September 8, 2014 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Saydrie’s roommates were talking when he slipped into their shared dorm room for the first time.
He knew it was his room; his name (or an approximation of it in the Calenyen alphabet, “Zhadrie”) was on the door, along with the other two. Taigmyor and Pozhvetradov were, presumably, the two boys talking in the center of the small room, both of a kind, dark-skinned, slender, with their hair worn long, plaited, and beaded, in what Saydrie had been taught was a heathen holdover from an ancient faith.
That didn’t matter right now. He was not here to judge; he was not here to convert. Saydrie offered them both a smile and a short, polite, Calenyen bow.
“I’m Saydrie,” he offered. “Sometimes called Zhadrie. I believe I’m your roommate.”
They shared a look. It was a look that went on for long enough for Saydrie to grow uncomfortable, and then longer, long enough for him to take a step backward.
They had to know what he was, of course. He was a hand-span taller than either of them, broader of the shoulder, paler of skin, and, most damning of all, blonde and beardless. He was either the strangest bear they had ever laid eyes on, or he was –
“Hey, we got a Byittie. Why does Onano House always get the blasted Byitties?”
The voice came not from inside the room but somewhere in the common room. Saydrie tried not to flinch.
“Because they think they know religion! So they come here to show us how much they don’t know.”
That time, he knew his shoulders twitched. With effort, he kept his eyes on presumably-Taigmyor-and-Pozhvetradov and said nothing. He had already learned, on his trip here, that saying things just made people laugh and then hit him again.
The one on the left looked at him, and then at the one on the right. “Come on in.” It was barely audible, but it was enough. “It’s your room too.”
Someone in the common room shoved into Saydrie, an elbow hitting him in the kidneys. He stepped forward, half involuntarily, just as the second roommate stepped towards him.
“Come on in,” the second one reiterated. “And close the door. I’m Pozhdov. This is Taig.”