54.2 \ 236

The class sat up, picking up their notebooks beside them to do some journaling. Words, drawings, letters, scribbles, whatever they wanted to record in this moment at their learning level. Jae, their teacher, got to her feet and drifted around fixing her ringlets, preparing spots around the edge of the room with pairs of pillows. She passed close to the circle to peek encouragingly at open pages. Prince Cristobal and the new student were executing some form of comics dialogue or duel, taking turns with back-and-forth arrows. It looked vivid and complex, and their faces were mercurial with reaction, holding their voices in during this active moment of quiet.

The blossoming of this enlivening friendship had been a sweet surprise, yesterday. The Prince’s reserve had melted into effervescence. He relaxed and had fun as though they were sitting on a beach. Carlo, often under Cristobal’s charge, seemed more at peace now. The new student, Toller, was bright and personable, and his sense of humor put people at ease. They rearranged for notebook shares at the front of the room, and though the teacher was aware of the existence of an entire storyline, those two boys sat on their journals and watched others. Everyone then bid a fond farewell to the Aquari guests, learning how to make a tactile grasp of meeting and parting. The octopuslike arm tentacles did not have suckers; they were velvety and uniquely tinted.

“Okay, we’ll take partners now for a session of Teaching Each Other. Pick a spot at the edge of the room, and this time we’ll exchange something from yesterday – from in school or out of school – from your own experience.” Jae helped a few of the kids choose someone else. Toller and Prince Cristobal stuck together, and she didn’t mind it. It was a relief to see the Prince this way. She went around visiting, sitting as a third to offer insight or guidance. The two like-brothers murmured to each other, foreheads touching over their notebooks, a mutual supportive hand on the opposing shoulder. Jae welcomed this handshake embrace though she hadn’t seen it before, feeling that exchange of distant customs and other ways was generally worth allowing.

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