Chapter 8

   I woke up bright and early to get ready for today. i bathed in the waterfall and cleared out my clogged mind. i put on my netted tights and my short purple dress then laced up the front of my boots before trimming my hair and packed some necessities. i did my normal checking around, put some food in the mouse's tree and began walking.
   When i got to the Village, i bought a notebook and a pen, then some new clothes with some extra money. i got new boots and tights and a couple of shirts. i kept 220 gold set aside just in case i needed to pay expenses for Classes. Eloch ran up to me and stuck a pinecone in my hair "Yay, you came!"
   I carefully swatted it out. "haha... yeah...so what do we do here? i haven't been to Classes in years."
   "Well, first we get to listen to the principal talk. Then, we get to sign up for what classes we wanna take. we get to choose four for now."
    "Oh, alright. That's simple enough i guess." Eloch and i took our seats. she brushed down her blue skirt with her hands and i noticed something different. She was an elf! Wow, a shape shifting elf. i whispered to her, "Eloch..."
   "Yes, I’m in my elf form —the form I’m usually in is my Anima form. apparently there was a committee meeting last night, they said the only way i could come to classes is if i attend while in elf form. People are so prejudice..." She spun her emblem on her necklace and smoothed down her red and black striped blouse. we turned forward and pretended to listen to the lecture.
   After the principal was done talking, we stood up and i quickly noticed Kero in peripheral vision. Oh no... i hid behind Eloch. "Don't let him see me!"
   "Who? Why? What are you talking about?"
    "Who's Kero?"
     "Ahh! Eloch?!" I wimpered as Kero walked up to me and tapped me on the shoulder.
     "Hey, Esperanza!" He hugged me and my face turned awkwardly red. "Who's your friend?"
      "Th-This is E-Eloch..."
     "Hey, I'm Kero! I'm friends with Esperanza!" He hugged her tightly.
      "I'm Eloch, and i guess you really like hugs, haha."
    "I do!" he laughed.
    Eloch and Kero talked for a while and i just listened. i could hear all of the people talking all around me, until i heard a familiar voice calling my name. "Hi Esperanza! I was hoping i'd see you here."
    "Oh, Hi Yolandsa! Long time no see." We exchanged smiles. "How've you been?
     She looked over towards Kero then looked away. Her smile timidly hid as she frowned, her eyes filling to the brim with sorrow. "I've been...decent." Her soft, pink eyes floated across the ground. i could sense her sadness.
    "Are you sure?" We migrated to a bench and sat down. "Why so down?"
    She brushed her braid from her face. "Well...do you know that guy over there?"
    "Who, Kero?"
    "What about him?"
    "We used to court...but he stopped..."
    whoa...i wasn't at all expecting that. "Wow, why'd he stop?"
    "Well, we went to the marketplace together— the same day i met you, actually. and he...he, i guess, just left.. i couldn't find him anywhere so i went home. The next day he wrote me a note and left it at my house,  it said that he met a beautiful Elvin girl that no one could win up to...then he told me it was over...so i never wrote him back."
    "Oh my goodness..." my hands began to quiver in fear. I really hope that Kero's not referring to me...I’m crushed...how could he do that to her? but at the same time, i guiltily can't help but feel flattered by what he said about me...I’m going to end this now. i feel terrible. "I'm so sorry... i had no idea —hold on for a minute, I’ll be right back."
     "Okay..." she said between sniffles.
    i walked over to Eloch and Kero. "Excuse me Eloch...Kero, i need to talk to you." i pulled him aside/ "you do know that we're only friends, right?"
    "Well, i was trying to court with you, that is, if you hadn't notice. Does my playful nature not give it away?"
   "Don't court me. Erase from your heart any feelings you have towards me."
   "But…why? Why would you want me to do that?"
    "Because, Yolandsa is my friend...you broke her heart because of me...we can't court."
    "Okay...then I’ll stop. We won’t. But just because we can't court, doesn't mean you can stop me from liking you."
    "I don't wish for you to like me in that format. Also, I’m not worth it. i may like you, but it’s not worth losing a friend. Kero, she's crushed. Just seeing you nearly brought her to tears...She likes you much more than you think...i have to get back to her."
   "Bye, Kero." i can't believe i just ended the only relationship i almost ever had...but i couldn't have lived with the guilt. i know i did the right thing. i walked back to my spot on the bench and sat down. "Yolandsa...i have to tell you something."
    "What did you and Kero talk about?"
    "i was that girl...i-i feel horrible...i didn't even know he was with anyone, he never told me much, and i had no clue you guys even kn-knew each other...i—i just broke it off with him. it wasn't worth the pain...I’m so sorry, i can't believe this.."
    "I forgive you, you didn't know...you really are a sweet girl. Most girls won’t do things like this...they'd just hide It." she hugged me. "Thank you...i know we barely know each other, but you're a great friend."
   "The pleasure is mine." i smiled, but still a little sad. She walked away to meet up with some of her friends. by the time i got back to Eloch, Kero had escaped off into somewhere.
    Now, it was time for registration. Eloch and i chose our classes together. "What classes should we take? hmm..."
    "i don't know... let's look at the list."

