Disclaimer: Pet Fly created The Sentinel, no copyright infringement intended.

First Day of School



In the beginning, Naomi had home-schooled her little boy. The public educational system was so regimented and unimaginative, and she didn't want her baby Blair to be locked into such a constrained way of thinking.

But Blair was such a bright little boy, so full of energy and so intelligent, that she realized she was in over her head. She did some research, found the best school system for their needs, and moved to Cascade Washington and enrolled him.

Blair was so excited about getting to ride on the school bus, and his new Captain Crusader lunchbox, and being with all his new friends all day. The night before his first day, Naomi was straightening up their cozy little apartment, and she ran across an old silver Traveler's Prayer necklace. Dan had bought it for her after Graduation, when they went backpacking through Europe. She hadn't worn the small engraved silver tube on a leather thong in quite some time.

It only took a few minutes with a silver cloth to bring the blackened charm back to a mirror-bright finish. She unscrewed the cap and took out the creased and yellowed prayer.

Cutting a bit of typing paper to fit, she neatly printed in block letters:


She called Blair over, and showed him the small square of paper.

"You see this, sweetie? It has your name and address and our phone number written down..."

"I can read mama, Blair Sandburg... one-one-eight Kwondike..."

"I know you can read, sweetie. But look. I'm going to roll this up, like this, and then it goes in here like a secret message. When you go to school I want you to wear this. If you get lost, or get on the wrong bus, show this to the driver and they'll know where your home is, and call me so I can come get you."

Blair had finally come out of his room to watch the Star Trek rerun. Ordinarily, Naomi would have made some popcorn and settled down to watch with him. Talking about space travel and the future, and whether there was life on other planets. Making him blush by commenting on William Shatner's butt and how cute Walter Koenig was. But she knew he needed a little 'alone time' right now, so she just sat at the kitchen table paying some bills.

The girl he'd been seeing all summer had dumped him. Telling him that he was okay for a summer fling but way too geeky to be seen with in public. Her baby had his first broken heart, and Naomi's own heart shattered just watching him. She knew it would get better, once he got into the challenges of his classwork. He'd gotten into an experimental program allowing him to audit a few classes at the nearby Rainier University, a stunning accomplishment for a sixteen year old.

Still... teenagers were cruel creatures. Blair would be harassed for being intellectual more than athletic, for not following trends. He wanted for nothing, but she couldn't afford the designer clothes and cars and other material objects so used to indicate status, even if she approved of such wasteful one-upmanship.

Blair had set his backpack on the table for morning, along with the Traveler's Prayer necklace. It had become a tradition for Blair to wear it on the first day of school.

On impulse, she picked it up, and opened it. Smiled slightly at the paper with his name and their old address. She carefully tore a piece of paper off the bottom of a 'You May Have Already Won' junk letter, and carefully thought of all the qualities that would best get Blair through high school unscathed.

Then she wrote 'Pride'. 'Courage'. 'Faith' and 'Kindness.'

She rolled the scrap of paper, and slipped it into the silver tube.

Blair was nervous. Lord knew, he needed the Teaching Fellowship money for his own tuition, but the thought of lecturing in front of a group of students set butterflies in his stomach. He dug around in a box on his dresser. At least he had his good luck charm. He snagged the black satin cord with a finger and lifted it... but only the cap of the Traveler's Prayer necklace came up.

He fished out the silver tube, and realized he'd never read the prayer. Unrolling the square of paper, he smiled. His mother had been visiting last week, she must have done this then.

Do cendo discimus — we learn by teaching.

Cheered and a bit homesick, he replaced it and screwed the cap on tightly before slipping the cord around his neck.

After the scene in the bullpen, Blair wasn't sure what to expect. Naomi had been apologetic and accepting, but once it sank in that Blair taking the badge meant he was going to be in the line of fire permanently, all hell could break loose again.

But when he stepped into the loft, he found his Traveler's Prayer necklace out on the coffee table, along with a bunch of brochures and materials about the Police Academy. And a small sheet of handmade paper.

Reading over his shoulder from the doorway, Jim asked, "To serve and protect, to thine ownself be true? What's that supposed to mean?"

"Means I'm going back to school."

~ End ~

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Page last updated 8/15/03.