A Learning Experience: Interlude Six

(occurs after Chapter One, Turn Six [Part Two])

After Bela returns to the Gryphon office, Lydia accompanies her to the parking lot, where she hails an older youth with a fair complexion and platinum hair bound into a thick ponytail that's currently flipped over his left shoulder. He's wearing jeans and a shirt bearing what looks like a hand-drawn cartoon of Snoopy from Peanuts, with a rainbow arching above him. Blazoned across the top of the shirt are the letters "BGL."

"Keighvin!" Lydia calls, waving to him.

The young man moves away from the car he's standing beside -- a gray compact -- and comes over to the two girls, his movements unconsciously graceful. "Hi, sis. I assume you want a ride home." His tone is good-natured, but has shadings of the slightly put-upon air that older brothers everywhere reserve solely for their younger sisters.

Lydia nods, smiling sweetly at him. "Yes, and this is Bela -- we met at the Gryphon meeting, and she wants to talk to you about Beagle. I thought you two could talk about it on the way home."

Keighvin sighs. "My apologies for Lydia's enthusiasm," he quips to Bela, "but since she's already arranged things, I see no harm in talking to such a," he glances at her with appreciation, "lovely young lady." His smile is warm and genuinely friendly.

Bela holds out her hand to shake his, "I'm real pleased to meet you. Like Lydia said, I'm Bela, Bela Katwaroo, I'm new here, and starting on the paper. I would love to hear about your group."

Keighvin leads the two girls over to the gray compact car. He pulls a keychain from his pocket and presses a button on it; the beep from the keychain is answered by the click of the car doors unlocking.

Lydia climbs into the back seat. "This way, you can get out easily when we take you home, and the two of you can talk on the way." she says brightly.

Keighvin's car is older, but surprisingly well cared-for. A sticker on the bumper reads, "Proud to Be Pagan;" another smaller one bears the well-known rainbow symbol.

Keighvin allows Bela to get in on the passenger side and then gets in on the driver's side. When he turns on the ignition, the strains of soft music waft through the car.

As he pulls out of the school parking lot, Keighvin says to Bela, "So, what do you want to know about Beagle?"

"Sure, I want to write a short story for the paper, like a fable, something with a lesson in it, and I want to know what sort of reaction Beagle has received, from students and staff." Bela pauses, "Enough about the bad stuff everyone does, enough to create a composite character that will be the fool of my story. And a enough of the good stuff so I can create a hero."

Keighvin laughs, though there's a touch of a bitter undertone to it. "'The bad stuff everyone does,' hmmm? That could fill a whole book." He takes a deep breath. "Some of the people at this school are so homo- and bi-phobic it's ridiculous. Do you know the deputy headmaster wanted to refuse to sanction us as a school organization because we'd be 'corrupting the students' morals?'" He looks like he's ready to spit in disgust. "We had to fight for almost two years to be recognized."

"I have not met him. So what about the students, and the headmistress, which of the teachers and students are supportive?"

"Dr. Summers is a good sort about it," Keighvin returns, his body visibly relaxing. "And most of the other teachers sort of turn a blind eye to us, but at least they don't denounce us." He chuckles wryly. "With the other students, well, it varies."

"So it has been the typical ignorant name calling? I won't use anyone's names, but well if you could give me names I could observe those people and get a better handle on their personalities, before I create my characters." Bela looks out the window, "And I guess I should tell you where I live..." Bela names the section of town and the street....

"It pretty much has been typical ignorant name-calling," Keighvin acknowledges. "Most of the other students more or less ignore us, though a few -- mostly Crystal Logan, that Homo erectus she calls a boyfriend, and the rest of their circle -- act like we're contagious or something." He sighs. "But then again, they do that to pretty much anyone who doesn't fit in to their exclusive little social circle."

He turns where Bela indicates, then continues. "It's hard on the ones who might want to join, but are feeling pressure to be 'normal' from their friends or families. One of the girls who joined last year spent most of her life having people trying to convince her she wasn't supposed to feel that way about other girls." He sighs again, looking somehow tired. "She's still trying to work through a lot of stuff."

Bela listens intently, and can't stop from smiling when she hears about Crystal. When Keighvin stops speaking, Bela smiles as the words ramble out. "I never gave it much thought to be honest. But I can see your point. I understand that true love wouldn't care about things like gender or race. Ever since my mother remarried and I found out that I have an evil step-sister, I'm been less interested in dating. Just seeing the ends she will go to to 'fit' in. I thought it was bad here, but she was even worse in India. For her finding out that 'fair' is considered beautiful, and being dark is considered unfortunate, I glad she wasn't fluent enough to understand what people were saying, stuff like 'such a pretty face, what a shame she is so dark'. Watching her trying to lighten her skin made me sick. It most be even hard to be different when it is something people expect you to have control over. But who has control over love or attraction? So Crystal is real pain? That doesn't surprise me at all, I was hoping to make her a 'star' of one of my stories." Bela pauses for breath as the car gets closer and closer to her home. "I think I might do the story like a classic parable or fable, with animals, what animal do you like? A wild animal. Crystal will be the outwitted lioness."

Keighvin seems to consider Bela's question for a little bit. "I've always been partial to cats, I guess; I have three at home." He frowns. "Would a cat do, or should I think of something else?"

Bela thinks for a while longer then Keighvin did. "How about a panther or a leopard? Something smaller than a lion, but more graceful." She smiles as thinks of the story, "This might take me long than I hoped... I've never written anything with a sexual/romantic theme. It should be fun."

"I like the panther idea," Keighvin puts in. He starts making his way up the street Bela indicated. "Just let me know when we get to the house, okay?" His grin is self-deprecating. "It's still kinda hard to look and drive at the same time."

Bela blushes, a slight coloring to her dark skin, "Sure, I'll need time to think up the plot. Its right here." Bela gathered her stuff when the car stopped, "If I need to ask more questions... phone, school, what works best for you?"

"Either one works," Keighvin replies. "Here -- I'll give you our number..." he snaps his fingers at his sister and says playfully, "Lydia -- paper."

Lydia fishes in her totebag and lofts a notebook at him. Keighvin accepts it with a smile, and quickly scribbles something on the sheet before tearing it out, folding it in half, and giving it to Bela. "That's my home number, and the one below it is my Mom's shop -- sometimes I'm there in the afternoons."

Bela takes the numbers and can't think of a thing to say, greetings coming easier than partings, "Well I guess I'll see you at school."

"Okay," Keighvin says. "Have a nice afternoon." He pulls away from the curb, Lydia waving to Bela as they drive out of sight.

Time: After school on Friday, September 6, 2002

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This web page copyright 2002 by Midori Hirtzel-Church.
This page first posted -- June 13, 2003
First uploaded to mirror site -- January 10, 2003

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