Tales from Ohio Academy #2

Previously, on Tales From Ohio Academy!

“Nice to meet you! Rose Stigandr, but you can call me Compass Rose.”

“I’m Eric! Pleased to greet ya.”

Her first day was going pretty well so far!

A taunt by a bully, and a pointed invitation to an after-class fight? Holy crap!

And now, the conclusion!

Lunchtime, finally!

Skylar grabbed a tray and walked past the big window where you could see the cooks preparing the meals. She loaded up with whatever it was they had and pointed her eyes at the little info cards stuck along the line. Apparently, all of the food was grown within a hundred miles of the school and students could help grow and harvest Ohio Academy’s own blah blah blah blah… augh, she couldn’t get her mind off the bully note! What was she going to do!?

She wandered over to the closest table and sat in the first empty seat. Okay. Got to get it together. She took a drink of water. I mean, she was really strong, right? So someone who wanted to fight wouldn’t be a problem. She lifted something off her plate and nibbled. Tasted pretty good. But what if they were going to blackmail her, or spread rumors? Ugh…

“Hi, Skylar!”

Skylar jumped halfway out of her seat. Eric was sitting to her left. Had she really sat down next to him without realizing it?

He waved one of his chickpea fries. YEP. Oh well. “Hey, Eric. What’s up?”

“Oh, I wanted you to meet this cool girl!” He pointed across the table, at the seat on Skylar’s right.

She turned and there was Rose! “Hey!” said the girl with all the cool designs on her face. “How are you?”

“Really distracted, apparently!” Skylar rubbed the back of her head and laughed awkwardly.

“Oh, why’s that?”

“Well…” She looked at them both, and leaned in, whispering. “A bully wants to fight me after school!”

“Seriously!?” said Rose.

“Wow, already?” said Eric. “That’s pretty impressi— er… pretty. Pretty awful, and I’ll stop talking now.”

“Yeah you better.” Skylar glared.

“Hmmm,” hmmm’ed Rose. “What are you going to do?”

“Noooooo idea.” Skylar tossed her head back, hanging limply off her chair. “I don’t want to bother any of the teachers, y’know? Like, probably people would think I was a narc if I did that.”

“…people still say ‘narc’?” said Eric.

“They’re pretty good about it, though,” said Rose. “None of that ‘I don’t care who started it’ nonsense.”

“Bluuuuh,” Skylar bluuuuh’d, going even limper.

“Maybe there’s somebody here who could help,” said Eric, looking around.

Dragging somebody else into her whole thing? Uuuuuuugh. But Skylar didn’t want to annoy her new friends with more random noises and complaining, so she sat up.

“Hmmm…” Rose looked around the crowded cafeteria. Her eyes twitched. “How about Jackie?”

“Jackie?” asked Skylar.

“Oh, yeah – Rose and I met her at the big move-in,” said Eric. He pointed to what looked like a ten-year-old sitting a few tables over, chatting happily with three Skylar-aged girls inbetween bites of a falafel. “She’s apparently some kinda supergenius – skipped like four grades.”

“Huh! She Estranged into being super-smart?”

Rose shook her head. “I heard she was already smart. But she can feel emotions.”

“…can’t everyone?”

She rolled her eyes. “Other people’s emotions.”

“I dunno.” Skylar toyed with her salad. “I don’t want to get a kid into something that could be a real fight.”

“What’s this about a fight?” Standing next to Skylar’s right shoulder was a cool and kind of terrifying girl. She had a big nose and a big smile, and looked like she could beat anybody up. She had deeply tanned skin with dark patterns like the leaves of a fern all over her it – face, arms, legs, everything Skylar could see.

“Jeez, Harmony, don’t be so pushy.” Next to Skylar’s left shoulder was a cool and really elegant girl. She was wearing an outfit that was red and black and there were probably words for how fashionable it was that Skylar didn’t know. She was pale except for the tips of her fingers, which shaded to black. “People can fight their own fights if they want.”

I gotta work on my situational awareness, Skylar thought. “You have really cool skin. I mean!!” Also, gotta work on the connection between my mouth and my brain!

“Ah!” Harmony hopped up on the table. “My story starts in New Mexico…”

Eric had just been sitting there, kind of flabbergasted. “…are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“Harm does this at every available opportunity.” The other girl rolled her eyes.

“AUDREY SHUT UP. Anyway, there we were, stuck out in the desert. My mom was pregnant and the car wouldn’t start. I had the hood open and I knew the battery was dead! There was nothin’ I could do! And then, out of a clear sky, I get hit by lightning! And afterward I was still standing, and the battery was buzzing a little and the car started up immediately!”

“Ohhhhhh!” Skylar’s eyes were wide. “That’s amazing!”

“…you got hit by lightning and you didn’t, like, go to the hospital?” said Rose, quirking an eyebrow.

“Sure I did! We were goin’ there anyway!” Harmony waved her hand. “But it was fine, just fine!”

Was it really fine? thought Skylar.

“So why are you going here if you were living out in New Mexico?” asked Eric, leaning forward.

“Ahhhh, don’t get her started…” But Audrey took a seat and leaned back, half-smiling.

“So this was before I met Audrey. After the baby was born, we…”

Skylar listened, but her mind was creeping back to her problem. People seemed to be popping out of the woodwork to support her, but that just meant she shouldn’t be pulling any of them down with her. Besides, she couldn’t…


Could it be that easy? No, it wasn’t very easy, because she’d have to do the one thing she didn’t think she’d ever be able to do.

She’d have to trust people she’d just met.

Skylar had Science, then Math, then “Basic Extra Control – Somatic”. Then it was after class – and the time to “get a really warm greeting” was upon her.

She walked out on the path to the dorms, feeling like the old gunslinger. But she wasn’t worried.

Someone who wanted to fight wouldn’t be a problem. And if they blackmailed her, or tried to spread rumors… it was going to be okay. Because the people that she’d met today were way too cool to be fooled by something like that. She trusted them.

She kept telling herself that as she walked down the sidewalk, around the trees and the weird statues that previous students had made. It’d be cooler if it was high noon, or sunset, but she’d just have to deal with a big confrontation in the middle of the afternoon.

It was close now. Skylar squinted. Someone was standing outside the dorms – wait, several someones. Holy crap, had she pissed off a gang on her first day!?

…wait. That wasn’t a gang, that was Rose! And Eric! And Harmony and Audrey, and even Jackie!

Skylar broke into a half-jog and ran up. “Hey, guys! What’s up?”

“Did you get my note?” Rose held up a pie. “Welcome to the neighborhood!”

“Oh!” Skylar took the pie. “Jeez, is this for me?”

“Yeah! This morning, you seemed kinda lonely, so I figured why not pick up something? And then everybody else thought you seemed really cool too, and wanted to come along too!”

“Yeah!” said Eric.

“Audrey’s tough to please, but she noticed how cool you thought Harmony was,” said Jackie. “That makes you pretty— ack!”

Audrey gave her a noogie. “Aha, yes, anyway.”

“Oh my god.” Skylar looked down a bit, but she was smiling wide. “This is way more than I ever woulda expected. Thanks, guys.”

“Don’t worry about it,” said Rose. “Hey, did you ever run into that bully?”

“No, I guess not—” Wait. Rose had left her a note?

She looked down at the pie. This was a pretty warm greeting… She felt her cheeks start to burn. Okay, so, she was never going to tell anyone about this.

She was just going to be happy that she had friends.

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