IN TIMES LIKE THIS I think to myself; if Britney Spears can make it through 2007, I can make it through today. But then my anxiety goes into overdrive and I suddenly feel myself craving the touch of an electric razor and a green umbrella.
The nerves were eating away at me causing my knee to bounce up and down, something my best friend Lola, would definetly slap the shit out of if I didn’t stop. My terribly painted nude nails were lodged into the wood of the bench I was currently perched on and my eyes were blankly gazing into the empty void of the brown marble flooring.
The Dean’s office door sat on the opposite side of the wide hallway and I couldn’t bring myself to look at it, feeling that I would fucking flatline in that very second. Classes had ended for the day only five minutes and forty-eight seconds ago—trust me I was counting—and yet I had been sitting here since half way through last period.
I had never been called to the Deans Office in the entire four years that I have been a student at Beaumont Prepatory School; the school of pep and bitchiness. That’s not exactly how the school’s slogan, embroidered around the large crest stitched onto our grey blazer pockets, goes but I just like to spice it up a bit.
So when my name was called half way through my AP Bio class and I glanced up to see everyone looking right at me—also for the first time might I add—it’s safe to say I was freaking the fuck out. I was so startled by the sudden call for my appearance with the Headmaster that I almost fell on my face while hastily making my way down the second floor staircase.
There was only one reason I could think of for this abrupt meeting; they were revoking my scholarship.
Beaumont Prep was entirely outside the realm of normalcy. It was completely different from the high school I would’ve attended, Beacon Heights High, had I not been given a fully paid, four year scholarship to one of the most expensive private schools in the northern hemisphere. While my friends were busy skipping class and making out under the football bleachers, I was here; in the unnecessarily large music room and playing until my fingers ache.
My mother use to say that I could play the piano before I could sit up, I was strumming on a bass before I could talk and I was singing before I could walk. I was enrolled in Music Lessons when I was in the second grade and I’ve been playing ever since. I loved learning how to play new instruments so by my thirteenth birthday I could play more instruments than I could count on both hands.
Even though my parents tried to hide it from me, I knew we were struggling with money. I would hear them arguing in the kitchen after putting my younger brother Parker and I to bed. It got a lot worse when my mother died in a car accident three years ago and yet my father never failed to take me to a music lesson or recital.
It took a massive toll on the three of us without Mom. Dad hasn’t even cleared out her side of their closet. So when I was spotted at my 8th grade graduation ceremony by a scout from Beaumont Prep, it was a lifesaver—literally. Even though I had to leave all of my friends behind and travel a solid hour by subway back and forth every day, I know how proud it makes my Dad and how much easier it is for him to pay for only one child’s education.
In my four years as a Beaumont pupil, I have learnt that if I don’t come from money I shouldn’t even bother so much as speaking to another student who does. My only sense of relief between these suffocating golden walls is the only other scholarship student in the school; Raja Patel who is here due to his incomparable chess skills.
I usually eat my lunches with him in the “chess room”—yes, there’s even a room specifically for chess.
The only time I can at least pretend I’m not enrolled here is on the weekends. Two days of the week where I can be a normal girl all the way on the other side of Portland in the tiny suburb of Beacon Heights. Well, it’s as normal as it can get away as I’m usually just drowning under the piles of homework for the cut-throat classes I take.
Classes that I probably will never attend again after this meeting. Dad won’t be able to afford to put me and my brother through school together as well as keep the lights on so I’ll have to help out and I’ll have literally no fucking qualifications for any job whatsoever.
We’ll probably end up on the streets, we’ll live in a shack until Dad passes away and Parker will most probably get hooked on some shit because homeboy is a crackhead and loves anything that looks like candy. I will never be able to become a stripper because I always manage to crotch-bang a pole everytime I go down one and neither a restaurant because I would ultimately end up eating all of the food. I’ll spend the rest of my life, walking the streets of Portland wondering where did everything go so wrong—
The door swings open and I jump like the coward I am.
“Sorry for keeping you.” Dean Richmond smiles as he holds the dark wooden door open, “It wasn’t long was it?”
I smile to stop myself from vomiting, “No.”
“Very well, please come in and take a seat Miss Brighton.” He instructs calmly as I take a shaky stand and pull my backpack up from my feet. The heels of my shoes click along the ground as I walk from across the hall and into the dark interior of the large office. Slowly, I sink down into one of the two leather chairs facing the large wooden desk.
