The look on Cherilee's face told Scootaloo that she had definitely not made it in time. She offered her teacher an awkward grin that was met with a disappointed look. Luckily, it only took a few seconds for Cherilee to let her breath out and point her hoof to the only empty seat in the classroom. Scootaloo gave her a few hasty nods before she zigzagged between the tables and positioned herself as neatly as possible in the seat, trying her best to create the image of a perfect little school-filly.
This image was broken quickly though, by the mean sound of giggling from a few seats in front of her. She sighed in annoyance and looked disapprovingly at the only two fillies she could imagine would rudely laugh like that: Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.
"I thought you were fast, Loserloo," Diamond Tiara bullied with her usual snobbish tone. "But I guess it's easy to get lost when you have such a featherbrain."
Scootaloo knew better than to start bickering with somepony like Diamond Tiara. She simply looked up at the blackboard and used her hoof to support the weight of her head as she leaned in over the table, blocking out all the annoying statics coming from this pest of a pony.
"Diamond, Silver Spoon, behave yourselves," Cherilee calmly said while staring strictly at the two fillies. They quickly submitted to the purple teacher's gaze and humbly sank into themselves as they apologized together. "Good," the teacher continued with a smile. "Now, seeing as Scootaloo decided to show up a little later this time, I'll just repeat my announcement. Perhaps this time somepony who's been... distant… will hear it as well."
She looked to the back at the dark-gold coated colt that was fruitlessly attempting to pick his nose with his hoof. Shaking her head, she gave an amused smile before continuing the announcement: "The half annual pony parent's consultation is coming up, so I'd like you all to remember and tell your parents about it. It'll be next Monday from 8-9 pm. I bet they will all be excited to hear how you're all doing in class, and don't worry if your grades haven't been perfect; they'll still be thrilled to see how you're doing with your friends." Once again she directed her gaze to the foal in the back, this time giving the blue, bucktoothed colt beside him a quick glance, and smiled at both of their clueless expressions.
Scootaloo swallowed a lump of spit that suddenly clogged her throat. She shakily raised her hoof with a wide, fake smile on her face, immediately gaining the teacher's attention. The look on Cherilee's face told the orange filly that she already knew exactly what she was going to say.
"Yes, Scootaloo?" Cherilee said with a hint of annoyance in her voice, yet her expression showed more concern than irritation.
Scootaloo put down her hoof, but maintained the forced smile. "My mom's at work at the same time the consultation is held. She won't be able to make it."
"Scootaloo," the teacher said with a loud sigh. "None of your parents have been to the consultation for the past two years. How can they always be this busy?"
"I don't know," the orange filly lied with a shrug of the shoulders. She did know, but the pride she had inherited from Copperbolt kept her from telling the truth. Although she was normally a terrible liar, she somehow managed to get her act together when it came to her pride. "I guess it's just a really hard job."
Another sigh left the purple teacher's mouth. "Fine then. I'll just have you bring them a letter like always. Anyways, we should get class started, shouldn't we? Let's have a blast of math."
While half the class smacked their foreheads at the teacher's terrible humor, and a few dimwits and nerds giggled along with her, Scootaloo relaxed her entire body and let the breath she had held in seethe out between her teeth. The worst possible thing that could happen in her own opinion would be if somepony found out about how she was living at home. She was sure that everypony would start pitying her or her single-winged mother, which was something she had trouble taking. Pity was the most shameful thing somepony could get, she thought.
When the bell started its chirming, Scootaloo fastened her grip on the table so as to not be swept away by the storm of foals and fillies, dashing to the freedom of the school's playground. As soon as only the dust cloud remained from the stampede, she got up and skipped to the door, thinking that she would use this recess to train her skills on the scooter. But Cherilee seemed to have other plans.
"Wait a minute," the teacher said from her desk desk, stopping Scootaloo abruptly in her progress.
The orange filly slowly turned her head to the purple pony, smiling widely as she did. "Yes, miss Cherilee?"
"I'd like to talk to you about your parents," she said with a serious face. Her eyes were glowing with concern, filling Scootaloo with the fear of her being suspicious about her, and possibly finding out that everything was not as dandy as she would have it seem.
"Why?" the orange filly asked as she slowly approached her teacher.
"I'm just a little worried. It's unusual for parents to have this much work."
Scootaloo did a quick sweep of her hoof in front of her. "Oh, it's not so bad. I guess it's just bad luck that it always happens at this time."
"Is that so?" Cherilee asked unconvinced, raising an eyebrow at the young filly. "So both your parents always have overtime at the same time?"
A little confused, Scootaloo tilted her head to the side and raised an eyebrow by herself. "Both my parents? I only have my mom."
Cherilee's eyes widened at this piece of information. She switched her stance from a relaxed one to a more stiff and awkward kind. "Just your mom?" she asked, clearly never having heard of this before. Or perhaps she simply forgot about this fact. "Then where's your father?"
Scootaloo looked to the side with a saddened expression. This was a subject she could be honest about. "…He left us while I was still a baby," she said in a low voice. "Apparently we weren't good enough for him."
"I see," Cherilee said with guilt showing in her eyes. "I'm sorry to hear about that…"
The entire atmosphere had become awkward. Cherilee and Scootaloo were both trying their best to avoid eye contact. The orange filly mostly wanted to just run away, but unless Cherilee gave her permission, she would have to stay. Instead she tried to end the conversation before the teacher would resume the original topic: "Well, it's fine. It's not like it's a big loss."
"Still," Cherilee said in a low voice, clearly pitying the young filly. "It must have been hard on you, having your father disappear like that."
"Why?" Scootaloo said, raising the mood a little, annoyed at the teacher's pitying tone and the assumption she made that it was 'hard on her'. She hated her father for having left them, so she never truly felt sad that he was not there. Still, there was always this empty feeling left when he was mentioned. "I've never met him. Sure it was probably hard on mom, but she's doing just fine, raising me alone." This was partly true, though Copperbolt's condition remained unmentioned.
"She sure is," Cherilee said with a weak smile, probably still feeling guilty for bringing up a sensitive topic. "But it must be hard for you two, living on a single pony's income."
"Nah," Scootaloo said as cheerfully as she could, faking every bit of happiness. "She's a former Wonderbolt. She can handle any job." Now the lies were restarted, yet Scootaloo kept her facial expressions calm. Copperbolt had not actually been working since she quit as a Wonderbolt. Dr. Heartfeld, not to mention her condition, would never allow it. They both lived on the monthly, Celestian welfare-check, which only just covered the living expenses.
"Former Wonderbolt? But last time I saw her, her wing was…" the purple teacher stopped herself midsentence when Scootaloo's ears lowered along with the rest of her head. "Ohh," she continued awkwardly, having realized the truth. "So that's why she's…?" Scootaloo nodded. "I see… I'm sorry…"
The awkward silence returned, this time along with a lot of sad thoughts in the filly's head. Cherilee did a few movements that showed just how uncomfortable she felt right now, which was probably why she uttered this next sentence: "Well, I think I've taken enough of your time with this… topic. Why don't you go enjoy your break? We'll… continue another time, shall we?"
Hearing this, Scootaloo did a few flexes of success inside her head, but her physical body maintained its composure. She simply smiled awkwardly and nodded hastily at the purple teacher and turned around to dart out of the room, eager to escape the questioning as well as the tense air the conversation had created. But even though she was happy that she had escaped another suspicion, she could not help but keep thinking these thoughts of her mother and father that their little chat had brought along.