I finally finished rewriting! Here’s the finished product!
“Bye mom,” I called down the hall towards my mother’s room as I swung my duffel bag over my shoulder. There was no response. I sighed and glanced at the clock that hung above my old stove. I had two minutes to make it to a bus stop that was almost half a mile away and catch the only bus to the plane that took us to school. This was not good.
I hurried down the hall and stuck my head into her room. She was laying, asleep in her bed, tangled up in some strange man’s arms. The puffy comforter had slipped on the floor and I could see everything. I shook my head. I should have known she’d bring home a one night stand the night before I left for school. I’d be gone until next summer, but I knew she probably wouldn’t miss me.
I didn’t wake her up. I just scrawled her a note which I left on the kitchen counter amidst the empty whiskey bottles, then left through the front door. I took off in a flat out sprint towards the bus stop, my duffle bouncing wildly against my hip, making running really difficult. I made it there three minutes late. If I was in first grade, the bus would have left, but after twelve years, the bus driver was familiar with my chronic tardiness and hadn’t even closed the doors yet.
“Thanks,” I panted, totally out of breath. He just grumbled and adjusted his sun visor as I climbed on board. The doors swooshed shut behind me.
I moved towards the back, to my usual seat, where Lucie Ross sat. Being my best friend since almost the first day of school, she as well was used to late arrivals.
“Jude! Nice of you to finally join us!” she grinned, and stood up to give me a hug, but quickly released me. “Gross you’re all sweaty!”
I just laughed and sat down, pushing my sleeves up and fanning myself. “Yeah I had to run here. But hey, how are you?” I asked.
“I’m great! It’s so good to see you!” she cried, tucking her blonde hair behind her ears. “How are you?”
“I’m decent. Glad to be going back to school-”
She cut me off. “Jude what happened to your face?” Her tone was suddenly no longer light and cheery.
I sighed, gently touching my eye. The blue and purple bruise that stained my face had faded since yesterday, and I had hoped Lucie wouldn’t notice. “It’s fine, I’m just clumsy. I-”
“Jude did your mom do that?” she asked, staring at me. Her blue eyes were locked sternly on mine.
I shook my head, not looking at her. “No I told you, I’m clumsy,” I said. I started absent-mindedly chewing my nails.
“Bullshit. She hit you didn’t she?” Lucie wasn’t accepting my lame excuses. I didn’t answer.
“You have to do something. Isn’t there anywhere you can go?” Lucie asked.
I shook my head. “I can’t run away, my mom knows everyone in town - she’s slept with over half of them. Besides, she’s my mother, I can’t just leave her by herself. She needs my help with things, buying food and stuff. She just gets angry when she’s drunk, but otherwise she’s fine.”
“It seems like she’s drunk a lot then,” Lucie said, looking me up and down. I self consciously pulled my sleeves farther down my arms and untucked my brown hair from my ear so all my scars were covered.
She sighed and dug in her bag for several seconds before pulling out a pack of gum. “Here. Give your nails a break,” she handed me a piece, and I noticed her perfectly manicured purple ones.
“Thanks,” I took it, grateful she was dropping the subject. “So, you ready to become a soldier?”
“You bet!” she smiled at me and slid down to the prime nap position in her seat. “I can’t wait for those four am runs and tiny meals.” I smiled too and mimicked her position.
The bus ride passed quickly and before we knew it we were climbing aboard the dingy plane for a bumpy, two hour flight to North-Eastern Minnesota. We shared earbuds and watched a movie on Lucie’s ancient tablet. Electronics that were capable of communication were banned at school - they took secrecy very seriously and didn’t want any information about their training programs to get out. Every year we tried to sneak the tablet in, in various hiding spots, but we had not yet managed to do so. I was hoping that this year would be our year.
As we enjoyed Men in Black, and watched Will Smith shoot his way across the screen, we embraced our last moments of uninterrupted snacking. At school, we were only allowed the minimum amount of calories based on our height to weight ratio to keep us going, which meant snacks of any kind were out of the question.
As fun as binge eating chips and gummy worms was, by the time the two hours were up, my butt was starting to ache and I was excited to feel the nose of the plane dip down, and brace against the thud of our landing.
