The school’s canteen was as packed as some of the lunch boxes were. A queue clung to the edges of the room, shortening as people got served only to grow as late arrivals appended themselves to the back of it. Small voices joined together to fill the air with a loud cacophony, added to by teachers demanding manners and servers verifying orders.
At one hexagonal table, tucked away near the corner window with a view of the school pond, children sat on plastic chairs with heads in their lunchboxes pulling their bounty out to trade and consume.
“Crackers and cheese, all right!”
“Trade you one for a ham sandwich, no crusts.”
“I’ll swap Pizza Bites for a Dunker!”
“Oooh, Mum packed kettle crisps today… what’ve you got?”
Looking a little sheepish, one of the girls looked up from her purple lunchbox and shrugged. “The usual.” She procured a kettle lead from the box, causing the boy to blush.
“Sorry, I didn’t-”
She shook her head with a smile. “I know.” Brushing her hair to the side, she slipped the thick plastic connector into the socket just under her collar bone. “Would you-”
The boy had already taken the plug. Pushing it into the mains socket, he flicked the power switch and returned to his seat. “Is it okay if I stop with you today? I’ve a book I want to read, so…” he trailed off.
A smile broke across her face as she nodded carefully. “That’d be nice, thanks.” A message flicked up in her vision, informing her of the upcoming switch to standby mode for efficient charging. “I’ll be asleep till the end of lunch, so…”
“You always do after sports.” One of the girls at the table said. “Eat well!” She added, followed by similar choruses from the others.
With a bigger smile on her face, the gynoid child rested her head on folded arms. Amid the chaos of the canteen she drifted off to charge, happy for the company around her.