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Meeting a teacher

Posted on Fri Feb 9th, 2024 @ 10:49 by Almaz Awate & Rebecca McMillen

Chapter: Winter's Crest Festival
Location: Random Hallway
2710 words - 5.4 OF Standard Post Measure

"Pardon." came he voice of the resident art teacher, Rebecca McMillen, as she essentially scampered through the halls with a bundle of supplies under her arms. Rolled canvas, boards of wood, these were the beginnings of picture frames for the festival. The only thing standing in her way was a hallway full of people, a few steps, and a closed door.

"Oh cheese and crackers, pardon, pardon, excuse me." she called as she made her way through the halls. Her balance might have been superhuman, but these supplies weren't. Could she navigate the crowd? Oh easily. But the supplies, not so much so. It was while she was plotting the next course, as she made it to the stairs, that she spotted something new. Different. Distinct. A new face at the top of the stairs. "Oh, hello. Must be new. Welcome to Avalon." Rebecca remembered all too well her first day here. And the week that followed.

"Uh - hi," Almaz offered, with a brief hint of a smile. The girl stepped aside to create room. "Sorry, did not mean to be in the way. Yes, I'm new here," she added apologetically. She looked a bit better than the day before, that was for sure. At least confident enough to be about, wearing normal ish sunglasses that still showed a hint of the lightning in her eyes. Muted, earthen tones over dark skin to dress down still, and now somewhat fashionable leather gloves with a thin rubber lining inside, on her hands.

Rebecca gave a soft smile, "I'm Mrs. McMillen, the art teacher." a pause, "Though I guess you figured that from the supplies. Could I ask a favor? Just need the door to the classroom opened and I'm out of hands." Now, truth be told she had a free tail behind all those supplies, but it wasn't dexterous enough to open doors. All it really did currently was help her balance and fwip about wildly to betray her emotional state. Traitorous thing, really.

The movement did catch the girl's eye, though she wasn't quite sure how polite or impolite it would be to look at it, so she elected to focus on the art teacher's face instead. "I'm Almaz," she didn't say her last name, feeling a sense of shame in it - as per her people's traditions, it was a patronym, Awate was her father's name, and right now she didn't want to be associated with him. Not while she was still trying to sort out her place in the universe. "Oh, uhm - sure," a black glvoed hand reached for the doorhandle to open it for McMillen.

"Thank you kindly Almaz." a common practice to remember a name was, well, to use it. Rebecca made her way in and set the art supplies down on a table further in. Dusting herself off of a task complete, the mousey blonde offered another soft smile, "There. Now, on to proper. It's nice to meet you, and I hope you're finding everything alright. The place can be quite a maze sometimes and, as you could no doubt figure out, I'm not a fan of mazes."

There was humor there, but at the same time, there wasn't.

"Sometimes I wish I could just Disney Princess all my work to an army of mice, but they're actually horrid at stuff like 'Make me a dress' or 'Fix me a sandwich'." the humor was back as she turned towards Almaz again. Young. Very young. About her own age when she came into her ...

Gifts... Talents... Abilities... Powers...

She hated every word for them. All it did was possibly glamourize what she was. Some folks might love it. She wasn't to enamored with the transition. "So, how long have you been here? Been a little out of the loop what with the festival coming up."

Thus still being talked to, Almaz politely followed the teacher into the classroom, though keeping her polite (and safe) distance. Once in the classroom she did take her sunglasses off, revealing the full extent of how her mutation affected her appearance, tiny bolts of electricity from her eyes arching constantly to her nose, cheeks and brows. But even as she did, she seemed very self-conscious about it, like it took particular effort and guts to make this small gesture.

"I've been here barely a day," the girl admitted, her words quiet. "Still - ... trying to find my way," in more ways than one. "Ms Cavendish said I should just take the first few days to get my bearings, explore the place, meet people. So that's what I'm doing," unsure what to do with gloved hands, she clasped them in front of her. Her words had a slight exotic accent to them, something African.

