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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Intermezzo

Chapter 7

Takara didn’t hear anything more about her attending the field trip, and she didn’t ask. She waited for Patty to mention it, but she didn’t. As the day approached, she figured Mr. Tyler had given her teacher an excuse as to why she couldn’t attend. It was probably only the possibility that he could be blamed somehow for her not being able to go that he had objected to. He probably didn’t want the questions. As for his objecting to Takara bringing up the fact she possibly couldn’t attend the field trip? Why wouldn’t she have had doubts about that? What, with all the restrictions he had her adhere to — it only stood to reason she would wonder. And what was more, she could very well see him changing his mind at the last minute in order to mess with her head. In fact, every time she logged in to that one class, she was surprised to find her name hadn’t been removed from the roster. Takara had no intention of giving Mr. Tyler the satisfaction of reacting to any of his mind games.

Takara lay upon her bed and stared at the ceiling. It was a Friday and, while that used to be a joy for her, she now found herself with nothing to do. It was actually the copious amounts of free time she had that wore on her the most. She sighed. That was the moment Patty came into the room.

“Takara.” she stated. “Why aren’t you dressed yet?”

Takara looked at the woman quizzically.

“Your field trip …” Patty added impatiently.

“I’m going?” Takara wondered.

“Mr. Tyler said you would be difficult about it. He said to make sure you went …”

Instead of letting Patty finish her lecture, Takara stood and began to assemble her belongings. She decided to hurry lest they change their minds. Still, she waited for Patty to leave before retrieving the letter she had written for her mother.

Takara had begun moving the letter around the room when it was dark. She also figured someone would be less likely to search the same place twice. And though Takara concluded it was probably silly, it did give her a sliver of self-determination — something she’d been lacking for quite a while.

Today, Takara slid the letter up one of her long shirt sleeves. It was probably a warm spring day, but Takara figured her health issues would answer any questions they might have as to the reason she had dressed warmly, so that she wouldn’t have to.

After she was dressed, Takara got some surprising news. Instead of being driven to her destination, Mr. Tyler had arranged for her to take the bus. Takara tried to temper her shock that he expected her to wait outside for a bus the very first time she left the house after her coma. But then, she knew how it would look if she protested — as though she wanted special treatment — so she just nodded and let them escort her down the long, winding driveway to the side of the road.

Since they put her out early, she had time to wait and time to realize just how weak she had become between the coma and the captivity. Then, there was the fact she was standing alone in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly, she wondered whether she should just throw caution to the wind and escape right then. Then again, where could she go that Mr. Tyler wouldn’t find her? She realized at that moment that her situation could get worse. Then, before she could go any further with this train of thought, she noticed that there was one security camera pointed right at her. Takara looked away and froze under its prying eye.

Fortunately, the bus pulled up not long after. Takara’s first instinct when she boarded the bus was to apologize to the other students for making them go so far out of their way in order to retrieve her. But then, she decided, if Mr. Tyler were to hear about it he would probably view that statement as a personal insult.

As it turned out, it didn’t seem to matter. Most of the students seemed to be completely uninterested in her. Then again, why should they be interested? Theirs wasn’t an abnormal reaction once Takara got to thinking about it. She probably wouldn’t look at every person who stepped onto the bus. And at least this meant that the extra distance the bus had traveled hadn’t caused the other students to become annoyed with her. Takara did manage to make eye contact with one of the students. Of course, he eventually looked away.

Takara took a seat in the middle of the bus. She leaned back in the seat. Still, even though she was being driven away from the Institute, she couldn’t completely shake that feeling of anxiety she had had since learning her father was dead. She was out in the world now, but there was no real sense of relief. Maybe it was because she knew she’d have to go back to the Institute later on that day. Or, maybe it went deeper than that. After all, she had never had a chance to say good-bye to her father, never attended the funeral. There was no one to grieve with: he was just gone.

