Charlie Makes A Friend and an Enemy
Without meaning too, within the first few days of term the Upper Third form in Mr Mitchell’s house had formed into two groups. Anthony, Mark, Athene, Julie, Harry and Charlie had formed one group, and the other one consisted of Lucy, Lizzie and the other seven boys.
On Wednesday afternoon there were try-outs for the school rugby teams. Harry got picked to be a winger for the house and the school under thirteens. Charlie tried to try out for the teams, and although Mr Mitchell had said they would be honoured to have her on the team, if he played her in a match she might have got hurt.
Mark and Anthony hadn’t even bothered trying out, Anthony wasn’t much one for sports himself, but didn’t mind cheering from the side-lines, Mark though had been far more looking forward to Thursday evening.
After prep on Thursday evening, Mark and Julie were stretching each other’s legs on the floor, whilst also warming up their voices.
Tonight, was the auditions for the school choir, and the house play. There would be a school musical later in the year, but in the Autumn term the four houses put on smaller plays individually.
Also, that evening was the first meeting of the school military cadets of the year.
Charlie and Harry were both joining the cadets and were trying on their uniforms.
“Your hairs wrong,” muttered Athene not even looking up from her book.
“How do you know that?” snapped Charlie turning on her.
Athene bit her lip slightly.
“Sorry, I’m a bit nervous,” said Charlie, getting her temper back.
“It’s ok,” shrugged Athene walking over to Charlie with a box of hairpins.
“I know because, I grew up on an army base. The number of times I’ve helped a new female recruit fix their hair; I can’t count.”
Athene pulled Charlie’s short hair gently out of its usual ponytail, and redid it in a neat bun and then helped her fix her hat.
“Will I do now?” asked Charlie nervously looking in the mirror.
“Perfect,” beamed Athene giving her friend a hug.
“Good luck!” called Anthony as the other four left for their extracurricular activities.
Anthony looked around the dorm and sat down on the floor leaning against Athene’s bed. All he could hear was the radio on from one of the Common Rooms. He sighed contently and smiled slightly.
“What?” asked Athene laughing slightly as she got out some writing paper at her desk.
“Just listening,” he muttered, “to the quiet.”
Athene giggled slightly before going back to her writing.
Anthony listened to the soft scratching of Athene’s fountain pen mingling with the radio downstairs.
“It’s strange isn’t it?” muttered Anthony, “you don’t realise quite how loud your friends are until they go away for a bit.”
“Hmm,” agreed Athene.
“What you writing?”
“I’m writing to my family, Dad and Grandpa will be pleased to hear about my rugby, and Granny’s been worried about me making friends. Also, Mr Davies asked me to congratulate my Gran on her Welsh Cakes. Apparently, they’re better than his mam used to make.”
“Your family sound great,” beamed Anthony.
“I haven’t got any grandparents, just us boys, Dad and Mrs Brown the housekeeper.”
“What about your Mum?” asked Athene.
“Car accident,” sighed Anthony, “when I was five.”
“Oh,” muttered Athene as he finished her letters.
She carefully addressed the two envelopes, one to Major and Mrs Richards, Pembrokeshire Military Base, Wales, and the other simply Captain Daniel Richards, Malaya.
“Do you ever miss your Dad when he’s away?” asked Anthony.
“Of course I do,” chuckled Athene, “he’s my Da, I love him. I’m just used to it I suppose, it’s always been this way. If I worry about Dad or Grandpa when they’re away I’d just be worrying all the time.”
“You’ve got a point there,” admitted Anthony, “what about your Mum?”
Athene bit her lip slightly as she did up the envelopes.
“My Mum when I was two,” she mumbled.
“Oh,” said Anthony awkwardly.
“Sorry I brought it up, I know what it’s like.”
Anthony got up from where he was leaning against the bed and went through to his dorm quickly.
“I said I’d lend this to you,” said Anthony handing over his copy of The Hobbit, “sorry I forgot earlier.”
“Oh thanks, Anthony!” exclaimed Athene giving him a huge hug and diving into the book.
Anthony and Athene had known each other for nearly five days now and had a similar reading speed so were able to read over each other’s shoulder and share books.
When the other four got back from their drill practice and auditions Athene and Anthony were sprawled out on the floor of the dorm.
“Hey Tony Athens,” said Harry as he came into the dorm.
“How was the Cadet meeting?” asked Anthony.
“It was good,” said Charlie, “didn’t really do much, had an inspection and went over what the Cadets do, it was a bit boring really.”
“But next week, we’re going to get to try the obstacle course,” beamed Harry.
“Minus target practise,” said Charlie somewhat disappointed.
“They were hardly going to let us use a gun before we’re properly trained in safety Charlie,” said Harry.
“I know, I know,” she mumbled, “safety first.”
“How did your auditions go?” asked Athene.
“Great!” beamed Mark.
“The choir mistress told us we should try out for solos for the Christmas Carol service,” said Julie proudly.
“No surprises there,” said Anthony.
“What did you two do?”
“I wrote some letters home,” said Athene.
“And we talked about family,” said Anthony.
“That can’t have taken very long,” said Julie under her breathe.
“I’m sorry Jules what was that?” asked Mark.
“Well you know it’s true,” said Julie.
“You told me yourself! Her parents couldn’t even be bothered to drop her off!”
