Two months find them sitting in the banquet hall of glimmering purple stones. Through the elegant arch windows, the proof of winter is there on the tips of frostbitten dandelion fluffs.
Caw sneaks from the faculty table to sit beside Morgenstein who looks out of place by himself while chattering students are surrounded by their friends.
Good evening, Supervisor, the boy says.
They have been doing well. Caw gets into arguments and snark battles with the know-it-all children, entertains himself by listening to these high intellects come up with world domination plans and then proceeds to tell them off when they begin to make too much sense.
Morgenstein is the perfect loner. He is comfortable in the space he finds himself. He keeps his distance from his schoolmates because thoughts are scary; these people are strangers to him and having one-sided relationships where he knows them more than they know him is just disturbing.
But the boy has found a new life here. He visits Mortician Gore on holidays, and the morbid man sends him questionable (and sometimes illegal) gifts during the school terms. Human creed, a ridiculous gesture of parental affection.
“Do you recall your life in the Round World?”
Earth, you mean? Morgenstein says, gnawing on his knuckles. He leaves tiny divots behind when he’s through, stapled imprints where his teeth pressed into his skin.
Perhaps — just perhaps — Morgenstein’s deficiencies to understanding table manners (and more) are compensation for a talented brain. And that’s all right, he supposes. Caw’s got everything Morgenstein has. In fact, he has it better. He knows how to put his clothes on properly in the morning; he knows how to tie his shoes, textbook loops and the rabbit around the tree. He knows how to wear shoes in the first place.
“Do you miss it? Your old life?” Caw asks.
Morgenstein breaks into the multiverse’s most macabre smile.