Takara suddenly wanted to find his grave and visit it. But this trip, this only reprieve from her prison sentence at the Institute, was for a different purpose; it was to learn. Takara managed to cheer herself up by remembering that it was her father’s work that they were studying. She knew a little about the subject, too. Those nights when she would go to see him in his office — sometimes he would explain his ideas to her. It was probably to occupy her while he finished up whatever project had captivated his mind. But, still, she grew to enjoy it all the same. He’d even told her once that she had a natural ability for his work. At the time, she wondered whether he was just being her father. But after starting this course, she began to see that it was true. And she figured in this small way she could hold on to him. Certainly, she felt her father would be pleased she was following in his footsteps. It would probably be the only aspect of her current life he would be happy with.

The bus slowly rolled to a stop in front of a three-story building with tinted windows. There was a bright sign in the front declaring it to be a virtual reality center.

Takara braced herself for the inevitable falling forward followed by the falling back that came with riding the bus. Then, Miss Harrington stood at the front of the bus and gave the students instructions on the day’s assignment. She sent a copy to the students on their tablets. Takara reddened. She didn’t have a tablet. Then suddenly, as though sensing her concern, Miss Harrington announced that she had a tablet in hand that had been purchased for Takara.

Takara didn’t know what to make of that. Takara released the top of the seat in front of her, which she had been grasping, and sat back in her seat. On the one hand, it was a relief; on the other hand, Takara found it strange. Mr. Tyler on his own volition had probably arranged it. He was very aware of everything she did apparently. Only he didn’t just give her the tablet beforehand for some reason. Could it be that he didn’t want her to have it at home? Takara blushed thinking about the embarrassment that would ensue if her tablet was taken away from her at the end of the day. Miss Harrington stepped off the bus and headed into the building. One by one, the other students filed off.

It was then that Takara felt a wave of exhaustion. She braced herself. Was she even well enough to be doing this? That’s when Takara noticed that a boy, the boy who had looked at her before, had paused next to her on his way off the bus. She looked over at him.

“Are you all right?” the boy asked her. He had a serious look on his face.

Takara considered briefly. She looked down for a moment. Then, she finally looked back at him.

“Yeah, I think I’ll be fine.” she replied.

The boy smiled briefly then continued on. Takara pulled herself up and made the effort to catch up with the others.

As Takara met up with the group inside the building, Miss Harrington began to speak.

“Well, we’re going to start with a tour.” she announced.

Miss Harrington looked off to the side, and a man from the Virtual Reality Gaming Complex came forward. Takara wasn’t sure whether the tour was a good or bad thing for her. Takara wouldn’t have to think much to make it through the day, but she would have to walk. Fortunately, there was an elevator to ride on when the tour headed for the second and third floors.

There were many things of interest in the complex. Of particular interest to Takara was a computer room with the most advanced computers on the colony. With them, the students could run their own virtual reality programs. Each computer had its own booth with a tabletop to place items such as tablets on.

Another area of interest was the virtual reality corridor. Takara’s heart leapt when she heard that her father had designed those rooms and had donated the money to build them. They were apparently a smaller version of what was at the Institute. Next, there was automation. That was a more recent addition. Takara’s father would read a lot of his plans for the automation program to her. Of particular interest to him was combining the two concepts. Actually, that was what he was working on right before his death.

For a second, Takara thought the others might ask her about the facilities at the Institute. The truth was that she had never seen the facilities there; she just knew they existed. She had gotten the impression that they consisted of many large rooms that linked together, and that they even extended underground. Takara was relieved, though a bit surprised, when no one turned to her while they were discussing her father’s work. Part of her wanted to talk about her father, but since she was afraid what she might be asked if she brought it up she didn’t volunteer any information.

Then again, as Takara scanned the group of other students she did notice that one student, the same one who had approached her on the bus, had turned and looked at her when her father’s full name was mentioned.

“Could it be?” Takara wondered. “Could he know who I am?”

Takara considered.

“He does look somewhat familiar.” Takara admitted to herself. But was she just fooling herself?

Suddenly, Miss Harrington announced that they would be trying out the computers with the time remaining. Only since she hadn’t reserved the computers ahead of time, there weren’t enough computers available for all of the students. So, they would have to take turns.

Takara was not one of the first students chosen, but that boy from before was. Takara decided she may as well observe his experience. When she walked into the computer lab and began to look for the boy, she noticed an alcove she hadn’t spotted before. It jutted out from the rest of the room. The most unusual part of it was that the walls of the room were transparent. Takara kept her eyes on the view as she made her way into the room. The main room and the entrance below began to unfold before her. Then, right to her left was the boy from before and a couple of other students observing. Takara crept in beside them. Her attention was split between what was happening below her and what was on the screen. Takara began to slowly tap her toe against the floor. After a few moments, the boy turned and looked at her. She turned and looked at him in return. Then, she smiled softly. He nodded then went back to his work.

