Even More Trouble Than Before
We met up with Mrs Lowry again. She wasn’t very happy. You could just tell that her eyes were popping out of the sockets on her face and her face was red like a tomato. She took us down a couple flights of stairs into a place that looked very much like a jail cell. Many cells were lined up in a single row. There were also lots of filthy looking kids in all of them. It was normal for an older type of school to have jail cells for misbehaved students. The use of them helped to control the students, and after punishments, teachers would always notice a big difference in the troublemakers. I remembered Luke had informed me on my first day that he had been in these cells a lot. He also told me that staying in them was like being in a scary movie. It was quite dark down here. A few lamps lit the way. Cobwebs filled the alleys, and so did the stench of a blown up toad. The floors were covered in spiking, over-torn hay.
“You two will stay in one of these empty cells until school is over, with nothing but yourselves inside. There is a bubbler in each one and an underground toilet. This is where all the naughty kids go. And think of it, you still have four hours left of school. So you will be learning nothing in here, and you will then feel sorry for what you do,” Mrs Lowry explained furiously.
She pushed us into a cage together and locked the door. She disappeared in seconds.
“Luke, this sucks. What did we do wrong?”
“We did nothing, that’s the point. No one in this school likes us, so it’s not our fault. They are doing it so we will be expelled from the school. I know we are ten, but we are probably two of the best behaved students in this school, and yet everyone in this school believes we are troublemakers. We have to think of this as a game and try to figure things out. Jonny is one of the problems we are going to solve. We have to figure out how we can convince our parents and the rest of this school that it was all a joke, and we weren’t involved in any of it,” Luke said.
I understood every word. But what if we were left in here until Friday night? Then we wouldn’t be able to trick Jonny, but he would fall for it because his girl wouldn’t be there. It sounded all quite strange and I had no idea if the plan would work. I was hungry too. It was lunchtime and all Luke and I had access to was disgusting dirty water. Jonny came running down the staircase to see us. He had joy in his blushing face and the smirk that was forming on his face showed that he was excited. I saw a note in his hand.
“Ha ha, you are both in jail, losers. Pity you guys couldn’t be boyfriend or girlfriend. I got a secret date. Sucked in losers,” Jonny sang, poking his tongue out and running back up the stairs.
He had fallen for it. Maybe this day was getting better after all.
“Great job, Mildred, you are the best sister I have ever had,” Luke said in a bubbly tone.
“I know, right? I get all the ideas and others perform them. It’s so easy. I cannot wait until Friday night.”
“Me neither, it’s going to be a ripper.”
“Do you think we’ll get out of here before then, bro?” I asked.
“Don’t know. Mrs Lowry didn’t look very happy, and you never know when Jonny has another trick up his sleeve.”
Memories after memories, day after day, hour after hour, it would never stop. I needed to have a plan to get out of this cell. I wished there were a secret door or a key I could reach, like in the movies.
“Luke, why don’t we see if any of these bricks on this wall can move and get us out of here like a secret passageway?”
“Are you kidding me? That’s silly. There’s no such ...”
I looked for a while trying to see if any brick would move by pushing them one by one. By about the twentieth brick I pushed, the wall began to move. I could see Luke was trying to gasp for breath and was also trying to figure out what had happened.
“Are you a witch?” he said.
“Me, a witch? You have to be kidding me. I can’t cast a spell.”
“Prove it then.”
“Abracadabra zippidido, make Luke disappear into the zoo.”
Nothing happened, which was a good thing. I wasn’t a witch, and I couldn’t prove to him I was one. He apologised and said he would never criticise me ever again if anything strange happened.
The passage was dark and narrow as we made our way through it. If we had a torch, I could know where I was going. Right now, I was the leader and Luke trailed behind me. Drips of water fell down on my head, and then the drips increased, became harder. We must be walking into a sewer because the stench was horrendous. I held my nose and breathed through my mouth.
“Are you sure we’re not going into the sewer, young lady?” Luke said.
“We might be, but there is always a way out. We would just need to find a ladder and climb up it.”
“But there will be crocodiles.”
“Oh, stop being a baby. All you need to do is stab them in the eye.”
“What if there are too many and we don’t have a stick?”
“Then you run for your life. I can’t come up with every answer you will ever need.”
I finally saw light, so I walked a little faster towards it. That’s when I figured out Luke was telling the truth. We were in the sewer, and below us, ten metres from the ground in the greyish-green water, were crocodiles – and lots of them too.
“We should be going back,” I said, dragging him away.
“Would you rather be trapped in a cage or get out of this swamp using that ladder over there?”
