Chapter XVI: The Elements and the Eye (3/13)Mature

'I'm sure you'll be ecstatic to know that I've graded your tests,' Erin said, sounding rather disinterested herself. Unenthusiastic groans surged around the classroom in a tide of melancholy. 'They were...acceptable.' The children did not hide their surprise, they had expected an adjective more in the area of "awful" or "enfeebling".

The tests were passed around, and the reactions were mixed. There were grumbles of 'twenty-two's and 'fifty-nine's. Will was surprised that his mark of fifty-two was amongst the class average, though compared to Tayna's seventy-seven, it seemed abysmal.  A single test remained untouched and isolated on Erin's desk, it took no extensive investigation to figure out that it was Laguna's.  

Erin discussed the questions that they had answered wrongly, each of her words edged in influential boredom. She took no delight in explaining that red was not a common seaweed colour except in regions where water temperature was above ten degrees, and it didn't please the class to hear about it. For most of the lesson, nobody announced what was already obvious, that everybody in the room hated the lesson. Eventually though, it was Tayna who spoke up.

'Erin, I'm sorry, but this test is ridiculous. I couldn't care less about the colours of seaweed or the composition of algae, and I know I'm not alone.' The class spoke quietly of her disrespect, though nobody challenged her statement. Erin looked over her glasses with eyes the colour of new rain, leant against her desk. She fiddled thoughtfully with a smoothed glass charm on her necklace, then removed her glasses so that they hung on the beaded string against her chest.

'You all feel like this?' she asked, ambiguous as to whether she would scorn or hear them out. With some trepidation, the students nodded together. Without a second thought, Erin scrunched the answer sheet in her hand, holding it up triumphantly then dropping it to the floor. 'Then I am free to admit that I don't give a sea-monkey's ass about these tests. Truthfully, I would much rather be taking you on a boating trip to a rockery on the other side of the cliff, but my hands are tied. You understand why, don't you?' Sadly they nodded. 'One of your peers has been taken from this class, and a number of you have been targeted by forces that I can only surmise would do you harm. As annoyed as I am to admit it, soothing you to sleep with dull examinations and textbook lectures are what keep you safe.'

Knowing that she was right, Tayna settled back into her seat beside Will, staring whimsically into space and, like the rest of the class, wishing she was somewhere else.

The End

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