Sunday, April 8, 2018

10 ~ Family Day




Robert felt his heart pounding in his chest as he stood in front of Professor Millgrim. Jacob carefully shifted beside him. “Sorry to bother you, Professor, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. Robert told me he got rejected for his field of study, and you told me that wasn’t possible.”
Professor Millgrim looked up from the book she had been flipping through, her face twisting with confusion. “Rejected?”


Jacob nudged Robert carefully and Robert’s eyes dropped. He cleared his throat before taking a breath. “It’s why I haven’t been able to focus much in class lately. Professor May said it conflicted too much with my schedule.”
Professor Millgirm’s face only grew more confused. “That’s the point of setting up your schedule… so you can work around your field of study.”


“Exactly, that’s why I wanted to ask you what options Robert could have, what with his adviser locking him out of what he wants to study.” Jacob nodded.
“I see.” Professor Millgrim’s voice had gotten quieter. “What is it you wanted as your field of study, Robert?”


“Spirits.” Robert swallowed, a chill ran down his back. Was he going to be in trouble for this? Maybe he should’ve left well enough alone.
“That’s odd.” The professor pursed her lips, yet her face remained clouded with an unreadable emotion. “That’s her field and…” Something seemed to click and her eyes widened before she looked at Jacob. “Jacob, dear, thank you for bringing this up to me. Robert, will you please come with me?”


The professor had moved around the table and was motioning towards him. Robert’s heart continued pounding and he swallowed. He looked at Jacob nervously before nodding and following Professor Millgrim into the hallway.


Robert did his best to not drag his feet as he walked next to the professor, yet he couldn’t help it as words spilled out. “Am I… am I in trouble?”
This caused her to stop and look at him before smiling gently. “No, dear, not at all!” She paused and looked towards the office they were heading to. “Have you met Professor Luken yet?”
Robert swallowed and shook his head. “Not formally.”
“He’s the head of our school, you see. He also teaches magic classes among several other subjects, so you’ll probably be studying beneath him soon in one way or another. I want to go talk to him about Professor May’s behavior towards you.” She picked up walking again and Robert felt his gut sink.
There were so many ways this could go terribly, yet he couldn’t stop it now.


Professor Millgrim knocked swiftly and Robert wanted to crawl into a hole. Why had he let Jacob talk him into this? Jacob had insisted.
“Come on in!” His voice was cheerful through the door, and the door swung open on its own.


He was standing tall, looking intently at the books that floated around him. After a few seconds he flicked his wrist and the primary book in front of him dove downward as the books circled him and he looked at the next book. “Professor Millgrim, what can I do for you today?” He greeted charmingly, his demeanor was confident and certain as he turned to smile their direction.
It was intimidating in a way Robert couldn’t place.


Robert had never been so proficient with magic. He could barely make a shield when he would walk near the Spirit Spring, yet the professor treated the complex magic of making books levitate with ease.
“There’s been a problem that was brought to my attention by a student of mine; I wanted to talk to you about it. Do you have time?” Professor Millgrim entered, her head bowing slightly as she did. She ushered Robert in behind her.


Professor Luken snapped his fingers and the books he was paging through floated neatly back into the bookshelves. “Of course! Who do we have here? I don’t think we’ve met yet! I’m usually very good with names and faces!” He chuckled warmly as he walked with sureness towards them and held out his hand.


Robert took in a careful breath. “Robert Egan.” His voice nearly broke under the confident gaze of Professor Luken, yet he maintained himself and reached to take his hand. Right as their hands connected static pulled through him and he nearly jumped.


Professor Luken was already gripping his hand and grinning widely. “Ah-ha! You do have magic! I knew I sensed it on you. Strong magic too! Absolutely marvelous!” He beamed as he pulled his hand back and began to examine Robert closely. “You’re 16 and a few weeks old - very new here but very bright. I can always tell a grand student when I meet one. Did you know you have an interesting residue of magic on you? It’s strangely familiar, but I can’t place it… Ah, what are you studying Robert?”


Robert swallowed hard and looked at Professor Millgrim briefly before clearing his throat. “Uh… I guess I would be undecided.”
“That’s what we wanted to talk to you about, sir.” Professor Millgrim immediately interjected before Professor Luken could start up again.
“Ah! That’s right, please-” He gestured to the chair before snapping his finger and the chair across the room screeched across the floor quickly to join the one that was there. “-have a seat!”


Robert’s skin tingled with the magic in the room. It wasn’t an unpleasant feeling, he decided, just different. Professor Millgrim gently nudged him forward and they moved to sit in the seats across the desk. Professor Luken sat grandiosely, his hand grazing over the top of bunches of papers that immediately organized themselves into perfect stacks. He finally folded his hands and rested them on the knee he crossed as he relaxed into his chair. “What seems to be the problem?”


