Acceptance (Rocking Hard Anthology)

rockinghard2_400One year ago Phil lost his brother, and since then he has faltered in his position as lead vocals and guitarist for his band. When he finally collapses on stage, he is made to take time off. One night in a bar he meets Lars, a student and songwriter of amazing talent—and on the receiving end of a heartbreak and ultimatum that need the changes and hope that Phil wants to provide.


I have always had a thing for words. They are like images swimming before me. All I have to do is reach out, take hold and own them. If I had been born in a different time, with magical abilities, I would have been the mage who has an affinity for the words he uses to cast his spells. But, I’m just a man who sometimes writes lyrics to songs that would never be sung, who is attempting to acquire his bachelor’s degree, and who goes home to the words in his head. Which all leads me to the question: Who am I?

Lars Graves ran his eyes down the page of his journal. It had been three months since his doctor told him to use the journal to discover himself and come out of his shell. Lars’ lips curled in a wry smile. Why the man thought keeping a journal would encourage him to become an extrovert he had no idea. The man’s doctorate should be withdrawn. What sort of shrink tells his extremely introverted patient to spend all his days writing thoughts in a book? Any intelligent person would know that keeping a journal encouraged a reclusive nature and introspection. But because the doctor went to a school that deemed him worthy to give such a prognosis, Lars had to grin and bear it.

He felt the sudden brush of something dry and flaky on his skin. A glance at his arm revealed that a leaf had fallen from the tree and made its way to his arm. The sight of the leaf strangely enough made him more depressed as it reminded him that nature, time, waited for no one. Time was flying by quickly, and he doubted if his shrink would give him the all clear he needed to pass Professor Coleson’s class.

As he stood in the middle of the school’s campus, distant and unaware of all that was transpiring around him, his mind drifted back to the meeting.

Lars raised his hands and knocked gently on the oak door. The brass nameplate on the door clearly said Professor Xavier Coleson. Lars felt some trepidation when one of his classmates from his behavioural analysis class—Paul, he thought the man was called—had informed him that Professor Coleson had asked that Lars come to his office.

It was surprising because Professor Coleson never seemed to pay any particular attention to Lars in class. If anyone had asked him, he would have said that he was certain that Professor Coleson was unaware of his existence. Professor Coleson had always given the impression of being an entity that lived on another plane of existence, separate from the one that humans existed on. He was Professor Coleson, tall, foreboding, brusque, brilliant and the father of his ex. Not like Professor Coleson ever noticed that Lars and Curtis had dated for about eight months during their sophomore year. Curtis never introduced Lars to his father. It would have looked like Lars was trying to be chummy with Professor Coleson, and Curtis had stated that he felt that Lars’ classmates would have smelled a rat. Everyone would assume that the only reason why Lars passed Professor Coleson’s class was because he had hooked up with Professor Coleson’s son. Lars had certainly seen reason in Curtis’ words. But then again, Curtis was a reasonable S.O.B.

“Come in.” The voice was low and sounded mildly distracted.

Lars turned the knob, and the door opened with a slight creak. He walked into the room, and his eyes encountered the sight of Professor Coleson furiously scribbling away in a spiral notebook. His hair was jet black with streaks of grey. His bright blue eyes, just like Curtis’, were hidden behind wire-rimmed glasses that his hands constantly pushed up his nose because the glasses seemed interested in making a get-away by sliding down and off his face. He was seated, but Lars knew Professor Coleson was still trim and fit for his age because of all the jogs he took all over the campus at dawn. If a person jogged, then he or she was most likely to have shared a path with the professor at one time or another. It was common knowledge.

Lars waited patiently for the professor to acknowledge his presence. While he waited, he took in the sight of Professor Coleson’s office. The room was painted brown but was offset by a cream-coloured rug on the floor. Various plaques that clearly proclaimed the multiple awards that had been given to Professor Coleson for his work adorned each wall.

“Well, have a seat, Larson. I don’t have all day and I’m sure you don’t have all day either.” Professor Coleson’s words broke the spell, and Lars gave a small nod and allowed his body to settle into the comfort of the seat.

“Do you know the reason why I have called you here, Larson?” Professor Coleson asked. He took off his glasses and folded them carefully into his glasses case. Then, he steepled his fingers together and levelled a look on Lars.

The repeated use of his full name made Lars feel slightly weird. The only people who called him Larson were his parents, and the name was usually accompanied by sighs and words that were full of disappointment. He had always disappointed his parents, and they never allowed him to forget it.

“No I do not, sir,” Lars replied. Since he had received the summons, he had racked his brain carefully for a possible reason for the order, but nothing came to mind.

“You’ve taken all my offered courses throughout your stay in this school, Larson. I’ve watched you. You’ve also been a somewhat social person. Not a party going extrovert, but definitely someone who says ‘hello’ and smiles at those around him. Or at least you were until you dated my son in your second year.”

Lars gave a sudden start. He felt his mouth open slightly. He had assumed that his relationship had escaped Professor Coleson’s notice. Apparently, it hadn’t.

“You seem surprised. I’m not completely oblivious, Larson. I have eyes and ears, and I’m intelligent enough to know when Curtis is with a new lover. I watched you somewhat bloom until your relationship came to an end. That was when things went downhill. Of course, your grades did not suffer.”

Which was the truth. He had to throw himself into school so that he could numb the pain of the heartbreak. But if his work had not been affected, why was he having a conversation with Professor Coleson?

“But, you lost interest in your environment. You entered this shell, and only come out when Miss Cain is around. Now, I’m not related to you, nor am I your mentor or your friend, so I’m certain you’re wondering about the reason I’ve asked to see you. What is your major, Larson?”

“Social psychology, sir,” Lars replied.

“The truth, Mr. Graves, is that to be a graduate of any form of psychology, an individual must be given to observation, especially observing others and how they behave. Your distance, though, has prevented you from doing that, and it is something that the other professors have noticed as well.” Professor Coleson opened one of the drawers and brought out a card. It had Walter Holden, Psychologist printed neatly in gold letters on it.

Lars raised his head to glance at Professor Coleson. First, the switch to addressing him more formally and then a card that had the information of a psychologist, this would not be good.

“Call and make an appointment with Walter Holden. He’s expecting your call. You are to meet him and follow whatever suggestions he has for you. He has to give you an all-clear before I can approve and allow you to graduate. You stand the chance of graduating magna cum laude, and you need to be able to live up to the standard of a professional social psychologist of this university. Something you can only do if you’ve worked through whatever is holding you back.”

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

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