It was finally here. Graduation. Clive’s parents and older brother, Harry were there, fussing over Clive, taking pictures and videos. Clive was excited too. His eyes scanned the sea of faces for Rose. He saw her standing some distance away talking to another graduate and her family.
He couldn’t wait to show her the letter he got from the publishers accepting his manuscript, Deteriorating Daisies. With her encouragement, he had finally finished it and sent it in. He hadn’t told his family as yet. He wanted Rose to be the first to know.
“You look very handsome, Dear,” Mrs. Bennington said now as she straightened his tie and brushed his hair back from his forehead. “We are all so very proud of you.”
He smiled. “Thank you, Mother.”
“It’s too bad your grandparents couldn’t be here too and your Aunt Charlotte and Uncle James and–“
“Mother, we are allowed to have only 2 or 3 tickets for guests.”
“Oh, yes, that’s right. What a pity. I think you should be allowed to invite as many family members as possible.”
“I’m just happy that you, Dad and Harry are here.”
She smiled. “Yes, I’m happy that we’re here too.”
The ceremony was about to begin so they went inside. Clive went one way and his family went another. They were given booklets with translations as the ceremony was done in Latin. The graduates filed in and sat in a predefined order. An official standing at the end of the row to tell them when each row was next, since they couldn’t understand what was being announced. Rose had told him, “Just listen for your name as you file up to the front. You’ll be fine.”
He heard his name and joined a group of people with the same degree as his was getting and stood in the middle of the Sheldonian Theatre for a while, listening to some more Latin. Then he and the others said, “Do Fidem” and left the room and returned later with their new gowns. At the beginning, there was a moment when the spectators congratulated the graduands by clapping and afterwards the graduands thanked their families by turning to them and clapping as well.
Clive was now officially a graduate. After having more photos taken and been congratulated by professors, other graduates and their parents, he headed straight to where Rose was. She spotted him and excused herself. “Congratulations, Clive,” she said when she reached him.
“Thank you. I’d like you to meet my family.”
“All right.” She followed him over to where his parents and Harry were.
“Father, Mother, Harry, I’d like you all to meet Professor Williams.”
Mr. Bennington stretched out his hand. “Nice to meet you,” he said.
Harry shook her hand. “Hello.”
Mrs. Bennington shook her hand. “I’ve heard a lot about you,” she said. “Clive has told me how you have encouraged him with his writing.”
“Yes. Clive is an excellent writer. I have encouraged him to get some of his work published.”
Clive smiled. He wished he could be alone with her. She looked amazing in the cream colored skirt suit.
“We’re all so proud of Clive for successfully finishing his studies at such a prestigious university,” Mrs. Bennington said.
“I’m very proud of him and all of my students,” Rose said.
Clive turned to Harry, “Do you mind taking a photo of Professor Williams and me?” he asked.
Harry obliged, using Clive’s cell.
“Will you be staying having drinks and lunch in college?” Rose asked the family.
“Clive is but we’re not,” Mrs. Bennington said. “We’re having a dinner party for him this evening so I need to be home to finish making the arrangements and preparations.”
Rose spoke with them for a while longer and then, she said, “Well, it was very nice meeting you all.” She excused herself and went over to a group of other graduates who had their photos taken with her.
“She seems nice,” Harry remarked.
“She is,” Clive replied.
“She speaks English very well for an African,” Mrs. Bennington said.
“She isn’t African,” Clive informed her. “She was born here in England.”
“Oh. I could have sworn that she was African. Oh, well. Enjoy the rest of your special day and we’ll see you later. Make sure you’re home in time for the dinner party.” She held out her arms and he hugged her. “Come along, Dear. Harry, don’t dawdle.”
Clive watched them go and then, he went off to join his former classmates.
It was just after five when the doorbell rang. Rose went and answered it. Clive stepped inside and as soon as she locked the door, she was in his arms and he was kissing her passionately. Rose put her arms around his waist and eagerly responded. It lasted a while and then he broke it off to mutter thickly, “I’ve wanted to do this all morning.”
She smiled. “I’ve wanted to be alone with you all morning,” she said.
He picked her up and hurried to her bedroom. When they got there, he put her down and quickly got undressed. She did the same. Then, they were on top of the bed, making love.
“I’m sorry I can’t stay,” he apologized as he got dressed an hour later. “But you heard Mother. She’d never forgive me if I were late for the dinner party.”
Rose pulled on her white robe. “I understand,” she said.
“I’d much rather stay here with you.”
“I know. Come tomorrow and we can spend the entire day together.”
“All right.” He tucked his shirt in his trousers. “Oh, I almost forgot to mention that my manuscript, Deteriorating Daisies was accepted.”
Rose’s face lit up. “That’s wonderful news,” she exclaimed and was out of the bed in a flash. She hugged him. “Congratulations. Tomorrow, we’ll celebrate.”
“Thank you. I haven’t told my family as yet. I wanted you to be the first to know. I owe this all to you. You’ve encouraged me and made me believe that I have what it takes to be a good writer.”
“As I told your mother, you’re an excellent writer. I just helped you to bring out what was already there.”
“I will dedicate it to you, Rose.”
“What will your mother say about that?”
“I’m sure she will have a lot to say,” he said with a smile. “She thought you were African.”
“Well, my parents were Ghanaian but I was born here.”
“I told her that you’re English.” He released her to put on his jacket. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yes. Have fun tonight.” She opened the door.
“I’ll try.” He kissed her before he turned and walked away.
Rose watched him go and then she closed the door. Leaning against it, it occurred that his mother would have plenty to say if she knew about the letters he had written to her when he was her student and that they were romantically involved.