I opened a random door in that corridor hoping that I would find my classroom, desperate to get away from Harry.
Eyes were on me the instant I opened the door. Yes, I got the right room! The students were sitting in a semi-circle on wooden chairs, the teacher in front of a board.
There was light coming from the ceiling, and when I looked up I saw a stunning skylight. There were no other lights on although there was a lamp on a nearby corner. It wasn’t needed because the skylight lit up the entire room.
“You must be Summer!” said the male teacher who wore small, round glasses that made his face look bigger than it actually was. “Please that a seat.”
Anna waved at me, and I sat on the cold chair next to her “You looked started when you came in,” she whispered with a half-smile, “what was that for?”
“Uh- I thought I saw a rat outside, I think,” I said. Of course, I wasn’t going to tell her that I saw Harry. He warned me not to tell anyone, and I found out just the day before that news travelled fast in Hudson. I didn’t want to risk it, not on my first day of lessons.
I looked around the room. It was quite ample, but cosy at the same time. There wasn’t a grand piano in that room like the one Harry was playing, but it had a keyboard and loads of other instruments. It also had metal shelves that had many books - I suppose music sheets - but I wasn’t really interested in that.
My mind went straight to Harry after I analysed my surroundings. What the hell was that? Why did he act so aggressively? I was just listening; I didn’t do anything wrong. Probably he didn’t like to have an audience... But he should. He played so beautifully, and the piece was still playing inside my head. That was the only thing I could hear, the beautiful song. I was completely distracted, and I didn’t even notice about the world around me. The piano was always an instrument that fascinated me. The sound of the keys was so delicate and it could he so harsh at the same time. The glossy black colour reflected everything around it. That piano was so captivating, and the inside was so intricate, nonetheless wonderful and magical.
Before I knew it, the class ended and it was time for break. Anna and I went to grab a sandwich in the canteen and went outside for a walk.
“So tell me again,” I said as I swallowed the piece of bread I had inside my mouth “At what time does break finish?”
“We have twenty minutes of break time, so at eleven fifty,” she said. She also brought with her a package of milk, but I didn’t feel like drinking anything. We walked around the trees that were protecting our faces from the weak sun. Anna’s skin was incredibly white; I was a little tanner. I wished I could have a skin like hers. It looked like porcelain, flawless.
“So,” Anna broke the silence after some minutes, “are you thinking of joining any sport?”
“Tennis maybe,” I said. I have never played tennis in my life, but my other options weren’t very favourable.
“Good choice. Tennis is the best sport,” Anna was also in tennis. That was one of the advantages of it, at least I wasn’t going alone.
The day went on very quickly, and after dinner I went for the first time to the form eleven community room. Anna told me that it was most of the time crowded and loud, but apparently it wasn’t one of those days. Only some girls were doing their homework or chatting, the contrary of what Anna had told me it would be.
The room was enormous. Three huge curtained windows adorned the walls, the floor was covered in thick carpets, there were some tables against a wall with chairs and on the opposite wall were lockers. There was one with my name, and I went to put some of my books inside, which made me more excited than I should.
Lucy, Lottie and Amanda were already in the room when Anna and I came in. Lucy was sitting on the floor with her hair falling on top of the book she was reading. Amanda was sitting on the sofa writing a letter, and Lottie was lying on it with her legs on top of Amanda’s lap.
Yesterday I had forgotten to write a letter to my parents because it was late and I was tired, but seeing Amanda gave me the incentive to do so as well.
I sat on a table and pulled from my pencil case a blue pen. The letter started like this:
Dear Mum and Dad,
I am going to spare you of the same cliché saying that I miss you terribly because I know you know that already. Instead, I’m going to start by telling you what I think of Hudson. This school is amazing, no doubt about it. The food is delicious, and the bedrooms are cosy, and the teachers are all incredibly friendly. They talk to me as if I am an adult or something close. I like that. Hudson also has a vast library, and the gardens are stunning! It is true Hudson is over one hundred years old, and although the wooden floors make a squeaky noise when you step on them, and some of the corridors are spooky, it doesn’t matter because everything else is perfect! The friends I made so far are so sweet, especially Anna.