When we rolled to a stop, noise filled the plane as everyone stood up, stretching and chattering excitedly. We pushed our way out into the isle and through the door, desperately trying to keep our balance on the plane’s rickety steps, and I looked up at the unassuming stone walls of the school. It looked like a castle only squished down and flat. Spread out wide along the huge grounds. All of the dorms were underground, while classrooms were on the main level. Bold lettering that was carved into the stone above the door read “Minnesota School of Military Training.” It was comforting, seeing that.
We filed up to the front door, and one by one, had our bags searched. Lucie had hid her tabet within a mass of tampons and pads, hoping that they would scare off the burly, male security guard, but no such luck.
“You’ll get this back at the end of the year,” he growled. We pushed and shoved our way into the school and down to dorms to unpack before dinner. Lucie sighed, looking around at the grey walls and small beds.
“Wow I almost missed this prison cell,” she said. I laughed.
“That’s right. I forgot Miss Fancypants lives in a four story house and her room has a built in personal bathroom!” Lucie was from a rich family - polar opposite from my living situation.
“So long, warm baths,” she threw herself down on the bed. “I forgot how bad these smell,” she said, inhaling deeply. I smiled. Jokes aside, it was good to be back.
At dinner, we found some empty seats and sat down. There were computers at every seat where we had to sign in to receive our food. Portions were specific to each student. We signed in, and when the cooks brought out our plates, we began to inhale our disappointingly small meals. Tonight’s special was a soggy vegetable medley, with a few pieces of grey-ish chicken thrown in.
When everyone was finished eating, our principal Mrs. Caldwell and her number two, the Medicines and Remedies teacher, Mr. Harrington stood up and switched a microphone on.
At first, They seemed to look polar opposite. She was short and overweight while he was a bean pole - tall and morbidly skinny. She was a confident woman, with a steel glare. Someone that you didn’t dare cross. And he was a nervous man. Always muttering and wringing his hands. Anything she said, he did.
But when looked closer, they were relatively similar. Both had shoulder length greying hair. Both had the faintest hint of a mustache coating their upper lip. And both were greatly disliked by students.
“Welcome back,” Mrs. Caldwell barked. Her voice seemed to shake the room. “I hope you all enjoyed your time off because as soon as you walked through the door, it ended. I expect everyone to meet outside at 4:00 sharp for your morning run before class. Attendance will be taken and if anyone isn’t accounted for they will be on bathroom duty for the next month.”
I sighed and stared at my chewed off nails, trying to decide if I’d rather get up early or clean the school bathrooms that had been stewing for the whole summer.
“Remember, check your P.A.s for your schedule every morning before each run, as class starts as soon as you’re finished and you need to have the appropriate materials with you.” P.A. stood for personal assistant. They were school-issued wrist bands that produced a small hologram of a computer screen. It was how they sent out notifications - emails were too easy to hack apparently. “That will be all. Lights out at 10:00. Thank you,” she sat down, followed by Mr. Harrinton though he had served no purpose, and the scraping of chairs filled the cafeteria as students headed to their dorms.
“So what do you think is worse?” Lucie asked as we walked. “Running or bathroom duty?”
I laughed. “I was just thinking that. It depends on how many miles we have to do, anything over eight and I’m gonna say bathrooms.”
“Kids are always screwing around the first few days which means Mrs. Caldwell is always in a bad mood. My bet is on ten,” she said. I groaned. I had tried to keep in shape over the summer, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready for ten miles at four in the morning.
Back at the dorm, Lucie spent time unpacking but I just left my duffel at the foot of the bed. I told myself I’d unpack it later knowing full well it would be months, if ever, before I put everything away into our small closet.
I collapsed onto my bed and fell asleep before it was time for lights out, but it seemed like only minutes had passed when an alarm went off, signaling morning. I groaned and rolled over, drifting back off to sleep. Half an hour later a second alarm went off. As irritated as I was at the early morning, I had to smile. Lucie’s alarms were always so reliable.
She had already gotten up, her hair was in two french braids and she was pulling on a pair of running shorts. I forced myself out of bed and I dug around in my duffel for my own pair of shorts, trying to fully wake up without my usual cup of coffee which I had gotten used to at home. My mom was always hung over and black coffee was her go to remedy so we always had some in the cupboard, but alas. Coffee wasn’t deemed essential for soldiers.
Just as I was pulling my hair into a bumpy ponytail Lucie gasped. “Shit we have five minutes to get to the grounds.”
