Telea found her nodding off, curled up in a ball.
"Here you are, Stacey," Telea shook Stacey awake. "You look tired. Come on up to our room and have your shower. Mindy's so excited to show you the new clothes she got for you. You may as well have an early night. You'll need the rest. The next few days are going to be tough on you."
The day had been so long and so much had happened. Yet they still considered the time early? How many hours were there in a day that they could fit so much stuff in it?
Stacey shook her limbs out, threw her empty paper cup in the bin and followed Telea to the girls' side of the building.
"Your tutors have pretty much finished going through your test papers. They were pretty impressed with your English paper and your math isn't too bad. It's just a bit below standard. They feel you should be fine with your level of science and they said you should have good aptitude for spatial awareness. You have a music exam and fitness test to do before breakfast tomorrow. After assembly, you'll have pretty much a full day just learning elementary Tadpole. They want to get your Tadpole literacy level up to scratch first. During the week, Phineas has agreed to tutor you in the basics of dance, and Orlan is going to give you a basic class on acting. If there's time, Beryl wants to teach you a bit on deportment and etiquette, while Hugh wants to also go through the basics of stuntwork - you know, how to fall and tumble."
Stacey could feel her head tightening up in preparation for a headache while she plodded up the stairs with Telea. It sounded like a lot of work.
"That's not even including all the other classes you'll need to take for your academics. Mindy and Aaron are trying to work on a schedule that you'll be able to survive through. They'll probably give it to you tomorrow morning after it's been finalised. Hopefully by the end of the program, you might be almost ready to get your secondary education certification."
"What I've gotten myself into?" Stacey groaned.
"Lord Huo - Big Boss said that he wants daily updates on how you're going. He'll probably be visiting us here more often, especially since you're the sole trainee under his specific guardianship. It looks like you've caught his attention. He's probably thinking of grooming you into a star if you learn fast enough and work hard enough," Telea grinned at Stacey's slumped shoulders.
"And before I know it, I'll have learnt to jump through hoops of fire and fetch on command," Stacey said in a gloomy voice.
"That's it," Telea agreed. 'That's the spirit of it."
"I guess the upside is that I'll get food, board and education almost for free," Stacey tried to smile but failed. Instead she rubbed her head. "So long I get to eat and sleep, I suppose I can put up with all the torture. I wonder what's for breakfast. I'm hungry."
"Haven't you just eaten?" Telea asked. "Aren't you full?"
"I did, but I'm hungry again. The doctor said I was overweight. I tried to reduce my meal size. I suppose a hectic schedule and all the exercise tomorrow will help me with losing weight."
"You'll get used to it. Weight loss and diets are the bane of being a well known celebrity. The camera makes us all look so much fatter and heavier than we really are. People don't realise just how hard we have to work to maintain our figures for them to see."
"Talk about it," Stacey said. "Even without the cameras, there'll forever be people who try to pull our self-esteem down to their level with their body image issues."
"You've had people on your back about your weight and image before?" Telea asked. "It sounds like something you've experienced before."
"Good point," Stacey held her index finger up in the air and then shook it at herself. "Very good point. Stacey, tell me, have you experienced such bullying before? You have, haven't you? You must have or you wouldn't be saying such things, right? Tell me. How did you take it? How did you handle it? I hope you didn't take it hard and beat them all up."
Telea laughed and gave Stacey a sideways hug.
"You're a bag of laughs, you are, Stacey. You keep surprising me."
"Please don't take anything I say at the moment too seriously," Stacey looked at Telea, feeling a bit drunk. Telea took her elbow to steady her when she missed a step on the stairs. "I don't think I'm really awake anymore."
"I can see that," Telea smiled. "Come on. Our room is here. That's your bed in that corner. No bunk beds in here, thank goodness. There's no cameras in the bathroom, so you're safe to change and take a break from the cameras in there if you need. Here are all the new clothes and things Mindy and Tonton bought you. They've already been washed and dried. Those two work fast. Let's get you a set of clothes and a towel. Here you are. Off you go. Go and clean up or you'll fall asleep on me."