21st chapter

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After four months of waiting for approval, Nora finally began working as an associate teacher in one all-day elementary school. She was given her own little classroom, which was obviously improvised for the purposes of this new program. There were three small desks in that classroom, each for four children, and the walls were decorated with children's drawings. The walls were painted yellow, while three shelves held all the props the school provided – a ream of blank paper, several picture books, coloring books, crayons, markers, watercolors, and paintbrushes. All in all, not too much, but with a little imagination, it could all be turned into something cool. The school worked in two shifts, so that meant that Nora's morning group of students, who were first and second-graders, had classes in the afternoon, and her afternoon shift consisted of third and fourth-graders who had their classes in the morning.

In those two small groups, Nora could already see big little people. There was a boy who worshiped the numbers. Whenever he learned a new math thing, he could not stop talking about it. Nora was fascinated by how he was able to assign a number to any object he saw. There was also a girl who kept taking coloring books, and instead of coloring, she would come up with her own stories. Another girl, who felt really strongly about colors, tried to explain to the first girl that she did not know how to properly play with coloring books. Nora could not wait for a moment in her life when she would be able to read that little girl's book, with the front cover designed by the one who loves coloring, of course. One boy would draw a spider on every blank piece of paper he would come across. Another boy, a second-grader, was consistently acting tough. He did not want to do anything, and according to him, everything was stupid. Until Nora turned on the music. He was immediately faced with a dilemma whether to give in to his desire to dance, or to stay cool, leaning against the corner wall as his older brother taught him.

It had been six months since she started working, and she has been feeling more comfortable and confident in her work every day. First of all, she was proud of herself. Her kids' achievements and all the praise from her coworkers and parents kept her motivated. What did not motivate her was her salary. It was ridiculous and humiliating in every regard, but Nora decided not to look at it that way at all. She had what she had, plus some extra from giving extra lessons to Robert. Viktor was sending her money for Jana's preschool, fortunately, because Nora would not be able to cover that amount herself in any way, nor the apartment they were living in. But she knew that was not going to last forever, so she had a clear vision and was sure there was a way to make something happen out of it.

- Are you worried about something, you look worried? – one of her colleagues asked her when it was just the two of them in the teacher's room.

- No, I just don't understand the salary figure from last month. The amount has been reduced by about 116 kuna, and I'm not sure why – Nora said with a raised eyebrow.

- Did you take any of your vacation days?

- Yeah, sure, I went on a trip around the world with this salary of mine – Nora replied sarcastically and laughed.

- I wasn't here one Friday when Jana got sick, but that can't be it.

- Unfortunately, my dear, it can. My brother is on vocational training; they deduct one daily wage from your pay for every sick day you take.

- I actually knew about that, for the matter of fact, but I guess it didn't occur to me. Yeah, it makes sense, it's the amount of a daily wage and 7 kuna for transportation.

Nora could not believe it. Actually, she could not believe she did not believe it. Why was she still surprised by all of this?

- For real, if it wasn't so sad, it would be funny. But don't worry, you're soon done with this stupid vocational thing, and everything will be different.

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