“Shhh! Be quiet!” whispered-shouted Lottie. It was almost ten in the afternoon, past our curfew time. We were going down the spiral staircase to the music room. It was pitch black and as much as we tried to avoid it, our hurried footsteps made a huge amount of noise against the old wood. We were on our way to plan our prank on Mr Turner, our music teacher.
The plan was simple: Lottie would start by making a buzzing sound during the lesson and Lucy and I would start to wave our arms to shoo the fake bee away. Then more people would start doing it and in the end the whole class would be waving their arms like crazy. The aim was to confuse Mr Turner to such an extent that we would question his sanity. It would be hilarious.
“Okay, listen up,” said Lottie once we closed the door of the room “The whole class already knows what to do, but it can be a total disaster if you don’t put your acting skills on.”
“Don’t worry Lottie, we are brilliant actresses!” said Amanda with a triumphant smile “And Mr Turner is pretty cool, he will find it funny.”
“Yeah you’re right,” I told her “So why are we here again?” I asked them.
“To make sure the windows are opened and the instruments are out of the way. We don’t want to break anything, do we?” Anna explained.
We prepared the room which didn’t take a lot of time and we went back to our dorm room very silently so we wouldn’t be seen or heard. We ran through the green grass in the direction of Hall A, when we encountered Anthony walking in the direction of Hall B.
“Good evening girls,” we smiled at him “Can I talk to you, Summer?”
My friends looked at each other “We better get going,” said Anna and winked at me. Oh God…
Once they walked away, Anthony started to talk.
“So, were you guys downstairs planning for tomorrow’s prank?”
“Yeah,” I told him and put a strand of my hair behind my ear “It’s going to be epic.”
“If we are lucky we could be put in the book. It would be an honour!” He laughed. He took that book thing really seriously.
“So, why do you want to talk to me?”
“Well,” he said “I was thinking if you would like to go with me downtown next Sunday. We could have lunch or something, if you want to, of course.”
Wow. I was not expecting that at all and I felt so out of my comfort zone. He looked quite nervous and I felt quite sorry for him. It was just me, no need to be nervous. He also had some kind of expression on his face that I couldn’t quite name.
“Yeah sure,” I simply said before walking away. I immediately regretted not saying anything else to him but I was too nervous to stand there. Nonetheless, I smiled stupidly to myself and continued to walk in the direction of Hall A, my friends one hundred meters ahead of me.
I ran through the fields of grass until I reached Hall A. I ran upstairs to my room. There were a lot of younger girls in the corridors talking and fooling around, and the governess - which everyone called Aunt Marge - was trying to make them go to sleep. Aunt Marge She was a small lady in her late sixties. She wore grey from head to toe and her white greyish hair was in a perfect bun. I had heard a lot of stories about governesses that were really mean and strict, but she was an adorable person. She talked to me when I saw her in the corridors and was always helping everyone, that’s how she got the title of Aunt.
“Good evening Summer,” she greeted me. She seemed stressed and tired (I couldn’t recall seeing her any other way). I gave her a sympathetic smile. I could barely hear her due to the noise of the teens.
“Good evening to you too... What’s going on here?” I asked her.
“I’m sorry dear, I couldn’t hear you!” she said with a shaky voice, characteristic of older people, and then directed her attention to the girls in the corridor “Go to your rooms and be quite!” She tried to calm them down, but she couldn’t.
I was so pissed. Those rich girls though they could do whatever they liked just because this old lady couldn’t make them stop. Probably that was why I bonded so fast with Aunt Marge, I respected her entirely.
I had to do something, so I whistled as loud as I could. The sound echoed through the entire corridor and the wild girls immediately turned their attention to me “Would you be quiet? Go to sleep, there are classes tomorrow!”
I heard things such as “Thanks Summer,” and “Thanks for ruining the party!” but I really didn’t care. I didn’t come here to be friends with snob girls.
Aunt Marge approached me and put her hand on my shoulder “Thank you dear, I was just thinking about calling a teacher if they continued making so much noise,” she sighed.
“Whenever you need help you can ask me,” I said to her. It was weird because she should be the one to help me, not the other way around, but I honestly didn’t mind.
We said goodnight to each other and I went to my room. I opened the door and the girls were all sat on Amanda’s bed which was the nearest to the door.
“So what did he say?” asked Lucy immediately as soon as she saw me. The eyes of the girls were shining with curiosity.
“He asked me if I wanted to go downtown with him next Sunday,” I casually said. I took off my black blazer and hung it inside my drawer.
“Oh, that’s going to be the weekend before my competition!” said Lucy happily.
“Shut up it’s not your time to shine!” said Amanda raising her eyebrow.
“And what did you say?” Anna pushed me to continue.
