and melancholy overcame him that afternoon. Looking beyond books and paper
on his desk, the professor stared out a window into another Wisconsin winter.
Months had passed since this last happened and it seemed the problem had been
worked out. When he resumed a full schedule in December, it was with the
confidence that he had moved beyond an embarrassing era along an otherwise
stellar career path. Whatever insight he thought he had gained then was of
no use now. Confidence was disappearing like sand sifting through a hole somewhere
beneath him, and he was sinking.
of a headache was building at his forehead, another of those peculiar headaches
that had plagued him over the past year. Yet something was different this
time. He was hearing a strange sound, a low-pitched murmur. At first it seemed
to be a faint drumming inside his head, and then it became more of a vibration
that seemed to emanate from somewhere outside his body.
A sudden knock
sounded on the office door to which he turned but did not respond. The professor
saw hesitation behind frosted glass, heard shuffling feet, and then another
knock. Still, he offered no response. He was done with science today. Waiting
until the figure faded, he moved to the door, turned the lock and switched
off lights. Returning to his chair, he rolled it to the back corner of the
room, to an area where there were no bookcases or filing cabinets. With his
back to the wall, he turned toward another window.
wished to be at his home, in the study, but for now, this corner would serve
his need. In another hour, people would leave the building and it would be
dark. Until then, he could hide here. Behind the Biochemistry building were
two enormous elm trees, as old as the University of Wisconsin itself. The
professor stared through a web of branches into the pale afternoon sky. The
weight of years gone by and the burden of love grown cold pressed down upon