The Boarding School

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Eight

Are people born evil or do they develop that trait during their life? Are they - immediately when they are born - bad and mean, or are they born good, but due to things that happened in their life, they change in such a way that they turn evil without a chance of ever becoming good again?

This debate had been the only thing on my mind for the entire day. I didn’t understand how someone could be so evil, to the point of making someone take their own life.

I had seen Harry a couple of times that day, but I didn’t stare like before. I turned away and flinched when I felt his stare on me.

I was now in my PE class. It was the last lesson of the day. It was also my favourite class because I was the best. Those rich kids have never played in mud or jumped from tree to tree or rode a bicycle with no helmet down a street full of dangerous cars. I was used to that kind of stuff, which made me feel more confident.

“Alright, settle down and gather around,” said our coach Mark. Mark was in his late twenties and everyone called him by his first name, not Coach like all the other teachers from that department “Today I am going to assess your running skills,” everyone started to complain “And take in consideration that universities are not only looking at straight A’s in Maths and Science, they want a student who is good at everything, so make an effort.”

“Is it going to be boys versus girls?” asked a big guy that everyone called Bud, even the teachers.

“Yes, Bud. Are you afraid to lose against a girl?” Everyone laughed in a chorus, making him turn bright red. Bud was a tall, rather chubby guy. He was also unyielding due to his constitution. He had dirty blond hair which resembled spikes, contrasting with his soft blue eyes. But even more noticeable than his physique, he had a big ego, and whenever Mark had the chance to piss him off, he would.

“The race is two hundred meters, and we will start with girls, to see the top three that will move to the next round. We will do the same with the boys. The second round is three girls against three boys. In that race, the first one to finish will have top marks independently of the time. The others will be assessed according to time. Any questions?”

There were none, and the girls took their positions at the starting line. I knew they weren’t very quick, and that I would win without making a huge amount of effort, so I was going to save myself for the finale. I wanted to surprise the boys and everybody else in the second round.

“On your marks, get set... Go!” shouted Mark and we started running. The not-very-warm sun was hitting my face and my breathing was accelerated. Instead of looking forward I looked around to see my position. I made sure I didn’t finish in first, but not in fourth. I kept a steady run, and in less than one minute the race ended and I was second place, just as I planned.

“Congratulations Anna for finishing in first, Summer in second and Lucy in third. Boys get ready,” said Mark as the boys took their positions.

As I expected, the guys made a much better time in general, and I knew it would be really hard to beat them. They were bigger, stronger, and quite intimidating to be honest. Bud finished in first, then James and Owen, all of them with massive legs which gave them an advantage.

The winners took their positions at the starting line.

“Good luck,” said Bud and he winked at me “You’re gonna need it.”

Dumbass was the only word that occurred in my head to describe him. I smiled on the inside but said nothing.

One advantage of being new was that I could surprise everyone, and I loved that feeling.

Mark went to the finish line and held in his hands a stopwatch.

“Ok!” He shouted so that we could hear him “On your marks...”

I could feel Bud staring at me. I gazed at him, and he looked away, a serious expression sketched on his face. This was going to be an epic fight.

“Get set... Go!” And we were off. Bud and Owen were in the lead, and I was right behind them. I sprinted to catch up with them, and I was side by side with Owen. The others were far behind. I wasn’t worried about them anymore.

“Go Summer! Win it for the girls!” I heard Amanda shout. I could hear everyone cheer, cheering for me!

After the turn I made a final sprint. It’s all or nothing, go hard or go home, I repeated in my head.

With all my strength I ran as fast as I could. When Bud noticed that we were side by side he uttered in surprise “What the hell?”

He tried to catch up with me, and I could feel his effort with heavy breaths, but I was faster.

I almost slipped due to the velocity I was running at, but I could see the finish line in less than ten meters, and I made an effort to maintain my balance. The rest of the class was euphoric which pushed me even harder.

I reached the finish line and when I stopped I was breathless. The other runners had already finished the race as well, but the whole class jumped on top of me, and I couldn’t help but smile.

How did you do that?! You are so fast! Oh my goodness Summer, you won! were some of the things what were said to me while I drank water and got my breath and heart rate back to normal.

Once the crowd dispersed, Bud approached me. He had sweat all over his front and looked exhausted, a deep frown on his face.

“You...” He breathed, pointing at me with his finger. I was a little scared of him, he didn’t like to lose, especially to a girl “How did you run so fast?”

“I don’t know, I just did it,” I told him with honesty, fearful that he would lose his temper.