I groaned again - the only noise I seemed to be able to make this early in the morning. The grounds were on the opposite side of the school from our dorm. We took off in a sprint and headed out, through the maze of stone halls and steep stairs and we skidded into the crowd that was huddled in the dewy grass eight minutes late.
“This is the last call. Jude Bennet and Lucy Ross!” Mrs. Caldwell was calling.
“We’re here, we’re here,” I panted.
“Well thank you for finally showing up ladies,” she said, coldly. Her tone confirmed my fears. She was mad and we were about to receive an unpleasant punishment. “Looks like you’ll be joining Mr. Bohr and Mr. Stryker, who also decided to make a late arrival, on three extra miles this morning, giving you four a grand total of eleven,” She nodded to Isaac Bohr and Finch Stryker, and I sighed, closing my eyes.
We hadn’t gotten along with Isaac and Finch since first grade when Isaac shot Lucie with a paintball and I punched him. Finch hit me and it had turned into a full on brawl in the middle of the hallway. Since then, we had been in close contact with them, due to the trouble the four of us always caused when we were together. We all had rather explosive personalities that didn’t mix well.
“Everyone else,” Mrs. Caldwell turned back to the crowd, “will enjoy eight. Off you go.”
We took off, running to the beat of Mr. Harrington pounding on a drum at a pace of a five minute mile, and I turned to Lucie. “Can you believe this? Eleven miles and punishment with Isaac and Finch! Talk about a shitty first day.”
The first eight miles passed miserably slow. Mr. Harrington’s drum beat hadn’t slowed and my legs were screaming for a break. When the rest of the school finished, Mrs. Caldwell wouldn’t let them leave. She made them sit, drinking deliciously cool water, watching while Isaac, Finch, Lucie and I continued to run.
“How you holding up ladies?” Isaac asked, not out of breath in the slightest. He came from a rich family like Lucie and I could imagine the large gym he probably had in his basement. I cursed myself for not running more over the summer.
“Fuck off,” I cursed him too, between heavy breaths.
The two of them just laughed. Finch seemed to be holding up just as well as Isaac and he looked Lucie and I up and down, right as we rounded the corner and came in view of the entire student body. “I hate to say it, but you two are looking a little rounder around the midsection since I last saw you. Rough summer?” he patted his stomach. “And hey, what’s with the bruises Jude? You got a moody father?”
He had no idea how close to home his words had hit and I snapped. With a sudden burst of energy fueled by anger, I flung myself at him, tackling him to the ground, shortly followed by Lucie flinging herself on top of us as well. All I could think about was hurting Finch as badly as I could.
Through the mass of arms and legs I could see Finch’s face and there was just enough room underneath Lucie to move my arm. Over and over I hit him, barely registering the pain in my own knuckles. I could hear him yelling and swearing while Isaac stood and laughed. There was screaming and whooping from the crowd as heavy footsteps came towards us.
Mrs. Caldwell ripped me off Finch with surprising strength and threw me to the ground, away from him. Lucie landed next me a few seconds later, spraying me with muddy grass. Mrs. Caldwell turned to look at us and rage had turned her face a scary shade of purpley-red.
“Bennett! Ross! What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she spat at us.
“He brought it on himself. He said some things that he needed to keep his mouth shut about ma’am,” I said from the ground. I didn’t dare stand up, so I just propped myself up onto my elbows. I was as angry as she looked, but I knew if I told her exactly what I thought of Finch and his mouth, I’d be expelled.
“And you decided it was up to you to reprimand him?” His face was a darker shade now.
I glanced at Lucie for backup but she stayed silent, looking scared. “He is a cruel person ma’am. And isn’t that what we’re doing here? Learning to be able to fight against cruelty and injustice?”
I didn’t even see her hand coming. She swooped down and slapped me hard across the face, unappreciative of my answer. I fell back down into the swampy lawn and pain burned into my cheek, numbing everything on that side of my nose. It didn’t last long though - I was used to hits like that.
“You two. My office now,” she snarled in a low voice. “Everyone else. Time for class.”
I sighed, and climbed to my feet, half heartedly trying to wipe the mud off. Five minutes ago, I hadn’t thought this day could get worse, but a trip to Mrs. Caldwell’s office ensured certain hell.
sorry first chapter's kind of long but don't worry it gets better :)