"Tales Out of School"
Week 5, Day 5
Ashley had discovered something
new and interesting to do with her time.
She couldn't go to an ordinary school anymore,
unless she wore her iso-suit with its tight,
scratchy seams. SPAZMAT had brought in
an educational consultant who was such a dork
that Ashley felt tempted to tuck him behind her
to protect him from the jocks and the bullies.
Kent Authement had coaxed out her interests in
the macabre, which wasn't hard, but he'd also
discovered her taste for certain branches of
classic literature and other things deeply buried.
He even talked Ashley into enrolling
in Zydeco, a cyberschool for people who
couldn't attend ordinary classes or else
found them somehow insufficient.
To her surprise, Ashley enjoyed it, not only
because the quirky classes intrigued her but also
because the school seemed to be a grease-trap
for every geek, freak, goth, and weirdo in Easy City.
When everyone was that strange,
she just didn't stand out much.
Even though people asked Ashley about
berettaflies approximately as often as ever,
the questions were more about what their guts
looked like (which she didn't know; the dissection
hadn't been published yet) and what it was like
to see in the ultraviolet (which she couldn't explain).
So when Ashley began getting fanmail from
an odd little babygoth, it was only natural
that Ashley told Kaytee about Zydeco.
A while later, Kaytee popped up in
the chatlounge where students could
hang out between their classes.
Ashley: Hey, you made it! What
classes are you taking here?
Kaytee: Macabre Art and Making Friends.
Mom says I have to take one postal class
for every creepy class. Today we drew
a rackoon skull and and a gator.
Ashley struggled to figure out the meaning.
Oh, probably prosocial, that made sense.
Ashley: People say it's good to stay balanced.
I'm taking Easy City Cemeteries and SPOON History.
Want something cool for your art class to draw?
Kaytee: Sure, what is it?
Ashley: My science friends found
another berettafly, dead, and took photos.
They'll be in tomorrow's news but I got copies
this afternoon if folks want to draw them.
She uploaded an image.
Kaytee: AW SOME!1!
Ashley was used to being lonely,
to hiding from people who said one thing
but meant another and kept trying to edit
her reality until it didn't fit her anymore.
She wasn't used to being popular,
to people crowding around her to see
what she brought and saying how cool it was
but she thought, secretly, it was kinda neat.
* * *
Kent Authement -- He has tawny-fair skin, brown eyes, and short dark hair that is receding. He wears a mustache and beard. He wears glasses. He speaks English, Spanish, and Cajun French. Kent works as an educational consultant in Easy City, helping high school and college students to plan their coursework and adults to make plans for continuing education. He also teaches at Zydeco, an online school open to soups, gifted students, disabled people, and others for whom conventional school is inaccessible or unsuitable. The classes offered are decidedly eclectic, with students sorted into them based more on interest and ability than on age.
Qualities: Good (+2) Educational Consultant, Good (+2) Energetic, Good (+2) Fandom Is a Way of Life, Good (+2) Outgoing, Good (+2) Smart
Poor (-2) Such a Dork
* * *
Cyberschool is a popular option for disabled, gifted, or other students who find conventional schools inaccessible or insufficient. T-America adds superpowers to that list. Children who cannot attend regular schools are entitled to help from a home teacher. Adults in the same position get what is called an educational consultant instead, since adults are in charge of their own educational choices.
Zydeco -- Pronounced “zi-de-co” a kind of Cajun dance music that is a combination of traditional Cajun music, mixed with R&B, and African blues.
-- Cajun French Language Dictionary
Macabre art features grotesque and/or funerary motifs. See a gallery. While many of Zydeco's classes are generic such as Making Friends, a lot of them focus on quirky local interests such as cemeteries.
Rose butterflies such as the crimson rose and common rose are components of the berettaflies. They share similarities in the black-and-red body with black-red-white wings. A distinctive fieldmark of the berettaflies not shared by the roses is that berettaflies have a red spot on at the ends of their wingtails. This post about a butterfly garden shows a common rose lying dead on the path, similar to what the scientists found and Ashley shared.