A quick refresher?
"I’m leaving, cause I’m so tired/ Of never knowing what to do./ I’m feeling you got me hired/To be a fool for you."
Guilt-inflicted anger crawled on Katrina like a cockroach when she read Winnie’s Facebook status. It was the first verse of "Fool for You" by The Once. No matter how much she disliked her for not helping her to nail Brendan as a boyfriend, they were like a family to each other. The three were supposed to stand up for each other and protect the other from harm’s way. She felt that she disappointed Winnie by accusing her of things she never did. But with Winnie out of the picture and with no one standing in her quest to pursue Brendan, Katrina’s smile crept out of the corners of her lips. Inasmuch as her conscience nagged her to show this to Brendan, her heart waved the idea off. It didn't benefit her if she helped him find Winnie. In fact, she’d land herself in more detriment by doing so, especially when it was clear that Brendan harboured a love for Winnie.
It dawned on Brendan that Winnie already hinted at her impending departure months ago when she casually commented that she foresaw herself working interstate, not in town. He didn’t think much about it because it’d be a long time before her wish could be granted. Yes, he remembered that she mentioned the states of Western Australia and Queensland, but both were larger states than his hometown. Pinpointing her current location would be harder than finding a needle in a haystack. Although her Messenger was idle, her WhatsApp service was still connected, which meant that either her phone number was still in service or was somewhere with good wireless signal.
Winnie Richards was a careful and systematic person. There was no way in hell that she’d skipped town without someone knowing. But the problem is, who could she have told? She would’ve told someone about it in advance, he was sure of that. Plus, something in his gut was persistent that she was completing the remainder of her degree interstate.
Their Criminal Law lecturer.
It was only plausible that she’d have sought help from their lecturer as Criminal Law was her highest-scoring course in her degree. In fact, one of the best performing students for that year. She also knew him on a personal basis and would’ve felt more comfortable approaching him on those two grounds.
“Hi, Mark.” Brendan entered the lecturer’s office, almost engulfed in a wave of trepidation. Although Winnie has spoken to Mark in his office on more than one occasion and went to describe their lecturer as strict but friendly out of tutorial hours, the nerves still affected Brendan as it was his first time here. It was a tidy office - with folders of papers kept to a minimum and books arranged on the shelves. There was a framed photo of his son who looked no more than five years old on the third tier. “Am I disturbing you?”
“Hello there! Nah, you’re not.” Mark’s smile immediately melt any fear that Brendan felt and gestures towards the seats in front of the office table. “Take a seat. What can I do for you today?”
“I’m actually a friend of Winnie Richards, who was a student of yours last year.”
“Yup, I remembered her. She was in one of my classes. A quiet but intelligent student. If memory serves me right, you were with her in the seminars too. What’s your name, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Brendan nodded. “Brendan. I know this may sound odd and maybe shocking to you, Mark, but did Winnie inform you about her departure?”
“Departure? You mean, academic transfer? She did. In fact, Winnie asked me to write a referral letter to boost the chances of her application to transfer being approved by the receiving university, UWA. It’s a first for me in my years of teaching; that’s why I remember it well. What happened to her?”
“It’s just that she stopped contacting her friends, including me, and we’re trying to find out if she’s okay and where she is. You said UWA? Is that in Perth?”
“She actually contacted me last week to drop a note, Brendan. In the email, she said that she’s doing fine in UWA, but adjusting to a new campus will take some time since she’s halfway done with her degree. To answer you, yup, that’s the one. There’s one more thing, though.” Mark shifted himself on the chair. “Winnie knew that you’d ask about her sudden disappearance from campus and specifically requested your friend Katrina to be kept out of the loop. She didn’t explain why but said that it’s to do with you. If you ask me, it has to do with love and relationships. Just a sixth sense.”
“Thanks for letting me know, Mark.” Although he wasn’t sure why Winnie would tell the lecturer that the reasons were complicated, he couldn’t disregard Mark’s comment. As a married father, Mark would be able to arrive at the root of the problem faster than Brendan because he’s experienced and seen life. He couldn’t help but ask for an advice or two. “What should I do?”
“If I were you, I’d take the next flight to Perth and settle it with Winnie. Tomorrow’s a Friday. If you’re worried about skipping a tutorial, an occasional one is absolutely fine. Just get a friend to pass the seminar notes to you. If that is impossible, read the prescribed textbook reading for the week and listen to the lecture again. It won’t be as good as personally taking the notes, but it works. Next week’s the autumn break for us. Then again, it’s just a suggestion.”
“I’ll have to think about it…”
“No worries, and all the best!”
As he slowly worked his way around Qantas’s automatic bag drop service, he felt the pain of purchasing a flight ticket at the eleventh hour. Although he was lucky to get a good seat that allowed him a view and an accommodation in Perth’s city centre for the weekend, he had to sprint home to pack his travel bag with clothing from Mark’s office and rushed to the airport before the peak hour traffic.
He’d decide on his itenary on the flight itself.