by Noëlle Lague
(Freely based on "Maid in China" by Barefoot Servant)
VI - The bullying goes on
Maddie spent her last day before vacation at the Unit. A dreadful day, full of cleaning exercises, but also a day of counting, supervised by Sandra. Both subjects proved to be monotonous and exhausting.
All the calculation examples seemed familiar to her, but Sandra´s presence for some reason made it difficult to concentrate and Maddie ended up unable to give correct answers to any of them. Sandra kept going backwards in difficulty as Maddie gradually failed to solve the problems. Shortly before recess, a blushing Maddie was made to read aloud; `Mrs. King donated 7 teddy bears to the nursery school. Now the nursery school has a total of 31 teddy bears. How many teddy bears did the nursery school have before the donation?`
Staring at her squirming pupil, unable to sort out the teddy bear mystery, Sandra finally sent Maddie out for recess, in her rainwear although the sun was shining and no other student at the Unit had to put it on. She was given a plastic bucket and a spade and sent out to discover a surprising novelty for recess activities at the Unit. At Heather´s initiative a sandbox had been installed, right in front of the schoolyard, facing the main building and it was going to be inaugurated by Maddie. Aurelia directed her, she was to build a sand castle, a task that turned out to be difficult although not impossible; the sandbox had been filled with quite a lot of water, transforming it into a mud puddle.
As Maddie obediently struggled to dig in the sand, she noticed a group of students in the schoolyard, not too far from her. She couldn´t see who it was until a couple of them slowly made their way toward the Unit. A shiver ran down her spine as she identified them, it was Skye and Graham. Aurelia was standing close to the sandbox as Maddie´s object of love and his new girlfriend approached it.