The Boarding School

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Seven

Trrriiinnn sounded my alarm clock. My eyes opened immediately. Lucy groaned, and Amanda stretched her arms. If it were an ordinary Monday, I would think twice before getting up, but I was assigned a task. And what a pleasant task.

“Don’t take too long or people will notice you are gone,” Lottie gave her last minute advice.

“Got it,” I assured her. I put on my black blazer and the dark green tie and combed my hair really quickly. Then I left the room, and without even going to the bathroom, I exited Hall A and ran to the main building.

It was freezing, although some sun rays could be seen shining through the clouds that covered the sky. There was no one outside yet. I looked at my watch: 07:37. I had more or less one hour before classes started and if I was quick, I could even grab something to eat on my way back.

I entered the building, and as last time, I was really careful not to make any noise. I walked swiftly into the room and closed the door shut.

I looked around. This time, I turned the lights on, and I could see clearly the whole room. Nobody was there, only me and the Book which sat on top of a table.

I lost no time and opened it. First I went to find the date of this year, 1977. I would start reading from there because I had no idea when Harry entered the school. The last thing that was written was the one I read on Sunday. I started reading backwards.

Harry’s name was in every entry since the beginning of that year and the last one so I concluded he started studying at Hudson at the beginning of last year when he was in form eleven. I read things such as “skipping lessons” and “copying tests” and the most common “being outside after hour”. That could not just be it! Everyone at Hudson said that he was a devil and that he was a terrible person and no one should ever forgive him and that I shouldn’t talk to him...But there was nothing written to prove so. Maybe it was so bad that it wasn’t even written there, which made my blood run cold in my veins.

I looked at my watch: 08:13. I had sixteen minutes for classes to start. I immediately left and ran to the canteen.

It was nearly empty, with the exception of some older students and my friends that were sitting impatiently waiting for me.

I grabbed a sandwich before sitting beside them.

“So?” asked Lottie. I stared at her blankly “What did you find?”

Oh no! I cursed at myself. I was so focused on finding out more about that boy that I forgot about my actual job.

“Well, huh, I didn’t find anything...” I muttered. By the look on their faces I concluded they were confused, so I elaborated my response “I mean, I didn’t know what we are looking for or how to find it. It’s the first time I ever did this, cut me some slack!”

“Oh never mind,” said Anna putting an arm around my shoulder “We still have the three of us, so don’t lose hope.”

I was such a good liar. Was it wrong to feel proud about that?

“Even if we don’t find any, I can think of one myself,” said Lottie, “They don’t call me the Queen of pranks for nothing!”

After we all had laughed at Lottie’s statement, we fell silent. I didn’t know what they were thinking, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Harry. What did he do? Why doesn’t he have any friends? Why?!

“Okay, I can’t take it anymore!” I put my sandwich down and they directed their attention to me, startled by my outburst “I know I am new, and I shouldn’t mind anyone’s business, but can you please tell me what the hell Harry Edwards did for everyone to hate him?” I said as fast as I could, eager to get to the end of that sentence I was so hesitant to say. They looked at each other.

Lottie opened her mouth to speak “Summer I don’t think you should-”

“Just tell me. I’m dying! Since the first time I saw him I knew something was wrong, but I need to know what!”

Once again they exchanged glances, but Anna was the one that spoke.

“First let me say that you are safe, what he did will never happen again,” she said. I was starting to get nervous, but I encouraged her to continue. She spoke in a low voice, very quietly, almost as if she didn’t want to be heard.

“Last year, on the first day of school, everyone noticed Harry, the new kid. He wasn’t like us. He was so mean to everyone... He shoved people against lockers and stole their clothes in the changing rooms and humiliated them in front of everybody, until John...”

“Who’s John?” I asked.

“Wait, let me finish,” she said, and the others also listened to her as she continued “John was in the ninth grade at the time, one year younger than us. He was an ordinary kid just like any other, but for some reason, Harry picked on him more often. One day, Harry was assaulting him in the corridor, there were no teachers around. John was fed up and finally stood up for himself. John told Harry to stop and to leave him alone. Everyone was watching and laughing, how could a little boy like him say such things to the invincible Harry Edwards? He humiliated Harry, so naturally he was furious,” Anna took a breath before continuing.

“Then there was a fight. I don’t know the details because I wasn’t there, but it was pretty nasty. Harry broke John’s nose and left him lying on the floor unconscious.”

I just stared wide-eyed at her. It is hard to process such a horrible thing, and the images in my head weren’t helping.

“That’s not all,” she said. I could see she was struggling to find the right words, “That same night John ran away. That was when- when...”

She was not crying but was holding back her tears. I put my arm on her back and looked at the other girls who sat in front of me.

“A week later he was found dead on a riverbank,” Lottie finished in a monotone voice “Of course it wasn’t Harry that actually killed him with his bare hands, but still...”

I felt my heart sink and the colour fading from my face. Harry was a bully. No, he was worse than that, he was a murderer.

They all looked at me, studying my reaction. I didn’t know what to say. I was in such shock I thought I would faint.

“Let’s go to class,’” Anna said as she got up and adjusted her skirt “And Summer, don’t talk about this with anyone. We avoid that subject around here. And don’t think too much about it, it won’t help you.”

“Why wasn’t he expelled?! Why isn’t he in prison?!” I asked them as I stood up.

“Nobody knows,” said Amanda. She was now getting up and grabbing her bag “But he is different now. He is not a threat anymore, but I believe people don’t change that drastically... Be careful.”

I felt sick and scared. No wonder that wasn’t written in the Book... He didn’t need to be humiliated as a punishment, he needed to be sent to jail.

“Does everybody here know about what happened?” I asked in a whisper.

“Not everyone, the ones that entered the school this year, like you,” said Anna. She had always been at Hudson since the first year, so she knew everything of the past “Mr Hansen made sure that it wasn’t ‘divulged’. I know you want to know details, but we can get in trouble if we talk about this.”

It was evident she didn’t expect me to ask more questions. I just sighed and walked to my first lesson. I hoped I wouldn’t find Harry in the corridors, or else I wouldn’t know how I would react. I just couldn’t believe what he did... He made a fourteen-year-old kid commit suicide. That was unforgivable.

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