“Well, there are not many people who beat me, especially a girl,” he gave me his hand and I shook it “Congratulations, but next time I’ll win,” Now he had a genuine smile on his face and looked rather friendly. I was extremely relieved.

We parted our ways and I turned the corner of the main building to go to the changing rooms. I started to think about my performance and I smiled from ear to ear.

“What a show you put on just now,” said a voice I knew clearly. I turned around to face Harry who stood leaning against the wall of the building “You fooled everyone and made them think you were not very good, just to prove them wrong. Smart move.”

“I don’t want to talk to you,” I said a little more harshly than I intended, fear invading my body. He was dressed in the uniform but didn’t have a tie and the first two buttons were open, just like the night of our encounter. His hair was a mess and he carried his blazer on his shoulder.

“What did I do to you?” He asked. He didn’t look taken aback, just talking casually as if my words barely surprised.

I really didn’t want to speak to him. Since I found out what he did to that kid I just wanted to stay away, although I still had questions I wanted answers to.

“Why do you want to talk to me?”

“I asked first,” He said with a grin on his face.

“Well, you gave me reasons not to talk to you...”

“Such as?” He stepped closer to me.

“I also asked you a question,” I objected and raised my eyebrow and crossed my arms.

“I see...” He said and tilted his head down “You are very different from everybody here... What are you hiding?”

“Summer! Can I talk to you for a second?” shouted Mark, who was fifty meters away from us. I looked at him and he was surrounded by a group of students from different years.

“I better go,” whispered Harry. He turned around the corner of the building and disappeared into the shadows.

I was frozen. I was stuck to the ground and couldn’t move. Could he know that I was poor? That was impossible... Besides, he had only told me that I was hiding something, he didn’t specify what exactly. Overthinking was driving me insane, but I couldn’t help it.

“Summer!” I heard Mark call me again. I turned my head and he was approaching me “When did you learn to run like that?”

“Oh, I never did. I’ve always been running, I guess,” I told him.

“I see,” he scratched his beard “I have an offer to make you. I have talked to the athletics team and they want to offer you a place in the team.”

I was taken aback by his words.

“I know that you are on the tennis team, but you have a natural talent and you should invest in it. We could win so many competitions and you would bring prestige to the school. We are not asking for you to accept right now, but if you could tell us by the end of the week-”

“What? No, I accept, of course!”

Mark smiled from ear to ear. He seemed likewise excited “Great! I am going to talk to your Coach right away to tell her you are joining us! Practice starts tomorrow after classes.”

Wow! I was once again stuck in the ground and couldn’t move, but it was for a good reason. They actually wanted me. Someone wanted me, and that was the best feeling ever.

I walked to the changing room which was now empty and stripped down from my PE equipment and entered a shower stall.

“Summer, are you in here?” I heard Anna’s voice from the outside.

“Yes, in the stall,” I said to her. “What is it?”

“A letter has arrived for you,” she said “It is in Mr Hansen’s office.”

Finally, I thought to myself.

“Okay, thank you!” I told her and I rushed out to get dressed.

Once dressed and with my hair decently combed I ran out of there and went straight to the headmaster’s office. I knocked at the door and he opened it with a smile.

“I believe there is a letter for me?” I said very politely.

“Yes there is,” he said and handed me the white envelope. “Before you go Summer, how are you finding Hudson so far? Are your friends treating you well?”

“Oh, very well Sir. I love the school, I never thought it would be this inviting.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” he responded, “You can go now, hope you have the rest of a good day.”

“You too Mr Hansen,” I told him with a smile and exited the room. I didn’t wait a second, I just opened the letter right away.

My parents wrote that they missed me and that it was normal to feel what I felt. They told me to try and fit in and to forget about what set us apart and focus on what brought us together. That way it would be easier, and I believed it would.

Just before I finished reading the letter, Harry appeared out of nowhere and said, “Excuse me,” I moved away from the door with a flinch. Was he following me or something?

I immediately glued my ear to the door when he shut it to try and hear what he and Mr Hansen were saying. I could make out some words, and they seemed to be talking casually, not like a student would to a headmaster. Weird. I even noticed Harry raising his voice a little... Maybe he was in trouble and he was called to get a punishment... That would explain his mood swing.

“I have to go now,” he said to Mr Hansen “I have things to do.”

He opened the door straight away and I was still with my ear against the door. I jumped backwards instantly, but he noticed what I was doing “Listening behind doors... A little rude, don’t you think?” With that he started walking down the hall, ignoring me entirely.

I just stared at him walk away while I held my precious letter in my hands. How could someone be so mean? How did he live with himself? Was he born like? Was he really that monster that everyone described, or did he still possess some goodness in his heart?

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