Wednesday means Lovelace 1/2, and this is no exception. I’m not sure what else to say about that.
Things are definitely moving. Where they go… well.
For the record, there may — may — be a moment of wish fulfillment in this episode.
I hope you enjoy Lovelace 1/2 #11
Andi expected the school day to be stranger than it was. Honestly, she’d expected everything to be different right from the get-go — suddenly, she would be the brain, and the classes would all somehow be different, with the students either despising her or revering her and her teachers in awe of her from the moment she walked in the door. Or something like that.
Instead… the classes were exactly the same as they were before. If they seemed a bit pointless… well, honestly, they’d always seemed a bit pointless. She didn’t take French class for any great reason — she took French class because you had to take a language and she was more likely to go to France than Spain. Honestly, London to Paris was maybe four hours by rail, and they were even a comfortable four hours. That said, the times she’d been in Paris she hadn’t felt particularly out of sorts even without knowing the language. Now that she sort of did, it didn’t make the class more dull. It just became differently dull. She certainly didn’t feel the need to speak up more than she used to. If anything, she would have felt odd doing so.
Likewise, Algebra was only different in that neither she nor Mister Charlton were particularly comfortable around each other right that moment. Saturday was too fresh in Andi’s mind — the sense of panic, of being put on the spot. And naturally Mister Charlton would feel strange about the whole situation. He just quietly set her paper on her desk as he was passing them out, her ‘100’ neatly written at the top. Knowing the answers as quickly as he wrote the problems on the board didn’t really make the class any less boring, but it also didn’t make it any more boring. It just… continued to be boring.
After class, Mister Charlton did wave her over on the way out. That surprised Andi a little, but only a little. “How’re you doing today, Miss Gannett?” he asked.
“Gannett-Moore,” Andi murmured. “I’m all right, sir.”
“Good. That’s good.” He looked down at his desk. “Dean Forrester asked me to be present when your parents meet with her later today.”
Andi nodded. “I sort of thought you would be. Ground zero and all that.”
“Yes.” He pursed his lips. “I… have never really gotten along with your parents, I should mention.”
Andi blinked. “You haven’t?”
“Over the course of the year… I’ve tried to impress upon them the need to… that is to say… I’ve never really felt that….” Mister Charlton flushed a bit, still not looking at Andi.
“I’ve been a flop in Maths, and you’ve felt that I should perhaps apply myself more, or at the least not resign myself to that fact.”
“Well… frankly, yes.”
“And to make matters worse, you’ve spoken to my parents about it, and rather than sharing your concern they’ve been… well, I suppose ‘disinterested’ is a polite way to put it?”
Mister Charlton sighed. “Exactly.”
Andi nodded. “You’re not the first, sir. For what it’s worth… I do honestly appreciate your… well, caring.”
He nodded again. “I’ve never felt you were incapable.”
“Heh. Guess you called that one.”
He looked up then, brow knit sternly. “Something unusual is going on, Miss Gannett. We don’t know what it is, or why. However, I’m convinced — convinced — you didn’t need this sudden change to do well in Algebra. You’ve always been smart enough. If there’s something I regret, it’s that I failed to teach you well enough before now.”
Andi flushed. “I….” She didn’t know what to say to that. “It’s Gannett-Moore,” she said. “Honestly. If nothing else, remember it when my parents are here.”
Mister Charlton nodded curtly. “Don’t be late to class.”
There was a test in Physical Science, so that didn’t really count for much. Just like on Saturday, Andi read the questions and wrote the answers. She was done in less than five minutes, and it only took that long because she wasn’t particularly fast at writing longhand. She handed Mister Russo her paper. He had clearly been briefed, as he just nodded curtly, looked at her answers briefly, then shook his hand, writing an ‘A’ across the top and setting it to the side. “Sit down and read,” he murmured.
So Andi sat down and read.
English was no problem. Mister Stone reminded her — as if he had to — that her parents would be there after classes and they were going to have a meeting, and then spent the actual class talking about trochaic tetrameter and the Song of Hiawatha. Really, the only problem was Ms. Feinman in World History, and even that wasn’t unusual. Ms. Feinman was one of those teachers who took offense at any sign that her class might be anything less than riveting. This was a problem, because Ms. Feinman’s class was usually stuffy and her voice always droned. She had no real cadence when she spoke, so even people who were interested in the topic drifted. This generally put her in a bad mood by the end of the school day, and of course on Mondays the end of the school day was Andi’s class. From one minute to the next, there would be interruptions as she spoke sharply to some student or another. “Wake up!” “I’m not doing this for my benefit!” “Try sleeping in your dorm at night!” Honestly, it was the most interesting part of the class.
Today they were talking about World War I. That was apparently how ‘world history’ ended. It began in prehistory and it ended on Flanders Field. Only today she was droning on about the Russians, and it was hard for Andi to care even a little. After this class, the penny was dropping. She was to go straight back to her room and wait for her parents to arrive.
And of course, if there was one problem Andi had now, it was taking her mind off of something.
By thirty minutes in, she had reduced herself to counting the number of holes in the ceiling tiles. It was that spongy, hole-filled kind, but even that wasn’t enough. After looking at the first eight she realized there was a predictable average of about a hundred and ninety three — thinking back to all the other ceiling tiles she’d seen in the building she revised that to a hundred and ninety two point seven six four, and all told there had been four hundred and forty three thousand, nine hundred and twenty holes in all the classrooms in the building, if she assumed the classrooms she hadn’t been in had the same average—
Andi jumped in her seat. “What?”
