The ward of castoria, p.5
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       The Ward of Castoria, p.5

           Robin Silverglate
 

  *****

  Dane found Bryn to be a very intriguing Ward.

  In all honestly to himself, he could not quite determine what was most interesting about her. Perhaps it was her obvious intelligence. Perhaps it was her soft beauty. Whatever it was, he was actually glad Tetari had given him the assignment of watching over the daughter instead of the father. Guarding Bryn was a refreshing change to all the businessmen and blue collar workers he usually volunteered to protect.

  Normally, he would find a sentry spot in an alley from which to guard his Wards and look out for creatures, but here, he was able to sit comfortably right next to her. He knew he probably should have chosen the empty seat at the back of the classroom, but the open chair next to Bryn was too tempting. He was there to protect her after all and it was probably best to sit as close to her as possible.

  Toward the end of the period, the teacher asked the class to silently read the next five pages of their assigned novel. She walked over to Dane and loaned him her copy of The Great Gatsby. He dutifully opened the book to the page Mrs. Frank instructed, but he only pretended to read. Dane thought this would be a good time to check in with Beckwyn since he was only a few classrooms away.

  He silently sent a thought to his partner. “How is it going with your Ward?”

  A few moments later, Beckwyn’s answer came into Dane’s mind. “Everything is fine over here. How about you?”

  “We’re just reading. There’s no sign of a creature.”

  “I doubt one would even come inside this school.”

  “It’s highly unlikely, but Tetari told us to stick close because we won’t have much warning when the attack does occur. What is the father doing now?”

  “He’s talking about something called the Thirty Years’ War,” replied Beckwyn. “It’s actually pretty interesting. He’s a much better instructor than our old history teacher. Remember how he constantly hummed to himself even when we were taking tests? And it was always the same song, too. You’d think he would have gotten bored of it after humming it twenty times a day.”

  Dane softly chuckled at the memory of his old, quirky teacher. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Bryn looking at him with a strange expression on her face. To cover his error, he pointed to the book and whispered, “This part is funny.”

  Bryn raised her eyebrows and whispered back, “Which part exactly?”

  Dane peered down at the book and his eyes were immediately drawn to the paragraph at the bottom of the page. He desperately tried to find something to describe and eventually said, “Um… the part where Myrtle…” he turned the page and continued, “gets hit…by…a…car.” He forced his eyes back down to the book and tried to appear that he was really taking it seriously now. All the time silently cursing himself for looking like a fool again. Eventually, he saw Bryn’s attention turn back to her book and he began to relax.

  “Do you remember the name of it?” Beckwyn’s voice interrupted Dane’s embarrassing thoughts.

  Dane was confused. “What name?”

  “The name of the song he always hummed.”

  “Darfin.”

  “That’s right,” said Beckwyn happily. “I haven’t thought about that in years. I wonder if he is still singing the same song to his students today?” Dane just got back to reading the book when Beckwyn’s voice popped into his head again. “You still reading over there?”

  “Yes,” replied Dane. “And I am really trying to read. Bryn has already caught me not reading once before.”

  “Oh, she’s an observant one then. I always like protecting the observant ones. They keep me on my toes. What’s she like?”

  “Smart and beautiful. Now, let me get back to my duties. I’ll talk to you after school.”

  “All right,” said Beckwyn. “James is coming over to talk to me now anyway.”

  Dane appreciated the peace and quiet in his mind for a few moments before sneaking a look out of the corner of his eyes at Bryn. She was reading again and only gazed up when the teacher asked everyone to stop and discuss what happened. Of course, Myrtle’s unexpected death was the main topic and Dane now knew for certain there was nothing remotely funny in the section he was supposed to read.

  Class was soon over and everyone started packing up their books. He watched Bryn place her notes in a folder and her pen in her bag. Her back suddenly straightened and he could see she was tense. Dane scanned the room and wondered what could have caused that reaction. Surely, the creature could not be in here without him noticing. Dane did not see anything.

  A tall girl walked in the isle between their desks on her way out of the class. She smiled at him as she ran her fingers through her long, blonde hair. Her steps slowed and she appeared as if she was going to say something to him. Dane did not want to get involved in a mundane conversation so he headed toward the teacher’s desk on the pretense of returning her book. By the time he was done talking to Mrs. Frank, the blonde girl had thankfully left the classroom, but he saw that Bryn was gone, as well.

  Dane soon found her leaving through double doors at the end of the hallway. As he followed her from a safe distance, he noticed that while most of the students were trying to squeeze in a little social time between classes, Bryn did not stop to talk to anyone. He wondered if she was shy, but then he quickly dismissed the idea since she was so outspoken in class. Bryn also didn’t seem introverted while serving him that weird tasting drink last night.

  In the next class, he was a little disappointed when the teacher directed him to sit at a seat that was as far away from Bryn as possible. The teacher did not even start the class until fifteen minutes in, so he had a lot of time to study Bryn. She didn’t seem to notice him since she was intently working on her calculus homework during the free time. He watched her think through each problem and could see her mind hard at work. There was one problem that seemed to stump her and she spent a lot of time writing and erasing. She would periodically scrunch up her nose, close her eyes, and tilt her head toward the ceiling. Dane found this completely charming and smiled each time she did it.

  After one more class, it was time for lunch. He followed Bryn to the cafeteria and watched her sit at a small table in a remote corner of the room. It appeared as though she deliberately set herself as far away as possible from every other student in the school. Dane sat two tables down from her so he could still keep an eye on her without making it seem like he was obviously watching her.

  Bryn took out a book and read as she ate her sandwich. Her head was bent over the pages and her long, brown hair fell over her shoulder. She pushed her hair back and hooked it behind her ear. Inevitably, the hair would fall back down, thus forcing Bryn to grab the lock and hook it over her ear again. Dane watched the unruly strand of hair with amusement, totally fascinated with it.

  His pleasant contemplations were interrupted by the blonde girl sitting down next to him at his table. “Well, hello there,” she said in a sultry voice.

  Dane continued to observe Bryn, but he nodded to show that he heard the blonde. He hoped that if he did not say anything, she would go away. It would be easier to focus on his Ward when there were no distractions.

  The girl did not appear to be daunted by his cool greeting and carried on with her side of the conversation. “I’m Kayla and we are in the same English class.”

  “Is that right?” Dane asked absently.

  “Yes,” she said with her crooked smile. “I sat two seats over from you. We could do our homework together now if you’d like. I don’t know about you, but I find poetry to be so boring and I would appreciate any help you could give me.”

  Dane finally decided to end this, so he reluctantly turned away from Bryn and gave Kayla his attention. She had a look of anticipation on her face that Dane knew would go away as soon as he said, “I’m sorry, but I would rather be by myself right now.”

  A flicker of surprise shot through Kayla’s eyes and she said in a
terse voice, “I beg your pardon. I thought that with you being a new student, you might want to have a friend in school.”

  “Thank you for the offer, but I neither need nor want any new friends.”

  Kayla was obviously confused. Her face turned red and she stood up from the table. “I’ll just leave you to yourself then.”

  “Thank you. I appreciate it,” said Dane from years of ingrained politeness. He turned his attention back to Bryn just in time to see the lock of hair fall over her ear. It fell again, he thought in amusement and paid no more attention to the blonde girl who left his table.
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