Rebecca gave a nod, "Ms Cavendish really helped me out on my first day. She's good people." The McMillen Stamp of Approval, as they'd no doubt call it years from now. "As for exploring, you've found the art room. This is where I teach art, and inspire creativity. No boundaries in the medium. I don't give assignments, I set inspiration." she motioned to some of the canvases along the side wall, her tail moving as a counterbalance for her motions. A literal extension of herself. The canvases depicted variations of the view of the castle and the grounds. Different hands, different styles, different skill levels. Some had true artistic potential and might find their way to a proper display. Others might find a home on a fridge for a job well done. Rebecca held no piece higher than the rest. All skills were welcome here.

Rebecca noticed the gloves almost instantly from before. Aversion to contact, perhaps. The arcs of static told a story. She knew what it was like to be stared at, so she didn't return the notion. "Now, there's a lot to this place, and I know you're going to hear this next part a lot, but if you ever need anything feel free to ask." she offered.

"Now, as for exploring and finding places, that's half the fun. Most important, have you found the kitchen?" she asked with a smirk.

"I'm sure I'll be in your class, then, when I start following classes," Almaz offered. She did spare a moment to look at the pieces indicated by Ms McMillen. Different styles, indeed. Different skill levels too. She had her favorites and ones she didn't like, but she didn't speak a word on that. It was not her place to. If it was necessary at all. "The kitchen - is that next to the commons? I've seen the commons," the girl explained after a moment of art appreciation. "Though it's all still a haze. So, the safe answer would be 'no'. Could you show me?"

Such an eager admission made Rebecca smile, "Well then I'll keep an eye out for your name." she offered, returning to Almaz's side, "The commons is next to the kitchen, and that's where you're going to get anything you want to eat through the day. Some folks need more food than others, so once you find out who needs what, and when, you'll know the busy times to steer clear. Just stay by me in case the halls fill up again." she paused, "I think I'm the only one with a tail, so that's an easy way to tell." she offered with that same soft smile she wore before.

"Just, you know, don't pull on it or anything. It's attached." she offered in humor as she led the newest addition to the castle grounds to the commons and kitchen.

"Oh I wouldn't dare," Almaz seemed almost offended by the idea, it didn't quite land that Rebecca was making a joke. She followed the teacher and couldn't help but glance at the tail. Such an outward sign of mutation, worn so openly. Old habits died hard and she couldn't help but shudder almost imperceptibly. Conflicted thoughts acing through her mind, as she became instantly more elf-aware as well. She now too had outward signs of mutation. Her eyes. And so she put her sunglasses back on - an odd sight, someone walking the hall of the castle wearing sunglasses and those black leather gloves, but she daren't go without just yet. The glasses because she was self conscious, the gloves because she was afraid to hurt someone by accident if she touched them without meaning to.

Rebecca and Almaz would have little trouble navigating the halls now that the rush had died down. The mousey blonde even pointed out landmarks to know which way to go for what, but their mission today was the common room, and the kitchen that it promised. It was a short enough trip, due to a halfway decent guide, and the pair were at their destination. "And we're here. Kitchen is right over that way." she motioned. "Can I get you a cuppa tea?" she offered. "I figure you got the 'Welcome to Avalon' bit. Probably have a dozen questions." she smiled. "Ask away."

"I did, yes. Uhm - tea would be nice, thank you," Almaz offered. She looked around - there were still some people here. Kids of various ages, though she quickly realized that she was probably one of the youngest here. Some of them had outward signs of mutation. Skin color, pointy or webbed ears or hands, hairy arms, claws, strange hair colors or eye colors - it all felt a bit confrontational to Almaz. She instinctively drew a bit closer to Rebecca, a friendly face - though one that she'd only known for a few minutes at most - and instantly felt silly for doing so, trying to play it off nonchalantly. It didn't quite work. "Can anyone just come here any time and get something to drink or eat? Or are there specific times? Who's the cook?"

"The cook's name is Beaumont." Now accepting the award for worst pronunciation of a French name by a British runaway... "And if you're hungry for a snack or something you can. If he's here you can ask him for help, but if he's busy then he's working on the next big meal for the academy. Best to steer clear of him then. He can be a bit.... French." she didn't know how to better describe it.

"Now if you need a hand with making anything, you can always ask an upper classman or..." she motioned to herself, "... your friendly and helpful faculty. Now, gimme a mo, I'll be right back." and with that, Rebecca all but scampered off. She wasn't gone long, but she was still gone. Leaving Almaz there, in enemy territory. Alone. Surrounded.

Moments became a minute. One minute became two.

