2 Weeks Later
I woke up with my mum opening the curtains of my window. It was not the outburst of light that made me cringe, but the sound it made. After all, my curtains looked more like fishnets than anything.
“Wake up darling, it’s time to go,” she said “you need to hurry up if you want to catch the train on time,” and with that, she left the room, busy as always.
“I’m getting up,” I said in my grumpy morning voice. I really didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay with my parents, and the thought of not seeing them for a year made me sick. In the past two weeks, I had been saying goodbye to my friends, which pained me beyond compare. I also had to say goodbye to my house, the house that I have lived for my entire life. I had to say goodbye to my favourite sweets shop, my absolute favourite place in that town. Reminiscing of the old times, I remembered my mum buying me a small bag full of sweets and gummies every year on my birthday, and when I was lucky, the owner of the store would give me an extra strawberry lollipop, my favourite of all time. I also had to say goodbye to the streets I used to play, which was actually harder than I expected.
I knew it was only for a year, but it was still a long time. Who knew what could happen in a year.
I got up and combed my hair, washed my teeth and face. The water was frigid, just a little string coming out of the tap. I put on my clothes and old boots, the most comfortable ones I owned. My mother said that when I arrived at the boarding school they would give me a brand new uniform, which I was rather excited about. I was going to have new clothes, and I was going to look like everybody else, which was reassuring and definitely calmed my nerves and put my anxieties at bay.
I went downstairs and took my old brown bag with me, throwing it over my shoulders. In a way, I was excited to go to London, and to see what the boarding school was like. I could always send letters to my friends to keep in touch. I had to see the positive side of all this, and even if the negatives were much stronger, I had to abstract myself from them.
My parents and I walked to the train station. It took us about half an hour, and for each step I took, I wanted to take two backwards. When we got there, the first thing I noticed was that the train station was packed full with people. After all, it was Monday morning, the beginning of the working week.
The images and sounds at the train station were incredibly distracting; a train was arriving, and the wheels made a click-clack sound on the joints as it came to a stop, making the piercing note of a horn go off; the rush of people, all speaking at the same time about everything and nothing and making as much noise as they could; the florist trying to sell her flowers and succeeding with distinction as a long queue of people grew minute by minute; a voluptuous woman running with her suitcase half opened and holding her hat in place as she ran to catch her train; the high ceilings of the imposing building making an echo to every sound, making everything three times as loud as they already were.
Despite all that chaos, I still felt apathetic, walking almost numbly through the sea of people.
We managed to get to the train and I still had five minutes before its departure. It was time to say goodbye.
“I will miss you both terribly,” I said and gave them the strongest hug possible.
“We will miss you too Summer,” My mum said. Her eyes were getting teary, but I prayed she didn’t cry. I couldn’t handle seeing her cry.
“All aboard!” A man dressed in blue with a hand bell shouted with a loud, raspy voice, above all the noise of the train station.
“No, no tears. I don’t want to see you guys cry,” I told them. They gave me a smile, but it broke my heart even further.
“Take this,” my mum said, handing me twenty pounds. Twenty pounds! “Use it wisely.”
My first reaction was to refuse the money. It was instinctive. I knew that that money was worth so much more than twenty pounds to my parents: they must’ve taken it from their savings, or what was left of it since we were drained of it.
“No, I can’t take it,” I raised my hand, urging them to put the money away.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You are going to need this.”
“But what about you, you also need it.”
“Don’t worry about us. We’ll be fine.”
Hesitantly, I took the money, folding it neatly in my pocket, careful not to bend the edges of the notes.
“Promise me you will write,” my dad said, placing his hand on my shoulder.
“I promise,” I told them. I picked up my bag and entered the train. I sat on a single seat on the window. The doors closed. I was holding back my tears. I didn’t want my parents to see me cry.
The train started to move. I waved goodbye, and when I couldn’t see them anymore, tears began to stream down my face freely. It was impossible to hold them in, although I tried my best.
After I calmed down and cleared my eyes, I rested my head on the window and looked outside. It was a sunny day, not a single cloud in the sky. I noticed a forgotten newspaper resting on the seat beside mine and I picked it up, reading the first page. In bold lettering, the words “Princess Anne Gives Birth to Boy, Fifth in Line to the British Throne”. I looked at the black and white picture of a newborn in his mother’s arms. The newspaper had come out the day before, on the 15th of November 1977. The first paragraph read “Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, has given birth to a boy - the first royal baby to be born a commoner for more than 500 years.” How curious was it that the fate of a yet unnamed child was already sealed, to live forever as the first commoner in five centuries. It didn’t seem that bad to me: he might’ve had no title, but he was still the son of a Princess, and living the life of one.
Placing the newspaper where I had found it, I contemplated the first indications of Autumn as I looked through the glass window of the train. However, I could still see some white daisies on the side of the railway track, and the leaves of some trees were still surprisingly green. It was such a calming sight, the transition between Summer and Autumn. I always loved nature, being outside giving me the feeling of being carefree. I didn’t spend too much time outdoors though since I was always sick with the flu. My parents struggled to keep me inside when it was cold to prevent that, but somehow I always managed to sneak out of the house just for a little while and meet up with my friends when I was younger. I remembered my mum buying me medicine and giving me a tiny portion. She needed to save as much as possible for next time because we were sure there was going to be a next time.
I started to envision what The Boarding School of Hudson would look like. I was joining Hudson in the middle of the first term. It would be awkward being the new one, but compared to the fact that I would be living with other girls who were smarter and wealthier than me, that was nothing. I had no idea if the school was big, small, how many students it had, and the uncertainty made me feel extremely nervous. All my doubts and fears were jumbled inside me and it only made me overthink.
After an hour and a half of staring out the window, I arrived at the London station where I had a taxi waiting to take me to the school. It was the first time I used one, so I was expectant.
When the taxi started to approach Hudson, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The school had three beautiful buildings, or at least those were the only ones I could see from behind the tall walls that circle the whole perimeter of the school grounds. They were of an old yellowish colour, and they were massive. The metal gates opened to let us in, and as I expected, I was in awe.
The gardens that surrounded me were breath-taking. The little road the taxi was going through was made of rough stone, big maple trees leading us to the main entrance of the school. Then I got off the taxi, thanking the driver as I did so. The letters “The Boarding School of Hudson” were boldly written on the doors, and then I saw a man approaching me. I recognised him immediately. He was Mr Hansen, the headmaster.
“Hello dear,” He said and shook my hand “Welcome to Hudson!”