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Allan Crawford was running on the campus as if he was being chased. In reality, he received a call that one of his visitors, a student by the name of Emily Bennett, had an incident involving sinking herself in the pool usually occupied by the college's swim team all with the knowledge that she couldn't swim. He started with a professional composure as he received the call that she wouldn't be able to come visit him or go to her other classes for the day, but he didn't even go through the entire phone conversation before rushing to the nurse's office where he was certain Emily would be.
Once he reached the nurse's office, he kept a professional exterior. He was at the nurse's desk trying to hide a lot of emotions as he asked which room Emily was in. The nurse told him and tried to say something else, but he casually speed walked to the room she was occupying.
Crawford slowly opened the door and was greeted by Emily lying down on the bed with her back towards the door. He couldn't tell if she was awake, but he knew she was damp. He approached her and knelt by the bedside with the knowledge that he was right next to the student he had bonded with for several months.
When Emily first came to his office, it was because she was constantly recommended to speak to someone about her stress to accomplish more, and her doubts in her potential. She denied the need to get help before, but eventually caved when she was reminded that her family wouldn't find out from across the country. She expressed her feelings and, as the meetings continued, he decided to talk to her about what usually goes on in his head. He told himself that it was to seem more human and relatable to Emily, especially since he was still young and at the college for the sake of counseling experience, but he knew all too well that he genuinely enjoyed her company. They eventually socialized innocently every once in a while outside of work and class hours. She seemed like she was improving mentally, so the drowning attempt seemed like a big shock to him.
He hadn't asked about her complete physical state yet, but his worries were enough for him to close his eyes so that he didn't have to wipe his tears.
"Emily? Can you hear me? Please... talk to me," he said, while trying not to sob.
"Mr. Crawford?" a faint feminine voice responded.
"Yes, it's me. And the office is nearly empty. Call me Allan."
"What are you doing here?"
"Why else? I got a call about it, as did your other teachers, I'm sure, but I wanted to be here for you."
There was a silence that filled the room. Crawford nearly opened his eyes before hearing, "I am so sorry. I know you wanted me to improve."
"Why did you do such a thing?"
"I guess it's those doubts, I don't know. I've tried talking to the teachers before about my worries, but something kept telling me I'd fail my work if I did something different. I thought I'd be used to that by now, but then there's the concern that I'd burden you for the rest of my life. With that concern coming into full view, I figured that if I was going to die anyway from what has been going on, I might as well speed up the process."
After the little speech, Crawford opened his eyes and quickly turned the girl to hug her. He didn't see her reaction, but just felt her relaxed as she was in his arms. He closed his eyes again, but tears poured down his cheeks.
"Emily, you could never be a burden to me. I want to do whatever I can to prove those doubts of yours wrong no matter how long it takes."
"You probably just feel obligated to do so."
"Don't think of me as someone who is helping you just because of his job, Emily. Think of me as your friend who feels grateful for the day you first came in to see me, who is glad he was bold enough to suggest socializing as more than just student and counselor, and who initially wanted to wait 'til you graduated to tell you how much he loves you," he spoke through his sobs.
"Wait, you... actually love me?" the voice asked coated in disbelief.
"Yes, though I understand if you don't feel the same way."
"Well, I care about you a lot and I wanted to be so much better for you. So, I guess the feeling really is mutual."
Though tears were still pouring down the man's face, he smiled as he was still holding on to the woman he loved.
"Please don't leave me," he whispered.
The sweet response of "I would never" seeped into his ears.
As the nurse was watching the scene unfold, another teacher entered the office and stood by the nurse.
"Did he get the notice that she died from secondary drowning?" the teacher asked in a volume so Crawford wouldn't hear.
"I think he's figured it out for himself."