School in the eyes of a girl from another world

Clouds at play

Imagine talking to a girl from another world where life is very different from ours. Many of the most basic aspects we take for granted are challenged. Take school, for example. How do you explain school to someone who’s never heard of such a place? Answering one question inevitably leads to further questions, each more difficult to answer than the last. In the end, the self-evident no longer appears so evident… Such is the case with Fran talking to other-worldly Xristy in the following extract from The Cloud Catcher. Note that girls from Xristy’s world communicate only mind-to-mind, indicated in the text by italics.

Extract from The Cloud Catcher

Do you wanna come with me? We’re having a party. Fran’s look must have been incredulous, because Xristy added, Only if you want.

I can’t possibly come, I’ve got school tomorrow.


The question was inevitable. Fran should have known Xristy’s girls would have no idea what school was. A place to learn.

Why do you need a place to learn? Can’t you learn everywhere? I do. We do. Every occasion and every place is a chance to learn.

It suddenly struck her she’d never wondered what school really was. It’s a place where specially trained people, called teachers, help us learn. They’ve traced out a path of what we need to know and lead us down that path, testing us often to see if we’ve understood. Far too often, Fran thought.

Xristy chuckled. You can’t be serious. How can one person tell another what they need to learn? It’s different for each person.

Fran couldn’t argue with that. In truth, she’d probably learn more by going with Xristy to her world than by struggling through hours of maths or English, stuck at her desk, forced to listen to a boring teacher. Most of the time lessons just went in one ear and came out the other. She had to admit, it was hard to memorise the unmemorable. Okay. I’ll come. But only for a short time. I need to get some sleep.

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