Adoptions happened just before either summer or winter breaks in order to allow orphans a brief orientation period. Introductional meetings would take place long before that, but none had happened for Lory yet. Roughly one month left until summer break, so what can we do? We can’t just run away, can we? Surely Miss Cera would never let this entire thing happen, right? These were my thoughts - questions I had no answers for.
“Does anyone want to present what we covered in this and last lesson?” Miss Cera’s strict voice snapped me out of my mind. We were in the middle of class. White plaster peeled off the walls and every being that possessed eyes would have been worried that the blackboard could break out of its socket at any moment. Our director leaned on her pointing cane while she scanned the room for volunteers. Scribbling pointless lines into my notebook, I pretended to be busy.
I am still deeply reflecting about her words and need to finish my notes, that was my plan as the class went silent. Needless to say, I hadn’t really paid much attention to her lectures these last couple days. After tasting eternity for a few seconds, the class got relieved.
“Avian, please step forward and include the map for your explanations.”
I exhaled the pent up air in my lungs. It would have been annoying to ruin my scores right before the break, but more than that, I hated talking in front of others. A short, thin boy dressed in a shirt too large for his body and grey pants too short to reach his ankles stepped forward. His expression looked scared like a lost kitten when he stood in front of the class.
“U-umm Valbara, our continent, consists of two landmasses. The unexplored plains north of the great lake and rivers, and the eponymous southern land of Vaalbara with its three nations. The human empire is located in the west and consists of four great provinces. The northern Province of Aralith, the Province of Ezerie...”
My attention drifted across the room. Two girls whispered and gestured their way through a vivid conversation, snickering when their eyes met mine. Their reaction confused me. Even though I had spent most of my childhood here, I didn’t remember most of the other children’s names, or probably never heard of them in the first place. They ignored Lory and me for reasons I didn’t know about.
Miss Cera shot a warning glance into the direction of the two girls and they went quiet again while staring down at their small wooden desks. I turned to Lory, “Do I look funny or something?”
Her eyes met mine - they had gotten visibly duller compared to just yesterday. “I don’t think so. People with bad humor typically don’t look funny,” she replied apathetically, then let her head sink down on her arms. I suppressed any comment. Instead, I folded a crane out of a small piece of paper and flicked it over on her desk.
“Weirdo,” murmured Lory once she noticed.
My attention turned back to the class.
“When did we win the war against Etyan and what is the name of the fourth province?” was Miss Cera’s next question. Avian nervously spinned his thumbs around each other, but remained silent.
“...Eighty years ago,” our director answered coldly after a short moment. “And you really don’t know the name of your own home province?”
Avian raised his shoulders as if he wanted to burrow his head between them and pressed his lips together. “I thought I won’t forget it so I only studied the other names,” the boy mumbled timidly.
Our teacher took a large breath, then let out a sigh. “What other nations are there besides the human empire?” she continued.
“Etyan and the lands of Talabri in the East,” Avian quickly responded.
Walking back to her table, Miss Cera opened a thin red book, then wrote a quick note.
“Alright class, that’s it for today. Avian, you get the prefix decent, could have been better if you weren’t such a nervous wreck.”
The boy hopped back to his seat with quite the content expression.
With this, class was dismissed.