The stench of burning surrounded me like a thick, heavy blanket. I coughed once. And then twice. My eyes began to burn painfully as I searched the room for any answers. My eyes landed on the bottom of my door, where smoke was floating its way into my room. I swung my legs over the bed and hurried over to the door in panic. I could only think of one thing as I stared at the smoke filling my room. Fire.
In the event of a fire, the smoke alarm is supposed to sound, alerting the occupants of the house. However, that did not happen in my house. Why? To this day, I do not know. What I do know is that I lost three very special people that day - two to the fire and the other to grief.
Many people said it was a tragedy, that not only struck my heart but theirs too. At the funeral, they cried and patted my shoulder sympathetically. It angered me. Rage simmered through me at the thought that these people acted like they had lost their loved ones. Some were close to my parents but others barely knew them. It infuriated me that they pretended to weep for an ‘old and dear’ friend.
Amber, my sister, didn’t say a thing. In fact, she’s barely spoken since the incident.
She’s grieving, that’s what I keep reminding myself. Amber has always been more closed off than me-- I used to tell myself she was fragile. In reality, that's not correct. She just...deals with things differently.
We may be twins but we are nothing alike. Amber is relatively quiet and reserved whilst I am bold and stubborn. She used to be happy all of the time whilst I was moody. So you see, we may look alike but we are very different. We are our own people. And we deal with things differently. I only wish she wouldn’t shut me out.
I lost my parents too. I’m grieving. I’ve had to deal with this all alone too.
My evil aunt (who I like to compare to the wicked witch) suggested that Amber and I attend a boarding school. Different boarding schools. Amber simply nodded her head in agreement, without thinking twice. It took me longer--I had attended regular school my whole life. All of my friends were here--I couldn’t just leave them. I needed them.
But at the same time, I wanted some time to start over without my parents. I had to come to terms with their deaths and learn who I was without them. I only realized we were attending different boarding schools the day we left. At the train station, I gave Amber a big hug, ignoring the way she froze. I promised her I would call her once a week. Amber didn’t say anything to me. But I did catch her watery eyes as she boarded the train.
Amber was going to attend a boarding school up North. It was quite new and very classy. I was going to attend one relatively close to home, a hundred miles away from London in the countryside. My boarding school was apparently eccentric and prestigious. When I googled it, I deduced two vital things about it.
Everyone attending will be snobby rich people.
And I was going to have to study a lot.
I’m still wondering how my evil aunt managed to afford our tuition fees. I doubt it was cheap. I don’t know my aunt very well, we barely visited her when my parents were alive, but I did know her job wasn’t that great. My family didn’t have lots of cash but they had enough to get by. We lived...comfortably.
My thoughts come to a halt when the Taxi driver indicates to the right. He pulls off of the main road, onto the country road. “We’ll be there in a second miss. It’s a gorgeous place, you’ll love it there.” He informs me, with a thick accent. I haven’t heard it before, it must be something local.
I give the man a tight smile and peek out of the window. “Thanks, I’m sure I will.”
A few moments later, I spot a large house. It’s surrounded by fields of grass and smaller buildings. I note children of various ages, playing sports and talking. None of them look at the taxi, all too busy with their friends. The house is gigantic, like a mansion. I suppose it would have to be big - this is a boarding house for rich children. The starting age here is eleven and it goes up to eighteen. I recall the website saying they had around one hundred students per year.
I also learned that some of them went home if they lived quite close to the house. But most stayed at the house.
The driver pulls up to the front steps and gets out of the car. I watch him jog around the car to the boot and unlock it. Sighing, I tentatively place my hand on the door handle and push it open. The smell of countryside hits my senses--the main smell I can recognise is cow poo. Lovely. I’m a city girl. Not a country girl.
A few students seem to notice my presence now and stare at me with interest. Nerves fill me and flow through my bloodstream. I try to control my hammering heart and plaster a nonchalant expression on my face. I wonder what they are saying about me. Are they discussing what I’m wearing? How I look? Are they saying I don’t look good enough for this place?
The idea that I don’t belong here hits home. I’m not rich, I don’t come from a wealthy family. I’m just ordinary. There’s nothing special about me.