Professor Millgrim adjusted herself in her seat and met his gaze. “Robert was brought to me today because his advising professor has prevented him from pursuing his field of study. He has expressed interest in studying Spirits but Professor May has told him this wouldn’t be possible.”
Professor Luken sat up straighter, his eyes snapping to look at Robert as his smile grew. “I knew I liked you! I’ve been digging into Spirits a lot on my own too. What a coincidence it is that we should meet like this? Why isn’t it possible for you to study Spirits?”


Professor Millgrim’s face remained irritated as she spoke. “Because ‘his schedule conflicted’ with the study. More than that, I’ve also heard she’s given him an exceptionally hard time.”
Robert paled as his stomach dropped. Did she know about the storage room? How many people knew about that?
Probably more than he ever wished to realize; how embarrassing.


“I see.” Professor Luken hummed and nodded, his eyes lingering on the stare Professor Millgrim gave him. “I can assure you this will not happen again. Until then,” he focused onto Robert intensely, narrowing his eyes before coming to a realization and his smile returned. “I will oversee your scheduling and advising personally.”


Professor Millgrim was equally shocked as Robert and she spoke with confusion in her eyes. “P-Professor… are you sure? You normally don’t have time to take on students-”
“Yes, that is quite a problem sometimes. My schedule is usually very busy, but you see Robert… it’s a very rare day that I meet someone I feel certain about. I think there’s a lot we can learn from each other.” Professor Luken stood from his desk and approached Robert. “Once we get through this 'Family Day' event coming up we can really examine a better schedule that suits your talents and fits with your field of study. In the meantime, why don’t you read this book for the next week and a half to get you started on that study and if you need any help you can find me through Professor Clemence or Professor Millgrim.”


He twisted his hands and a book rushed over to him, settling into his grip as he reached to hand the book to Robert.
Robert eyed the book curiously before pursing his lips and daring to look back up at Professor Luken. He didn’t want to seem ungrateful but-
“Something the matter?” The professor picked it up immediately.


“N-No professor, just that… I’ve already read this book… and annotated it… several times as part of my research on the healing properties of Spirit Spring water.” He stumbled through it, fearing the reaction would be bad. He probably should’ve taken it silently and read it without question.
Yet instead of anger, Professor Luken looked at him with his eyes wide. “You’re the boy who wrote that groundbreaking paper? By the Essence! Your writing level is far above where I speculated it would be.” He rubbed his chin with one hand as his other flicked the book away, causing it to rush to the nearest shelf and tuck itself away. “Then you certainly don’t need that! I would very much like to pick your brain some more, Robert but-” He sighed as he looked out the window. “I fear we don’t have time. It’ll have to wait for another day, then!”


“I-Is there something else I could read instead? I don’t want to fall behind…” Robert grew bolder.
The Professor laughed extravagantly and shook his head. “My boy, you are already ahead of people five-times your age. I assure you, you won’t fall behind.”


Robert slowly smiled and nodded.
“Is there anything else I can do for the two of you before I take off?” Professor Luken straightened himself, eyeing them both now with a more professional stare.


Professor Millgrim shook her head. “No, Professor, I believe that’s all.”
“Very good!” He beamed, reaching to pat Robert’s shoulder. “I’ll see you the Monday after Family Day. I’ll find you, don’t worry.” He sighed with a bit of disdain. “I will also deal with Professor May, so don’t worry about that. Have a great week, both of you. I’ll see you soon, Robert.”


With that, Professor Luken nodded his head and vanished from the room, leaving Robert a little stupefied next to Professor Millgrim.
Whatever it was that just happened, things were certainly going to get interesting.

~

Robert felt lighter over the next week. Things weren’t perfect and he still went out of his way to avoid Victor whenever he could, yet Professor May appeared to vanish from the campus entirely.



He couldn’t deny he felt a little bad, but at the same point he also felt vindicated. He was finally taking steps forward in his life after feeling as though he had been stuck in place.



The grief was still there, he couldn’t deny that, but breathing was a little easier.


Waking up, studying, functioning - all of it was getting easier.
Yet despite all the progress he made, which perhaps was minor in the grand scheme of things, he was chained to the impending doom that was Family Day.
He just wanted to get it over with.


Maybe, eventually he’ll not feel such a pit of dread at the thought of a day of family? Maybe one day he’ll even have a family of his own to think about?
Until then, however, he would keep his head down and do everything he could to just survive the day.
Robert had woken early that day - he wanted to be as far from it as humanly possible.


He ate breakfast long before anybody had even awoken.


He then drove himself outside for a long run through the countryside, hoping it would clear his head.


The order of which he completed his morning, however, only resulted in him nearly clearing his stomach of its contents on the side of the road. This was why he never dabbled in exercise much, he always forgot general rules of thumb like don’t eat a whole meal before running on a warm morning.


