He'd been putting it off for quite a while, even as a large majority of the girls in his Cohort - and more than a few in the older Cohorts - swelled up like beach balls. Even Shahin and Ioanna were starting to show. And Yngvi… simply had no interest. None. There were a couple boys he might find nice to spend time with, but both were taken, for various definitions of "Taken."
In a normal school, it might have been irritating, but it wouldn't really be a problem. He'd grin and bear it and move on; patience had long been one of his virtues. Here, though, the administration seemed to have other plans for his love life, or, at the very least his heretofore-non-existent sex life.
He held no real hopes that the school could be talked out of its graduation requirements, but Ioanna had mentioned that they did, on occasion, have ways of dealing with such things that didn't involve actual sex. Like everything here, he imagined it took negotiation, which would take time. Best start sooner, then. He'd worked his nerve up, and was finally going to visit Dr. Regine.
His footsteps slowed as he reached her door. Did he really want to talk to her? He could always wait until next year. Maybe something would change. Maybe he would change.
Maybe mice would rain from the sky. Besides, her door was already open.
Were those voices, coming from inside? He couldn't resist; he sidled up to the door slowly, staying out of sight, and listened.
"…must say, I'm very interested in this little project of yours." He didn't recognize the voice - female, prim, and a little old-fashioned sounding. "How long have you been at it?"
"The project as a whole? A little over two centuries." Two centuries? What had she been doing for two centuries?
"Mm, charming. And this school?"
"I began the project the school is an extension of in the nineteen-seventies. The school itself is in its fifth year."
"Very, very interesting. I'm looking forward to a tour."
"I'm afraid we'll have to disappoint you," the Director replied, and Yngvi could almost see the smug, self-assured look on her face. "Outside influences can be quite disruptive, you understand."
"That's a pity." She didn't sound disappointed yet, he noted. "I'd hate to go back to the Council and tell them you'd been uncooperative."
"I'm glad you understand, then, that regardless of whatever we each may wish, there's simply no way we could allow your presence, for the benefit of our students."
"One would think that encountering a variety of adult Ellehemaei would be educational to them - assuming they weren't, for instance, encountering and being put into the claws of [Nedetakaei] Dragons."
"It certainly is," Regine said, sweeping aside what Yngvi thought the more pressing concern, "and for that reason we've employed a broad variety of Ellehemaei with whom they interact, in a controlled environment. Direct involvement with global politics is hardly appropriate for teenage schoolchildren, although of course we'd encourage any who are interested to seek it out after graduation."
"Meeting one representative of the Council would hardly be direct involvement with global politics," she scoffed. "After all, they've met the Gods-Spear, haven't they? Involvement with the entire Council, on the other hand…"
"Some few of them have, which I hold as largely a mistake; and his presence was justified due to his familial relations. The last thing these children need is the Council's meddling."
The other woman coughed. "Inquiring as to the education of Ellehemaei children is hardly 'meddling' on the Council's part. But I agree. You neither want nor need a full contingent of the Council visiting."
"Inquiring, no, and you are of course free to inquire as to their education. I can answer whatever questions the Council has."
"Ah, but without a report of what I've seen with my own eyes, I am sure those above me will want to, well, see with their own eyes. And that would be more than a little disruptive."
"And what, precisely, is it that you wish to see? What, exactly, is the Council's official directive in this matter?" It was like a game of verbal ping-pong, back and forth, neither one missing a beat. Yngvi found himself admiring the skills of both women. The way they turned a phrase back on the speaker…
"I, representing the Council, wish to see the children in their natural environment. I wish to see their classrooms and their play area." How old did this woman think they were, seven? "The areas in which they congregate, that is. I would like to interview one or two of the students, as well."
"I can arrange a supervised tour, then, with the understanding that the Hawthorne Effect applies. And we will find volunteers to be interviewed."
Hawthorne Effect? Hadn't Emrys and Io said something about hawthorn being poison?
"Very good then, thank you." Yngvi's thoughts were scattered as he heard the two women coming for the door.
"You're quite welcome. Oh, and of course you'll provide us a copy of your documentation certifying that this is official Council business."
Yngvi backpedaled into a niche as the door swung open. "Of course," he heard the second woman say, but, pressed against the back corner, he didn't see her face.
He waited until he was sure they were gone before heading slowly back to his room. Council. Hawthorne Effect. What was going on here that the students didn't know about? Who was the Council? What was Regine so eager to hide?
Copyright © 2009-2012 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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