“You may relax and we can talk. I’m still a student, so it’s permitted,” Sam said. He gracefully sat next to Anne, all the while he held the cherry, by the stem, in-front of Anne’s mouth. She could smell the cherry, and his musky cologne.
Anne relaxed a little, and moved her head to get a better look at Sam. He was beautiful. There was no other word for the tan skin, the large frame with just the right amount of muscle, the perfect hair cut, the piercing green eyes. His collar was just like hers, so she knew he was still a student. He wore swimming trunks, so he was a senior student.
She took this opportunity to inspect the room too. She dared not do it while Mistress was present. The room had wall to wall pale tan tile, with dark grout. The walls were covered in white cloth, draped from floor to ceiling. She wasn’t sure were the door was, nor if the light that shone from behind the cloth was from outside or artificial. The ceiling had inset lighting fixtures, which were turned off.
“Your name is Anne?” Sam said.
“Yes, and you are Sam,” Anne said.
“You’re smart,” Sam said.
“I try,” Anne said.
“You’re not curious? Isn’t this the first time you’ve been left alone with a student since you began?” Sam said.
“True, but I find I learn more by listening. Is it true you’ve been here for more than 10 years?” Anne said. She looked at his face.
“Yes, that’s true. I’ve lasted longer than any other student. I’m not proud, that just means no one wants to accept my collar,” Sam said.
“May I ask a personal question?” Anne said, and looked at the floor again.
“Of course. I grant permission to treat me as a friend and equal, except for my duty of holding this tasty cherry for you,” Sam said as he dangled the cherry a little.
“What happened with Laury?” Anne said.
His look of superiority melted into a look of sadness. Anne had not expected that change.
“There were mitigating factors for what happened that day. I was one of the factors, but the other factor was an asshole student that flunked out a couple weeks later,” Sam said.
“So tell me your side,” Anne said.
“I had finally earned an hour off. For one hour I could do what I wanted, didn’t have to answer to anyone, like a normal citizen I could just walk around. I took my collar off, and went to get a frozen pop from the kitchens. I was able to go into the freezer and get it myself. I always want red and I know from your expression, this is childish. But it feels relevant, so bare with me,” Sam said as he adjusted his position, and switched the cherry to his other arm.
“I never knew you could earn time off,” Anne said.
“Yeah, I didn’t either, but there I was. Then a servant approached me, and said my services were requested by the Mistress, and would I please follow. I was shocked, and incensed. I was more pissed off and disappointed than I had ever been in my life. I sounds petty now, but I wanted to take it out on someone,” Sam said as he looked at his feet, which were stretched out in front of him.
“They summoned you to deal with Laury?” Anne said.
“Mistress did, and in retrospect it was one of the biggest lessons in my life. I learned humility; my time is not my own even when it is; I love to serve, even when it pisses me off; and under extreme circumstances I can control my anger. I’ve gotten better at control since that day, but even back then I was okay, which is why I’m still here,” Sam said.
“But what had she done to make the Mistress call you?” Anne said.