Child with jester's hat
Picture by Meridy on Pixabay

Vignette 6: Gorata

Gorata held tightly to her father's hand and surveyed the community learning centre. They were standing just inside the gate, a bit off the path, under a shady plane tree.

"What do you think, ‘Rata? Shall we go in?"

"Sure." Gorata didn't sound sure and she didn’t move. She stared at the path, the open door at the end of it, and the peeling paint on the square two-storey building.

"It looks kind of small. Not as nice as the one in Greenside."

"Well let's see. I'm sure we'll meet some nice people and they might have some different classes."

Gorata brightened. "I want a dancing class, and a reading class. I'm going to learn to read this year."

"Yes you are! I'm sure there will be a reading class."

Gorata skipped beside him as Joe strode up the path to the door. There was a reception on the left, a counter with a young woman sitting behind it."

"We are new here", Joe smiled at her. "You must be Sandy."

"Yes I am. Welcome Joe and Gorata. Give me a minute and I'll show you around." Sandy spoke to her peon which sat on the reception desk. "I'll be about 20 minutes. Call if anyone needs me, you know the drill."

"I do indeed," the peon responded, in a tone that could have been haughty.

"So Gorata, you like dancing I hear," Sandy smiled at the little girl and reached for her hand. "Let me show you our space. We have a stage too, for productions." Gorata let go of Joe and took Sandy's hand, skipping along next to her.

"Your peon told you my name didn't it?"

"Yes it did. It also told me that you like dancing and that you are learning to read. Is it right?"

"Of course. Peons are always right," Gorata giggled. "But peons can't be right about things they don't know."

"Is that so?" Sandy looked at Gorata in mock surprise.

"Yes. I have a secret that I haven't told my peon."

"Oh really? What's your secret?"

"I can't tell you,” Gorata laughed. “It's a secret. I'll only tell you when we are friends."

"Okay I can wait. I'm going to like being your friend."

Sandy stopped in front of a large noticeboard in the corridor. 

"So, here are all the classes." The board was covered with small posters, some printed, some handwritten, some illustrated, but all with QR codes somewhere on the page.

"You can just point out the codes to your peon and it can pick up all the details.”

“Zea. My peon is Zea.”

“Zea will enrol you in the ones you want. Zea also has a list of classes it suggests for you."

"Hey Flo, which ones are suggested for me?" Joe had come up behind Sandy and Gorata. On the board in front of them, six of the posters lit up.

"Hmmm. Fiction writing for beginners. I like the sound of that."

Gorata, not to be outdone said, "Zea which are mine?" A different set of posters was illuminated and Gorata's eyes went straight to the one decorated with fabric and lace.

"Ooh, what's that? Are those hats?" Sandy nodded. "Hat-making! Ooh I love hats. Can I do that?"

"Sure you can, if Zea says so." Joe smiled at her. Gorata looked back to the board, scanning it thoughtfully.

"I think that one is dancing" she pointed, "and that must be reading", she pointed again. "I want to do those three."

"Okay", Sandy took her hand again. "Let me show you around while Zea signs you up."
Sandy led Gorata down the corridor and out into a courtyard at the end. 

“I want to introduce you to some of the people in your reading class. They are just finishing a lesson.”

Joe stood for a while in front of the board, talking to Flo. 

That evening, Gorata called her friend Amy. "Well, it's not the same as Greenside. It's much smaller and it seems, um, emptier, but the people are nice and I'm going to do a hat-making class."

"That's amazing. I wish I could learn to make hats."

In the kitchen, Joe was talking to Lilitha.

"Well, she seems happy enough. Chatted to everyone as usual. The place is okay, a bit shabby, but organised. They offer all the basics, so it will be fine for her. Also, they have a fiction writing course that I signed up for."

"Oh, that’s great. Sounds like your thing and it will keep you occupied.”

“Yes, I thought I might offer a class too. Fuzzy logic, quantum computing, there are plenty of people who want to program the things for fun, or just to know how they work.”

“That’s a good idea.” Lilitha stopped her supper preparations and looked up at Joe. “A learning centre might be just the place for you.”