“What about you?” Fay asked Lin. “What has your life been like before you came to Home and what do you want to learn and do?”
“My life is boring,” Lin said with conviction. “I’m not allowed to go anywhere with friends. I can’t pick what I wear or wear make-up. I have my com pad looked at every few days by my mom, and she flies in a tizzy if anything I’ve said is true.”
“Give me an example of this campaign against truth,” Faye asked, dubious.
“Oh, if I say anything about my teachers. Sorry, you seem to be an actual human being, but some of the teachers they gave me… They seem to have the soul sucked out of them before they are allowed to teach. If you ask a question they don’t know the answer, then you are a trouble maker. And if you question something they say is a fact they go ballistic.”
“Ah, I see.”
“Do you really?” Lin asked skeptically. “Or do you want me to pretend everything is just fine, joy, joy, and not make waves like everybody else?”
“I’m here,” Faye said, putting her tea mug down in front of her. “You are over here,” she said, taking Lin’s mug out of her hand planting it on the table in front of her. “Your mom is over here,” she said pulling an empty mug from the rack and positioning it to the side.
“I can see what motivates you, and I can see what motivates her,” she said waving at the empty mug. “I’m detached enough not to be totally invested in either of you. I’d like to have you as a student, which could give me some satisfaction, and I’d like to take your mom’s money, because that’s what other reward you get from a business. But neither is strong enough motivation to play the ugly game you all had to play on Earth,” she explained, with a dark look.
“Here, I am a private school and business. I want to make my student’s parents happy, but only within the limits of accomplishing the goals we agree on. Neither the parents nor Home can tell me what to do. If I don’t like what your parents demand I can tell them to take their little darling back and educate him or her themselves. I don’t need the school or the income to survive. If my student is a horrible abrasive person who makes me or the other students unhappy and doesn’t want to be in my school I’ll send them home. It doesn’t matter if the parents want them here, I’m running a school not a prison. The schools you went to had to accept basically every student who lived in the district. I don’t,” she assured Lin.
“If the Home Assembly tried to tell me how to run my school, or that I had to indoctrinate patriotism in my students, I’d tell them to go to hell, and inform my family we need a second revolution already.”
That rattled Lin. At home a teacher who used a curse word could be suspended. One who repeated it could be fired. And besides revolution she’d said hell…
“So if I don’t want to be here I can go home? Lin asked, unbelieving.
“Not only that. I’d refund all your Mom’s money. It’s stupid to make anyone unhappy with you so early in starting up a business. In a small community that matters a lot.”
“At home if I skipped a day they would arrest me if the cops saw me out on the street. I’d never get in the mall or on a bus but they’d call the cops. And they’d fine my folks.”
“I suspect you are finding it hard to believe, but Home is not North America. I assume you have never been to another country before?” Faye asked.
Lin shook her head no.
“Maybe if we spoke a different language and wore weird clothes it would be easier to believe,” Faye speculated. “We have almost no laws. If your mom decides to home school you, or your brother, nobody is going to come by and stick their nose in her business. Nobody will demand you take standardized state tests. There are no Social Services or Family Court.”
“What if I think one of your tutors is stupid?” Lin asked.
“I’d be shocked. Boring, irritating, repulsive, or on a completely different wavelength than you maybe, but none of them have tutored for private fees, where they can be dismissed at will, by being stupid. If one drives you bonkers sucking on his teeth or tapping his foot on the deck I’d encourage you to rise above letting petty issues distract you. We all need a certain level of socialization. None of us can run amok down the corridors elimination all the folks we find irritating, no matter how attractive it is on occasion. You can always kindly tell them what they are doing irritates you,” she suggested.
“But if you are really a bad match and their style of instruction just isn’t helping you I’d dismiss them and see who else we could get. It happens. There are a very few subjects so exotic that only one person tutors them. I believe Ms. Hoarsh is the only one who teaches fine furniture making, and Jonathan Truboni is the only one who teaches saber, but I somehow can’t see you taking up either,” Faye joked.
“Saber?” Lin asked dubiously. “Is that software?”
Faye drew an invisible saber, cocking her wrist convincingly at the end, and swirled a
horizontal moulinette, ending with her elbow bent vertically looming over Lin. You could almost see the glint off the blade it was so convincing.
“That’s what I thought you meant. Not my thing,” she agreed.
“Yet it is offered at many Earth universities, and is an Olympic sport,” Faye assured her.
“Are you going to contact my old school and get my transcript and grades? Lin asked. Are you was definitely a step closer to yes than would you.
“Lin Honey, my opinion of the public schools Earthside is so low I don’t see any point in it. I trust neither their system or their motives. Figure you start fresh up here.”
Lin leaned back and actually relaxed a little. Maybe she’d try it a few days. After all if it was horrible she could go home. She told her so. There would be hell to pay with her mom of course, but they couldn’t throw her in jail for it, she realized now.
“What day do you want me to start?”