I wandered the halls after Human Life dismissed with Kellan. He casually reached up and played with a strand of my wispy black hair, twirling it nonchalantly around his finger. I glanced over at him, curious, and he quickly brought it over his head. “Don't I look beautiful with black hair?”
I laughed as Kellan caressed the strands lightly on his cheek, “You look sickly and pale in comparison. Like a true Pale-Face,” I responded with a light smirk. “You look better as a blond, Kell.”
Kellan’s finger idly traced the length of my hair, his mouth falling open slightly. “Does your hair ever stop growing?” he asked me in wonder, staring down at the ends of my hair, which now reached my lower back.
“I’m getting it cut this afternoon, as a matter of fact.”
His bright blue eyes lit up. “Is that so?”
“Not short, though. I like my hair longer. Maybe only cut to here,” I said, gesturing to the top of my ribcage. “My mother is doing it for me.”
Kellan and I began to walk over to our next class, which I had already forgotten the name of, when Kell pointed to someone in the crowd that clustered in the hall. As I looked closer, I noticed who it was, and I had already seen him today. Jake Lucas.
He’d been expelled from Nightshade last year because he deliberately murdered a human on his full moon. He was a fifth year, like me and Kellan, so he was fully capable of controlling himself. He just chose not to.
“Wanbláke,” I said to him slowly.
“I don’t know what that means,” he admitted sheepishly. I sighed.
“It means ‘I saw.’ We have got to catch up on your Lak’ota lessons. You were gone all summer, living it up in Paris.” I made a face at the mention of Paris.
“I missed Lak’ota,” Kellan said, his eyes scrunching up in thought. “Aké iyúskinyan wancínyankelo.”
I smiled and giggled at his poor pronunciation.
“I’m glad to see you again as well, Kellan. Come over my parents’ house later instead of spending another night in the dorm. My mother would be pleased to see you.”
“Where’s your ate? Your father?”
“He is at the reservation, helping out my old village. It’s a disgrace, the injustice that’s done to the Native peoples of America.”
“I know. Despicable. They steal your land from you and then force you to live with barely any money or resources. It’s a shame that even in school, the maximum time spent learning about Natives is probably like a day in history class.” Kellan shook his head. He shared the same views as I had of human school. We were much happier here at Nightshade. To me, it would never truly feel like home—my home was with my people. But it was comfortable.
We sauntered into the classroom and took our seats in the back of the room, as we always did in every class. It was named Human Occupations (I had checked as we walked in the room). Students filed in the room, chitchatting about nothing in particular. Everyone jumped for the back row of desks like rabid dogs before they were all taken. No one liked this course, apparently.
“Hello,” a pitchy voice drawled from the front of the classroom. “I’m Professor Harting for those of you who didn’t know, teacher of your Human Occupations class. In this class, you will learn about—”
“Let me guess,” Kellan interrupted. “We’ll learn about human occupations.”
I stifled a laugh while Professor Harting wrinkled her nose in distaste of his remark. “Very funny, Mr. Donahue,” she said before continuing on with rules and whatnot for the class, and expectations, and blah, blah, blah…
We’d been here for nearly five years. I thought these rules would be clearly second-nature to us. They were for me and Kellan, at least.
I diligently took notes as she began to lecture and when class was over, I was ready, so ready to leave. My hand had nearly fallen off trying to write everything down.
But next on the lineup was lunch, and that was the best 'class' of the day.