Previous Next

The Kids are Alright

Posted on Sun Mar 26th, 2023 @ 17:44 by Sarah Bright & Catriona Reid

Chapter: Prologue: Dawn of Avalon
Location: Library, Avalon Institute
Timeline: Tuesday Afternoon, September 29th, 1992 (immediately following 'Hall Pass')
2754 words - 5.5 OF Standard Post Measure

Unlike its librarian's namesake, the Avalon Institute Library was not particularly bright. Or at least, it wasn't today. That was Sarah's impression when she finally got a moment to really sit down and take a look around. After her abbreviated tour, she'd more or less been handed a schedule, then left on her own to take on the rest of the day. Not that it looked really challenging... just a study hall second-to-last period, with seven students expected, and perhaps a few more arriving later with classroom passes.

Sarah wasn't really worried about the kids, and she wasn't too concerned about the state of the library either. It looked tidy enough to the casual observer, but the librarian could see an endless amount of work wherever she looked--the daunting task of cataloging every book into the library's new computer database. But that would all get done eventually.

So what was it that was fueling Sarah's unease, then? It certainly wasn't the weather. If anything, the overcast day and sounds of rain pitter-pattering against the windows and skylights had a calming effect. It took Sarah a few moments to realize that, now, for the first time in her life, she didn't have anyone holding her hand, telling her what to do. That felt weird, considering she was well on her way to thirty, but this was her first career job. She'd been hired to fill a professional role, and the expectation was that she would know how to do it--no more hand-holding needed. A lot of people probably would say that it was about time. They were probably right, and Sarah didn't think she needed anyone telling her what to do anymore, but that didn't make her feel like a professional... or even an adult really. Truth be told, in some ways she still felt like a kid. As usual her outfit didn't really help, as it was conspicuously similar to the uniforms the students were wearing.

What Sarah didn't yet realize, was that it would be the students who would give her that different perspective. She might not feel that much older, or bigger, or wiser, but to the kids she definitely was.

The bell sounded, drawing Sarah out of her quiet reverie. She got her attendance list ready, then made a show of looking dutifully occupied while the students scheduled for study hall arrived.

Catriona hated her study period but it was enforced and an actual way to get her to do her homework at a time that was better than an hour before it was due. “Good afternoon… Si… you are not who was here last year?” The teenager announced as her fellow prisoner for the next hour or so pushed past her without many comment. They did not see the world the way that she did so could not blame them in the slightest.

Sarah smiled as one of the students came up and spoke to her. "And good afternoon to you. No, I've only just arrived. I'm Miss Bright, the school librarian. Welcome." She sounded pleasant enough, but made a point not to overdo it. She'd had one of those teachers who brought way too much cheer into casual interactions, and Sarah did not want to be that person. Though she spoke mainly to the girl who stopped to greet her, she said the last bit aloud to the other students as they filed past. She found that she had to raise her voice a bit because the acoustics of the library made the student's movements sound so much louder. The creaky floors were unreal.

Catriona smiled a bit and cocked her head to the side in a very cat like gesture. “Catriona Reid. This is my third year here. Got to say the library looks more organised than previous ones.” Catriona explained not at all sure why she was telling the librarian but it seemed appropriate to do so seeing there were different year groups.

"It's nice to meet you, Catriona. I like your name." Sarah said, thinking it a little fitting, given some of her body language. She raised her clipboard with the attendance sheet and quickly checked off Catriona's name. When she lowered the clipboard, she saw another student walking in with a half-eaten apple. She figured he would never hear her with all the noise in the hallways from the students moving from one class to another, so Sarah simply reached over and gently tapped him on the arm with her clipboard, motioning to the sign that said no food or drinks were allowed inside. The boy rolled his eyes, but stepped back outside to finish his snack, with one of his friends waiting with him.

"...who is that girl, and why is she pretending to be the librarian?..." Sarah just barely overheard from the boys talking just outside, and she too almost rolled her eyes. She couldn't wait for the rest of her belongings to arrive, because the few outfits she'd brought with her looked too similar to the school uniform. Not that the rest of her wardrobe was much different, but at least there were different color variations that would help to distinguish her from the students.