Anna was the first girl I’ve met here. We are roommates, and she was the one that helped me adjust. I have a feeling we are going to be very close. I also made a new friend. HE is very nice, and HE told me that HE loves Hudson. HE is called Anthony.
Why didn’t you tell me this boarding school accepted boys?! I have never heard of a mixed boarding school before; it is such an important detail! Well, now I know and it doesn’t really bother me because we only have classes together.
I can’t ignore the fact that I feel like I wasn’t meant to be here. Everyone here is so, well, normal. They are used to having hot showers (by the way, they are so good, possibly the best part of my stay), and they have five meals a day, and they own horses and expensive tennis racquets and delicate earrings and necklaces and huge pianos that must have cost a fortune.
I’m not going to lie when I say I fell out of place, and you must understand why. I haven’t used the twenty pounds you gave me at the train station, but I am afraid I am going to spend it on some extra item, that’s what they expect me to do. I hope you understand and don’t be mad at me, I’m doing the best I can.
Anyways, how is everything going in Switzerland? Is the weather treating you well? I want to know every detail!
It was Sunday morning, and everyone was talking about the Book.
On weekends, our breakfast ended at ten A.M, meaning that we had a little more time to eat so almost everyone went to read the book first. Just a couple few went to eat first to avoid the chaos.
I couldn’t help but feel like the only reason I was going was to read all the things Harry has done over the years so that I could confirm my assumptions.
I went - alongside with my roommates - to the main building where the Book was. It was in a special room where no visitor could see it I suppose.
“Good idea Mr Hansen,” I thought to myself as a smile crossed my face.
On my way, I saw Harry walking away from the room where the Book was with a smirk on his face. He looked at me, and I felt shivers run through my entire body. He then turned his head to face the floor and exited the building.
The room was packed full of students when we walked in. I could hear giggles and people saying “move over!” and “let me see!“.
I managed to get in the crowd and get closer to it. I could almost touch it, and when I did, my eyes scanned the papers.
Cain Mayers and Drake Fellow, From 9- Sneaking in the girls changing rooms.
Mary Sangle, Form 10- Plagiarising an English essay.
Harry Edwards, Form 12- Being outside after hour, skipping classes, rudeness towards teachers and staff.
I looked around and I saw a girl peeking inside the room from behind the opened door, a single tear running down her face. I deduced it was Mary, a tiny girl who could only be a Form nine student. Wow, that was more effective than I thought.
I felt a nudge on my arm, and I immediately walked away from the crown. I couldn’t see Anna anywhere.
What Harry did was bad, but I didn’t see anybody talk about it. It seemed as if it was a regular thing. He must have done pretty awful things before for everyone to play it cool with these ones. But what? The answer I was seeking was in that book. I had to read it. If I was going to stay in that school for a whole year, I had to know.
I spend the rest of the day procrastinating outside - because I had homework to do, but I didn’t feel like doing it - until my first tennis practice which was at five in the afternoon came along.
Anna and I went to the changing rooms and changed to our equipment. She wore a white polo and green shorts, while I wore a baggy black shirt and matching shorts. The precious girl in white, almost like an angel, and the poor girl in black. The irony pierced my heart, but what could I do about it?
We walked outside, and I was overwhelmed by the cold wind, hitting my bare legs and making me have goose bumps. I looked up, and the clouds were a shade of white-grey. Once we got to the courts, the female coach greeted me and gave me a racquet. We first warmed up by running around the court and did some stretch ups.
Suddenly, I felt a raindrop land on the tip of my nose.
“Coach, I think it’s gonna rain,” said one of the girls.
Coach looked up at the sky “Yeah, we can’t play on wet pavement,” she said disappointed “You are dismissed.”
It turned out I had warmed up for nothing. Well, it is what it is, I told myself.
“What a pity,” said Anna putting her racquet over her shoulders “I didn’t even get a chance to show you my skills!”