Takara’s brow furrowed a bit. It was probably nothing after all. He had indeed seemed familiar, but it was probably just wishful thinking on her part, she concluded. She was so desperate to find someone who knew her — or at least who knew of her from better times — that she had started to believe she recognized this boy. It was actually a bitter disappointment. Maybe she could still build a friendship with a fellow student anyway … but that probably wouldn’t go unnoticed by the teacher. And could she even trust that student if she did reach out? Would that person trust her? Takara decided a new friendship would only work under these circumstances if that person trusted her right away and believed that her judgment could be relied upon. How could she expect that from a total stranger? She had made the mistake of hoping Patty would be on her side, but that hadn’t lasted. And what had been more disturbing was that Takara still hadn’t figured out why the woman’s attitude toward her had changed so drastically. She could only assume it had something to do with Mr. Tyler. Takara sighed.

“Can you see the screen, all right?” the boy asked her unexpectedly.

Takara looked down at him and saw a flash of recognition in his eyes. Could it be?

“All right, students. Please finish up what you’re doing and meet me in the lobby.” Miss Harrington pronounced.

As a couple of students pushed forward to get a last-minute glimpse of the screen, Takara decided to head for the elevator. She was tired. Overall, it was a good day, but her body yearned to lie down again. It was frustrating to realize that after wanting to leave the Institute for so long she wasn’t capable of making the most of this rare opportunity to be free of it. Her fatigue did have one positive effect on her; it made her determined to get stronger.

Once she got into the hallway, she saw the teacher standing at the entrance to the lobby. She was making some sort of a phone call. Takara just walked forward as usual — that is until she heard her name mentioned. Takara froze.

“Yes, we’ll be leaving right now. Yes, she’s doing fine. All right, good-bye.”

The teacher hung up. Takara released her breath as her teacher turned and saw her standing there.

“Takara … A woman called from the Institute to check up on you. I told her you were fine. I hope I didn’t overstep.”

Takara shook her head. The teacher smiled.

“I think you had a good day, but we’d better get you back.”

Takara frowned and looked off to the side.

“Yes.” she forced herself to say.

Fortunately, that boy came upon them then.

“Kenji, right?” the teacher asked.

“Yes.” The boy pushed up his glasses.

“Well, we’d all better get going.”

Takara looked at the boy named Kenji briefly as he walked past her. She thought about trying to walk next to him. But given how ill she was feeling, she doubted she could keep up with his pace. So, she decided against it. After all, trying to hold him back as though she had something important to tell him might seem incredibly suspicious. Kenji might be her only link to the outside world — that is if she didn’t blow it in the meantime.

It wasn’t until she was standing there facing the bus that she remembered her letter. Takara froze in place. It seemed as though the plan was to return to this place one day, but when? It could be weeks from now. Being at the Institute now was bad enough, but having to wait to even mail the letter that could allow her to escape seemed almost unbearable.

“Takara? Are you coming?” the teacher called from the bus.

Takara blinked. Then, almost as though Miss Harrington could tell what she was thinking, she added, “We’ll come back here soon.”

The word “soon” wasn’t exactly specific, but it was reassuring, nonetheless. Certainly, it gave Takara just enough will to spur her legs towards the bus. Still, she sighed when she retook her seat. It was disheartening to be returning to the Institute. It was as though she was on a rail, and she couldn’t get off. Takara bemoaned the fact that she couldn’t force herself to leave this train and claim her own path again. Where was this path leading anyway? Maybe it was crazy, but it didn’t feel good wherever it was going. Takara tried to convince herself that she had made progress that day towards freedom despite the fact that she had failed in her most important task: sending that letter on its way. But then there was Kenji; he could be important. She dare not look at him now, but she did see him get on the bus. Somehow, knowing someone might know who she used to be was comforting.

“All right. We seem to be missing one.” Miss Harrington checked the list. “Has anyone seen Erik Lancaster?” she asked.

