February came in slightly warmer. Some of the snow from the month before melted and it was promising. Spring seemed to be right around the corner, but winter kept holding on. While a new squall brought in a fresh dusting every so often, the old piles resembled half-hearted attempts at keeping the cold season at bay.
Storm looked out the window from the main foyer. It was two days before Valentine's Day. Already, the school was dressed up in piles of red, purple, white and pink papers. The much-anticipated day was not here yet, though. For the time being, they were observing Lincoln's birthday. Xavier had declared it a study day. He did not want to see any of the students outside of their rooms unless it is a designated break and after four PM.
She appreciated the quiet, though, and it gave her the chance to have time to herself as her chores as a teacher took her to being the tattletale. As she began to monitor the hallways, checking for deviant students, she contemplated on this day. Where she came from, nobody batted an eye on these silly American holidays and understood that surviving was the best bet. They grew in importance when she arrived in America. Then, she appreciated it all the more.
Most certainly, she can thank Lincoln for this. While Storm understood that he was not the instigator of so great a task as freeing the slaves, he was forced to put the Civil War on a more morale road. Without this, the laws that stretched even as recently as thirty years ago will not bring her to this point. In that time frame, she would not be able to set foot on these grounds. She could not a teacher to the eclectic children that arrived. Most certainly, she will be segregated into an all-black community. There would be no equality.
Absentminded, Storm tripped over something in the east wing. Groaning, she leaned down and checked on what student left behind. It wasn't large and seemed like a light item.
It was a bouquet of flowers.
Storm breathed in their sweet smell. All of them came from her home in Africa. Suddenly, she was transported back there. It was not a happy time in her life, but she still traveled with people who were considered her family and there was a sense of protection and love there. What she remembered the best were the flowers.
Wait, where did they come from?
She realized that the bunch she found was strictly grown in Africa. They could not have come here, especially in the cold of the northern US. Also, Storm did not know of any florist who grew these, not in this area anyway. This was already suspicious.
A prank was in the air. Storm feared that it was her turn now. Swiveling her head left and right quickly, she checked every nook cranny around the immediate area she could and did not locate anything else. Taking a shaky breath, she continued her trek, but she was on high alert. Even when she saw Logan, she did not calm down.
Logan noted this too. "Hey, Storm, any admirers?"
"What? No!" Storm almost threw the flowers at him. "What are you talking about?"
"Where did the gift come from?"
"Oh, I found it on the floor. I think I'll find a vase in the kitchen and put them in the window."
Logan snickered. "If you say so."
Storm's mind grew more paranoid. The way Logan talked meant that he was in on the whole scheme. This was evidence enough that she was the next target, she concluded. There was no other way to explain it.
Nothing happened until Storm turned the corner. This time, she found a toy ship on the floor. It most certainly not meant for the children in the school. It was a wooden item, strong enough to withstand any water it sailed into, and resembled a cargo vessel. Next to it was a set of chains, with cuffs for several people. They were not regular handcuffs either.
Now, Storm was frightened. This was not some sick joke anymore and she knew that Logan would not stoop down this low. This seemed threatening. One of the students was being cruel or someone had infiltrated the building. There was no other explanation.
It was too early to call the Professor. Storm resolved to handle this on her own. She put the flowers next to the ship and cuffs and continued her walk. This time, she searched for an enemy. She did not care who it was, insider or not. They had to be dealt with.
Instead, she found that there was no danger. She didn't find anything. Instead, like a line to a destination, she found a master's whip, a pot of soil with a cotton plant in it and a Bible. Then, she found a suit and dress meant for the nineteenth century man and woman, a miniature shack and a pot that smelled like jambalaya. Closer and closer, she drew nearer to the gym. Once she was at its doors, she opened it and her mouth copied the action.
Storm was amazed. The whole room was decorated not in the Valentine's Day colors. Instead, the sad history of slavery played itself out. It moved to the brutality of their lives, the Civil War and their supposed savior, Abraham Lincoln. Afterward, there were pictures of their lives afterward, from inequality, homes and more. The Civil Rights Movement played out towards the end.
Storm shed tears. The items were not meant to scare her. They were reminders of the journey many black people took, from their homes in Africa to slavery in America. The flowers were a sense of home. The ship and cuffs were the journey to their new way of life. Everything else portrayed life in America until today.
To the right, Storm noted an open folder. She walked over and opened it. She was surprised to find a short note inside.
Dear Ms. Munroe,
We did not think it was appropriate to make February all about love. Instead, we decided to make this month about YOU. You came from a unique place. While your family did not suffer from slavery (as far as we know), many others did. We wanted to show you the appreciation we have for those who have endured it.
Lincoln was considered the freer of the slaves. Even though he technically was not, we still celebrate the man for his achievements. You will find one wall dedicated to his life and the Civil War. We thought this tragedy needed attention too.
Storm searched for the wall in question. She found it. It was a colleague of sorts, with a timeline of the president's life and pictures of him and his family. All of his children (even the ones that died young) and his deranged wife were also included. Even the traditional log house remained as his birthplace.
She turned back to the last paragraph of the letter.
This shows you that we are paying attention to your history lessons! Oh, and Logan was a help. He suggested that we do something nice after the year we gave you. This was the only way we thought was the best. We hope you enjoyed it!
It was signed by all of her students. Storm could not have been prouder and fuller of pride. Thank God it was not a scare tactic, but a way to show love to her. Tears fell down her face, more than ever before, so that when Logan entered to check in on her, she was covered in them.
Storm noticed him and rushed over. "Thank you, Logan! Thank you! This is wonderful."
Logan didn't know what to do. He felt overwhelmed by this heavy emotion by doing so small of a project with the kids. When Storm hugged him, he returned it. He didn't think the gesture was worth this much of a teary-eyed mess, but if it made Storm so happy, it was worth it. Anything to get a smile on her face was always worth the effort.
He kissed the top of her head. "Glad you like it, Storm. I really am."