“Told you I was a great listener,” Nila said. “And if you want my advice? Talk to the boy. If you really care about him, you at least owe him an explanation. What he does with it is up to him. But I’m pretty sure you already know that.”
“I… guess I do.” Frederica took her phone out of her pocket. “No time like the present.”
“Good luck,” Nila said, and withdrew into her room.
Frederica opened her own door and stepped inside. She stared at the phone for a long while before finally typing a message.
“Do you want to meet up for supper tonight?”
Then she replaced “tonight” with “tomorrow night” and sent the message.
In the morning, Frederica skipped all the orientation activities and went straight to her first class, Intro to Journalism. The seats were arranged in semicircles around a podium. A dozen or so students stood around a desk, chatting excitedly. In the middle of them was Cyrus Llewellyn, the instructor.
Cyrus was a fortysomething black man with close-cropped hair and a greying goatee. He spoke with an English accent and smiled and laughed a lot. Much more cheerful than the crusading firebrand Frederica had expected from reading his work.
She took a seat near the back, far from the crowd. She pretended to read a book so nobody would pay any attention to her. She only caught snippets of conversation from the students, enough to know that they were all much more passionate about journalism than she was. She sank deeper into her seat.
Eventually the class started filling up. A waiflike young woman sat beside Frederica. She was an alien, with grey skin, white hair, and long, pointed ears that stuck out from the side of her head. She hugged her elbows and stared down at her knees.
“Why are you here?” Cyrus said, his voice booming.
The chatter in the classroom died and everyone turned to the instructor. He leaned against the podium with his arms crossed, panning his eyes across the crowd. He pointed to a young man sitting in the front row, on the far left.