Catriona winced at the comments from the boys. She could not blame them. “Miss whilst they are idiots they are right. Not really good clothes.” Catriona said offering a sympathetic smile to her whilst she growled at the boys who came in and quickly ducked their heads into their books.

Sarah looked down at her clothes. They weren't good? What was wrong with them? So she liked wearing plaid skirts... so what? Who wouldn't want to dress respectably? Kids. Of course. Sarah almost cringed when she had a mental flashback of her brief punk days. At least she didn't look like her teachers, many of whom showed up in suits entirely in plaid. The seventies had not a great decade for fashion, and while the eighties might have been a minor improvement, so far the nineties weren't looking much better. Though Sarah might be deemed a radical based on some of her lifestyle choices, when it came to fashion she was about as traditional as one could get.

"Well we've got some more books coming soon, so don't worry. I'm sure the library will return to its usual chaotic state until I get them catalogued and shelved." Sarah said with a brief smirk as she turned back to face Catriona, putting thoughts of fashion choices out of her mind. Books tended to garner more of her attention anyway.

“Well that is positive.” Catriona said starting to move to her usual seat. She had some course work to start for history and as it seemed harder than normal it was certainly something she needed to start researching.

Sarah made room for Catriona to pick out a seat. While she enjoyed conversing with the students, she did have to remain aware that part of her job was to make sure that all of them got some of her attention. At a typical school that would be hard enough, but Avalon had some very unique challenges. As far as Sarah knew, all of the kids were mutants, and she knew first-hand what it was like to have unique abilities that few understood, and that she could barely control. Being a kid was hard enough, without throwing that into the mix. She would have to keep her eyes open.

A couple of minutes passed before the second bell rang, announcing the start of the study hall period. Sarah counted heads and came up with the right number, but called out names anyway to make sure. Everyone claimed to be present, and Sarah only mispronounced two of the names. She counted that a win.

"Hello everyone, I'm Miss Bright, the new librarian." Sarah introduced herself with a bit of cheer to match her name. She saw a student raise his hand--one of the boys she'd overheard earlier--and Sarah had a feeling she knew what the question would be. "No, I'm not a student. Today I'm undercover." She held a finger up to her mouth, as if to warn the students not to spill the secret. The boy's hand went down, but a girl's raised hand was quick to replace it.

"Do you have a boyfriend?" The girl deadpanned. She couldn't have been more than thirteen... which made sense. Girls and boys that age probably thought about little else.

Catriona could not have cringed anymore if it was possible. Why did the younger students feel the need to do that to every teacher? The only time that it had not worked was with the new history teacher who could already see the questions that they had been asked and simply put a no comment on the board in a hilarious counter to teenagers.

"No." Sarah said, fighting the urge to facepalm. Of course, she didn't correct them by saying she didn't have a girlfriend either. She didn't want to get fired. Just because a school was tolerant of mutants, didn't mean it would be tolerant of sexual orientation. "Any questions about books? Or learning in general?"

"Shut up Seamus," Catriona whispered into her book with a roll of her eyes as another boy started to ask another question about something unrelated. Seamus looked at Catriona and closed his mouth quickly.

"Sorry." The boy said. "Do you have any new comics?" He settled on.

Sarah heard some of the students chuckle over the mention of comics, but she thought it was an appropriate question… or at least the most appropriate one she’d heard so far. And the boy didn’t look like the only one who was interested in the answer. Sarah used to read comics when she was younger and struggled with reading. Once her reading issues got sorted out, she was quick to switch to books that catered more to her tastes. Not that she didn’t like superheroes and fantasy themes, but when she was younger there were few comics that catered to preteen girls.

“No comic books at the moment, unfortunately. I didn’t see any on the magazine and periodicals rack, but there are comic strips in some of the newspapers and magazines.” Sarah pointed towards the periodicals rack. “Eventually we may be able to subscribe to a few comic book titles, but right now we have to prioritize educational materials first.” She tried to look sympathetic, but she didn’t expect many of the students to understand or care about the complexities of school budgeting.

