A behemoth of a building stood erect in front of her; its grey-tiled facade was imposing to the extreme and is’ disproportionate height to the buildings near-by only worked to elevate the fear beginning to build inside me.

From the front, it seemed rather dimensionless; there was a massive, rectangular slab of brick and metal but, apart from that, any extra dimensions were hidden. Whether it has merely only what it looked like from the front or extended an unimaginable distance behind, she did not know.

What she did know, however, was, at least in footprint, this building rivalled the hospital she was in when she woke up--the largest building she had been in thus far. The expenses that must be incurred for such an immense construction would surely be incredible--at least a years-long endeavour to both raise and build the thing in the Arden Kingdom, certainly--but to do so for something as insignificant as mass education? It was simply unheard of.

The vast majority of any given populace were employed to work the land, to till, sow, and harvest crops to feed the people. It’s only in large gatherings of people--only a handful of cities at most--where other professions could gain significant popularity. Even then, those who weren’t farmers would undoubtedly be from a family of some wealth where tutoring would’ve been an expense shouldered for their children.

To provide education for families of farmers is just ridiculous; the vast majority would not be able to contribute any more than what they would’ve been able to have they just been working instead of learning.

The perplexion that aroused due to this edifice before was only a temporary obstacle to my entering. The more difficult obstacle to overcome was the stairs. Thankfully, I had my mother with and, with her help, I managed to overcome those as well.

What followed was rather anticlimatic from what I was expecting; typically, for a place of such esteem to warrant a large building, there should at least be some sort of welcoming to those stepping in but the room was rather similar to the last room I left in the hospital--there was a desk, people working at the desk, and seats dotted about the place.

It was rather subdued, in fact. Even the aesthetic was rather drab and plain, with a painting--an actual, recognisable painting; not like those incredibly life-like paintings--hanging on one wall while the rest were generic white.

I’m not sure what my mother discussed with the man sitting at the desk--I heard my name but that was it--but, fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long before a strikingly tall, but slim, man walked into the room.

His clothing was strange at a glance--being of a brown similar in tone to his rather short hair--but the colour threw me off; it didn’t take long to realise I’ve seen men wearing similar clothing while out walking.

“Avery Wertheim?” He asked pointedly.

“Yes, that’s us,” My mother replied promptly, after glancing at me like she needed to confirm I was still here.

“That’s good. Just follow me to my classroom so we can talk.”

When we left the waiting room of some kind, I was finally able to grasp the interior of this hulking beast I had entered. Firstly, the floor was actually rather spacious; rather than long, endless corridors, there was a large, foyer-like area with many doors interspersed through the sides.

This sort of design extended both to my left and directly in front of me, forming an ‘L’ shape.

Fortunately, there were no stairs to climb to get to his classroom (again, just another room I had never heard of before); all we did was enter the left arm and walk to the very end, passing by closed doors with sounds of murmuring and sometimes more distinct, but muffled, sounds of an adult talking.

His classroom was empty and squarish in size. There were tables and chairs far too numerous to count at a glance and the walls were plastered in pieces of paper and one wall even had large letterings. Frankly, compared to the room we were just waiting in, it was far more colourful than I had expected. A lot more juvenile, too.

At one end of the room was a large, white board and a desk in front of it, but in the corner. Once we had entered, the man pulled out from under the desk a wheelchair like the one we have at home and slid it before a table in the front row.

“Nice to meet you, Miss Wertheim,” He began, shaking my mother’s hand while I timidly lowered myself into the seat, “I’m the year ten coordinator, Mr. O’ Connor.”

Once my mother seated herself, he continued.

“As I understand it, Avery,” He looked towards me, his gaze abrupt and forcing my eyes down, “You’ve missed the first three years of school?”

I nodded my head. I didn’t know if I had or not but since he said something so presumptuous, I assumed that meant he knew my situation.

“Do you know how many months she’s had in total?” I couldn’t tell since I wasn’t looking but I highly suspected he was now talking to my mother.

“Oh, gosh. I don’t know; I didn’t keep track. You could probably count it on one hand, though.”

“Did she attend sporadically but was it more clumped together, such as a month or two at the start of every year?”

“Definitely the latter. We’d always try to get her to attend each year but something always came up.”

“Hopefully, that’ll change this year,” With the sound of shuffling paper being placed on the table, he resumed.

“Avery, I’ve been informed that you want to start in year ten rather than repeating previous years. You are aware that comes with a lot of extra work for you to make sure you’re up to date with what you need to know?” I took a quick glance at his eyes before staring fixedly upon his nose.

I nodded in affirmation.

“Thankfully, it’s a good time to begin for you. Any later and it’d be much harder.

“To start with, we’ll give you three textbooks for learning the key stage three material for science, maths, and English. That’s where you need to read up on the most.

“Next--and this is rather late so there isn’t much information--you’ll need to pick what options you’re doing for exams. I’ve prepared a list here with the options and a brief description of what they entail. You can take your time in deciding what you want to do; you just have to send an email by Friday so we can get everything sorted for you. From your options, it is heavily advised to do some reading on them before, as many are continuations of what you should’ve been taught for the past three years, though not all of them.

“Any questions?” He pushed a few sheets of paper towards me with more intricately scribed words on.

I shook my head no, too engrossed in reading what was here. It was such a substantial selection and the variety was enviable. It felt liberating just being given the opportunity of choice alone for what to learn--so different to what I had experienced.

Some of the options on the list were unfamiliar to me. One option was science (something Mr. O’ Connor had mentioned earlier but I’ve only seen it in some of the history books and there weren’t descriptive of what it was) but tripled, a new concept, while another was history, a thankfully familiar concept.

I’m glad he gave me until the end of the week to decide as I would surely regret a decision made in haste with so many different avenues to pursue.

“Avery,” my mother’s voice interrupted my rumination. When did she stand up? Well, with a gesture of her head, it seems we’re going to go now.

“Thank you for the meeting,” She politely shook his hand.

“It was no issue,” He replied equally as politely, a small smile on his face.

With that, we were out of school.

But my struggles didn’t end there. I now had another thing dumped on my plate of things to handle: looking after snails, reading the books I bought, exercising every day, and now, making a very important decision over my direction in life! It was all. So. Taxing.

I would persevere, however. I didn’t get to where I did through talent but through dedication. Only one thing was certain about what I was going to choose; this was a tremendous opportunity to learn vital information about where I was, my situation, and I was not going to miss that.

Sure, I’ve gotten books about history, but you can never have enough. What I need to know, before anything else, is where am I, and if I can have a tutor teach me that, all the better.

As for everything else, I needed more time to decide. I may have been dedicated but I was certainly indecisive.


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