"Sorry about the wait. Had to refill the tank." Rebecca's voice pierced the darkness, having put one of the two cups in front of Almaz. Sugar packets, an unopened baggie, and two little plastic cups of cream. "I didn't know how you took it, so I brought a little of everthing." she offered with a smile. "So, if I may ask, what's your... oh I hate every word they use.... and I hate asking 'what can you do' cause then it just.." she shook her head a bit. "What brought you here?" that sounded a lot less terrible.

"Now, if we're not good enough friends yet for that, just let me know. It is a bit private."

Being alone in the commons with the people here wasn't as bad as she'd feared. The girl was afraid that she'd be stared at, whispered about, but all in all people just went about their own ways, in their own cliques, talking among themselves. Barely a glance was spared in her direction, and nobody stared. It helped that her outward signs of her mutation were rather tame compared to a few she saw, though there were plenty that looked completely human as well. Almaz could only wonder whether they were mutants to begin with or not.

When Rebecca came back the girl actually offered the briefest of smiles, though at her question she held up her gloved hands and motioned to her sunglasses, as if to say 'duh'. It took a slight moment longer to realize that it was a fair question, that deserved a fair answer. "I, uh ... make electricity. Somehow. It comes out of my hands and my eyes. It's - ... I hurt our dog Empress with it, when I went to play with her," Beat. "What do you - .. do?"

Hearing about the hurt dog nearly broke Rebecca's heart. Just that single thing must have made this poor girl feel so isolated. So alone. "Oh I'm so sorry to hear that that's how you found out." she remained silent for a moment, out of respect, before she continued. "Oh, me? Well, fair is fair. I can talk to mice. Rats too, but they tend to have a thick accent." she started. "But I can also make myself tiny, like tiny like a mouse." she continued, holding her hands to show about how small that is.

"It's a little too crowded here to demonstrate. You'll understand I don't want to risk someone thinking this is a free seat and sitting down." she paused, "You'll learn how to control that, in time and with a bit of practice."

Almaz couldn't help but let out a small laugh when Rebecca said she could talk to mice. The fact that rats had a thick accent only added to it. It wasn't a dismissive laugh or meant to imply she thought it ridiculous (right?) but it just seemed so fantastical to the girl. And now the tail also made more sense; she'd thought it looked a bit rodent-like. "That's - that's a thing," she smiled. "I never thought something like that would even be possible," as she turned more serious, more downcast. "I guess there's still so much for me to learn. Including how to control this - ... ዕሽነት ዝመልኦ ስልጣን," the words sounded exotic, alien. Like a cross between Arabic and Yiddish almost. Her native language, Tigrinya, as spoken in Eritrea - her country of origin. "This - stupid power," she translated for Rebecca's sake.

Rebecca gave a snicker along with, but as she became more serious so too did Rebecca. "You know, I never thought it would be possible either until I woke up with a tail." she pointed out. "I'm just glad I didn't get the big floppy ears to go with it." another smile. Almaz's native tongue sounded so alien, so exotic, so unearthly. Just another demonstration of how divergent and different PEOPLE were, nevermind mutants and no.... Not-Mutants.

"You know, I've found that we really never stop learning. And if you ever do, that's a sad day indeed. There's so much out there to discover, to explore, to learn. This... is just the next lesson." a pause, "Now, I wouldn't go calling a power stupid. I got treated terrible at home because of being a mutant, but that's not my mutation's fault. That's just who I am, and believe me, folks have been finding reasons to not like people since the dawn of time. But what you can do? That sounds like something you want to control. Want to make a part of you, because I want to be there to see you in control. It'll happen, over time, but you don't strike me as the kind of person who's afraid of a little work."

"I hope I can learn to control it," Almaz sighed, shoulders slumping. "I wouldn't want to wear these for the rest of my life. Never pet a dog or a cat again. That doesn't sound fun at all," she offered, though her mood seemed to perk up a bit again when she turned her attention back to Rebecca. A half smile formed, after which she giggled, holding up her hands apologetically. "Sorry, just imagining you with mouse ears."

Rebecca just smiled, and when she next set her tea down, she put her hands up to pretend they were big ears. "Say again?" she teased. She didn't feel the need to ruin the moment by mentioning she wasn't a cat person. For obvious reasons.


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