“Miss, I hope you don’t mind me saying but there’s great sadness in your eyes,” The Taxi man states, trying to sound apologetic. “You have your whole life ahead of you miss and you’re too beautiful to be sad. I hope this place cheers you up.”
I give him a small smile and tuck a strand of my blonde hair behind my ear. I avoid looking in the mirror because I hate to see the sadness shining in my eyes. Anyone who glances at me can see it - it's obvious.
I want to tell the man that I have nothing to look forward to. My twin sister doesn’t want to know me. My parents are gone. I’ve been shipped off to a boarding school because my own aunt despises me.
“Thank you,” I tell the man and take a step back. From my peripheral vision, I spot a few girls lingering by the large doors, whispering to each other. A lump forms in my throat at the sight of them. He doesn’t notice my discomfort, thankfully. I don’t want anyone to know I’m slightly afraid of some teenage girls who have the power to make my life hell.
Not that it isn’t already. I don’t really see how it can be any worse.
He gives me a stiff nod and spins on his heels, leaving me alone at this new and scary school. I long to go back home, where my friends reside. Of course, there are some things I’m glad about leaving behind such as the bad memories. Nonetheless, things are going to change and I have a feeling it won’t be for the better.
A middle-aged woman exits the main school entrance and gracefully walks down the steps. Her dark brown eyes remain trained on me the entire time. Wearing the most expensive, Chanel dress in fashion and gorgeous five-inch heels, she screams money and power. She stops in front of me, her tall heels causing her to tower over me. I straighten my back and stare directly into her eyes.
“You must be Lily Cartwright.” She remarks, discreetly eyeing my form. Silently, I nod my head. “Good, I shall show you to your room. My name is Deputy Head Elizabeth. You will address me in that way, understood?” Once again, I nod my head. She gives me a look of approval and begins to walk back up the steps. When she notices I’m not moving, her lips twist downwards. “Well, what are you waiting for?”
I’m not even sure.
Bending at the knees, I pick up my suitcase and bag and follow Deputy Head Elizabeth.
“You will be sharing a room with Trinity Price, she is a nice girl who has promised to show you around.” She informs me, leading me into the school. I’m immediately hit with an old, book smell as I step in. Whilst the structure of the school is very old and eccentric, everything else is very modern. For instance, a TV has been planted on a wooden plank above my head, welcoming everyone who enters. The furniture is expensive looking and matches the brown and red colour scheme.
We head over to the large, main staircase where a large chandelier hangs over us. With great effort, I carry my belongings up the stairs, receiving no help from the Deputy. I notice something different when one student nearly comes up to me, her nose jutted out like she was about to sniff me. Luckily, I jerked away before she could actually do that. Deputy Head Elizabeth caught the girl doing and tried to discreetly give the girl a look of disapproval. There was something behind her eyes that made me believe she was hiding something. But with no physical evidence, I couldn’t exactly ask her what she was hiding.
Soon, we are walking along elaborate hallways, passing students who also give me peculiar looks. Like the girl before, some nearly come up to me and sniff me. What was going on with students? Why on earth would they want to sniff me?
“112,” The Deputy Head announces randomly. Startled, I blink at her dumbly. She nearly rolls her eyes at me but manages to refrain herself. “This is your room.” She elaborates, sounding bored. “Here is your key, your roommate has been informed of your appearance. She will tell you everything you need to know.”
Before I can say another word, she spins on her heels and waltzes off down the corridor. Her dyed blonde curls bounce on her back whilst her hips sway side-to-side.
I turn my attention back to the door, that has the number 112 printed on it. Taking a deep breath, I open the door, whilst trying to calm my nerves. I’m only meeting my new roommate, it’s not a massive deal. I can do this.
My eyes are immediately drawn to the beautiful girl sat on her bed. Her black hair flows naturally down her slim back. Her dark brown eyes lift up to meet mine casually and she gives me a beautiful and vibrant smile. This girl is absolutely beautiful. Like heart-stopping, other-worldly beautiful. She has flawless olive skin, sharp features, and a tall, lean structure. She could be a model.
“You must be Lily.”