High school is so very difficult even when you don't know what else is out there, Meg thinks, spending calculus watching a snow drift. She knows that this is not particularly difficult material, since she has covered it before with her father, once or twice, even used it after she had constructed a specific equation to model the orbit of another planet she had caught in transit. Though it wasn't as exciting as being there. Nothing was. She hated here, now.
The only thing that made it remotely bearable was Calvin. He had changed, too. He was still good at everything and played to the rules, but that bothered her less now. She watched him from across the room during study hall, when he was helping one of her classmates with something or other. Sometimes he seemed to pretend he had forgotten things, that everything they had experienced was a lie, a bad trip or something, which made no sense but he had to explain it away in his rational world.
She waited for him to realize his mistake. She thought of leaving trinkets and reminders in his locker, of writing in seemingly their own code. Sometimes he came to visit Charles Wallace and they would discuss philosophy and what not, with the unspoken agreement to not discuss what had happened between them, with all of them. At least she had her father for now, who had spent even longer amidst a people so strange and foreign but remarkably similar. She desperately wanted to know what it was like.
Calvin is accepted to Harvard, naturally, a few years following their adventure. It was hard to think of it as anything but that, an adventure. It made the darker, deeper side of it easier to process, to accept, rather than to think of a world without Charles Wallace or completely without her own father.
Calvin barely spoke to her, watching her, sometimes, when she let herself be blatant about seeing him. Before he left for school, he came over nearly ever day to talk to Charles Wallace, and they seemed very serious in their discussions, though at one point Calvin left in a huff, not even saying goodbye to Charles Wallace. In turn, Charles Wallace spent a few more minutes alone, brooding or contemplating or whatever he did with that mind of his, before walking out of the room and nodding to Meg. “He’s a very complicated young man,” Charles Wallace states, pointedly, showing both his immense maturity and the fact he was still quite a bit younger than Calvin.
Hmpf, thinks Meg. A very complicated young man who barely acknowledges the fact she exists, even after seeing what she could do, of seeing her sparkle with the weight of the world. Hmpf.
Calvin leaves for four, maybe even six months, and Meg wonders if he is even going to be around for Christmas. He never sends Charles Wallace a letter for college, but instead he shows up on their doorstep a few days before Christmas carrying a few bags. He hands them over to Charles Wallace and acknowledges Meg, standing in the doorway, with a curt nod.
No, she will not let him have this evasive win, she thinks, still annoyed with him, now that she has lost the only intriguing boy in town to college. She gives him a very pointed annoyed look, just long enough for him to notice, before whirling around on her heel and stomping off to her room. She does not investigate what the group is doing until someone knocks on her door, dinner time or something. She expects it to be Charles Wallace who opens it, but it isn’t.
It is Calvin, standing there in an ill-fitting Christmas sweater, courtesy of the the Murray family. Oh dear, she thinks, and somewhat unintentionally smiles. “Hi,” he starts, actually addressing her for the first time in ages. She thinks that now he is in college, he must be surrounded by equally brilliant people and have no interest in a country girl like herself, even if her mother is an exceptionally successful scientist and her father a prominent scientist in his own regard. Meg is nothing, nada, just a footnote to the Murray family’s success, the anomaly, the renegade through her own dismal failure.
“Oh, you’ve decided to speak to me,” she replies curtly, and flips over on her bed so she is now facing him. She could tell it wasn’t Charles Wallace by the sound of his voice and the reflection in the mirror, but now that she is facing him, she is caught aback by Calvin.
“You’ve a very complicated person, Meg,” he replies back, standing awkwardly in the doorstep, failing to approach her, to even attempt to look her in the eye.
Hmpf. “Sure, so much more complicated than everyone interesting you are meeting,” she says, staring at him directly now. She decides that if they are going to have this confrontation, she should probably be sitting up, so she does.
“You’re so resistant to your own potential you can’t even look at yourself, to think of who you could be,” he says quietly, coming in from the doorway as she decides to get off of her bed and so they are now standing feet apart, staring down each other, with thick tension and he is so sweet, so warm, it radiates off of him.
“Who do you think I could be?” she asks, seriously, his warm breath above her ear, bodies nearly touching, even if she can’t really feel him under all the layers of clothes.
“I think you should come to Harvard early. There’s nothing to keep you here,” he says, bluntly. She can’t decide whether to be fed up with him or adore this statement of intent, of interest in her regard. She can think of excuses, like Charles Wallace, or of all the catch up she still has to do in English, and the other sciences, and how if she never really learns them now, she will never really be productive or do anything necessary in the sciences. But she could do that there, with him.
“I think I’ll consider it,” she replies, putting her arm around his shoulder, twisting him to he faces the doorway and slowly moving her hand down his arm, feeling a shock between them, so she ends up grabbing his hand in hers, holding it, touching him at last like something important, like she could go somewhere far away from here as anything but herself. She pretends it is nothing that serious, but in her mind she is already in a small apartment in Cambridge or Berkeley or Seattle with Calvin while he finishes graduate school and she takes a second bachelor’s degree in something to level of background playing field, or something. She likes the idea.