I looked over at the wall. Heights terrify me. Already, I was shaking a little. It looked as if the ladder never ended, and we would keep on climbing into a very dark place. But I would rather escape than be trapped in a cage with crocodiles. It was going to be a long walk over to the ladder on a very narrow piece of wood that looked brand new. We would have to go one foot at a time, and slowly, or we would be lunch.
“I’ll go first, Mildred, so if anything goes wrong, you will be safe. Just wait here until I tell you to come over.”
“I don’t want you to go first. You are bigger than me. It could break on you. But then on the other hand, it could still break on me,” I said.
“Would you like to go first then?”
“No, go, I’m not looking. I really don’t won’t to worry about you falling at the moment.”
I looked away. Then I observed underneath me and gulped. There were about fifty crocodiles. My quivering increased.
“I’m over. Come on,” he called.
I made the sign of the cross and prayed to God I would be safe and nothing would happen to me. I put my right foot onto the wood plank. It was stable and wouldn’t move, so that was a good sign. I had never taken gymnastics or been in the circus, so this was my first time walking on a narrow plank. I pretended I was a ballerina. It worked. In no time, I was nearly off the plank. Luke grabbed my hand and pulled me close to him. I hugged him tightly and wouldn’t let him go. If only I could marry him. I would never find another man like him ever again.
“Follow me,” he said, climbing up the ladder.
The ladder was cold and rusty. How many splinters would I get? But I had already gone so far and couldn’t possibly think about that right now because I needed to get out of here. The higher we climbed, the hotter it became. Sweat dripped from my face. God, how I didn’t want to fall.
“Luke, I feel like I’m going to fall.”
“Don’t say that. Why don’t you climb in front of me? I’ll give you a hand.”
Luke stopped climbing and forced me to climb in front of him by grabbing my arm and holding ono the ladder with his other arm. His grip was so tight, I swear he could have taken off my arm.
“Thanks, but what if I can’t open the top latch?”
“That’s only in the movies. Hurry up, please.”
I climbed up Luke’s back and led the way. Now I was the one who had to be careful and do everything. I climbed up the ladder faster than Luke. I don’t know why, however. My muscles ached, and I needed to get out of this mess. It looked as if we were in a tube. We climbed up the ladder for about half an hour until we finally reached the top. I removed the lid and took a peek outside. We were on the road, and cars were moving fast over my head. I had to keep ducking.
“Luke, we reached the road. We could get squished.”
“It’s all right. Just stick your hand up out of this hole and make a distraction.”
“Then my hand will fall off. That’s dangerous,” I said, through gritted teeth.
“When there are not a lot of cars coming, push yourself up and run. Then stop the traffic, and I will come up,” Luke said quickly.
“But what if I die before we get to the other side of the road?”
“Then I’ll go back to the cage and explain you got eaten by crocodiles,” Luke said, laughing under his breath.
I scowled. “That’s not funny.”
“I know it isn’t, so hurry up.”
I waited and waited. There was no way we would out of here. The traffic had stopped. I think the traffic light was red. This could be our only chance to get out. I jumped out and pulled Luke up. The drivers in the stationary cars in front of us looked stunned and started screaming as if we were aliens. I saw some of them grabbing their phones.
“Run for it, don’t stop. They are after us,” Luke said.
Luke and I ran around bends and through bushes until we were all puffed out. We climbed a big, bushy palm tree. I wished I had water with me. I was thirsty and sweating all over. I felt like I was in a real movie when someone is being chased by a man with a gun.
“We are all clear, Mil. Did you get hurt? You’re bleeding all over.”
I looked down at my leg, and that was when my leg started throbbing. I hadn’t noticed the small, bruised cut on my leg that was streaming out blood, until Luke told me. Usually after people see a scratch or something, the pain gets to them. Without further comment, Luke pulled off his shirt. Luke had a decent figure with immense muscles.
“Give me your leg, and you can use my shirt as a bandage,” Luke said.
“But then you’ll get sunburnt.”
“I don’t care. Your leg is more important than me getting sunburnt.”
I pulled my leg over his, and he gently placed the bandage over the cut.
“Ow. That hurt, Luke.”
“Well, how else was I supposed to do it? We are in a tree, you know.”
“I know! I’m not stupid! The way you put it on hurt.”
“Sorry then. We will fix it up back home with a clean bandage and ointments,” Luke said.
“We have detention for the rest of this week. We are not allowed to go home until about six in the afternoon.”
“Oh yeah. I forgot about that. What are we going to do then?”
I had to think about this. I didn’t want to get into any more trouble at this point, and I was in great pain. My one obvious choice was to sneak around the back of Luke’s house, grab the first aid kit in the laundry, and run back to the school and hide. However, Mrs Lowry thought we were in jail. It was four o’clock, and we still had two hours left to before Mrs Lowry went to the cells to check on us even though we were not there anymore. I cannot wait until tomorrow when I get to hear how Jonny’s date went with his secret admirer, the dog. All I have to do is hire out a dog for the night, and everything will run smoothly.