     Classes ——————— {choose four}
creative writing
WOT training
WIW training
excess prep

We examined the list before us. "I wish i didn't have to choose four," Eloch grunted. "There’s only two i really want, but oh well." we filled our schedules and compared.
ESPERANZA                                           ELOCH
1 {main subjects*}                               1 {main subjects*}
2 {creative writing}                              2 {creative writing}
3 {art}                                                      3 {art}
4 {lunch*}                                               4 {lunch*}
5 {archery}                                            5 {archery}
6 {spellcasting}                                    6 {ecess prep}
7 {free stanza*}                                    7 {free stanza*}

   the first thing we noticed is that we had the same first classes, the only class we didn't have together was 6th stanza, so we basically get to spend three days a week together. I think that would be fun. We were still discussing our schedules, and Yolandsa was excited to show us hers. "Hey! Let’s see if we have any classes together! I’m crossing my fingers!" we compared our papers next to each others.

1 {main subjects*}                       
2 {creative writing}              
3 {art}                                      
4 {lunch*}                          
5 {medical}         
6 {spellcasting}      
7 {free stanza*}    

   "Hey, looks like all three of us have the same two classes for second and third stanza!" Eloch grinned happily, twirling a strand of her hair.
   "Yeah, and Yolandsa and I have the same 6th stanza too." i noticed. so, i have i friend in every class...maybe i have more hope here than i thought...or maybe i just got lucky. i pulled down my dress in the back to keep it from showing anything.
    Kero ran up to us panting. "Hey...Es-Espa-Esperanza! lets-lets see if we have any classes together." he said through his huffing and puffing.
1 {main subjects*}                       
2 {WIWT}              
3 {WOTT}                                      
4 {lunch*}                          
5 {archery}         
6 {excess prep}      
7 {free stanza*}    
   "hey, we have excess prep and archery together, Kero!" Eloch mentioned to him, pointing at her schedule. 
   "I’ll be looking forward to it," he smiled.
   "and, we have archery together." i smiled. "All three of us do. What a coincidence!" we laughed.
   Eloch took a double take at his schedule, re-reading a few lines in curiosity. "So, Kero, what exactly is W-I-W and W-O-T?"
    "WIW is Warriors in Water and WOT is Warriors on Terrain. They're training classes. Anyone who's interested in joining the Militia should take these two classes. That way, when they go to join, they'll already have the credentials to enter with a higher rank! That means you get paid better, more opportunities, leadership and things like that."
     "Oh, wow! That’s really neat. Have you taken it before?"
   "—he took it last year and in Classes 14." Yolandsa quickly added.
   "Yeah..." Kero glanced at her oddly. "I did..." he looked at her like he didn't want her to say it. A couple seconds later, he pulled her aside. i was curious, so i selected my hearing to eaves drop.
    "Landsa, can't you let me speak for myself?"
    "Yes, and i did."
    "You call butting into my conversation and answering a question somebody asked me, letting me speak for myself?"
    "Well...i felt left out so i wanted to join in the talk..."
    "You could have talked to Esperanza! She wasn't in the conversation and she was standing right there!"
    "Do you really think i want to talk to the girl who stole you from me? Really, Kero?"
                  stole. . .? i'm not a thief. . .
    "You can't blame this on her, I’m the one who made the move, blame me! I know it was wrong, and I’m sorry, but you can't be mad at Esperanza."
    "And why not? Wouldn’t you be mad at a guy that i made a move on?"
   "No, I’d be mad at you for making the move. Why are you being like this?"
               he defended me...
   "Because you left me! You kicked me out of your life for that—"
    "Hold on, for that what? What were you about to say? Because i definitely said i wanted be friends and i wanted to be with you again. i just wondered how it would be with Esperanza because i liked her, that didn't mean we were completely over."
   "You really mean it?" i could hear the hope in her voice.
    "i did mean it...now that I’ve seen this hateful side of you, I’m not sure."
    "Kero, i..."
    "Just don't say anything, alright? I don't want to talk to you right now..."
    He walked back to us, and she ran off to cry. when he came back i pretended i didn't hear anything. He looked both sad and angry at the same time. "hey." he said bluntly.
    "You seem upset..."
    Eloch wandered her eyes to his. "What was wrong with Yolandsa? Why was she all in our conversation like that?"
   "I don't know...she said she felt left out..."
   "Hmm...She might be jealous that she's not the only girl you talk to. Some girls are like that, you know."
    "i don't know, she's never done anything like that before, so it was odd."
    "Well..."i added "maybe you shouldn't have tried to court another girl while you were with her..."
    "i know, i know, and i really do feel bad about that; but you can't control how you feel about somebody...you can only control whether you want to take a chance with those feelings you have for them."
    That...actually made sense...i get it now. but i don't get why he chose me, i didn't do anything to him or for him...i feel bad that i accidentally hurt Yolandsa, she was so nice to me and now, she doesn't even like me...i can't believe how horrible and hopeless i am, i hope everything will get better. ...i was silent.
    "Wow, I’m surprised i just heard you say that." Eloch looked at him in surprise. "Most guys won’t admit things like that; they just say 'oh well.'"
   "Yeah...but, I’m an honest guy. I’m not going to lie and cover up, then people wouldn't trust me...all warriors and all people need trust. You have no foundation without it."
   "I think we'll get along." Eloch smiled. We all smiled.

