Post by d9f fleur adroxis [fireflyz] on Aug 22, 2020 19:48:06 GMT -5
Before Roger had even become accustomed with the crinkle of pages beneath his fingers, he knew the crinkle of leaves underfoot. His mother would press them into her palm and crumble them into the wind, which he knew now was not magic, but back then it was one of the most enchanting displays he had ever seen. He'd come to appreciate the green and gold farmlands of Eleven mainly because they reminded him of where he came from, even though that place was only defined in his heart.
To anyone else, Roger's home would be nowhere.
He wasn't sure where his parents had come from, or why they had left the districts, if they had ever lived there at all. He'd swing on their arms as the three of them walked through the green forests, listening to them discuss their plans for the day all while never really understanding what they were talking about. Sure, sometimes they talked about where they could get meals (by the corner of Ten where the chickens got loose was ideal), or where they could get medicines (some kindly apothecaries in Twelve), but beyond that, Roger never understood why they had to hide, why they never stayed anywhere for longer than a few days, where they were ever headed. No, his questions were never answered. Roger merely trotted alongside them each day, smile rivaling the sun when he finally did learn something, even as his overall disappointment and confusion grew.
It only continued to grow when his father didn't return from a hunt, even though he knew all the right places to find food. It crept into every crevice of his being when his mother fell ill, even though she knew where to get all the medicine and the apothecaries wouldn't miss their herbs. Her hand was cold when he took it in his. It trembled as it cradled a maple leaf, unable to send the bits flying into the wind. The magic was dead.
Roger's mother held him close, told him that she knew where to go, because of course she did. Knowing was important. If you didn't know anything, you would just be lost. She led him to somewhere new, a place he'd learn was Eleven, and told him to shimmy under the fence.
"Aren't you coming?" he'd asked, and she'd shaken her head.
"Mommy can't come, Ro-ro," she rasped, eyes sunken. "Just find someone. You'll be safe here."
And then, in the greatest trick of her career, she disappeared, and Roger waited by the fence for days for the grand reveal, the grand just kidding, but it never happened. He was weak, stomach roaring and contorting in pain, when someone finally scooped him up and pried his fingers away from the wire fence. Her arms were warm, wrapped in faded wool, and she held him to her chest as she walked.
"What's your name, sonny?" she asked. It was the third question she'd asked, but the only one Roger had heard. He mumbled his name through a mouth full of cotton before fading into unconsciousness. He eventually awoke in a bed, the mattress feeling much stiffer than the pile of moss and leaves he often occupied. His rescuer sat at the foot of the bed, a small cup of potato broth in her hands, and he eventually learned her name was Bridie Fladgate.
Bridie was much older than Roger's mother had been, and he often found himself wondering if she would give up and throw him out when he got to be too much work, but she had a tendency to bounce back from any challenges quicker than anyone Roger had known (which wasn't many people, to be frank.) She'd gotten all his documents together although his lack of knowledge about himself ("How old are you again, kid?""Six? Eight? I don't really know.") combined with her forgetfulness ("Remind me one more time?") proved taxing. His certification said he was seven, smack dab in the middle. It was good enough for both of them. Bridie's last name became his, for Roger was unable to recall if he had even had one in the first place.
His favorite thing about her was how she pulled him onto her knee at night and weaved tales of her own history, of Eleven's history, and made Roger feel like he was actually part of it. Once he was too big to carry around or prop up on a knee, she'd take to sitting at his bedside. Eventually, once Roger was twelve, Bridie began to lend him the few books she had, which he read from cover to cover again and again. As he aged and Bridie became increasingly frail, Roger had to spend less time reading and more time working in the fields. He loved school, but the need to put food on the table forced him to do only the bare minimum. Only when school recessed did he actually get the chance to devour his literature books by candlelight, eyes stinging with fatigue by the time he finally made it to bed.
Roger was 22 when he became alone again. By this point, he'd abandoned his interests entirely, hopping between jobs to avoid going back to the fields. It was honest work, and he deeply admired those that did it, but something about being constantly on the move, spending hours under the sun, collecting enough crop so there would be enough to last for weeks - it all served as a painful reminder for the life he left behind, where everyone around him was wiser than he. He picked up stories from those he encountered on the streets, passed them along to the children that played in the street in front of Bridie's house. Seeing them light up as they weaved their own connections in their heads ignited something deep within Roger, something that didn't fade once the interaction was over but lingered with him for hours, days. He didn't quite understand what it was, but it was something his other jobs had yet to spark.
When he saw the advertisement for Iris Gate College, read the looking for humanities professor, it all clicked. He'd be a teacher, like the ones he'd secretly admired in school but never truly engaged with. He'd see faces light up in a classroom in addition to outside of his window. He'd tell stories like Bridie's, except with a whole team of storytellers behind him.
Roger scribbled away at an application and sent it on, half-expecting to not hear back. He'd never taught before besides tutoring - it wouldn't be a surprise if they didn't take him. But they did, and soon he was standing in front of a brick house on the edge of town, bags in hand, beaming like a young child.
He'd made it somewhere where his voice mattered, where he'd get to know everything and everyone.
He'd found a home that wasn't nowhere, but somewhere.