Ready

The Pomocná škola’s tiled classrooms were shadowed and empty, utterly still in the summer without the students there. Dust coated the stair railings. The floorboards in the hallway, leftovers from when the place was a house for rich people, creaked under our sneakers as we circled the tiny desks and tiny chairs. The school had always smelled like tissues, warm crayons, and jelly, but now it just smelled like my clothes, plastic and sterile from the airplane. I leaned back and pressed the bulb of my ponytail against the wall as Miloš pushed through the swinging door into the art room, and when I didn’t follow he kicked the door back open and stuck his head through the crack.

“I’m not going to wait here to hold the door for you, you know,” he called. “What do you think this is, Gentleman City?”

I watched the door swing behind him for a minute to give the impression that I wasn’t the kind of girl who simply follows when she’s called—that I was not an inhabitant of Gentleman City—and then I followed. He leaped up off a desk as though exasperated, put his hand over his heart, stood up very straight, and faced the blackboard.

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