opportunities postgraduation. I am always pleased when my students go above and beyond the classroom,” she said with a calming tone.

Liz could feel a “but” coming on at the end of that statement. The professor seemed to have more to say.

“I do have some concerns about the quality of the work, though,” Professor Mires said, handing over Liz’s paper.

She took it in her hands and saw the red ink scrawled all over the first article she had written about Brady. It was the one that had met with such fanfare from the students on campus. They’d had to reprint because of it. She flipped it to the last page and saw a big C+ circled on the page. Her heart sank. She had never received a C in her entire life. Not once. She could count the number of B minuses on one hand. What the hell had happened?

If she didn’t improve this grade, she could lose her scholarship!

“A C plus?” Liz asked, her voice cracking.

“It’s not that the article is poorly written. It reads really well, and it’s polished.”

“Then what’s wrong?” she asked, skimming the comments on the front page.

“In journalism we strive for objectivity if at all possible. Had this article just been something you were writing for the student body and not for me, then it would have been sufficient, but you must think of your audience. How broad could it be? Who could be reading it? When I read the article, I heard your voice, which is very clear and solid, and then I heard your opinion on the Senator.”

Her opinion on the Senator. How ironic, considering they had been in a hotel room together only a week ago.

“I think you have room for growth and your grade reflects that. Strive for objectivity in your writing. I don’t want your opinions to bleed onto the page. You’re not writing an editorial. I wouldn’t have accepted editorials. Take a chance to look at the other side, do some more research, and then write an article that clearly states the facts,” Professor Mires instructed her. “I’m not saying lose your voice or drain the page of emotion. I’m saying find a happy medium between the two. I believe you can do it, and I’ll expect it to improve as we go forward if you hope to improve that grade.”

“Thank you,” Liz said, rolling the paper up in her hand for her to look over later. “I’ll do my best.”

“You always do, Liz,” she said with a smile.

Liz walked out of the classroom in a daze. She had thought that she had been objective and looked at both sides this whole time. Now her professor was telling her the opposite, and Liz wasn’t even sure where to begin. If she wanted that A, then she had her work cut out for her this summer.

Chapter 10

STAYING PROFESSIONAL

Liz sat with her friend Justin in the sound booth at the Great Hall auditorium, which the Maxwell campaign had been granted for their event. It was a large room built for five hundred, with a raised stage and podium. The Great Hall was a hot spot on campus, with a constant influx of student groups for theater productions, dance performances, a cappella shows, and the like.

Today it was covered in the red-white-and-blue signs the campaign had decorated it with, and each chair had a sign that had the Maxwell logo in the center—VOTE FOR MAXWELL in a circle with the words bolded. VOTE FOR was written like an American flag in red stars and stripes on the blue background, with MAXWELL in a stark, blocky white font. A globe focused on North America was at the center, reaffirming Liz’s belief that Brady wanted to take over. The logo was a power symbol, and now it would be all over campus.

Students and faculty alike were filing into the room, taking the signs from the seats and sitting down. It was the summer session, but after Liz’s articles and the work she had done building up to this, the room was pretty full. She wasn’t sure why she had put so much effort into it, but she wanted the event to be successful.

Part of her wanted to say that it was only for the paper and her career. If more people came to these events and showed an interest, then her column would improve and she might be able to hit the front cover more often. At least overshadow another drunken debauchery scene on Franklin Street for once.

But the rest of her knew it was because of Brady. He was clouding her judgment. That was bad journalism. She wasn’t supposed to get attached to the people she was writing about.

Objective. Neutral. Unbiased. Those were the words that came to mind when she thought of journalism. That was what her professor wanted her to strive for. Now all she was thinking in the midst of writing was Brady.

Brady. Brady. Brady.

He was about to get on that stage and talk about education policy, no doubt. This was the audience for that kind of discussion. If she were up there, that was what she would talk about. The very thought made her blood boil for so many reasons. She wasn’t sure which one was the primary reason now.

Was she infuriated because he was actually going to try to discuss education with a sea of students whom she had informed his policies were garbage? Or was she heated because it would be the first time she’d seen his handsome face since leaving his hotel room nearly two weeks ago?

“So, you want me to record the whole thing?” Justin asked, squaring away his camera focused on the podium.

“Yeah. That would be great. We don’t have the normal crew for the paper, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t have to deal with video as well,” she told him.

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