“My mother used to tell me stories,” Magh said, staring at the papers in her hand. “On my world—my homeworld, not the colony where I grew up—magic was a part of daily life. My people were witches and wizards, shamans and sorcerers. But I never believed her… until I came here. I only wish….”
She looked away. Tears began to well in her eyes again.
“You think about her a lot, don’t you?” Frederica said.
“I try not to,” Magh said. “But so many things remind me of her, especially in this program. I probably should have expected this would happen when I decided to follow in her footsteps.”
“Yeah, probably,” Frederica said. “But I’m sure she’d be happy you’re doing it.”
Magh smiled and rubbed her eyes.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be so depressing,” she said. “I don’t really talk to new people very often. I shouldn’t be burdening you with my pain.”
“It’s no burden,” Frederica said. “I have another friend who lost his mother when he was young. I’ve helped him through plenty of rough times over the years. I’ve always tried to be there for him when he needs me. So I really don’t mind at all.”
Even as she said the words, she felt like a liar. Where had she been for Tommy over the last few months?
“You’re one of the nicest humans I’ve met,” Magh said.
“God, I hope not,” she said, and smiled. “So what class do you have next?”
Magh took out her schedule, printed in English with alien scribbles beside each item. They were in quite a few of the same classes. Next up was Fundamentals of Photojournalism.
“Do you want to walk together?” Frederica asked.
Frederica spent the rest of the day translating notes and instructions and lectures. She liked feeling useful; it distracted her from her own uncertainties. Magh bought Frederica lunch as a thank you, and they exchanged phone numbers at the end of the day, with plans to meet up again to practice English.