People looked amongst one another. Then, a voice called out from the back, “I think I saw a guy head into the virtual reality corridor when all the computers were taken.”

“Oh.” She turned to the bus driver. “Oh. It’ll just be a moment. I’ll go find him.”

Miss Harrington headed off the bus and into the complex. It wasn’t all that long afterward that she returned with a boy, who appeared to be a bit younger than Takara and Kenji. He looked a little embarrassed as he stepped onto the bus. Still, he held the light brown hair atop his head high in spite of it.

“All right.” Miss Harrington breathed. “We can go anytime.”

The bus driver started the bus. And with a slight jostling of the students in their seats, they were off. The bus petered along dropping off one student at a time. Takara sighed. She might as well relax. After all, this was going to take awhile.

Suddenly, the bus came to an abrupt stop.

“What?!” Miss Harrington exclaimed aloud.

Takara and the other remaining students peered over the top of their seats.

“It’s okay, everyone. It’s just a tree limb.”

Suddenly, there was a loud noise in front of them and to their left. All the students seemed to turn simultaneously towards it. Then, despite Miss Harrington’s protestations, they headed to the left side of the bus in order to watch a giant … something moving off into the distance toward their right while destroying everything in its wake.

The thing was a bulky reddish creature about two-stories tall. It resembled a lobster.

“What’s that? It’s alive!” one student commented.

“No, it’s not alive.” Takara spoke up. The group turned toward her. “It’s just a robot.”

“Cool! It’s a robot!”

The students began to chatter among themselves. It was as though this was part of the course experience. Takara just kind of stared at the robot in disbelief. It was just like the automation that her father had envisioned, but the scale — that was unexpected. Takara then looked over and saw the horrified expression on Miss Harrington’s face. All the teacher kept repeating was that if they’d made it to that spot moments earlier — if they hadn’t been running late — they would have been crushed. After the creature had left their line of sight, the bus driver suggested he find an alternative route to progress. Miss Harrington seemed eager to leave the area, so they backed up and headed down a side street.

Just like that morning, Takara’s place of residence was the last stop. As she passed by Miss Harrington, she noticed that the woman was still pale. Takara paused. It really was a big deal to almost die. Takara had acknowledged that reality in her mind but wouldn’t allow herself to really feel it. After all, no one at the Institute acted as though Takara’s near-death experience had been a big deal. Takara was moved by sudden compassion, and she said to Miss Harrington in a tone she wished someone would speak to her in and with the words she secretly wished they would say: “It’ll be all right. You’ve been through a lot, but you’re still here. And tomorrow is bound to be better.”

Miss Harrington turned and looked at Takara. Takara was expecting a disapproving look to cross the woman’s face given the way she was treated at the Institute; instead, Miss Harrington broke into a beautiful smile. Then, she suddenly hugged Takara. Finally, she whispered, “Thank you, Takara. You take care of yourself.” The woman let the girl go, and Takara smiled back at her. Then, she forced herself to head off the bus and start the long walk up the driveway.

Should she have given Miss Harrington the letter? That’s almost all Takara could think about as she slowly plodded on. Takara stopped to catch her breath a moment. “When am I going to take action?” she chastised herself.

Takara had never had trouble asserting herself before. Why was she so indecisive now? It was as though she was limping along emotionally, incapable of rebalancing herself. Yet, the biggest thing — literally — that Takara thought about was that large robot that had torn through the forest and toppled those trees.

Where had it come from? Maybe the news would have a story on it — if she ever got back to the Institute. Then again, to even watch the news she would have to have permission from Mr. Tyler to stay in the atrium for a while. After all, the television sets were only left on during the work day.

“Takara!” Miss Harrington’s voice suddenly called after her in a frantic tone.

The woman came running up to Takara over the short distance Takara had been able to cover. The bus was still waiting behind the woman. Takara was unnerved that Miss Harrington appeared to be out of breath.

“Takara …” she gasped.

“Yes?”

“I need … I need your tablet back.”