Athene got up from where she was sitting on the floor, she was starting to shake slightly.
“Julie,” said Anthony quietly, “I think you’ve said enough.”
“And look at those photographs,” she scoffed, once Julie had started on something, she didn’t tend to stop.
“Do you see darling Mummy in any of those? Probably had enough of her and ran off.”
“Julie,” stammered Anthony, “you don’t know all the facts!”
Athene was shaking her head frantically, tears running down her cheeks. She rushed out of her dorm before Anthony could even stop her.
“You evil spiteful witch!” screamed Charlie.
Julie had been smiling slightly smugly and didn’t notice Charlie throwing herself at her. Charlie tacked Julie to the floor and started attacking her, pulling at her hair and shouting at her.
“How dare you!” she screamed.
“It’s true though!” shouted Julie trying to get Charlie off her.
“You still shouldn’t have said it!”
Julie was frantically trying to get Charlie off her, but Charlie had had four older brothers growing up, she could more than handle herself in a fight.
“Charlie! Stop!” said Harry firmly as Mark and Harry pulled her off Julie.
They had to hold the squirming Charlie back from attacking Julie again. Julie was in hysterics on the floor.
“Let me at her!” shouted Charlie trying to fight off both Harry and Mark at once.
“What is going in here?” said a voice from the doorway.
The screaming and shouting stopped as the five heads turned to the corridor.
Mr Mitchell was standing framed in the doorway, his arm around Athene who was still crying slightly, his usual jovial expression had been replaced by a look of deepest disappointment.
Charlie stopped squirming and suddenly her body went limp, Julie stopped crying and looked at Mr Mitchell in half relief half shock.
“My office all of you,” he hissed, “now!”
There were no arguments, Julie got up from the floor and stared down at her shoes.
Anthony put his arm around Athene, and they all followed Mr Mitchell down to his office.
“Sit,” he said firmly.
Athene, Anthony, Charlie and Julie sat down, and Mark and Harry stood behind them.
“Will somebody care to explain, what exactly is going on here please?” sighed Mr Mitchell.
Anthony looked around and noticed that no one else was offering to speak up.
“Um well sir, Athene and I were hanging out in her dorm this evening, the others were busy with auditions and Cadet meetings.”
“Hmm,” muttered Mr Mitchell.
“Athene was writing home and we started to talk about family. When the others came back, Julie was surprised that we had been talking about family as she didn’t think that Athene’s family cared about her particularly much.”
“Thank you, Anthony,” said Mr Mitchell running his fingers through his short hair.
“Julie, what made you think this way about Athene’s family?”
“Well,” said Julie awkwardly, “Mark told me that her parents hadn’t come to drop her off on the first day, they’d sent someone to do it for them, and there aren’t any pictures of Athene’s Mother apart from the wedding photo.”
Mark bit his lip, that he was even partly involved in any of this.
“Julie,” said Mr Mitchell shaking his head, “you have got to learn to know the full facts before you make any assumptions!”
Athene was still sobbing, and Mr Mitchell passed her a handkerchief.
“The reason why Captain Richards couldn’t drop her off at school last week is that he got called back to Malaya a month early.”
Julie’s mouth opened in a slightly shocked expression.
“And as for Athene’s mother,” sighed Mr Mitchell, “she has been dead for eleven years.”
“Oh,” said Julie in realisation.
The reason why Athene’s parents hadn’t dropped her off wasn’t that they didn’t care, but because they couldn’t.
“Then Athens ran from the room in tears,” said Harry.
“And literally ran into me in the corridor,” nodded Mr Mitchell.
“And the screaming?” he asked raising his eyebrows.
“Charlie threw herself at Julie and attacked her,” said Mark.
“Eventually we managed to pull Charlie off her,” said Harry, “which is when you arrived.”
“Right,” said Mr Mitchell.
“Julie, Charlie, you will both be attending detention tomorrow evening after Prep.”
They both looked outraged.
“But sir!” protested Charlie, “she insulted Athene!”
“She attacked me!” said Julie starting to sob again.
“Quiet both of you!” he said firmly.
“You will both be receiving detention,” he repeated.
“Julie, for insulting Athene and upsetting her, Charlie for attacking another student.”
“But sir!” Charlie but in.
“I don’t care!”
“I don’t care if you were provoked or not. Fighting is never right Charlie. Anymore protests and you can have detention on Saturday evening too.”
Charlie’s mouth closed shut very quickly.
“I’m glad we’ve got that sorted,” he sighed after taking a deep breath.
“Light’s out is in ten minutes, get to bed, and if I hear even a squeak out of either of you before dawn, you’ll regret it.”
They all trudged up to their dorms none of them saying a word.
“See you tomorrow Athene,” said Anthony giving her a quick hug in the corridor between their two dorms.
Lucy and Lizzie were sat on Lucy’s bed as Lucy plaited Lizzie’s long hair.
“I’m sorry,” said Julie earnestly, “I didn’t know about your Mum.”
“And I should have known about your Dad,” she admitted somewhat foolishly.
“It’s alright,” muttered Athene.
Charlie sighed reluctantly.
“I’m sorry I attacked you,” she grumbled.
“It’s ok,” said Julie, “I kind of deserved it.”
“And I definitely need to learn to keep my temper,” said Charlie smiling slightly.