It could’ve been the anxiety of it all, he admitted, because what could possibly make someone who had just lost their last surviving parent feel worse than a reminder of what he didn’t have.
Eventually Robert knew he would have to return back. It was too hot of an afternoon for him to stay out roasting in the sun and after his morning he at least owed himself a cold shower.


He managed to sneak into one of the back doors of the Academy through the kitchen and up the back set of stairs, avoiding most of the ruckus in the main living area and foyer of all the arriving families.


His room was surprisingly, and thankfully, empty; so he gathered a pair of clothes and took off for the empty bathroom to shower.


Robert would’ve loved to just lock himself into the bathroom for the rest of the day, but he knew he couldn’t. The next best bet was returning to his room and hoping to find peace and quiet there. He took in a deep breath, poked his head out of the bathroom door, and, upon seeing the hallway mostly empty, ran full speed for his room.



Panting, he closed the door with more force than probably necessary. He leaned heavily on its wooden support trying to catch his breath when he realized he wasn’t alone in the room.



“My, my! Is this Robert I see here?” The woman’s voice was sweet and coated thickly in an accent that was even more prominent than Jacob’s. He barely had time to look that direction before he was ambushed into a hug that smelled of a floral perfume. “Aren’t you just the sweetest thing I ever did see?”


Robert barely had time to react before he was pulled out of the hug by the woman. She smiled at him brightly and brushed a hair out of his face with a maternal gesture.


“I’m so, so pleased to finally get to meet you, sweetheart! I’ve read so much about you in Jacob’s letters! Oh! Where are my manners! Pardon me, darling, I’m Jacob’s mama, Abigail, but everyone just calls me mama, so please don't feel like you need-ta be formal with me!” Abigail beamed.


He finally shook off the shock long enough to smile. “It’s nice to meet you.”
Abigail’s face brightened even more, “well aren’t you just the sweetest! Look at those manners on you! Here I am holding you up in the doorway, come, come! The things I got you are on your bed - I had to take some liberal guesses as to what your size was but I think I got fairly close! Whatever is close enough but too roomy we can have tailored in for you, sugar. Actually we can probably get that set that up today! There’s not that many this time, but now that I know your size I won’t make any promises about next time bein’ so small!”


Robert looked over at the mound of boxes on his bed and felt his eyes sting in surprise. “Y-You didn’t need to… to do that for me.”
“Oh sweetheart! Don’t even be ridiculous! I’m more than happy to spoil ya both rotten. You two boys are too busy working on your smarts to be worried about your clothes and supplies! That’s where I come in!” She ushered him over to the bed, rubbing his shoulders. “Now go on and open ‘em sweetheart! Once we’ve had a good look at what fits and what don’t we can head down into the city to get things tailored! Ooh, and I want to try me some of them French pastries you have down in them little café’s! I ain’t never been to a proper French café.”


Robert couldn’t find words but he touched the boxes carefully and looked back at Abigail. “T-Thank you so much.”


“You’re very welcome, sweetheart! Any good friend of Jacob’s is practically family in my books. People say ya can’t pick your family, and it is true to an extent, but I disagree with the sentiment in general.” She turned onto Jacob then. “Now you, my sweet boy, need a haircut something fierce, sugar. You know I let you be when it comes to your personal style but it is all in your eyes! How can you even read the books in front of your nose - let alone the chalkboard?!”


Robert turned back to the boxes below him and moved to try some of the new garments on. Perhaps today won't be so bad after all?

~


“Now Jacob, sugar, try everything on and come out to show it to me, ok?” Abigail sat down on the boutique’s settee, carefully patting the spot next to her on it for Robert to sit. “Come, sit sweetheart. Knowing my boy it’ll be awhile.” There was something soothing in her accent, or perhaps it was just the maternal sound? It reminded him of his own mother, though they sounded nothing alike on the surface. It was in her mannerisms too, it made him feel comfortable around her.



She gave him a warm smile and he sat down easily next to her. He had been prepared to fight off his worst demons today - all of the emotions of seeing everyone with their families, yet instead he sat in a fancy boutique in the city center with his best friend’s mother who had insisted on treating him the exact same way as she treated her own son.
In his wildest dreams he couldn’t have expected this kindness.


“Th-Thank you - again - for… taking me with you, and for helping me find a suit.” The first formal would be coming up soon, and while he could miss it, at least now he knew he wouldn't have to because of his clothes.


Abigail gave him a soft smile with sadness touching her eyes. “Of course, sweetheart. We certainly wouldn’t leave you behind, and believe-it-or-not, my dear, I used to make clothes for a living... still do, I guess, among other things.” She looked forward to the curtained off booths before looking back at him.