 

***

 

By the time Takara made it up the steep incline of the driveway, she found she was very thirsty and, of course, tired. No one at the reception desk seemed to lift their eyes as she passed by on her way in. So, she slipped into the elevator and got off on her floor. Takara, upon entering the building, thought she might stop by her room before checking to see whether she could watch the television in the atrium. But as she passed by the atrium, the television was turned on, and it drew her attention. There was the story about the robot, and a whole group of people were standing in front of the television. Mr. Tyler was among them. Takara came up behind the group and stood there watching the footage different news agencies had managed to gather. That’s when Takara noticed that one of the receptionists she’d seen at the receptionist desk over a year ago appeared to be crying. Could it be a relative of hers had been hurt?

“Has something tragic happened?” Takara asked. The question was directed at the woman.

The woman turned and gasped. Then, Mr. Tyler and a bunch of other people turned towards Takara as well. Takara was confused.

“You should be in your room!” Mr. Tyler quickly barked at her.

Takara flushed with embarrassment. She quickly turned on her heels and walked as fast as she could back to her room. She couldn’t recall having taken a breath until she secured the door behind her. She went and grabbed the pitcher of water from her dresser and poured herself a drink. She sat on the bed and proceeded to consume the water.

“What was that about?” Takara wondered. Was it really that easy for her to mess up? One thing was for sure; the fact they were that reactive to her showed the problem was obviously them and not her. Still, it was bothersome — both because she had to live among them and because it meant she wouldn’t be able to find out more about the incident with that strange robot.

“Something just seemed oddly familiar about it.” Takara concluded.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2019

Nocturne’s Reaping® : Intermezzo

Chapter 6

Takara was glad when the first day of school finally came. She even got dressed in her old school uniform for the occasion. Fortunately, it all still fit. She wanted to pretend things were normal as much as possible. She decided to make the best of her living situation for now. What choice did she have really?

In the meantime, she hoped she could feel normal again for a while even if her school was merely online …

 

***

 

Kenji Moto [Ken-jee Mo-to] wasn’t too pleased with the situation he found himself in. After all, he’d been looking forward to summer vacation. And yet, his parents were going to Colony 11. His mother had been assigned the task of upgrading the atmospheric regulator in that colony during the upcoming academic year. And despite protests from Kenji that he could stay behind for those few months, his parents weren’t having it. So, in order for him not to fall behind in his studies in the fall, they had him enter an online academy in the summer. His parents thought it would be a great opportunity for him since he was actually pretty smart … or so they said.

“So I get punished because I’m smart?” he retorted.

His parents just laughed. Kenji grimaced. They never did take him seriously. He sighed and sat next to the computer. He played with the mouse.

“Why? Why me?” he mumbled. He could hear his parents laughing down the hall. Kenji spun around in his chair, staring at the ceiling while he waited for the first class to begin.

“Boring.” he said aloud. Then, he caught himself lest he unwittingly cause another round of riotous laughter. He next faced the computer and, leaning his face against his hand, he waited. His eyes started to drift shut. Why did this have to be so early? Oh, that’s right. After this session, he had to go to his regular school and complete the day there. He’d have to keep up this schedule until the end of the semester. That was the moment he saw it: a name he thought he recognized on the class list.

“Takahashi, Takara … no, it couldn’t be.”

He clicked on her profile, but there was no information listed. Was she stuck as he was in this before-school program? Kenji didn’t know Takara well. She was the class president this past school year. She was actually in Class C, and he was in Class A of Level 7. He had seen her give a speech, and occasionally he saw her in the cafeteria. She seemed nice enough, though he never got the chance to say hello to her because one day she just disappeared. No one in Class A talked about it, and Kenji just assumed she moved.

Kenji considered. Maybe he should message her and ask her whether she was the same Takara he knew. But before he had a chance to click on the message link, the teacher’s face appeared on-screen. Kenji jumped back slightly and adjusted his glasses. Much to his dismay, he could hear his parents laughing again.

Kenji was pleasantly surprised by the topic of the class. It was entitled, “Advancements in Virtual Reality and Automation.” The topic was of interest to Kenji; in fact, he even thought of working for the Institute someday. Actually, he had once heard that Takara’s father worked there. Maybe it was the same girl after all; maybe she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps.

“All right. My name is Miss Harrington.” a voice came over the speaker of the computer. “I will be your teacher for this course. Well, let’s start this course by introducing ourselves … in a manner of speaking anyway. What I mean is please turn on the camera app on your computers.”

