Copyright© 2021 by Charly Young
The boy, Lachlan Quinn, had lived in his new foster home for two years. Two years of sixteen-hour days. From the first day he found that Mr. MacLeish, as the boy called the stern remote man who was his new father, had very specific ideas of how a young boy should be educated. Ideas that came more from the German Apprenticeship Model rather than old Horace Mann’s ideas of primary and secondary schooling for children.
The boy had tutors that over the years eventually included half the magic crafters of Emory. He found working and learning from them both fascinating and frustrating. Try as he might, he could never seem to approach the level of perfection that they did with the products/art they produced.
He found them confusing as well. When Mr. MacLeish brought him around, most all of them gave him a warm welcome (contrary to welcome he received from the witch-crafters). After they saw he was a serious boy, hardworking and polite. Most were eager to show him their craft. They encouraged his endless questions—unless they were in their magic-induced Flow State—then their personality change was abrupt and radical. They went from warm to remote; he learned early on that a boy who interrupted for any reason during Flow State was quickly banished from the shop.
For two years, Lachlan had washed pans as a baker’s boy, He sorted willow reeds for the basket weavers. He shoveled sand for a master glassblower. He pulled weeds and watered plants for a master landscaper. He mixed clay for the potter.
When the group consensus found he had a knack for working with wood, Mr. MacLeish placed him in the shop of an acerbic furniture builder/carpenter known as Old Finn.
His general education was not neglected. He spent four hours a day seven days a week in a classroom with a retired Harvard history professor along with ten neophyte witch-crafter girls. The professor (who also taught him how to fish) was determined to give them all a classical liberal arts education.
An ageless silvan-halfling man named Hunter came out of the Opari every morning at 6:00 AM to lead him in an exhausting series of precise slow motion katas. The man was relentless. He expected Lachlan to have perfect control of his body at all times. A difficult thing for a boy growing like a weed into feet and hands too far too big for his body. Any inattention or clumsiness received sharp painful rap on whatever body part had moved away from whatever he considered ideal.
Young Lachlan didn’t mind all the working and studying. He liked to learn things. He mostly ignored the confusing young witch-crafter girls who played tricks on him with their newly acquired spell-craft and looked down their snooty noses at him daily.
He desperately wanted what the crafters-mentors who taught him had—that ultra-confident air that comes with expertise. The more he learned, the less he’d have to depend on people. Eventually he’d be free to live on his own terms. He might even be rich enough to buy a truck.
Young Lachlan was as happy as he’d ever been. Unfortunately, he never thought to ask what price he was going to have to pay for all this education.
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