“Do you know why I called you in here today?” Dean Richmond queries.
To end my fucking life.
“Well, you are quite the remarkable student Miss Brighton.” He begins as he unbuttons his stiff brown suit jacket and takes a seat on the dark leather chair. I take a quick scan of the surrounding room, realising that he really had a thing for brown. “You’re the top student in six of your eight AP classes, you’re the lead pianist in the Beaumont Orchestra as well as lead violinist, bassist and a spectacular singer in the Choir.”
Oh shit. Here we go.
Anxiously, my fingers curl around the hem of my school skirt and squeeze tight as I wait for the impending ‘but’. The Dean slides a light tanned folder of the surface of the desk and flips it open. My eyes trail down my name printed on the side tab; Eleanor Brighton, my great grandmother’s name.
“And it also says you’re a volunteer tutor, is that correct?” He questions once more and I nod retaining full knowledge that I have not once been called on to tutor someone because like I said, the students here are bitchy and spoilt and don’t want to be taught by someone below them or whatever high-class fuckery that is. “Well, it comes to my attention that a student at this school has been falling behind in his classes and his parents have requested a tutor.”
“And you want me....to tutor him?” I ask slowly as I point a finger at my chest.
The Dean places the folder down and rests his hand on top, “Well, I was hoping it would be you. Like I said, you’re a remarkable student and with your extensive knowledge you could get this student back on his fee—”
“Holy shit!” I sigh out in an explosion of relief as I tilt my head back, my face turning up to the roof. Then slowly yet all at once, I realise what I had just exclaimed in front of the Dean and I snap back up, placing a hand over my mouth, “I—uh—oh god—I’m so sorry. I came in here thinking you were going to revoke my scholarship but you were just asking me to tutor someone and that’s just a huge relief but now that I cursed in front of you I can just kiss my scholarship goodbye and now I’m going to end up on the streets—Dean Richmond, I cannot work a pole to save my life.”
“Mis Brighton, I’m not going to revoke your scholarship so you can calm down now.” The Dean explains and I shrivel back into my seat in embarrassment. “It’s quite alright, I hear worse language than that even from some of the student’s parents.”
“Okay.” I give him a sheepish smile before brushing the dark strands of hair from out of my face, “So who exactly is this student?”
“Benjamin Sinclair.” He explains with ease as my eyes widen significantly in shock. He notices, “I hope that won’t be a problem.”
The name Sinclair is a problem all by itself. His parents are basically gazillionaires with his father owning multiple Investment Banks across the world and his mother being a famous casting director and acting coach.
Benjamin Sinclair is the sole heir to all of that fortune and he damn well knows it. I’ve never met such an arrogant, demeaning and rude asshat like him. Well, the word met would be one hell of a stretch because god forbid he’d be seen so much as glancing at a scholarship student.
I’ve only seen him in the halls—the ones he basically does own because his parents invest so much in this damned institution.
But that’s not the only reason why I was shocked. Two months ago, Benjamin was involved in a car crash that left him temporary blind, several injured and one person dead. There were six of them, all drunk and trying to fit into the small interior of a Porsche. The one casualty was Adam Rutherford; the driver and the one who wrapped the expensive car around a tree at a terrifyingly fast velocity.
I went to his funeral along with what seemed to be the entire population of Portland. Those who were involved in the crash were still in hospital at the time. Slowly, one by one, the boys returned to school except Benjamin. I mean, I don’t blame him he had lost his sight even though it’s only temporary.
No one has talked about that night in a while, now that I’m thinking about it.
I lock my fingers together, deeply wondering if the Dean could hear my inward screams of rage. “No. Of course not.”
“I’m glad. Now, Mr and Mrs Sinclair have given the warning that Benjamin will not be the most compromising given the circumstances, but I’m sure you’ll be able to get through to him.” The Dean explains as I try not to grumble under my breath. He then stands and buttons his jacket once more and I clumsily follow, “Details will be sent to you by the school in the next day or two.”
“Great.” I was still smiling like a madwoman on crack.
“Just remember how great this will look on your college application, that is if you haven’t already submitted it.” He explains as his tall statue strides confidently to the door and pulls it open.
“Not yet...but soon.”
“Well then, I hope you have a pleasant evening, Eleanor.” Headmaster Richmond says his farewell and I can only nod at him as I quickly make my escape from the dark room.
I hated when people called me Eleanor, it made me sound so proper and prissy—something I am definetly not.