“I'm free for the day after my next class. If you want we could go into town today?” Beth suggested. Lucy only had another class today as well. It was so perfect she wondered if fate was playing a trick with her. Surely Beth was pretending to be friendly? Maybe she took pity on her or something …
“If you can't it's fine. I can just give your mobile and we can text,” Beth added hastily, looking embarrassed.
“I'll be free,” Lucy replied, gulping again. Her fingers were going crazy under the desk, grasping and ungrasping as her nerves rattles. “It sounds like fun,” she decided, forcing a smile that even more awkward than her normal one. Beth grinned and gave Lucy her mobile number so they could meet up after their classes. Lucy keyed it into her phone, checking and double checking the numbers as she went. Miss Johnson cleared her throat, ending any potential conversation between them.
“For this term we're going to be concentrating on old European fairy tales; and in the full spirit of irony, we're going to start with Russian ones. Russian fairy tales, for those who don't know, don't actually contain any fairies.” Lucy smiled at the comment, while the other students looked mostly confused. Miss Johnson turned to the board and wrote different words. She tapped her pen on 'hero/heroine'.
“In Russian folklore there are one of two protagonists, and the story usually involves a variety of antagonists they encounter, as well as help in the form of animals or humanoid beings. The hero is usually a prince called Ivan. If it's a story with a heroine her name is Vasilisa. There are two main antagonist characters, the rest are usually jealous family members. Baba Yaga appears in every Russian folk tale normally as an antagonist, but there are stories where she offers help and guidance to the hero or heroine. Another character, sometimes thought of as Baba Yaga's male alter ego, or perhaps her brother or so, is the dragon Koschei. He is nearly always an evil character who steals away maiden or wives. He has a human and dragon form but is difficult to kill because his soul is kept separate from his body, supposedly in an egg.” Miss Johnson directed them to a textbook page and they began reading the story about prince Ivan. She was already writing notes about the repetitions throughout the text. Such as when it was describing his two older brothers as they both carried out the task set by the king in turn, and failed. This story had Koschei as the antagonist, who stole away the woman Ivan had initially been fighting, before he convinced her to be with him. She loved how these old stories didn't shy away from the nights of passion. She wondered if these were shown to children, or if these were meant more young adults. When the class came to a close Miss Johnson gave them their new homework. To write a article where the things learnt in the story could be applied to real life.
“What will you write about?” Beth asked. Lucy frowned, trying to think of what she could write about. It was recommended to pick a subject you cared about but Lucy didn't care about political issues like Beth did.
“I guess I could write about Insomnia,” Lucy said. “A front line account,” she added with a humourless laugh. Prince Ivan had to ride horseback for many days and nights without sleep, and she can see how it affected his judgement at times.