Elaina was ready for school, her books in her bag, her lunch packed, a juicebox ever-present in her hand. Bring it on, she thought.
“Good morning boys and girls,” the teacher said, and Elaina cringed. What an insipid way to start, she thought. Teachers and their attempts to placate our young minds with their simpering little psychological games. Boy and girls, whatever. Treat me like an equal, lady.
“It’s the first day of kindergarten, do you know what that means?”
Elaina nodded, while the rest of her classmates sat like good little drones. It means, Elaina thought to herself, that you’re going to prattle to us about the rules, and what we’re going to get from this, and how you’re preparing us for a glorious future in the Fourth Reich known as capitalism, mein frau.
“It means we get to meet each other for the very first time! I’m very excited to get to meet you, and I hope you feel the same about me.”
“Sure, you old bat,” Elaina whispered. “You look forward to controlling our lives and indoctrinating us in the ways and means of the proletariat while you sit on high in your bourgeois throne, offering your qualitative decisions on our output and demanding we improve our production under literal slave wages.”
“Elaina!” her mother whispered. “Behave yourself.”
“Yes Mom,” Elaina took a sip of her juicebox.
“My name is Ms. Thomson,” the teacher said. “I’m going to read from the attendance list, and when you hear your name, please stand and say ‘here’. David Aaronson?”
A small boy in the front the room stood and said, “Here!”
“Good morning, David, it’s nice to meet you,” Ms. Thomson said. “Anne Beckett?”
A small girl beside Elaina slowly stood, looking down at the floor. The older woman beside her, looking severe and unimpressed, smacked the girl’s shoulder. “Say ‘here’,” the older woman said.
“Here,” the girl said quietly.
“Louder!” the old woman said, her voice making everyone uncomfortable.
“Here,” the girl said, somewhat louder.
“Good morning Anne, it’s nice to meet you,” said Ms. Thomson, while Elaina rolled her eyes. “Elaina Chaisson.”
Elaina stood. “Heil Ms Thomson!” Elaina said. She was in the process of raising her arm when her mother’s hand caught it, holding it down.
“Hi to you too, Elaina! Nice to meet you. Anika…umm…Dam-de…Dame-dear?”
The girl in front of Elaina blushed, standing. “It’s Dhamdhere,” she said.
“Dam-dear-eh,” the teacher said, as close to what Anika had said as she was willing to try. “Nice to meet you, Anika!”
The roll call continued, and Elaina leaned forward, tapping the girl’s shoulder. Anika turned.
“Hi, I’m Elaina. You said it was “Dham-dear-eh?”
“Close. Dhamdhere,” Anika said again.
“I’m going to need to practice that. But nice to meet you Anika.”
“You too, Elaina.”
“Excuse me, children, please don’t talk while attendance is being taken,” Ms. Thomson said.
“For fuck’s sake,” Elaina whispered to her mother.
“I know, dear. I know,” her mother said, as class continued.