Aug 17, 2022 3:29 AM
ennis is late coming out of language lab
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Ennis has language lab right before lunch on Tuesday. Usually he gets a perfectly good booth, off to the left where Gail usually sits. Poor Gail has ten hours of language lab a week; she's trying to re-learn Spanish having dropped it in favor of Mandarin and the school has also started her on, of all things, Navajo.

Today there's a torporous snake draped over six of those booths, dripping something awful onto the chairs and desks beneath; it looks like it's digesting and also like it would be hard to kill, so nobody's cleaned it up yet, but that's six usually good booths - well, maybe not so good, apparently - out of commission, and nobody wants to be next to them either. Gail and Ennis wind up in different labs and after ten minutes of booth-hunting Ennis is debating the ethics of tapping someone on the shoulder and firmly offering to trade them for their spot, but he finds something he's willing to try eventually, and checks the perimeter and sits down to study German.

Come lunchtime, he doesn't know any of the people around - not all of them are even freshmen, it's mixed - and he winds up falling in with a clump of sophomore indies who mostly look like they're from India except for one black girl but are at least speaking English with each other. They're strangers, but better than nothing - right?

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They don't object to Ennis being there but apparently their current topic of conversation as they tromp down to lunch is making fun of a boy in their history class for his lisp. 

"Honestly my mom would just have slit my throat," one girl says cheerfully. "Imagine. Be our protection against the wickedneth and thnares of the devil!"

"I heard he only spellcasts in languages that don't have that sound."

"That don't have an 's'? What even is that?"

"Hawaiian!"

"My mom wouldn't slit my throat but I'd do it myself, if I were that much of a loser. Lo-ther. The thupidest kid in the thchool."

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Isn't there speech therapy for that? Ennis doesn't ask, it doesn't seem like he'll get a clear explanation from them. Ennis has, not a sister but a cousin, with Down's, and she's obviously staying home; he's pretty sure they've already sold her slot. A lisp is way more borderline than that though.

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There is some kind of commotion ahead in the hallway; some kids are screaming and running from something.  "Well, shit," the lead girl says. "-ththit." She makes an about-face; everyone else follows. 

"Place is pretty hopping, for week 2. There was that snake in the language lab too - is there another way to the cafeteria -"

"Should be, this hallway loops around -"

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Well they sound like they know where they're going, at least. Ennis trots after them.

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The hallway, if it loops around, takes a long time! The kids have moved on to complaining about their math class, which they're apparently all in together. "It's honestly really stupid that the school teaches math at all."

"I mean, it could be optional, that'd be fine."

"Yeah, that'd be fine. The excuses are so thin - artifice requires math!!!! Not that much of it and hi, I don't actually want to learn artifice either!"

Around a corner they come to a fork. Lead girl stops walking. 

"Left or right?"

"Dunno."

"We could just go back."

"Ah, yes, walk towards the screaming people. Genius."

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He does not have a way to call for help. He doesn't recognize either of these forks. Is there a map, he can try to figure out where they are on the map.

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There are blueprints posted every few hundred meters; the girls seem to have the same idea as him, and tromp wearily over to the nearest ones to try to figure it out.

 

"I think we're - here?"

"No, then that'd be classroom 406 there and I have history there, it's a different room."

"But we started here, and we went this way, and then there's a fork - "

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If Ennis misses lunch because the pack of SOPHOMORES he is following can't find their way from language lab to the cafeteria he is going to have to dip into the emergency peanut butter - hm, no, not worth doing that over a lunch, he'll just have to make up for it at dinner, maybe ask Eleanor to save him something since seniors get first crack - yeah, missing lunch wouldn't be a catastrophe, it's being too lost to find his next classes that would be really rough. "If there's a stairwell we could to up to the library and find the way from there," he suggests in a lull.

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Eyeroll. "I guess."

"Might as well hop on it, I don't want to have to line up with the frosh."

"There's a stairwell....thataway!"

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Is there though.

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Nope.

 

"Okay this is just bizarre."

 

"I think maybe the fact none of us have any idea where we are is making the school's job harder? If we could just locate ourselves on the blueprints."

"Wow, super fucking helpful."

"Let's backtrack. The screaming is probably over by now."

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She's probably right? ...she's maybe right, the level of sophomore-grade competence exhibited here isn't stunning.

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