Chapter 1. Crosswords
Disclaimer: I don't own The Pretender & Winnie the Pooh
The doors opened. Jarod stepped in. His eyes scanned the bus until he found an empty seat near the back. Sitting next to the window was a girl with bright blue hair. Her expression was so serious, Jarod didn't greet her like he always did to any fellow passenger. Her left hand was holding a newspaper while her right hand twirled a pen.
Curious as always, Jarod peered in to see what the girl was reading. All he saw was a list of things and something like a checkerboard, but the black and white squares looked random. There were letters on some white squares.
At that moment the girl scribbled something on the checkerboard. E-E-Y-O-R-E. Jarod was confused. Of all the things he had learned at the Centre, he had never heard of the word.
The girl used the first "e" to write "egg" and the last "e" to spell "glue," both vertically. He finally asked the girl, "Excuse me, but what is eeyore?"
The blue haired girl replied without turning, "The pessimist in children lit."
The girl turned her head toward Jarod and raised her blue eyebrow. "Don't tell me you've never heard of Eeyore and Winnie the Pooh."
"Winne the Pooh?"
"Yes, of the Hundred-Acre-Woods and Christopher Robin."
A confused look appeared in Jarod's face. "I've never been to any forest. But I would love to. Where is it?"
The girl turned to Jarod. "It's not really a forest. It's just a story by A.A. Milne, about a boy named Christopher Robin and his friends who live in the Hundred-Acre-Woods."
She reached into her bag and pulled out a cell-phone. On the screen was a picture of a smiling yellow bear in a red shirt. "See, this is Winnie the Pooh." She pressed a few buttons and showed more pictures to Jarod as she switched screens. "The blue-gray donkey with grave expression is Eeyore. He is almost always sad." She chuckled. "They gave an interesting clue. At first I didn't get it, but finally I understand. A pessimist, indeed."
"The clue for the crossword puzzle."
A light bulb went on in Jarod's head. "Ah, so that's what the checkerboard is. A puzzle."
"You've never seen a crossword puzzle before?" The girl put up her hand. "Don't tell me. If you've never heard of Winnie the Pooh, it's reasonable that you've never heard of crossword puzzles also."
"Where did you grow up? A jungle in the middle of nowhere?"
Jarod smiled. "Sort of."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Sometimes, my mouth is faster than my brain. I didn't mean to hurt you."
"It's okay, really. Now tell me about the crossword puzzle. I love solving puzzles."
Miss Parker entered Broots' office to find the techie reading as Sydney leaned over his shoulder. "I'm pretty sure I know the answer to 16 across," the pyschiatrist said.
Broots chuckled. "Wait until Miss Parker sees this."
"See what, Broots?"
Both men turned their head in unison. As if sitting on hot coal, Broots almost jumped from his seat. He nervously greeted Miss Parker.
She walked over to Broots' table and glared at him with her piercing blue eyes.
Handing her a piece of paper, he explained. "Jarod sent this, a crossword puzzle with Centre-related clues."
Her eyes quickly found 16 across. It had 10 letters. The clue was "Ice Queen."
A/N: I don't know whether Jarod has ever seen a crossword puzzle or no, but this is my take on what may happen when he sees it for the first time. This is part of First Encounters series about how Jarod discovers new things after he got out of the Centre.
I thank AJeff for her beta. You did a wonderful job ^_^