The girl’s eyes shot open, only to then blink at the sudden sunlight that poured from the window closest to her, hitting her side.
Using her dark locks to shield her face, she turned her eyes downwards to the hands which still held the ice skates. She lowered the shoes down to the bottom of the bag, returning them to their rightful place, and then tied up the parcel, covering up the dark fabric.
Zipping it up closed, she hauled the bag over her shoulders, both arms going through the straps. Getting up from the ground, she ambled up to the empty and silent classroom’s door, where a woman stood, waiting for her.
Aged eyes like the death filled ground of autumn followed her every step, moving behind the lenses of a thick pair of glasses.
“Is something wrong?” the woman’s deep voice sounded as soon as the girl stepped in front of her.
Looking up, the younger took in the image of that tall figure towering over her like a stone statue, the light behind it casting its shadow far out into the hallway, enveloping her own smaller figure in darkness.
After a few seconds under the scrutiny of her teacher’s eyes, the girl decided to answer back by, just barely, shaking her head.
“Did you check if anything is missing?” the woman questioned, almost immediately after the girl had nodded, though her own words were everything but hushed.
Just like in the first question, there was no warmth in the teacher’s actions, not one soft spoken word, or kindness to revive that stare, but there wasn’t anything remarkably cold about them either. Just ... nothing.
There was no wait as the girl gave her answer, nodding her head with the same vigor with which she had shaken it.
“Your sister called.”
These words made the girl perk up, eyes searching through the woman’s lenses.
“She told me she was to pick you up at a later time than usual, and that you were to wait for her at the same place.” The woman paused, dipping her chin so her dull eyes would meet the girl’s frigid stare. “Is that alright?”
A silent nod and an expressionless stare was her only reply.
“Good.” The teacher nodded to herself, the only indication of satisfaction from her part. “I see you have your coat, scarf and gloves with you. Are you warm enough?”
A very hesitant pause followed that question.
The younger’s gaze left the teacher’s, wandering off to the ground, where it stayed, fixed yet wavering. Eyebrows and eyelids lowered, lifeless lips set in a thin line as pale hands clutched the jacket closer still to the petit body, all of which added to the expression of vulnerability that crept into the girl’s features.
The woman either missed these signs or chose to ignore them, waiting patiently for her answer.
There was a deep sigh from the girl, the first noise she had made during the whole questioning, followed by a slow nod of her head, an action filled with obvious uncertainty.
The name made the younger look up suddenly in something close to apprehension.
“What did I say about words?”
The girl frowned at the question, body tensing.
A full minute passed, neither relenting as they continued their staring contest.
“… To use them…” she finally whispered back in a voice that, although small, sounded both tight and hoarse.
“Yes, that is right. Now, do you want me to help you with your bag?”
A shake of the head and, then, as if suddenly remembering something, “No … thank you…”
“Very well, then, you may go and wait for your sister.”
Without a goodbye or any form of acknowledgement whatsoever, the girl obeyed, leaving classroom and teacher behind as she walked out into the hallway, late autumn eyes never once leaving her retreating back.