"What kind of other things?" Robert asked, intrigued. He knew Jacob's mother did everything by herself and kept herself very well because of it, but he couldn't even fathom what. His own mother had lived off his father's military stipend and when that ran out, her own inheritance.


"Lots of things, darling! I run a few businesses now and own some real-estate I get good funds back from, I also design my own lines of clothing." Her voice dropped as though she were telling him a secret, "that's why I always ensure my boys are well clothed no matter what. It would be near shameful on myself if you boys were running off to fancy parties without the right attire!" She laughed warmly, "I'm just pullin' your leg, sugar, you look handsome regardless I'm sure. Both of you do! How's it goin' in there hun?"



"I-I... I think I got lost in this shirt..." Jacob called back from behind the curtain.
Abigail laughed. "Do you need me to come in there baby?"
"N-No, no! I found it!"
Robert shared a look with her and they both laughed quietly. “Do you have plans for the upcoming holidays, Robert?”


He had just been trying to get through Family Day - he hadn’t even begun to think of the impending holiday season: the Harvest Feast, Day of Souls, and Saturnalia.
More family days.


He swallowed hard and shook his head, wondering how much Jacob might have told her about his home life. “For the Harvest Feast and Day of Souls I was just going to stay at school. I don’t know if they’ll let me for Saturnalia break however. I… I guess I could go home if they needed me to. I’ve… honestly not given it much thought.”


Robert felt a small void that opened as he settled on this conversation. He hadn’t wanted to think of the future and the holidays incoming, but he knew it would come up eventually. He had been planning to just grit his teeth and try to survive the hauntingly empty home for the two week stretch of what was supposed to be festivities and traditions. It’s not like he and his mother had really been able to celebrate it the past few years when she was alive just due to her illness anyways, so perhaps he could pretend like nothing had changed.


“Oh, perfect! It’s all settled then!” Abigail straightened herself and looked at Robert with warm, certain eyes. “You’ll come home with Jacob then and stay with us! That’ll actually work out much easier than me having to find a way to get your Saturnalia gifts to you some other way!”
Robert felt his eyes widen as he took in what she said. “A-Are you sure-”


The sound of rustling drew their attention as Jacob came out.
“I don’t like suits.” He grumbled, pulling at the jacket he was in. “This one chafes a bit. I guess that means it’s working though, right mama?”


Abigail motioned with her finger for Jacob to do a slow turn and he did so. “It don’t fit right in the waist, it’ll need to be pulled in a little more sugar, but I like the back length on you: accentuates your tallness. Give the other one a try, baby.” With that she motioned him off and Jacob disappeared back into the dressing room while Abigail turned her eyes back onto Robert. “Of course I’m sure sweetheart! There’s no pressure if you don’t want to, of course, but I honestly would love the company. My home is so empty most days so I really look forward to the holidays when I get to have some life to fill the silence!”


Was it really that easy? His eyes burned and he hastily wiped away at the tears that sprung past his defenses. “A-As long as I-I’m not intruding…”
“Oh sweetheart!” She tugged on him suddenly, pulling him into her as she squeezed him. “Not even a little bit! I positively insist on it!”


It was taking all of his strength to not become a hysterical mess in a public boutique, yet the comfort was hard to resist. “T-Thank you.”


“No, sugar. Thank you.” She rubbed his arm lovingly and for a brief moment he could almost pretend this was normal: that his mother was here and that everything was as it should be.
In a way, that’s exactly what it was.






3 comments:

  1. asifaljlfksjasklglkADJA

    I'm a MESS. Babe, Robert (glomps him) JUST WANT YOU TO BE HAPPPY. God its so great to see him getting comfort.
    Yes let's get rid of MISS MAY, get him a really eager teacher, and now a good maternal figure to give him love. I'm down for this. More than down for this.

    Gosh him crying at the end, made me tear up :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I KNOW, I'm such a mess about it TOO.
      But I'm so down for him getting comforted; he needs a good mom-hug. <3
      I swear I love that boy's face so much!
      (weeping) but him crying crushes my soul!

      Delete
  2. Aw Robert.....Abigail is sweet, I guess that's what he needed to get through family day!
    Jacob with short hair is funny to me haha

    Robert really is a genius child isn't he! Look at him shine! He really excels and he doesn't seem to realise it!
    I'm also really happy that Jacob told the teacher about that nasty mrs. May. She was really darn rude, and quite frankly, good riddance! Now Robert gets to be with a teacher who actually recognizes his worth!

    Ahhhh meanwhile, this is the end?? I'm already caught up!!
    I was trying to follow the boolprop list from the sims 3 stories, but I need to read more of yours and I saw another one called "Song of the Nightingale", so haha, you should see me over there! (Speaking of it's the next on the list now, that turns out well!)

    ReplyDelete