She kept her focus on the papers in front of her. “Mr. Winfield, if you’d prefer to stay out of detention I’d recommend you hold your tongue and leave.”
James scowled. He closed the office door. It thunked like an airlock.
“Mr. Shepard,” Principal Hardwick said while removing her glasses to rub her temple. “Why come to school dressed this way?”
Edward didn’t respond.
Principal Hardwick reached over and flipped open Edward’s visor. She repeated her question.
Edward pulled a school handbook out of a pocket on his thigh. He opened it to a well-creased and red highlighted section. He showed it to Principal Hardwick.
“I didn’t ask about the dress code,” she said in a sharp verbal jab. Then she softened and smoothed out her tone. “Excuse me… I would like an answer to why you came to school dressed as an astronaut.”
“Is it Mr. Sampson’s Astronomy class?”
“Do you have a presentation?”
Edward shook his head.
“A special project?”
Another head shake.
“Are you demonstrating some cosmological principle?”
Edward thought about that for a moment. He shrugged.
Edward took interest in a stain on the carpet.
She folded her arms and stared at him. A long, piercing stare that threatened to rip the spacesuit off his soul.
Edward played with a knob on his chest.
Principal Hardwick sighed.
Edward looked at his wrist where a watch might have been. He pointed to the door and raised his eyebrows.
“All right, you may go. Be careful with that backpack. If I hear about you knocking people over again, I’ll have to confiscate it.”
Edward bowed his head forward in formal acceptance. He closed his visor and moon stepped out of the office.
Every head turned when Edward entered astronomy class fifteen minutes late.
“Glad to see you could join us, Major Tom,” Mr. Sampson said congenially.
Edward opened his visor. He slid into a seat next to Cranston Furbles or “Furbs” as the high school’s ruling class called him. Furbs looked at the suit and laughed just loud enough for Edward to hear. “Wow, that is quite a getup.”
Edward smiled. Edward and Furbs had shared many classes together, but had never been close.
“No,” said Furbs, “I mean it’s awful, Eddy. It doesn’t even look like a real spacesuit.”
Furbs shook his head. “You’re visor is upside down, your tape work is shoddy, and cardboard, really? You made a spacesuit out of cardboard?”
Edward pulled down his visor. He noted with horror that Furbs was right about its orientation. Furbs laughed, and it seemed to Edward that laughs and whispers rippled through the rest of the class. He should have been among his own kind, but he found himself alone on an alien world.
To Be Continued…