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Katka, a girl with a severely burnt face and shattered heart, is if off to a special boarding school. What will she find there?


2. Carriages and Musings

I am sitting in a slightly padded carriage with my best and least comfortable dress on, my hollow gaze staring through the mask and out onto the landscape. Though my surroundings are pretty, I only half notice the rolling fields and huge mountains as my mind is on other subjects. More specifically, the boarding school I am going to attend starting today.

The school I will attend is Seorta High, one of the top schools and known for it’s over-indulgence. The reason I will go to this place is The Test, a yearly event where every 13 year old is rounded up and forced to take a test that tells the proctors how much we know. Then we are sorted by physical ability and knowledge into the wealth of schools our country created. Those whose parents didn’t have the means to educate their children are sent to lower-level schools, which would all be well and fine if the lower-level schools were near the quality of the high-level ones. But they’re not.

If you aren’t knowledgeable and physically fit, your life will be 80% harder. In fact, if my parents weren’t so eager to climb the social ladder, and if I weren’t so bored, I would have gone to a much worse school.

Ah well. At least the overindulgence is a good instigator for idiots to try and learn...

With these thoughts swimming about my head, the carriage ride is short but depressing. When we finally stop at the school station of the nearest town (only 1 ½ miles away!!!!) there are a lineup of carriages of varying decadence. I walk to a blue and purple one with gold filigree and a highly padded velvet inside. It has the school name plastered on it with gold leaf and diamonds and is full of children who are wearing the most opulent attire possible. I sigh, fix my most impassive expression upon my (admittedly hidden) visage, and make a move to open the cart. An attendant sitting on the back of the carriage springs up, and before my gloved hand can reach the door handle, swings it open with a flourish. I quickly erase all signs of shock from my face or posture and glide into the lavish carriage. I sink deep into my cushioned seat, glad to have taken the window spot. This will make it much easier to brush off the other passenger’s questions about my mask and gloves, to ignore their curious, patronizing scrutiny.

But this is not needed, as these children, every last one of them disgustingly rich, take one look at my commoner’s clothing and strange appearance and decide that they need not waste their time on my company. My heart sinks a little further in my chest, and am glad that my mask conceals my facial expression, though no one could easily decipher the expressions my face poorly attempts to emulate.

I sit still and straight in my carriage seat, turning my eye upon the big, wide outside.

When we roll out of the station, I don’t feel as much as a shudder from the carriage. It truly is a great feat of engineering...

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