“I’m sorry,” Miss Feinman was saying, her glare fixed on Andi now. “Am I boring you?”
“No ma’am,” Andi said.
“Well then, maybe you would like to tell me what I just said?”
Andi took a deep breath. “Are you sure?”
“What do you mean?”
“I can do it if you want. But do you really want me to?” Andi was flushed — at the same time, something about the jump-scare exercise just irked her, and today of all days—
“Oh, by all means.” Ms. Feinman smiled, her face set in anger.
“Fine.” Andi took a deep breath. In for a penny…. “you boring I was sorry I’m Moore Miss them let this Narva and Smolensk Kiev for driving by advantage took Powers Centra the and attack an repel to position terrible a in were they Revolution October the from confusion in still Union Soviet created newly the with involved everyone affected and cold bitterly was winter the Ukraine the in war for time terrible a was which February in began offensive this Fauschlag Operation was—”
“What are you doing?”
Andi took a deep breath. “You told me to repeat back what you just said, but you didn’t say how far back I should go. So I did it backwards. If you’d rather tell me at what point to start, I can do it forwards. Still, if what you wanted to know if I was listening, then the answer’s yes. I heard every word you said today, and I can repeat it back. Also, according to the book the weather was only intermittently bad, which was why the Germans could do a hundred and fifty miles within a week, and for the record my name is Gannett-Moore.”
Ms. Feinman stared at Andi for a long moment. She then turned back to the map she had projected on the wall. “The Soviets had decided to move to a democratically elected army, eliminating all their ranks, and they had mostly decided to go home, so the Germans found little organized resistance. Since the army was essentially falling apart, the Bolsheviks really had no way to keep fighting, and Lenin finally had to—”
“—out of your mind?” Bell was saying as they walked out of class.
“Maybe,” Andi said. “But… when else would I have ever had that chance?” She smirked a bit.
“I can’t believe she just… it’s like it didn’t faze her!”
“It didn’t. Thinking back… I think all she ever cared about was that we were paying attention. Even if I embarrassed her, I made it clear I was paying attention.”
“You weren’t paying attention.”
“Well, true. But apparently my brain was. I’m honestly still getting used to that.”
“Heh. Yeah. So now what?”
“Now I go back to my room and change, and wait for my parents.”
“What about practice?”
“I’m excused from practice. Whether I like it or not. Here’s a hint—”
“You don’t like it. Right.”
“Right.” Andi fished out her phone. “Hrm. Hoped they’d have texted me by now.”
“Yeah, well — since when do they do anything you want them to do?”
“Isn’t that the truth.” She took a deep breath. “Right. Time to go wait.”
“Thanks. I’m going to need it. If you don’t see me again, remember me fondly evenings by the fire, won’t you?”
“They better not just pull you out of school.”
“It would be stupid if they did, but I have no idea what’s going to happen.” Honestly, there was nothing about this day Andi liked, acting out in World History notwithstanding. She’d spent her night pacing her clockwork dreamstate, but there had been no sign of Tatum Parrish, which meant she hadn’t had any chance to ask questions about the mysterious war or other talented people or the like. Since it seemed at least likely she was meant to be a weapon for the next war, at the very least Andi wanted a chance to find out when that war might be happening.
Jansen House was a bit loud — people yelling across the halls to one another as they got ready for sport. Andi wove around them, making her way to her hallway. She tried not to engage people. She just wanted to get into her room as quickly and quietly as humanly possible. At the very least, she was glad her parents weren’t waiting inside the lounge or hallway for her to get back. She opened her door and went inside—
Her mother and father were standing inside, watching impassively as she opened the door.
“Mum? Dad? What — what are you doing in here?” she demanded, eyes wide. She had felt a shock run down her back — all her fears suddenly made manifest. Which on the surface was ridiculous. They looked the same as they’d always looked. Her father was mostly bald on top, with a fringe of grey-brown hair surrounding his head. His nose was rounded, with a pair of circular black framed glasses perched on it. He was thin, wearing that silly chalk suit coat and trousers as though he were working in a bank today, rather than having flown from England and then driven from Portland to see his daughter. His face was almost rumpled, betraying no emotion. Not that it ever did.
Her mum, on the other hand, was his perfect mate. Her hair was black, like Andi’s, cut in a perfect bowl. She’d never had another haircut as long as Andi could remember. Her eyes were brown, not hazel like Dad’s. She wore a black skirt and cream blouse, with a black coat on over it. Predictable. She’d been working at a hospital Andi’s whole life, doing administrative work and HR, and just like Dad she could have come straight from the office, had she not been in a plane.
“We’re waiting for you,” Mum said curtly. “I should think that was obvious.”
“How did you even get in here?”
“The door was unlocked,” her father said, mildly.
Andi opened her mouth. “Oh. Yes. We should be better about that.”
Mum looked around again. “Yes you should,” she said. “Still, no harm done.” She looked back at Andi. “Why haven’t you packed?”
Andi felt her heart sink. “I… thought that’s what the meeting was about.”
“Really? Hm.” Mum turned back to Andi’s bed, running her finger on the spread. “Maybe you’re not as smart as we’d hoped.”