Shortly before noon, Dr V checked his watch and sighed as he looked up from his desk at the treetops and the patch of sky in the window. The student for the last conference was late. Again. Such a beautiful day outside and he was having to spend his midlife waiting in artificially cooled offices. He stared down at the pages covered in red ink on his desk. An essay about the concept of time in To the Lighthouse . Closing his eyes and massaging between them from under his glasses, Dr V sighed again. A siren wailed and grew louder and louder. Fire engine, he thought as his mind wandered to the heat rising from the red earth that morning. Summer was early — no spring to speak of any longer — and it was going to be a long grading season. He now massaged his temples. Another sigh. No sign of the student. These days, they were always late. Consistently, comfortably late. A cheerful and empty “Sorry Dr V!” as they pranced in. Annoyed, though not sure whether with himself or the students, he shook his head. Why hadn’t he stopped at the dry cleaners on his way to work in the morning? He could’ve dropped that coffee- stained suit instead of rushing to arrive on time. Actually, speaking of coffee, he could’ve also stopped at Starbucks to grab a double espresso to go.