The Parting Of The Ways

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The Interviews

Julie was sat on Charlie’s bed carefully painting her fingernails a shade of lipstick red.

She had already painted her toenails. Even though Julie didn’t share a room with them anymore, she spent more time in their room than her own.

Charlie was drawing up a schedule for the tennis tournament tomorrow, and Athene was trying to read a book but hadn’t gotten very far as she was so distracted thinking about the next day.

“Is the coast clear?” asked Harry poking his head around the door.

“You know Mitch never checks the sixth form dorms,” smirked Charlie as she finished off her time table.

Harry, Anthony and Mark came traipsing into the dorm, and Mark was carrying a bottle of something.

“What the hell is that?” asked Athene raising her eyebrows at him.

“Gin,” shrugged Mark.

“You’re not even trying to hide it?” laughed Charlie.

“I’m sorry, but if we’ve got to stay up all night on a Friday night helping you two swat for those interviews tomorrow, we’re going to need something to liven things up a bit.”

“Alright Marky,” sighed Anthony, “but I’m not touching a drop, I need a clear head tomorrow.”

“Same here,” nodded Athene.

Mark got out four glasses and poured gin for everyone apart from Athene and Anthony.

“Right then,” muttered Harry having taken a quick swig of gin, “interview questions.”

“What is your name?”

“Anthony Charles Pennington,” laughed Anthony.

“What is your favourite colour?” asked Julie.

“Pink,” said Athene.

“Who is your favourite person in this room?” asked Mark.

“We need serious questions,” said Anthony shaking his head.

“Right,” nodded Charlie.

“Why Oxford and not Cambridge?”

“Well,” said Anthony, “Oxford is better for the Humanities. Brasenose in particular has a good history of teaching English Literature I just feel like it’s the right college for me.”

“Why do you want to study Classics?” asked Mark, “most people would say it’s a dead language.”

“The Romans and the ancient Greeks may have been gone a long time,” said Athene, “but there’s still a lot of lessons we can learn from them.”

They stayed up until early in the morning when Mr Pennington came to pick them up.

Anthony and Athene were in their best uniforms, with their shoes and badges brightly polished. Julie had pinned Athene’s plaits up, as they made her look older, and Anthony had even more Brylcreem on than normal.

“Good luck Tons,” said Mark giving him a hug.

“See you tonight,” called Charlie as they waved them off.

As they drove to Oxford, Mr Pennington asked them questions on everything from current affairs to which was their favourite Greek tragedy and why.

When they got to Oxford, they followed the signposts for the Brasenose interviews. As they walked past a tree, they passed George, Sarah and Kate from the Tolkien appreciation society who were with two other boys.

“Hey Anthony, Athene,” called George.

“You two here for your interviews?” asked Kate.

“Ready as we’ll ever be,” muttered Anthony.

“You’ll be fine,” chuckled Sarah.

“Good luck!” they called.

They followed the signs into the building where the interviews were being held, there were several dozen nervous students waiting with their parents.

“Anthony Pennington!” they called.

“Good luck Anthony,” said Athene giving him a quick kiss before he left.

Anthony went through into a room where there were three professors, who all looked past forty. There was one woman and two men.

“Anthony Pennington, from St Christophers school, Aldershot?” asked one of the professors as he sat down.

“Yes sir,” stammered Anthony.

“Did you have a long drive?” asked the woman.

“It could have been longer,” he shrugged, “only a few hours.”

“Why English Literature?” asked one of the men, “a lot of people might say it's a woman's subject.”

“I've always loved all subjects, but the thing I love most is books. I love to read, anything I can get my hands on.”

Anthony chuckled slightly.

“My favourites are probably Shakespeare and Dickens. Athene prefers Ovid, but each to their own.”

“Would that be Athene Richards?” asked the woman checking her list.

“Yes,” nodded Anthony, “my Dad brought Athene as well.”

“Well your academic record seems to be very good,” said one of the men checking his notes.

“Hmm,” nodded another professor, “you got A’s in all your GCE O’s, and your teachers seem to think you’ll do just as well on your A-Levels.”

“It also says here that you were offered a place at Harrow a few years back but you turned it down,” said one of the professors frowning slightly confused.

“Why did you turn it down?” asked the woman.

“Well, I was only fourteen. I didn’t want to leave my friends behind; I was doing very well at my studies at St. Christophers. Studying isn’t everything, if I’d gone to Harrow, I wouldn’t have been able to have as much time for my extracurricular activities.”

“You certainly are busy,” nodded the woman, “orchestra, prefect duties, head boy. You and Athene have even started a book club last year.”

“Do you think your academic performance may have suffered from this decision though?”

“I don’t think so no,” said Anthony.

“I always do well on my exams, and Athene and I do a lot of extra reading, always have done.”

“Well I think that’s everything we need to cover, this is the last day of interviews, you should hear from us within the next week,” said one of the men as they finished the notes, “if you could send Athene in please.”

“Thank you,” nodded Anthony getting up.

“You’re up,” he told Athene giving her a quick hug.

“How’d it go?”

“Alright I think,” muttered Anthony, “I might have blown it though.”

“You’ll have been great Tony,” beamed Athene before rushing off to her own interview.

After the interviews, they headed back to school and tried not to think about Oxford.

A week later though, Athene and Anthony were trying to do a History essay in the girl’s study, when one of the prefects came in.

“These came in the post,” he told them, “I think they might be important.”

They handed them a letter each before leaving.

Anthony pulled open the envelope and found a short letter.

“Dear Mr Pennington,

Congratulations on passing the interview for Brasenose College Oxford.

The university entrance exams will be on Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th of December.

Good luck, G. Taylor, Dean of Admissions, Brasenose College, Oxford.”

“Did you pass too?” asked Athene.

“Yes,” sighed Anthony, “but the exams are in three weeks!”

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