Chapter I: First Impressions
I was startled awake from the vibration of the SUV window. I
blinked repeatedly and rubbed my eyes with the palms of my hands
to clear my blurry vision. Sitting up, I rearrange my body to
find another comfortable position and to let the blood flow to my
legs. Clustered in the backseat with different sized suitcases,
duffle bags and taped up cardboard boxes with a few labeled
'FRAGILE' in capital black, bold letters. With dad at the wheel,
it didn't stop everything from knocking into me.
"Well look who's finally up." The sound of my mother's sweet
voice had me ask myself, just how long I'd been asleep for.
"We're almost there sweetie." Her hand took mine, rubbing it
with hr thumb reassuringly, and tossed a smile my way as she
looked over her shoulder
I nodded with a weak smile that turned into an exhausted yawn
making my ears pop. Then there was sudden urge to fall back
asleep, but I didn't want to be sluggish and have a bad attitude
once we arrived.
Stretching my sore arms and legs in the minimal space available I
let out a whiny sigh that my parents did not hear, at least not
over the song Dancing Queen by ABBA. God knows how many times
they've replayed it now. I plopped my elbow up on the arm rest of
my seat and placed my cheek in my hand to stare aimlessly out the
window. Because of the fog, the sky and the trees we passed were
shaded and lifeless. This type of weather made it look like it
was morning outside and not the afternoon. Painted over yellow
lines were the only things colorful as they arose off of the
road. It felt a little weird driving left side of the road; I
almost expected another vehicle to drive right at us.
Now that I thought about it, mom telling me that we were almost
there probably meant that it would be another hour or so till we
arrived, knowing her poor navigation skills.
"Alright, we're here Alice." Dad said as he eased on the brakes,
pulling up to the curb.
I didn't even notice until I looked through the window shield and
saw a large iron gate with a metal sign beside it. In elegant,
engraving, the sign read:
Perpetual Sorrow Boarding School of the Fine Arts.
Through the black bars, as the thick fog began to weaken, a
gloomy almost depressing building with magnificent gothic
architecture came into view. The gargoyles sitting on each corner
of the structure had chills running down my spine. From where I
was the school looked small. My face, once excited, had formed
into a wide-eyed, pathetic grin. "This is it?" still trying to
"Um..." Mom paused to take out a crumpled piece of paper from her
purse. "Yes it is, but it looks nothing like the pamphlet you
showed us." Like me, she tried to sound excited.
Whether this place looked…unique, I couldn't give up now. "Looks
can be deceiving, right?" I said.
"Well come on we don't want you to be late" Dad instantly jumped
out of the van, opening the backdoor door for me.
I scrambled to collect my bags and hopped out and giving a yank
on my suitcase that was jammed under my seat.
"Do you need help?" Mom asked.
"No, no it's okay I got it" I said, one final pull had me
stumbling back with it finally in my grasp. "Got it" A breathless
chuckle escaped me.
"Do you want us to come in with you?" Dad offered,
"Uh," I looked towards the school then back at them. "No I think
I'll be all right."
He gave a huff and rubbed the back of his neck "Okay then, now
come here." He opened his arms for one of his famous bear hugs,
which I expected from him.
Dropping my bags and smiling, I entered his back-breaking hug. He
squeezed me tight with my face buried in his chest, until I
coughed as a sign to tell him that I couldn't breathe, and right
away he loosened his grip allowing me to suck in the muggy air,
and I felt a light kiss touch the top of my head. While we began
to hug tight, something heavy dropped in my sweater pocket. My
hand came around and I pulled out a roll of twenty dollar bills.
"Dad…" I was in complete shock of how much money I was holding in
"Just in case, okay?" He rubbed my back and kissed the top of my
"Thanks." I smiled and nuzzled myself in his embrace a while
longer, then I felt a pulsating sensation from him.
My eyes slightly opened and he became a hollow dark figure that
only revealed his flaming pumpkin colored soul within his chest.
I was startled and hugged him tighter; it was a sudden surprise,
seeing their souls again. It's been a while since this happened.
And if it weren't for my dad's grasp I would have lost my
I heard the van door close and high-heel footsteps making their
way over. I peeked over my shoulder to see my mom tearing up and
fidgeting with her hands, until her flaring pale violet-red soul
Dad released me taking a few steps back knowing what was going to
Mom rushed over and smothered me, not giving me anytime to
prepare for her tackle. "Have fun, okay?" She took a deep shaky
breath. "And, and call us as soon as you get settled in."
