Story, The Academy

Prologue

“It’s impossible. I won’t believe it,” she cried, shaking her head vehemently.

“But dear, they’ve already tested him three times.” After a slight pause, he added firmly, “We cannot embarrass this family any further. We have to find a way to accept this.”

“You think this is embarrassing,” she asked, her voice rising to a high pitch. “What about the alternative? Th-that it might be true? What then? How are we to face everyone? …How do we even begin to tell him?” her voice broke.

“Don’t worry, we’ll find a way,” he said, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“It doesn’t have to be now. There is still time.”

“Yes. And maybe something will change. Yes- yes-,” she whispered, “There’s still time…”

Victor couldn’t bear to listen any further. Unclenching his fists at his side, he walked back along the dimly lit hallway until he could no longer hear the sound of his parents’ hushed arguing. He had known that something was wrong for weeks. The first sign was his mother’s cracked smile when she greeted him after the exam. But it flickered for a moment and disappeared when she drew him into a tight hug so he told himself that he had only imagined it. Everything was okay. The second sign was his father’s slumped figure against the headmaster’s door after he retook the test. It was an awkward posture for someone so tall, someone who was always calm and collected. But his father’s warm, reassuring touch on his shoulder helped banish his fears, at least for a time. The third sign, the most alarming of all, was the change in the way his brother and sister treated him after his most recent test. Gone were the petty fights over who would choose the games they played and how the candies and toys would be divided- they gave him whatever he wanted. Instead of the light banter and teasing he had come to expect, they treated him like something fragile, as if he could break at any moment. And now he knew why. He was broken.

People said it was impossible. How could the child of two gifted parents, especially those as renowned as his own, be ungifted? But there were others–only spoken of in hushed whispers, blemishes best forgotten in their world–and against all odds, he was one of them. One of the ungifted.

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