“I said yes, but I don’t know... He didn’t say do you want to go out with me so I don’t know what this is. I’m confused...” I explained with a lot of gestures as I passed back and forth. I sighed. They were not going to understand my nerves if I didn’t tell them “The truth is, I have never gone out with someone. There, I said it.”
“Oh my gosh, really? It’s going to be your first date?” Lucy jumped with excitement.
“Yeah, and I have no idea what to do or say. I don’t even know if I like him that way...”
“Well, the first thing you need to know is that a date is not like a statement saying that you are dating, it’s just to get to know him better, nothing serious,” said Amanda.
“Yeah, so don’t stress out,” Lottie added.
I was really stressing out. I got really stressed out when it came to dealing with things that were out of my comfort zone.
“I don’t even know what to wear; I have nothing nice to wear...” I sighed. All my clothes were trash, and I didn’t want to go over them with my friends looking. They were old, had holes and were kind of dirty due to so much use.
“That is the last thing you should be worrying about,” said Amanda “We can lend you stuff and I am going to make sure you look beautiful!”
Good, I thought. I had wasted almost all of my money with a new pen and envelopes and new equipment for the running team. I didn’t want to spend the rest of it on some outfit that I would never wear again.
“But where did he say he was going to take you again?”
“He invited me to go and have lunch but he didn’t say where,” I laid down on my bed and looked at the ceiling. I sighed again, but I was deep in thought. “Don’t you think that Anthony is a bit different from the other boys?”
“He is a gentleman, that’s what he is,” said Anna “The others guys are so stupid... No doubt they are cute, but they don’t know how to treat a woman.”
“Yeah, that’s right” agreed Lottie.
After that, we put on our pyjamas and turned the lights off. The room was cold, so I pulled a blanket on top of my sheets to make me warmer. I could hear Anna’s breathing and Lucy shifting in bed. I was still not used to the idea of sleeping with other people in the same room, but I liked it. I didn’t feel alone.
I couldn’t sleep, my mind was too active to shut down, and it eventually took me to Harry. Was he as dangerous as the girls said he was? Why was he at Hudson and not in jail and why did he talk to Mr Hansen that way? Maybe Mr Hansen had called Harry so many times before to his office that they were close now, my mind joked. But there was something in the puzzle that didn’t fit right: how could Harry be in such a strict school after what he did? Why wasn’t he expelled and most importantly, why was he allowed to walk freely?
I bet he had a serious punishment after what he did to John, but I was not very interested in knowing. I just wanted to know why he treated kids that way. Did he take pleasure in torturing students in such a way to make them commit suicide? There I was, overthinking about things that weren’t my business. But I couldn’t help it; I was the most curious person I knew and know the pieces of that mystery was eating me alive.
With those thoughts in my mind, I drifted off to sleep, knowing that I wouldn’t truly stop waiting to find out more about Harry.
I exited Hall B, the boys’ dormitories, and went outside as I usually did at night. I was almost always caught by a staff member and sent back to bed with a lecture, but I didn’t care. I just had to go outside. I had to clear my mind of all the bullshit.
The cold wind of the night made me shiver but that was the last thing I was worried about. I walked through the football field and went to my favourite spot. I sat on the white bleachers made of rock and pulled out my cigarette package. I couldn’t smoke during the day because I would “traumatise” the kids, so at night was the only time I could do it. I put the cigarette between my teeth and lit it up. Finally. That little thing made all of my stress go away for a short amount of time, which was more than I could ask for, but it also made me think, and thinking was a trap.
I could see Hall A from where I was sitting. I could see some lights still on and some silhouettes passing in front of the windows. I wondered if Summer was one of them. That girl… For a new girl she seems quite popular, everyone knew her name. She was also somewhat different from all of them. Regarding her appearance, she seemed fragile, like a doll; it seemed like if you touch her you could break her, yet she was the fastest female runner I have ever seen is that school. Appearances are deceiving, I told myself. She was also so sweet to everyone, which was rather annoying. How could someone be nice all the time? It must be exhausting.
Could she know what happened with John? It’s fucked up because people could tell her their side of the story, but I couldn’t. Either way, even if I did tell her, she wouldn’t believe me. I don’t myself anyway so what was the point? If I knew that kid was feeling that miserable... I never thought that the things I did mattered to him.
I had been watching her and her group of friends for some days already. I couldn’t believe she was friends with that girl Anna. She despised me, everyone did but she was different, she really hated me and never looked me in the eyes. Then there was Amanda, that snobby, rich girl that was always combing her hair and spraying perfume. I didn’t know the other girl’s names but they seem obnoxious as fuck. Summer needed to find better friends, but then again, who was sufficiently decent at that school?
I finished smoking my cigarette and stepped on it, putting it out. I started to walk back to Hall B. There was no one in the corridors, they were all already sleeping. I went to my own bedroom (all the senior students had one of their own, thank God. I definitely wouldn’t share a room with anyone) and laid down on the hard bed.