felt like writing a thing... I want to write like Tolkein, apparently--all kinds of glimpses into this world I made...
"Thank the deities for end of week," Greif gasped, grabbing for her pack of smokes--empty at the moment, but the gesture was enough to slow her cravings. For the moment. "Even the bad ones, I thank them."
"Mychelle, ma belle son lay mo key vont tres bien ensemble," cheered Astraea, a stupid grin on her face.
Greif's fist clenched, crushing the pack and setting off her arthritis. "Remind me why I talk to you."
Astraea shrugged, turning up her nose at Greif and parading from the lounge as though finishing her turn on the catwalk. This had persisted for as long as the frank teacher had been at Cross-Two University School, regardless of how many times Greif had reminded her that she didn't speak the language.
The holiday nevertheless served as insufficient recuperation time for the stress of work, between seven hundred kids, looming pay cuts, and her own nagging insecurities about her place in the world. The usefulness of germane studies had declined, with global distrust stemming from rumours of Delta Naught-Six causing revolts that spread into Gamma Naught-Five and Tri-Seven. She worried a little about the new student starting next week, too, wondering about how best to alleviate the culture shock and help acclimate her to the school.
As she gathered her paperwork and stepped into the hallway, Greif paused at the sight of a lone student standing at the exit. A near total, palpable silence had blanketed the school not a min after the closing bell, such that Greif didn't expect to see even another teacher.
Yet the boy at the door stood as still as a statue, not even the slightest of tail twitches betraying signs of life. Greif glanced out the window and noticed a drizzle.
"Guten Tag, Herr Grey," she greeted as she approached.
Darian did not budge.
She thought about giving him another lecture on deference to one's elders, but it felt as futile as making the sea stop eroding the shoreline. "Are you waiting for your ride?" she asked in germane.
"No," he conceded to answer, in common.
"Then why do you not enjoy the holiday like everyone else?"
"It is raining." He had a low growl in his voice, as though losing patience.
"Would you like to share my umbrella?"
"Lass mich in Ruhe!"
The remark startled Greif such that it took her a moment to realize he demanded to be left alone. She collected herself, then arched her back, voice stern. "Regardless, students may not remain in the building after hours without supervision. If you do not have a pass, you must leave." She pursed her lips. "Or I must stay."
Darian gave the most imperceptible of sighs before replying. "Fine, let's go," he muttered.
With that, the boy burst through the door with an energy that might have taken the door off its hinges, and Greif almost didn't get out her umbrella in time. She hurried to catch up, fumbling between that and keeping her bag of paperwork dry. It astonished her to see such a fussy boy, who arrived late to every class after straightening his mane, charge through the downpour in this manner.
"Where do you live?" she ventured, hoping she didn't come across as too intrusive. "I can give you a lift."
"Ich glaube nicht, keinen Gefallen wollen."
"You don't have to accept a favour, but I must offer."
Again, Greif hesitated. Is this the first time he's said please to me? The slightest of tail wags accompanying the words made her wonder--in canids, that meant happiness or excitement; in felines, it meant indecision; but in jirds, she had no idea.
They ducked into a bus stop shelter, but Darian's expression did not change as he took a seat and crossed his arms in his signature pout. "The next shuttle is in an hour," she remarked.
"Are you sure you do not want a lift? It is not a problem."
"It IS a problem!" he shouted, taking her aback. "You are not my sitter, you are not my custodian, session is over, and you have papers to grade! My business is my own, and you will not leave me to it!"
He pushed himself as far into the corner as the bench would allow, facing away and slamming his eyes shut, as though in disgust at her having tainted his vision.
They had butted heads too many times to count over the season, and it still took all of Greif's sense of decorum to calm herself. The boy before her did not cry because he had been abandoned, she thought, regardless of how the rain made him look. In a year, he would graduate, but he already demonstrated more maturity (if not sociality) than some seasoned adults. Maybe she ought to afford him the dignity he requested.
"As you insist." Greif straightened her bag and clasped her umbrella with deliberateness. "I shall not need to grade yours, of course, though I am still obliged to remind you that class starts promptly on the hour. This comes from higher up; I cannot change this, though it hurts your otherwise perfect grade. Perhaps I do involve myself too much--but I hate to see a life squandered as maybe I did mine."
If the words reached him, she could not determine, but she had done what she could. She could not help someone who didn't want it.
"Auf Wiedersehen, Herr Grey. Wir sprechen uns spšter."
Darian remained still, eyes still closed as though trying to sleep. With some difficulty, she held back any further meddling and turned to leave. A low thunder rolled across the campus, garbling any hint of stifled sobs fighting their way out upon her departure, or what her overactive worry would imagine as such.
No, the boy just had a surly sense of independence, she reminded herself, thinking on her nieces and how they defied the patriarchy's heel-crushing. If he held any secrets that should concern her, any of the other teachers would corroborate her suspicions. Not every antisocial kid would turn into a Marius Black, after all.
Still, she couldn't help wanting to hold the door open just in case. Teaching had to mean at least THAT much, didn't it?
Artwork © 2015 Julie Miyamoto
felt like writing a thing... I want to write like Tolkein, apparently--all kinds of glimpses into th...