Kenji did as she requested. One by one small boxes with live images of the students appeared on-screen. The teacher’s picture was in the center. The eight other slots surrounding hers were reserved. Each slot had the name of the student underneath it.

“Oh, no.” Kenji thought suddenly.

He concluded there was no way to avoid attending these class lectures. He couldn’t just do the homework on his own time; the teacher could see if he wasn’t there. He groaned. Just having to look at his tousled black hair and his plain blue t-shirt as shown in his screenshot put him in a bad mood. He hadn’t thought his appearance would matter in an online course. Now he wished he had put a little more effort into the way he looked. Finally, the last picture came into view. It was actually she — the Takara from his school!

“I can’t believe it!” Kenji exclaimed.

“Who said that?” the teacher’s voice asked.

The other students shook their heads.

“It was I.” Kenji finally admitted. “It’s nothing.”

“Okay. Well, I’m sorry you haven’t been given your texts for this course yet. I understand the reading materials for the other courses — for those of you who are taking more than one course — have already been made available to you. The thing is I was just recently assigned to teach this course. However, I will make the reading supplements available to you by tonight. Oh, and I want to have field trips or at least some meetups so we can work on our studies firsthand. I figure in about a week we might meet at the Virtual Reality Gaming Complex.”

There were cheers all around.

“So, maybe next Friday. I will arrange to have a bus available to pick you up, if needed. Just print off the form and have a parent or guardian sign it. Oh, wait does anyone think there might be a problem? A scheduling conflict perhaps?”

Most of the students shook their heads “no” or said “no” except for one — that one student was Takara.

“Umm …” Takara started.

“Yes? Does someone have a problem?”

Kenji saw Takara look down for a moment.

“The thing of it is … I’m not sure I’m allowed to … go anywhere.” she admitted.

At the moment she admitted she was housebound, Takara wondered whether she should also admit she was trapped. But that could lead Mr. Tyler to make up stories about her just as he probably had with Patty. Still, it was very tempting. On the other hand, what she said was true. She wasn’t able to leave the house. Mr. Tyler would probably just tell the teacher that she was too sick to leave and that would be the end of that.

“Oh, well, I’m sorry to hear that.” Miss Harrington said. “I will have to give that one some thought.”

“All right.” Takara replied. “All right.”

The next day, Takara was summoned to see Mr. Tyler in the atrium. She grumbled, wondering what this could be about. She slid out of bed and began dressing herself.

“He better make this quick.” she thought. Her first class began in thirty minutes. Still, Takara felt conflicted. Should she walk there as quickly as possible to avoid being yelled at, or should she do what she suddenly felt like doing and drag her feet — proving she had some small amount of self-determination left? She sighed. She did still have things she could lose if she got decidedly on his bad side. Of course, walking quickly gave her less time to consider how she should act when she got there. Pretty much from the beginning Mr. Tyler hadn’t seemed to expect her to be friendly towards him —which was strange considering she barely knew him. Still, Takara guessed that he would be more suspicious of her if she put on a happier face now. It was true that she wanted to be treated better. Never before had people been so wary of her … so hostile. Takara couldn’t grasp what had happened. You’d think they’d have some sympathy for her; she had just been released from the hospital after months in a coma. Her father had died in the same accident that put her there. And yet, she was treated as though she were a manipulative brat. What had she done to these people? She had no history with them. She racked her brain trying to come up with a slight she had given them, but there was none that she could remember.

And yet, here she was — treated like some sort of criminal in her own home, summoned as though she needed to go to the principal’s office. Takara came upon the atrium, the room in which she had experienced some of her fondest memories. As she stood in the foyer, she found it wasn’t the same room. It was as though her cherished memories could never have happened here.

Mr. Tyler was in a meeting with another person. Takara wondered whether the meeting was about her. Maybe she had to meet with this man, too. Perhaps they were going to send her away. But then, Mr. Tyler excused himself from the gentleman’s company. He stood and walked towards Takara. When he got to her, he guided her back into the hall. Takara prepared herself for any emotional whim Mr. Tyler felt like displaying. She figured he could be nice to her one of these times just to throw her off. Most likely, however, he’d be just as skeptical and disapproving of her as he had been. Maybe she’d get a lecture about leaving her room and going into her father’s office. As it turned out, it was a lecture — only it wasn’t about her father’s office.

