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Where's Walt?

Posted on Thu Feb 29th, 2024 @ 16:51 by Jonathan Monroe & Freya Callaghan MD

Chapter: Winter's Crest Festival
Location: English Class, Avalon Institute
Timeline: Friday, December 18th, 1992
1565 words - 3.1 OF Standard Post Measure

Freya considered Walt Whitman to be one of the best American poets, and sometimes she took refuge in his work when going somewhere new, starting afresh. Leaves of Grass known to be his most famous and arguably best was seen to be controversial at the time it was written but the reigns loosened on it over the last decade even if there were still some narrow minded people who did not approve of some of its thought provoking ideas.

She had looked for it in the library earlier, she met a nice woman called Rebecca there in fact, and sadly the book she was looking for was not there.

'Checked out by Jonathan Monroe, English department.' read the small book within the library.

Guess that's where she was going then.

Knocking the door gently she then gave it a small push. It was quiet, she couldn't quite see anyone just yet.

"Tutorials aren't until four-thirty," the voice called as the door creaked. Jonathan looked up from his classroom desk, only to be surprised by the unfamiliar face that appeared. Another one, he noted. Claire's recruitment quota was probably into double-figures by this point. "Yes? Can I help you?"

To be fair she could have passed for a student quite easily, or so she thought to herself. For some reason she'd kept her youthful appearance, something she was quite grateful for and at the same time annoyed at. Trying to buy alcohol always tended to be an issue, even when in company in bars.

Moving closer into the room she walked towards the man behind the desk, "Hi, I'm Freya." She began. "I'm hoping you can help me... I was in the library looking for Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and the check out book said you had it. I was just wondering how long you were going to be with it?" she asked pushing up and down on the balls of her feet.

Jon studied the young woman. Definitely not a student. Staff member, most likely. "Well, Freya, it's the set text for next term so I was going to get a head-start..." He reached into the stack on his desk and slid the book in question free. "But who am I to deny someone looking for literary wisdom. Are you a fan of Whitman?"

"I am." she smiled. "But you don't have to give it to me if you are going to use it for your students. I just find him and his poems resonate with me." Freya moved in closer. Her mind casting to 'Song of Myself', 'I Sing The Body Electric' etc. Leaves of Grass had all she liked and loved about his works. "I think he was the first poet I ever read and fell in love with them instantly. Made me feel a bit more normal at times."

"Normal," he echoed with a vaguely ironic sigh. "Well, you're not wrong; it does evoke that feeling in many people. Although I was more partial to While Lilacs Last. But then I tend to err on the side of the morose and mournful." He said it with enough of a shrug to be self-deprecating as well as close to the truth. "I don't mind you borrowing it for a while. The students won't mind."

Freya heard his sigh and ignored it. She was made to feel different as many of her kind were, as many of those in this school probably felt both teacher and student alike. Made to feel less than Human when in fact they were more, natures improvement on the old model. Made to feel like she needed to hide her abilities when she would have loved the opposite and been able to cure those in desperate need without worrying about putting a target on her back. Sadly, they did not live in that time just yet.

"Well the death of Lincoln was a very sad time for America." Freya did offer in reply. "Well, for some anyway." she added. "But its important to be who you are and like what you like." she smiled at him and she picked the book up and began to quickly flick through it. "How many students does the school teach?" she asked. It was curiosity and she was surprised she hadn't thought to ask Claire when she met her yesterday.

"Right now we have a few dozen. Classes aren't huge, but in many ways that's a good thing as many of them have quite 'unique' circumstances alongside everything else. Several runaways and outcasts. A few lucky ones whose parents figured they were better off with people like them..." He paused. "Which are you? Outcast, or something else?"

Freya gulped. That got personal really quickly. "Ehm, well I guess I'm both. Family didn't want much to do with me, saw me as an 'insult to God'..." she rolled her eyes. "So, I was home schooled, then sent to boarding school and then I ran away to university in the UK when I heard what they had planned for me once I graduated high school. What are you?"

"Not much different. Runaway...initially. There were complicated circumstances when I got my powers..." An understatement, he noted silently. "So I drifted a little until I found somewhere to figure things out for myself. After I met Claire, it felt like a natural thing to do to follow her here. She's...pretty inspiring like that, to be honest."

"Phoebe found me." Freya nodded also at his impression of Claire. "I was working in a dive bar with questionable clientele." That was an understatement, it was a horrible bar. She would have said dive pub to appease the Brit in people, but it didn't sound right. "I guess I didn't make myself that hard to find." she shrugged.

"One of Phoebe's less well-known talents," Jonathan nodded. "Her judge of character is pretty reasonable, so if she brought you here then it will have been for the right reasons. Given your taste in literature, I suppose I can't argue."

"I think I'm just an easy shot at picking up a doctor." Freya replied. "But yeah she was nice enough to ask me to come here and I didn't have much going on. It is certainly better than smelling of stale beer and the occasional drunk vomit." she shivered at the thought of it. "It's nice to actually have intelligible conversations with people."

"Ah - well then you clearly haven't met Cam yet..." Jonathan chuckled. He rose from the desk. "I need to stretch my legs, grab some coffee. Maybe I can point you the way to some of our fellow literates."

"Cam?" Freya questioned. "No, not met them yet. I've only met Al, Rebecca, Claire and of course, Phoebe... and now you." she smiled at him. "But I could sure go a coffee, and its a good way to find out where the teachers lounge is." she moved to the side so he could lead. "How long have you been here?" she asked. "What part of the US are you from? I could guess but I wouldn't want to insult you." she chuckled.

He motioned along the hallway, very conscious that she was full of questions. "I've been here a year or two, but been friends with Claire a lot longer. And I was born in Chicago, but spent a lot of my youth in Kansas too. Hard to tell what feels more like home sometimes." He paused. "What about you?"

Freya nodded as he spoke. "I never really saw anything outside of Georgia..." Freya's mind went in all sorts of directions thinking of all the places she could have visited if she had only been allowed to travel, or if her parents had let her go with them on trips. "I was born in Atlanta, and spent most of my youth on the family estate. I wish I could have travelled more, even a little bit but I guess I did that after high school when I managed to get accepted into university here in Scotland. Almost felt like a dream..."

"Not many would call moving to Scotland a dream," Jon said, a faint smile on his face. "It's only once you get here that you realise what it's like. The good and the bad." He left it to Freya's imagination what those were in her own mind.

Freya nodded. "Yeah, I've been here long enough to see both sides." She admitted. "On a funny note though, did you know their national animal is a unicorn?" She asked with a gleeful glint in her eye.

"I think I did hear that," he chuckled. "Alongside the reported Loch Ness monster, it's a place of myths and legends..." He pondered that thought for a moment, but put it to one side mentally as something to look into another time. He pointed at the Whitman book. "Think that'll set you up for what you need?"

"Definitely." Freya grinned. "Next I'll be looking up Scottish myths and legends. I think that sounds quite like a rabbit hole I love to go down."

"Good luck, I suspect the library will be out of stock within a few days..." Jon grinned.

"I'll take my chances." Freya smiled at the man. "And thank you." she lifted the book slightly. "I've enjoyed our little chat."

 

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