The boy looked disappointed but shrugged. His parents would send his pocket money eventually and he would be able to get a few new comics in town if they were ever allowed there. He had brought himself a few but he had thought the library would have more to offer.

Mention of that did remind Sarah of something she wouldn’t have remembered to add. “ if anyone has any requests for certain books or subjects, please write them down on a piece of scrap paper and put them in the suggestion bo… erm, can.” She awkwardly corrected herself when she remembered that the ersatz suggestion box she’d set up was really just a redecorated coffee can. She had no doubt that most of the suggestions would be absurd nonsense pranks, but those should be easy enough to sort out, right?

Catriona nodded. There were very many books that she would like but the place at least had a couple of the point horror books which was a win in her mind and they had a couple that she did not have. She picked up a blank piece of paper ripped it up and popped more R.L. Stine on it and put it in the suggestion can.

Sarah saw that Catriona had put in a suggestion, but didn't check it right away. She knew that the girl's suggestion would be a legitimate one, as she would've been sneakier otherwise. But some kids (and some adults too) didn't like to admit to the things that they liked... seeing them as either too juvenile, too girly, too boyish... whatever. If they saw the librarian leap at the suggestion can whenever a request was made, they might be hesitant to reveal their interests, for fear of judgement or that she would *gasp* comment on their suggestions aloud. Sarah didn't think Catriona was one of those kids, but she tried to maintain a semblance of anonymity, for the sake of all. And maybe she was right to do that, as two other students were not far behind Catriona in slipping their suggestions into the can.

Catriona smirked as she saw others putting in suggestions. The only way things were going to change was if they suggested things and they had to be things for everyone. She felt a little selfish requesting certain books but her theory was she knew others liked the author too. She did not think the others were going to put in silly ideas so that would be a good start to the school year.

As the study period got underway Sarah let the students sort themselves out before making some final adjustments. She noticed that a group of three students were a bit noisier than the others, so she politely asked them to move to the table closest to the main entryway, where there was already noise filtering in from out in the hallways. She reserved the tables in the back for those who seemed like they were more interested in peace and quiet. The only noises they had to endure was quiet tapping of keyboard keys from the two students using the computers. Sarah was going to have to find an equitable way to make the computers more accessible, a simple sign up sheet or drawing straws wasn't going to help the kids that really wanted to use the internet for research, and not just 'surfing the web' or whatever the kids were calling it.

Only when Sarah was sure that no one was looking, did she check the suggestion can. The folded up paper at the very bottom was obviously Catriona's. The librarian couldn't help but smile. She hurried across to the back corner of the library and returned a moment later.

"I'm sorry, I just need to look through this box for moment. I'll be quiet." Sarah said to Catriona and her friends as she put the box down on her table and used a pair of scissors to cut the tape. The first stack of books Sarah pulled out and set down were a random assortment of young adult titles, but the second was a stack of five all by R. L. Stine. She set them down where Catriona could see, as it it were mere coincidence.

Catriona sighed and closed her eyes against the noise that all the people created. It took her a moment to bring her cat sense back in and settle back down to writing her essay. It was an easy one but it was something that she needed for her course work for her O Levels. The cat shifter glanced at the titles of the book and then at the woman. "Would you like some help to get these new books sorted after my study sessions Miss?" She had helped in the library last year so the process of bringing in new books was not foreign to her.

"Sure, Catriona, I'd like that." Sarah said with a smile as she tallied the books and checked them off on the packing list. Aside from being catalogued and stamped, most would need some additional prep work before they would be ready for shelving, such as adding protective sleeves over the dust jackets on hardcovers, and laminating the paperbacks to make them more durable. Some publishers offered this service for libraries, but the upgrades were really only economical for libraries that placed much bigger orders. For Sarah it made more sense to spend the money on more books, and do the extra prep work herself. It would be nice to have some help, even if it might require some training.

"Please let me know if you'd like to borrow any of these. I'll have it ready for you by the end of the school day." Sarah offered. While she probably would've done this for any of the students, Catriona had offered to help her so of course Sarah was going to offer her first pick.


Previous Next

RSS Feed