Amy’s note: This scene originally came right after The Academie orientation assembly Allie attended with her family.

By the time people began to leave the gymnasium, I had regained my composure, but couldn’t release my anger. The next, and final part of the orientation for families was the tour of the facility. After this, we would have to say goodbye to Matthew so he could finish out the orientation on his own. Since it was my former high school, I was looking forward to the tour, to see how they had changed—and hopefully improved—the place since I left.

The tours were given by Academie personnel, dressed in dark uniforms with The Academie logo over where a pocket sometimes is—but wasn’t—on the shirt. I could now see that the words around the logo read “Education for our Future”. What a joke. But I couldn’t help but wonder if these hideous, uncomfortable looking outfits were anything like the ones that Matthew would be forced to wear for the next few years.

Like the president of each Academie facility, each member of The Academie staff was also a member of the armed services. I really had no idea why they thought this was necessary—nor, of course, did they explain this in the orientation assembly. However, each former public or private school teacher, if they wished to obtain a position at an Academie facility—which of course, they had to apply for—had to first be accepted into the armed forces and complete boot camp before the school opened. Supposedly both the requirements for application and the training were rigorous, and many, I had been told, did not make the cut. Up to this point I assumed this—like much of what I had heard before today—was simply a rumor, but as I looked around the facility I saw few faces I remembered from just a few months ago when I finished out my high school career.

A serious-looking woman that I guessed to be in her mid-thirties led our group. Her face looked so fixed in a glaring expression that I couldn’t help but wonder if she ever smiled. I hoped, for Matthew’s sake, that this wouldn’t be one of his teachers.

Because there were so many people, each group was quite large—thirty or more people—and they told us that the tours would be kept brief “so that they didn’t lose any of us and so that others wouldn’t have to wait too long.” They had a schedule to keep after all.

I felt ripped off. For months I had waited to see and hear what was really going on and now I not only didn’t get the answers I needed, I was about to get a cheap tour as well. As I looked around at the faces of my family and the others in our group, I noticed again that I appeared to be the only one upset. Again, I fumed.

“This is a typical classroom,” the serious lady said as she led us past a room.

As I walked by and attempted to get the best glance I could as the group pushed us forward, I my jaw dropped. “The room is nicer than mine at college!” I said loud enough for not only Matthew and my parents to hear, but the others squished in around us as well.

“Yes, very nice, huh?” some strange mom lady said with a wide grin.

I looked over to Matthew and saw that he now teamed with excitement. The room had obviously been gutted. Everything was fresh and new. New paint, new floor, new desks, and new chairs—the comfy padded rolling ones like I hoped I would find at college but had no such luck. To top it off, The Academie classroom was decked out in the latest technology.

For a moment, I felt a twinge of jealousy. That is, until I remembered that this was going to be Matthew’s permanent home for the next two years.

The rest of the tour was largely uneventful, mostly due to the fact that she only walked us past the main offices and the outside of the library. Glancing in, I could tell that each had received fresh paint and carpet. However, the library—which I believed to be in tremendous need of an overhaul—appeared largely untouched, while—not surprisingly—the main offices appeared to have been gutted and restocked with all new, dazzling equipment. Figures. Despite the fact that he had seemed hopeful for an updated library, Matthew’s enthusiasm remained unchanged.

And that was it. The next thing I knew we were being rushed to say goodbye so Matthew could finish off his orientation. They were set to begin classes the very next day, so supposedly they had a lot of things to get through to get the students ready.

As I said my goodbye, I was thankful that I already had the few minutes to talk to Matthew in the foyer at home this morning. Otherwise I might be left with no idea when I might see him again.

“See you at Christmas,” I said, holding back the tears.

“Yeah, see you then,” he answered, grinning and waving.

As we walked back out to the car, I hung back, slowly strolling behind Andrew and my parents. I’d finally lost control of the tears, and they began to run quickly down each of my cheeks.