Cheerilee wasn’t surprised to see Applejack approaching her. It was common that parents would want to talk before leaving their precious child with her for the first time, and it was nice to see Applejack was so quickly growing to fill that role for her new foster foal.
The file Cheerilee had been given on her newest student was surprisingly light; no transcripts from previous schools, no commendations, and no disciplinary records either. She hoped Applejack could help fill in some of the blanks, else she’d be starting from scratch.
“Applejack!” said Cheerilee, “So good to see you. You’re here to drop off Green, I take it?”
“Yeah,” Applejack nodded, “There were some things I wanted to discuss with you.”
“That’s great,” Replied Cheerilee, “I wanted to ask about what prior education she’s had.”
“Well she seems pretty clever,” Said Applejack, “But she won’t tell us anything about her past so there’s not much to say about that.”
“I’ll see how she goes in class today,” Said Cheerilee, “If she’s keeping up okay then I can test for any gaps in her knowledge once she’s had a chance to settle in.”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about actually,” Applejack admitted, “Green has some issues you should be aware of.”
“She has poor coordination, and struggles to grip things with her hooves.” Said Applejack. “She can read, but I’m not sure if she’ll be able to write legibly.”
“I see.” She said. “And what about her magic?”
“No spells yet, but she’s having magic surges.”
Cheerilee’s eyes widened, imagining the damage an unstable unicorn foal with the mana pool of an eight-year-old could do to her classroom.
“Magic surges, at her age?” Cheerilee questioned.
“Well, only once so far.” Applejack said. “We’re hoping it was a one-time thing.”
“Anything else I should know?”
“She gets really frightened when she’s meeting new ponies,” Said Applejack, “So maybe don’t make her introduce herself in front of the whole class.”
“Even if she’s shy it’s usually best to get introductions out of the way upfront.” Cheerilee said, “If the other students see me treating her differently it may not be the best first impression.”
“She’s not just shy,” Applejack said, “She has panic attacks.”
“Oh dear.” Said Cheerilee. “Well, I’ll certainly do whatever I can to help her feel comfortable.”
“One more thing, if you see her looking at a fixed point and taking slow breaths that means she’s feeling anxious and doing her breathing exercises,” Applejack explained, “So try not to interrupt her.”
“Alright class, we have a new student today.” Said Cheerilee, “Her name is Green, and I expect you all to make her feel welcome.”
It’s alright, they’re just kids. It’s just words. They can’t hurt you. I mean, they’re bigger than you and you don’t even know how to run, so they probably could hurt really badly, but they won’t, right?
I couldn’t remember the crusaders ever getting beaten up physically, but this world seemed much more real.
Oh god, everyone’s still looking at me! I must be doing something wrong.
Relax. Breathe. In. Out.
They’re probably waiting for me to introduce myself.
“Uh, hi, my name is Green,” I managed to say, “And... I don’t know how I got here.”
Stupid. Stupid. Why did this have to be so hard? Why was I so anxious just meeting a group of children?
“Hi, Green.” The class chanted in unison.
“Alright Class,” Said Cheerliee, “Eyes front. Today we’re going to be learning about how to read a calendar.”
There was a murmur of dissatisfaction from the class and one of the young ponies raised their hoof.
“Yes, Twist?” Said Cheerilee.
“Isn’t Green going to introduce herself in front of the class?”
I wanted to hide my face, but I knew I had to keep my body language neutral. If I showed weakness, I just knew they’d bully me forever.
Keep breathing. Don’t move.
“Only if she wants to.” Said Cheerliee. “If we get through this lesson quickly I can give you all an early mark for recess.”
I was trapped. If I said no, everypony would think I’m shy. If I said yes, I’d be holding them back from early recess and they’d all be angry with me. Why did she have to do this to me?
I tried to answer and my decision was all but made for me when I realized I couldn’t move. I opened my mouth and, rather than make strangled noises, I closed it again. Swallowing dryly I shook my head in the negative.
As the class moved on I couldn’t focus, but it hardly mattered in a class about reading calendars. I felt like I had to pee but, from experience, I knew with how suddenly it had come on that it was just a fear response.
Relax. Breathe. You haven’t done anything wrong.
“Did you hear the question, Green?” Cheerilee asked in a gentle tone.
“No,” I replied. “What was it again?”
“I was asking how many days there are in a year.”
“Three hundred and sixty-five.” I answered.
“Not quite. Anypony else?” The teacher asked. “Yes, Diamond Tiara.”
“There are a thousand.” Her stuck up voice put my teeth on edge. “Even foals know that!”
“That’s not a kind thing to say young filly.” Cheerilee admonished. “See me after class.”
Great. Now the teacher was defending me. I was going to pay for that.
As the lesson wore on I felt my need to pee grow stronger. Maybe I really did need to go. I couldn’t ask for a hall pass though; I didn’t want to interrupt the lesson, and the other kids would probably think I was running off to the bathroom to cry.
In any case, Cheerilee had said we would get an early recess, so I shouldn’t have to wait too long.