Back Into the Routine – Henry

The start of my new writing for this universe.  Henry brings the kids to school for their first day back… then, he’s off to work.

**

It was the first day of school for the kids.  Henry had made certain that their paperwork was in order the previous week.  The Elders in Fair County had helped him out there.  However, he wanted to see the kids to school himself, rather than just putting them on the bus and sending them on their way.

They met with the principal first.  He outlined how Konrad’s schedule would go.  He would be finishing out the school year with them, but most of his classes would either be the online classes that he’d already been doing or distance learning classes that he could do on his home computer.  He only had to take English literature and physical education at the school itself.

Then, he brought Markus down to the class that he would be joining.  He peered into the room and smiled.  “Mr. Goldblum,” he said, “this is your new student: Markus Engel.”

Markus glanced at Henry and then greeted the teacher politely.  He glanced around at the students that would be in his class as Mr. Goldblum pointed to a desk.  “We’ve a space for you right there, Markus,” he said.

Henry started to leave, but paused when he heard Markus say, “My name is spelled with a k, Mr. Goldblum.”  He spelled it for the teacher, while the students chuckled to themselves.  Henry glanced at Markus and sighed in relief.  The boy was giving the teacher a sheepish grin.  Whatever his classmates intended, he was confident enough that he thought they were laughing at Mr. Goldblum’s mistake.

Nodding, Henry followed the principal to the second grade class to which the girls were both being added.  Ms. Weatherly greeted them with a sunny smile.  “Now, which is Elisabeth and which is Frieda?” she said, looking from one to the other.

Liese grinned.  “I’m Elisabeth,” she said.  Her voice held no hint of self-consciousness.  She glanced over at Frieda and said, “She’s Frieda.”

“We call her Liese,” Frieda added, her voice soft.  In the same soft voice, she spelled the name for the teacher.

Ms. Weatherly nodded.  “That’s a very pretty nickname,” she said.  “There are your seats, girls.  Welcome to the class.”  Then, she pointed towards two empty seat.  Henry noticed that they were near each other, but not at the same table.  He was relieved that they didn’t seem bothered at not being seated in the same group.

That just left him with Johannes.  He looked down at the boy, who was still hugging his oversized bear close.  “Are you ready, Sprout?” Henry asked, his tone gentle.  Wide, hazel eyes met his own and smiled.  “You want to meet your teacher and your classmates?”

“Can I keep Herr Braun with me?” he asked, his voice faint.

As Henry glanced at the principal, the man nodded.  “I explained the situation to Miss Brighten,” he said, his voice soft.  “She understands that he’s not ready to… let it go yet.”

“Thank you,” Henry said, nodding.

Miss Brighten was talking to the students when they arrived.  Henry listened as she spoke, curious as to what she would be saying.  Was she giving them a lesson?

“Today, we’re going to have a new friend joining us,” she said.  “His name is Johannes and he came here from Maine.  Can you all say that name with me?  Johannes?”  The students repeated the name a few times.  Then, she nodded encouragingly.  “Now, Johannes brought a friend with him from home because something very scary happened to him recently.  You all have cuddly friends that help you when you’re scared.  Right?”

“I have a doll,” one little girl said, raising her hand.

Miss Brighten nodded.  “That’s right, Emily,” she said.  “So, until Johannes is feeling less scared he’s going to bring his friend with him to school.  All right?”  There was scattered agreement from the kids and she smiled.  “Well, good,” she said.

The principal tapped on the door and smiled.  “Are you ready for us?” he asked.

Miss Brighten smiled at the principal and then nodded.  “Good morning, Mr. North,” she said.  Her greeting was echoed by several students.

Nodding at the kids, he said, “Hello, children.”  Then, he waved at Henry and said, “This is Mr. Shepherd.  He’s Johannes’s guardian.”

“Thank you for understanding about the bear,” Henry said, his voice soft.

“It’s fine,” Miss Brighten said, extending her hand.  As he shook her hand, she said, “It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Shepherd.”  In a softer voice, she said, “You are a saint for taking in these kids.”

“Their parents were dear friends,” Henry said, shaking his head.  “They needed someone and… maybe I did too.”  He gently ushered Johannes forward and said, “Go ahead and say hello to Miss Brighten, Sprout.”

Johannes looked up at her, hugging the huge bear to his chest.  “Hello, Miss Brighten,” he said, his voice soft.

“Hello, Johannes,” Miss Brighten said, crouching down to look him in the eye.  “Does your friend have a name?”

“He’s Herr Braun,” Johannes said, his voice soft.  “Braun means brown, because he has brown fur and brown eyes.”

“Herr Braun is a very large bear, isn’t he?” Miss Brighten said, smiling.  She beckoned him into the room and said, “Ryan, can Johannes and Mr. Braun sit beside you?”

“Yeah,” a boy with dark hair said.  He smiled as Johannes sat at the desk beside his own.  Henry smiled when he saw that there was a chair beside the desk.  Johannes set the bear in the chair and gave Miss Brighten a shy smile.

“He’s still learning English,” Henry warned her, as she turned to bid them a good day.  “Sometimes he’ll slip into Allemani or Leituvan.”

“I know Allemani, so that shouldn’t be a problem,” she said, grinning.  Then, she waved and added, “Thanks for the heads-up, though.”

Henry watched Johannes for a moment longer.  When he seemed to be settling in all right, Henry gave the principal a weak smile and nodded.  “Thanks for letting me tag along until they were settled.”

“No problem at all,” the principal said, waving his words away.  He nodded.  “We’ll be bussing them home.  Konrad should arrive first, so… if you aren’t home yet, he can get them off the bus.”

Nodding, Henry said, “I’ve got to get going, but I’ll try not to stay late at work.”  He wanted to be there when they got off the bus that first day.  He was well aware that Jocelyn would have other ideas.  After all, he’d been off for two weeks.

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