Kiki has to admit she’s not exactly looking forward to sophomore year. Much as she loves how it feels to be fit, she misses the extra weight she carried around with her last year. What if people actually see her this year? What if she can’t be invisible? But then again, what if no one recognizes her? That would be OK. It would be like starting over.
She soon discovers she needn’t have worried. Everyone is really too busy thinking about themselves to stop and wonder about anyone else. Plus, everybody has changed in some way or other, and for an observant girl like her, it’s easy to disappear anytime she wants to, which is most of the time.
First semester, she’s taking Primitive Painting 101 for an elective, along with the core courses.
But her favorite course is physics, which is offered in a project-based approach, so she has lots of take-home labs to complete.
Case is always eager to dive in and help. Aadhya usually volunteers to read the instructions, but while she labors to figure out the steps, Case and Kiki debate refinements and innovations.
“I don’t think it should burn propane,” Kiki says, of the model rocket they work on one day.
“No, of course not,” agrees Case. “But is solar practical? Or even feasible, given the time constraints?”
They both become immersed in invention and the fantasy that it’s a real rocket, and they’re a design and development team.
Fall semester rolls by, the winter holidays fly, and soon it’s the middle of spring.
One fine spring evening, as the sun paints roses on the distant hills, Aadhya and Tina Tinker gather in the tiny kitchen where Ira’s studying.
“So I guess Kiki will be choosing a college soon, eh, Ira?” Tina asks.
“Maybe she’ll join you at Britechester,” Aadhya suggests. “You can commute together!”
“Oh, I’ll be graduated well before she goes to college,” Ira says.
“That’s what you said last year! And the year before!”
“You know how it goes, Aadhya,” says Tina. “A bachelor’s becomes a double major which leads to grad school which leads to post grad work. Ira may never be done!”
Ira has taken to college amazingly well. From her first few years, where she struggled to adapt to the schedule and demands, and her own perfectionism and anxiety, she’s settled into the routine of a nearly perpetual student.
“Wherever Kiki goes is fine with me,” Ira says, but she does harbor a secret wish that Kiki will choose her alma mater. On so many weekends, Kiki has tagged along with Ira when she had to do research projects in the library or needed extra hours in the art studio, and since she was a child, Kiki took to the courtyards, old trees, stone walls, and big halls of prestigious campus. Ira could just see her there, even though it was still a few years off.