We waited for about ten minutes.
“I think it’s safe,” I said.
“Well, get down then.”
Luke pushed me a little. I was down the tree in no time. As soon as I hit the ground, my leg wobbled like jelly on a plate. I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t feel my limbs at all. Luke saw me struggling and gave me a hand to stand up straight. Why couldn’t he be my boyfriend, not my stepbrother?
“Let’s go back to school, Mildred.”
“But we need to go to the movies and rent out a dog for the night there,” I said.
“Girls these days. You seem to have too many things on your mind at one time,” Luke said cheekily.
“Yeah whatever, but who cares? We will still be in trouble no matter what we do.”
“You’re right. Fine, I’ll go with you.”
The dog cinema was a block from where we were standing, so we didn’t need to walk far.
“Hello. How may I help you two schoolchildren today?” the man at the front desk asked.
“Could we please book to see a movie tomorrow, as well as a big dog for the duration of the movie?” I asked.
“Why would you need to do that? Do you not have your own dog?”
“No. Could we get one for the night?”
“It will be $400 altogether, which pays for the movie, food, drinks, and the dog.”
“Is there a cheaper price?” Luke said.
“Young man, there is nothing cheaper. You either take it or leave.”
“What if I told you that myself and this wonderful lady tomorrow are going on our first date, and we have no money?” he explained, putting his arm around me.
“Makes sense if it’s your first date, but it’s not enough of an excuse for you to get it cheaper.”
“But then what is a good excuse?”
“Listen, you two pay or get out of here. I will call security.”
I began crying.
“Why are you crying? This is not a joke. Get out of here,” yelled the man.
“My ... my sister ...” I faked.
“What about your sister?”
“Well, isn’t that a sad story.”
“Excuse me, Sir that was very rude!” Luke said, snarling.
“Just get out,” the man yelled again, with fury within his eyes.
“Have you ever had a twin sister, parents who hate you, no more relatives living today?” Luke asked.
“No. I don’t care, you know?”
“Well, sir, maybe you need to care, because Mildred was a twin until her sister died, she has no parents, no life, and no money. She would like to have a family and have some fun in her life. But since you don’t care, we are going to go.”
We started walking off until he called, “Wait. Okay, you can go in for free.”
“We don’t want to go in now, sir,” Luke said.
“Well, then get out of here.”
“We wanted to book for a friend tonight. It will be a surprise, and he is not to know about it. He is also coming in a blindfold.”
The man looked at us like he didn’t care. “This is a joke, right? Is anyone else but your friend and the dog going to watch a movie?”
I looked at Luke. This man was suspicious about us. I didn’t think he understood what we were trying to do. He wasn’t supposed to. Luke had said too much, and now it was my turn to smooth everything out.
“What my friend is trying to say is that my other friend has never had a best friend, I mean girlfriend, so for a one off we are going to trick him and …”
“Security,” he called.
“But, sir, I haven’t finished.”
“You are committing a crime, young lady, and it’s not going to work.”
Luke and I were trying to get out of the guard’s arms, but he was too strong. This was all my fault. I made Luke get into more trouble because of my stupid idea and am now committing a crime. Luke was going to kill me.
At the police station, we met up with Mr and Mrs Hostile. This wasn’t going to be good. Then I noticed Mrs Lowry and a couple more teachers from the school. I swallowed and my stomach churned. This was going to be hell.
“Mildred and Luke, what has gotten into you lately? Ever since you were brought into my family, Mildred, you have been in lots of trouble,” Mrs Hostile said.
“I’m sorry, Mum. Ever since my sister died, it has been hard for me, and I am not myself anymore.”
“I know, sweetheart, but you cannot make the world a better place by getting others like my son into trouble. You know that’s not how the world was made.”
“No cheekiness! From this day on, you both will be going to different schools, and I’m sorry, Mildred, but this means you will become a boarder.”
“What is a boarder?”
“You live away from home in the school you are attending.”
“But I don’t want to do that. Dad, Luke, please don’t send me. I promise I will change. I will.”
“I don’t know about that,” Mr Hostile said. “Your mother and I have already booked you into a boarding school 600 miles away from here, and Luke is going to go back to Sunvalley High.”
There was nothing to do now. My life was in complete ruins. Why was I ever born? I had to make the best out of it and accept what the policeman and my stepparents had said. I was going to boarding school, and nothing could change this decision. I took a deep breath. Maybe boarding school would be okay. I mean, how bad could it be?