The announcer got onto the podium and announced the next part of the orientation. We have to wear uniforms. "Oh my gosh, are we really wearing these uniforms again?" Kero groaned and sighed with annoyance in his warm breath.
   "That's what it looks like..." Eloch and Kero walked into the line, i was with them. "How much are they?" Eloch asked, "i can't see."
    "15 gold for girls; 20 for guys." Kero told us as he peaked over the crowd.
    "Okay, i have that."
    "Me too," i added.
    "Can someone loan me 5? Anyone? I thought they'd be 15."
    "I can," i reached into my bag and dropped 5 coins into his hand.
    "I’ll pay you back, i promise."
    We went up to the tables at our turn and bought our uniforms. They were folded up in a stack, tied with twine and had a note on the top. The note listed the dress code and requirements, consequences and so-on. The dress code said we have to wear our uniform every time we come to classes. it came with a shirt, skirt, and a sweater. We were allowed to wear anything we wanted underneath, as in undershirts, tights and shoes.
                  i didn't think Classes would be this complicated.
                                                                                           The, it said that if we had any badges, tags, earrings, amulets or anything, they were mandatory to wear with your uniform. i was distraught. Then people will definitely recognize me. Thank goodness we can wear our tags on our bags, that helps a little.
    I heard a familiar voice and turned around, but i saw nobody i knew. This happened several more times and still, no one. It was puzzling; i knew i recognized the voice but i couldn't identify it. i knew it was from somewhere, but it was so faint...i couldn't pin point it, which was really frustrating. Eloch looked at me; she could tell something was the matter. "What are you thinking about? You look really concentrated."
    "There's...this voice, and i keep hearing it. i recognize it, but i...i-i just can't put my finger on it." i had my thumb pressed firmly against my chin, pondering.
    "I know what you mean, that's how it was for me when i found my little brother."
   "You have a brother?"
    "Yes, i do. His name is Soloman. The way i got here was by burrowing. I heard some yelping from the hole I’d dug, and a few days later i went back into the tunnel...i recognized the voice and followed it. i went closer and closer, and there he was, and i got him to follow me out."
   "Wow, so you saved him. And i can't believe you dug a tunnel all the way here! How long did that take you?"
    "About 5 hours... i was young and i cheated death. And that goodness, so did my brother. He lives in the mushroom with me."
    "That’s so cool...i almost killed my sister..."i looked down in despair as the guilt set back in. the normal guilt and pain that haunts me every day.
    "-but you had a reason, i understand, but you didn't kill her and you weren't planning to, or going to, either."
    "that's true..." i sighed. ”i just wish there would have been a better way for me to make her understand—let's just not talk about this. It’s upsetting."
    "I understand." the orientation's final section had begun and the ceremony was finally concluding. All of the students were invited to the cafeteria to eat as they prepared for the next orientation, that which would be for the call of seventeens.
   Eloch and I got our food and sat at a vacant table. I heard the voice again. Eloch recognized her brother's voice...maybe what I’m hearing is my sister...no...it couldn't be, I’m not going to even think about that. That wouldn't be good in the least. But i still miss her so much...I’m just not going to think about it. They gave us the choice of swino or poultra soup and spring water, we both got poultra. It was a thick golden brother with celery inside, flavored with strips of chicken and turkey. It had been seasoned with onions, chives and cloves, i loved it. We had a stuffed pepper on the side. As we ate, Eloch and i had multiple conversations about various things. People that remembered me stared as they passed our table. They looked at me and i noticed the whispering. why me..
    "Because you're special!"
   "Huh? What the..."
    "That was out of nowhere..."
    "Well, you said 'Why me.'"
    "I said that out loud?" i looked around to see if anyone else heard me. Did she just read my mind?
   "Well...I'm not sure..."
    We sat in silence for a moment, and it was awkward. After a little while, we finally started to talk again. From afar, i spotted Erik, the fawn i met at the bureau. it seems like he's a seventeen. I saw him walk into the midst of the crowded ceremony.
    After refreshments, Eloch and i left. Kero and Yolandsa were still in dispute, but it was mostly over Yolandsa's jealousy. Kero explained to me that you can't control your feelings about a person, but she doesn’t seem to understand or accept the concept. I wanted to apologize to her again, but Eloch told me that it wasn't worth it, and i agreed. I just felt so bad that i tore them apart like that, and i didn't even mean to. They had been courting for at least two seasons and that's long for people my age...and what was that voice i was hearing? Who was that? And why can't i remember this person? i need to calm down.
    When i got back home, i sat in the hot spring and played my flute to clear my mind. i boiled cinnamon and rose petals and took in the sweet aromas as it filled the cave. The smell was both spicy and sweet, it was enchanting. As soon as i got out, it entranced me, and i felt into sleep.