“I think I can wait for next practice,” I said and gave her a smile and a pat on the back. We went back to the changing rooms with the other girls.
Two of them were talking about Mary Sangle, the girl that I saw crying that morning.
“Are you guys talking about Mary? How is she?” asked Anna as she took off her hairband.
“She hasn’t left her bedroom once today,” they told us.
“Wow, that’s pretty harsh,” I said, folding my damp equipment and putting it inside my bag.
“She knew what she was risking when she copied,” said the first girl. “Now she knows not to do it again.”
After that, we went to have dinner and then we had some free time in the community room. Everyone went to sleep shortly after.
I was lying on my bed tossing and turning and I couldn’t fall asleep. I couldn’t get Harry out of my head. Mary was so sad, and probably the other two kids were as well, but Harry was smiling when I saw him. That’s not normal. Why did he act that way? What he proud of himself or was it all just a show? I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to go and read The Book that instant or I would explode.
I sat on my bed and put on some trousers and a hoodie. I didn’t even bother to put shoes so I wouldn’t make any noise. I got up, picked up my flashlight and opened the door. I tried not to make a sound, but for my bad luck the door made a squeaking noise.
“Where are you going?” asked Amanda with a muffled, harsh voice, as she turned to face me.
“To the bathroom,” I lied “I will be back in a minute,” I said.
I knew the risk I was taking. If I was caught I didn’t even want to think about what would happen, but curiosity was eating me alive, I couldn’t wait any longer.
I went down the stairs as fast as I could without making any noise. I opened the door of Hall A and run to the main building. It was freezing cold outside and raining, a lot. I ran and fast as I could, but I was soaked by the time I reached the door.
I entered the building, my body shivering, and looked around. It was pitch black, with the only light coming from the moon outside, which was not much.
I turned on my flashlight after I made sure nobody was there and walked to the room where The Book was.
I opened the door, and the room was empty. I approached the desk where the Book was laying open. I went to the first page. I could read “Year 1897/98”. Anthony told me the first entry was from 1905, and I thought that was an exaggeration. How wrong I was!
I turned the pages to this year’s date, searching for Harry’s name on the page.
“What are you doing up so late?” a voice called. I froze in place, unable to look back in the direction of the sound. I just stood there with the flashlight in my trembling hand. I turned around, and there was a body in the shadows.
“Did a cat bite your tongue?” The deep voice came into view, and I was shocked.
“Harry...’” I managed to say. Shit. My brain felt like it was floating, and I couldn’t think of what to do or say “What are you-?”
“I asked first,” he said. Thunder sounded outside and we both looked out the window in the direction of the bright light. The sky turned purple for a split second and then I looked at him again. I hated lighting. It was one of the things I was most afraid of.
“I was just-”
“What?” he was now approaching me. I managed not to flinch. I didn’t want to show fear. “Curious?”
“I better get going,” I said in a small and shaky voice. “I don’t want to be caught.”
“Are you telling me you are afraid of joining me in that pathetic Book?” he spat. I walked to the door looking down at the floor.
“Wait,” he said. I stopped in my tracks but didn’t look at him. “I know what people say about me, and you probably have an awful impression about me Summer, but remember, still waters run deep.”
I turned to face him “How- How do you know my name?” Since that day in the canteen I wanted to ask him that, but I never had the chance.
“News travel fast around here,” he said, a half-smile appearing on his face, “Besides, it’s the first time we have a new student worth of so much attention.”
He looked me in the eyes, and I could feel my cheeks getting hotter, a sign that they were turning red. “You didn’t answer my earlier question,” I immediately changed the subject.
“Ha! You wish...” he said. This time he laughed, and I could see his dimples in the dim light. He was still with his uniform on, except he wasn’t wearing his tie and the top two buttons were opened. He stood in a relaxed manner, completely oblivious to any kind of consequence. I, on the other hand, was dying to get out of there, my body feeling smaller than ever before.
I turned around to leave, but I heard him say “Goodnight,” in such a dark and sinister voice it made me run faster. A million questions started to form inside my head, more than the ones I already had.