The cafeteria is bustling as always. Like clockwork, everyone goes on break at the same time. People line up at serving counters and then quickly fill up the rows and rows of tables. The room smells of stew and cobbler. Merlin emerges from the south doorway and makes his way to the food line. He glances at his watch. Just as I approach to join the line behind him, Vivian cuts me off. “Merlin, I hear you saved Guinevere’s life,” she says.
Merlin knits his brow. “Well, it wasn’t really me…”
“Everyone saw your water magic,” Vivian insists.
I roll my eyes. Vivian pushes her flawlessly straight locks back and gazes at him coolly. Is she really impressed? It’s hard to tell. But when she looks at him again, there is a sparkle in her eye and a crack of a genuine smile. Vivian is a mystery—she keeps her mouth shut during lectures. When she does speak, her voice is clear as a bell.
Everyone studies Merlin with awe. The chef behind the counter declares that Merlin should have his meals on the house for a whole month. People line up behind me whispering of his heroic deeds, putting the fire out on the lab, and saving Guinevere. I tighten my lips. Am I invisible to everyone? Is Merlin truly that much more in the foreground than me?
Merlin begins to reply, but the crowd becomes distracted and hushes when a knight enters the cafeteria. Sir Lancelot. People part for him as he looks around with commanding eyes. The girls all smile at him, hoping to catch his attention. He scans around for several seconds, then, he meets my eyes. My mouth goes dry. The whole room watches as he walks up to me, and it’s as if everything is happening in slow motion. As he approaches, I feel that I am getting smaller and smaller.
“Ms. le Fay,” he says. “I apologize for interrupting your break. Do you have a moment?”
“Yes, sir,” I reply, barely finding my voice. Merlin raises his brow at Lancelot. Vivian gapes, spellbound.
Lancelot motions for me to follow him. My walk is mechanical as my heart races with each step. Everyone is staring. Has Sir Lancelot recognized my good work at the fire scene or am I in more trouble? We pass by Isolde, who holds a tray in one hand. She hastily tucks a wavy strand of hair behind her ear with her free hand. “Good day, Sir Lancelot,” she says.
Lancelot nods in her direction, which causes her to blush furiously. Once he’s past, she glares at me.
Realm Lovejoy is an American writer and an artist. She grew up in both Washington State and the Japanese Alps of Nagano, Japan. Currently, she lives in Seattle and works as an artist in the video game industry. CLAN is her first book. You can find out more about her and her book at realmlovejoy.com