I watched as most of my maths class filtered off down into a different corridor, murmuring something about having a Spanish class to attend. I could only vaguely recall my timetable, but I knew I didn’t have the same – I was struggling enough with English. Trying to learn a foreign language as well would be torture for me.

Pulling out several sheets of crumpled paper from the satchel that was slung across my shoulder, I attempted to find my next class. According to my timetable, I had a period of free study. Great.

I sighed, standing aimlessly in the corridor for a few seconds as I tried to remember where I could go. I didn’t know my way around, and I didn’t really know anybody yet, either – and the few that I did had already left for another class.

I knew I’d be grateful for free periods later on in the year, when I got swamped with schoolwork, but for the moment I didn’t have anything to do. Stuffing the sheets back in my bag, I tried to remember where the cafeteria had been. A little awkwardly, I tried to retrace the steps I’d taken before I’d met Rain.

It came as little surprise that I was lost within the space of about a minute. When I tried to look around for somewhere that I might recognise, I found a wooden double-door entrance to a library. Cautiously, I peered in. It was empty except for the woman sitting behind the librarian’s desk.

I was about to walk back out when she caught my eye and smiled at me. “Can I help you, dear?”

Her dark hair was flecked with a few strands of silver, tied back into a bun. Her eyes were dark as well, and her clothing muted shades of brown. I was comforted somewhat by the familiar colours. Not just her, but the library itself. Mahogany shelves housed mostly leatherbound volumes of deep reds and browns, smelling sweet and musty. I doubted I could read most of them, but I wasn’t going to get any better by avoiding the problem.

I ran a hand through my hair. “Uh, yeah... I’m looking for a book to help my reading skills.” I smiled as politely as I could, feeling faintly embarrassed.

She was gentle with her words, asking me what sort of things I liked to read about, what my reading level was – things of that sort. In return for my answers, she gave me a small card with a string of numbers on it. She told me to bring it with me every time I visited. Eventually, I left the library with a book of mythology and folk tales tucked under my arm, and a slightly heftier volume about Victorian London safely inside my satchel.

Eager to start my challenge with a minimum of people around, I took a roundabout route through the maze of corridors until I found the cafeteria again. There was just over an hour left until lunch, assuming the clock on the far wall was telling the truth. That was plenty of time to read a few pages.

Only a handful of people were in the cafeteria when I arrived, all of them more concerned with whatever they were doing than my arrival. I sat down at an empty table, opening the first book carefully so as not to damage its spine, and bent my head down, oblivious to the outside world.

The End

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