“Takara.” he said with familiarity. “I got a message from one of your teachers.”

Takara’s brow furrowed. She was perplexed. Certainly it was too early in the term for anyone to have any complaints about her. Was this some sort of game? Perhaps he was toying with her.

“She said you told her that you had a problem with one of the course requirements.”

He seemed to be waiting for her to say something. When she said nothing, he continued, “The field trip. You actually said you couldn’t go.”

“So?” Takara returned.

“So, you didn’t even ask me.”

“I just assumed given what happened when I asked to go to school …”

Mr. Tyler looked grim.

“The field trip isn’t optional.” he said. “So, you can go.”

“Thank you.” Takara offered.

Though her response was far from over the top, Mr. Tyler looked skeptical but said nothing. Takara was, in fact, grateful to go. But apparently Mr. Tyler wouldn’t believe any positive emotion coming from her … for some reason. Takara noted that in the future she should not appear to be too excited about anything he did for her, not if she didn’t want him to retract the offer later.

“Anyway, I have to get back to work. I’ll be sure to have your teacher contacted about this.” He paused. “… You can head back to your room now.”

Takara nodded then watched as Mr. Tyler turned around and headed away from her and toward the other man. Takara considered. She decided to turn away and get out of there. True, it was tempting to linger around the other people gathered there and feel normal for a moment. She was growing tired of being kept in the same room. Not being able to choose her own schedule heightened this feeling of being trapped.

Still, once she got outside of his scope of vision Takara slowed down significantly. They may be able to tell her where to go, but from that point on she would control how fast she got there. Since her meeting with Mr. Tyler had been so brief, Takara found she still had plenty of time before her first class. She sighed when she finally caught sight of her room. With her homework done, Takara only had thinking about what Mr. Tyler was going to say to her teacher to occupy her time until the morning class began.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2019

PSALM 39

To the chief Musician, even to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David.

 

I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.

I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.

My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,

LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am [Or, what time I have here].

Behold, Thou hast made my days as an hand breadth; and mine age is as nothing before Thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.

And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in Thee.

Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.

I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because Thou didst it.

Remove Thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of Thine hand.

When Thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, Thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not Thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.

O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

 

PSALM 38

A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance.

 

O LORD, rebuke me not in Thy wrath: neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure.

For Thine arrows stick fast in me, and Thy hand presseth me sore.

There is no soundness in my flesh because of Thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.

For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.

I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.

For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.

I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.

Lord, all my desire is before Thee; and my groaning is not hid from Thee.

My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.

My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen [Or, my neighbours] stand afar off.

They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.

But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.

Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs.

For in Thee [Or, Thee do I wait for], O LORD, do I hope: Thou wilt hear [Or, answer], O Lord my God.

For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me.

For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me.

For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.

But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.

They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is.

Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me.

Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.

 

 

Exodus 7

And the LORD said unto Moses, “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

“Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.

“And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.

“But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay My hand upon Egypt, and bring forth Mine armies, and My people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.

“And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth Mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.”

And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they.

And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.

And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

“When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, ‘Shew a miracle for you’: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, ‘Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.’ ”

And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.

Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.

For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.

And He hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

And the LORD said unto Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.

“Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river’s brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand.

“And thou shalt say unto him, ‘The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.”

“‘Thus saith the LORD, “In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.

“‘“And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river.” ’ ”

And the LORD spake unto Moses, “Say unto Aaron, ‘Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone.’ ”

And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.

And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said.

And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also.

And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.

And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river (Exodus 7:1-25).

Romans 13

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained [Or, ordered] of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

For this, “THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, THOU SHALT NOT KILL, THOU SHALT NOT STEAL, THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, THOU SHALT NOT COVET” ; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, “THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF.”

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Romans 13: 1-14).

Isaiah 20

In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it;

At the same time spake the LORD by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot.” And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.

And the LORD said, “Like as My servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia;

“So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.

“And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.

“And the inhabitant of this isle shall say in that day, ‘Behold, such is our expectation, whither we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria: and how shall we escape?’ ” (Isaiah 20: 1-6)