Back to my favorite subject. Well, one of my favorite subjects.
I can’t imagine what school would have been like without Aiyana. I said last week, or maybe the week before, how we’ve always seemed to mesh; we’ve always been the best parts of each other, even when we were too little know about any of those sorts of things.
School wasn’t any different.
Aiyana wasn’t shy, but she always let the other kids approach her first. You know, now that I look back, I wonder if that wasn’t because of the bond we shared? I mean, we had each other, we lived next door, we did almost everything together; what need did she have for other kids? I don’t think there were any kids from our neighborhood, such as it was. Remember, this was Nowhere, Northern Imperium, and there were more chickens than people in our village.
Me, I was always the first one going around and talking to anyone, no matter how quickly they tried to run away. I was always faster on my feet, which meant I was always the first person picked in games where speed was an asset.
Sorry, I know, my mind tends to wander when I’m doing these things. That’s what happens when you’re looking back a couple centuries.
Right. I was talking about the other kids. I always made sure I dragged Aiyana along with me to talk to them. Like I said, she wasn’t shy, but she was patient, and she would wait forever for someone to approach her. Me, I was never patient, so I short-circuited all of that.
One girl decided she didn’t like me, but she’d hang out with Aiyana any day. That was fine; I wasn’t jealous or anything. But I did find it funny, what she would do to avoid me. It would go something like this: she walked up to Aiyana, started chatting, and then would ask to go play somewhere else. She’d pull Aiyana along, and they’d be happily playing but she’d be looking my way to make sure I wasn’t getting close. If I even looked like I was walking over there, she’d grab Aiyana and drag her off somewhere else.
I wonder if she had a crush on Aiyana?
I wasn’t jealous; Aiyana was always there, no matter what. I was all of five, and certainly wasn’t looking for love, but I knew what love was because it was shown to me every day.
Even then she was a bloody genius. I’ve already told you about her reading, and her math. The teacher didn’t believe how much she could do and was convinced that Aiyana was cheating, somehow. Of course she couldn’t figure out how, because she wasn’t, but there you go.
It all came to a head about a month into the year. We were sitting, listening to the teacher read a book, and Aiyana told her she’d mispronounced a word. I don’t know if the teacher was having a bad day, but she said she’d had enough and was going to get to the bottom of it. She pulled Aiyana up and marched her down to the office; I followed, because best friend and nobody told me not to.
“This girl is trouble!” she said, dumping Aiyana into a chair.
“What did she do?”
“She was rude and disrespectful to me in front of the class!”
Aiyana wasn’t saying anything; she was sobbing.
“What did she do?” repeated the principal.
I could see the teacher didn’t want to say anything, so I spoke up. “She said that Miss R——– said a word wrong!”
“Miss Smith –“ I was still a foster child at the time, and hadn’t been officially adopted yet. Lucky me. At least they were more clever than calling me “Kendra Doe”.
“Miss Smith, why are you here?”
“Because Miss R——– is being mean to my best friend!” I’m sure I wasn’t quite as dignified as I want to remember I was.
“I see.” He looked from her to me and to Aiyana, still crying. “What did Aiyana do?”
“Miss R——- was reading, and Aiyana raised her hand, and then Miss R——- called on her and Aiyana said that she said a word wrong and it was pronounced different. Then Miss R——- pulled her up and came down here.”
“I see,” he repeated in a sterner voice. “Miss R——? Is that accurate?”
“That Cassidy child has been cheating all year long! There’s no way she knows the things she knows!”
“That’s not the point right now, Miss R——-. Is what Miss Smith said accurate? Miss Cassidy raised her hand and corrected your pronunciation?”
She colored. “Well, more or less.”
He stood up and came around to kneel in front of Aiyana. “Miss Cassidy. You’re not in trouble.”
Aiyana looked up, eyes wet. “I’m not?”
“No. Tell me what you said to Miss R——.”
“We were sitting in reading time, and she said ‘expresso’, but it’s not said that way, so I put up my hand and I told her it’s said ‘espresso’, and then…then…”
“It’s okay, Miss Cassidy. You did just fine. Miss Smith,” he said, looking at me. “Will you take her back to class?”
I nodded. The principal and I were old friends already; I never was much for following rules.
“Miss R——-, could I have a word with you?”
The rest of that day was really quiet; the next week, they started doing all kinds of tests to see just where Aiyana was in her learning. What was lucky for us was that Miss R—— didn’t hold a grudge; she was just stressed and made a bad choice. She learned from it and taught there for years.
I think I’ve probably bored you enough for now. I’ll have more to say next week!