September 4, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Taikie and Saydrie looked far more awake than Enrie felt. They were already chatting when Enrie got to breakfast, leaning over something on the table and ignoring their food.
Enrie, watching them from across the table, felt a stab of isolation. She shouldn’t have stayed up so late. She shouldn’t have dawdled in the room, even if hurrying would have meant coming to breakfast with her hair hanging loose, even if she would have missed a very nice moment with Kotke and missed the revelation she needed to finish her paper.
“Enrie!” Taikie smiled up at her. “We grabbed your breakfast for you. They had the good sweet rolls, and I knew you wouldn’t want to miss out on those.”
Well, at least Taikie was no longer angry with her. The storm clouds in Enrie’s mood blew away. She smiled at her friends. “You’re the best. The ones with the nuts in them and the sticky topping?”
“The same ones. Enrie, you —” Taikie pursed her lips. “You look like you got approximately four hours of sleep last night.”
“I believe it was nearly five.” Enrie dumped her paper on the table and plopped herself down next to Taikie, where her sweet roll and a large serving of applesauce were waiting for her. “I found the section of the library dedicated to the All-Thought School, and I believe I spent more time at it than I really meant to.” She noticed a sudden silence. “What were you guys doing?”
Saydrie shifted in his seat. “We read the three books on All-Thought – skimmed, really – and we Very Much Did Not Work Together… Except when we did,” he added in a muttered rush of Bitrani.
Enrie rolled her eyes. “Well,” she smirked at them, “I worked on the paper alone. But it was worth it. I found— hi, Riensin, Kekdela, Tesdes.” She waved at their three friends. “You’re a bit late, no?”
“Oh, that’s a lovely look on your braids.” Kekdela wriggled around the table to pat at Enrie’s hair. “I want to draw you like this, I do!”
“You’d better do it now, then.” Riensin plopped himself into his seat across from Taikie. “We were gathering plants for Tesdes. We found some interesting specimens, or so I’m told. What about you?”
Her mind was truly not entirely there. Enrie blinked at him. “What about me? I wasn’t looking for plants.”
He laughed, a polite chuckle as if she’d just told a very boring joke. “You were saying you found something when we interrupted. Kekdela, you can’t yank on her braids, that won’t help you draw them!” He rolled his eyes cheerfully at Enrie, who, herself, was not feeling so cheerful about having her braids yanked on.
“But how are they together?“
“You could ask my roommate, Kotke. She did them for me. She’s from the far North, from Kolodyana—”
“Are you feeling all right?” Riensin leaned forward over the table. “You keep losing track of the conversation.”