At last we are back in the orientation room. My group, how strange it is to think of them as my group and yet, somehow they are, stand anxiously in a loose line. Zack has taken a position in the far corner, trying to act aloof and tough. I feel sorry for him. Our names have already been given to the little man outside the door.
“Liven up!” Charles grins at us, “Your parents shall arrive at any moment.”
Good, I think, we can all go home, take nice hot showers and sleep in comfortable beds. The doors creaks open slowly as we all wait to see our parents’ faces. They are all beaming. Well, all but the couple who begin to berate Zack. My mind is drawn from him as I notice my Dad entering with Katha’s Mom. Dad stops in front of me grinning his grin.
“Hey Kiddo,” his hand ruffles my head in greeting. I grimace, but bear it, knowing it’s his way of showing affection. “I knew you could do it.”
“Oh my gosh, Could she!” Katha bursts out.
Dad is suddenly bombarded by comments from the other seven kids about just how I did it. I feel my cheeks turning beet red. Dad’s arm is now around my shoulders as he listens, commenting ‘really?” at appropriate times. I shrink into him and look up at his face. Dad glances down at me.
“Well,” Dad clears his throat. “I would love to hear more stories, but Morgan and I have an important appointment we must keep. And Morgan needs a little time to get ready.”
Dad leads me out the door. As we step to the side, I stop and move myself from him so I can look at him. “Appointment?” I ask hesitantly.
Dad, shifts the garment bag that I just noticed he’s been holding onto. He bends his knees so his face is level with mine. “It’s time to talk to that council I mentioned, see if we can persuade them to fight along side us and the Elves against the Van Helsings.”
“And save Ash?” I whisper one hand clasping my pendant.
“And save Ash,” my Dad nods. He stands up and offers me the garment bag. “I picked you up a suit and some shoes. Unfortunately there are no showers here, but I’m sure you can freshen up in the bathroom and change.”
I take a deep breath as I clutch the bag. Right, I can do this, I start walking to the nearest restroom. What does a big council made up of elders have on a forest fire, a wall of water, a tornado and an earthquake? Except wasn’t my Instructor a councilor? Which reminds me I have to ask Dad about that.
I am relieved to see the bathroom is unoccupied at the moment. Hanging the garment bag on the back of a stall door I look at myself in the mirror. I am a mess. I start picking the forest out of my hair. God it’s full of tangles, and no shower? I am about to let out a small scream of frustration when the door swings open.
Katha and her mother stream in. “Here, we can help.”
I can only presume Dad sent them, as they begin to administer to my hair.
“Ugg, it needs a wash,” Katha’s mom states as her hair brush gets stuck for the thousandth time.
“I can wash it in the sink,” they both look at me oddly as I turn to do so. “Had to at Grandma B’s when the bathroom was being remodled.”
Of course it’s much easier now; now that I am aware of my affinities. Suddenly I have an idea.
“Keep the sink running.” I disappear into the largest bathroom stall. Stripping I stand on my dirty suit, then call the water too me. I hear Katha and her mom gasp in surprise as the water flows up and over the stall giving me a virtual shower. I make sure it goes directly down the overflow drain so the floor doesn’t get wet. I even wash my undergarments. Once done I use Air and Fire to dry everything.
Katha laughs from outside the stall door. “When I imagined what I would do with three affinities, I did not think of showering in a bathroom.”
“Can I get the bag please?” I peek out of the door slightly and Katha hastily hands it to me.
I stare at the suit. I suddenly wonder about price. This is obviously not second hand, nor does it appear to be from a department store. I’m loath to put it on. The only other really nice outfit I’ve had was the one I wore at Gloria’s wedding. Thinking of that in turn reminds me of Ash’s last kiss and I stifle a sob.
“Are you okay honey?” Katha’s mom calls through the stall door. “It’s not the wrong size is it?”
“No,” I take a deep breath and pull myself together. I pull shoes out of the bottom, then smile, “but I think my Dad forgot to bring nylons.”
“Oh don’t worry about that.” I hear rummaging outside the door then a pair of nylons is draped over it. “I always carry spares.”
“Thank you.” I quickly change.
The nylons, skirt and shoes are easy, but the halter top is hard to button alone. It’s clearly meant to allow one’s wings to unfold. Oh, I hope I get my wings.
“Can I get help with the halter?” I open the door and start to turn around.
“I’ll help,” Katha comes quickly into the stall. Before I know it, the halter’s buttoned and my suit jacket is on. “There, now let my mom at your hair and you’ll be perfect.”
I can only stare at my reflection and wonder who is this girl staring back at me. Shoes with heels, short skirt, suit jacket, and two braids to frame my face; not to mention the replacement of shyness with determination in my eyes. There’s a knock at the door.
“Morgan are you about ready?” Dad’s getting anxious. I’ve never taken this long to get ready before.
“Almost done,” Katha’s mom calls out. She touches up the blush on my cheeks and steps back. “There.”
“Beautiful,” Katha sighs.
I open the bathroom door and step out. Dad stops his pacing and stares dumbfounded at me. I resist the urge to tug my skirt to try and make it longer.