I knew she means well and I didn't blame her. My eyes filled with
tears, and smother my face into her chest. "I will mom, and good
luck with your exhibits, okay?" Saying that, I felt her head nod
while her fingers stroked my black hair. I'd miss that. I rubbed
her back to say I have to go now. I could tell she didn't want to
let me go so soon, but she knew she had too.
"I gotta give you zerberts." She placed her lips on my neck and
blew, making my neck tickle.
I winced. "Mum."
Very slowly she let go of me and used her hands to wipe around
her eyes to fix her running make-up.
A hand rested on my head. "Let them hear what Alice May can do."
He winked at me.
Both, mom and dad walked away together, holding hands.
I held on to my golden locket tightly, rubbing the front of it
with my thumb. I stood there, watching them. I fluttered my eyes
and shook my head violently until I got to see the real them. It
scared me, it wasn't something I wanted to see in anyone. But I
couldn't helped it…
Getting back in their seats. Mom mouthed the words "I love you"
through the window and blew me a quick kiss. Dad started up the
van and gave a good-bye honk. They drove away flailing their arms
out the windows, I lifted my arm and waved back at them, until
that black SUV turned the corner.
I took a deep unsteady breath, and uncurled my fingers that were
clenched on to my necklace. Picking up my over-packed bags, that
I blamed mom for, I quickly tucked away the load of money in the
small side pocket of my backpack and headed for the gate.
Observing the grotesque gate up close now, it was old, lopsided
and rusted with hinges ready to break off at any moment. I
hesitated to pass through for the fear of being responsible for
the destruction of the school's entrance gate on my first day.
That would suck, a lot. So with barely moving the gate, I
graciously slipped my way through the bars and swiftly made my
way up the cobbled path.
My shoulders started to ache from the awkwardly shaped bags, and
Looking up at my so called 'new school', as much as I wanted to
get there as soon as possible to throw down these bags, with
every step I took, I seemed slow down.
I really wish I had taken up my dad's offer to have him and mom
come in with me. No, It was time for me to spread my wings, and
it's not like this is my first time being the new girl.
I took another deep breath, but this time I felt was relaxed and
when I looked ahead of me I saw a garden with an elegant angel
statue surround by a large patch of flowers.
The angels head was tilted and her hands were clasped together,
she looked as if she was praying. Chipped and crumbled, there was
also a deep crack running diagonally across her face, and with
the disturbing expression behind the gash I could feel she was in
agony from how bad she was treated. The roses were grew over the
angel and intertwined with one another, most were withered and
shrivelled making it a creepy, but I enjoyed the picture.
I almost ran into the front doors of the school due to my absent
mind. Compared to everything else I'd seen so far the large
arched double doors looked brand-new.
Wrapping my moist fingers around the brass door handle, I had to
forcefully open the heavy wooden door. I tensed my muscles and
cringed, expecting to hear an eerily long creak. Thank god, there
wasn't one. Just by standing in the doorway the place smelled of
a freshly bought book. I took a look at my surrounding seeing my
reflection through the marble flooring, and hearing my Converse
squeak as I walked. I felt my body lose it's balance, becoming
aware that I had ran into a pillar. I turned my head back to see
that four of the same pillars were holding up a balcony. My mind
played tricks with me as I started picturing it getting lower and
lower until it crushed me.
I was twirling around looking at the light shining through the
small crystals that were attached to the chandeliers above me.
Then the squeaking of my shoes stopped and transitioned into a
soft scratching sound. Lying on top of the marble was a very long
rich red carpet leading up two staircases. A boy sat on one of
them at the very top step and was grinning at me. I immediately
gasped and retreated back, slamming myself against the pillar.
"Mi dispiace, we don't want what you're selling" He
yelled down at me nonchalantly with words from another language
and a rich accent.
I grabbed onto my sweater, and retrieved my breath. "W-what, oh,
I'm not here to-I mean I'm not- I-I"
"Sto scherzando." His voice sounded playful. "Just
He had verdant colored eyes, sparkling from the lighting, brown
spiky hair that naturally shined, as his hand ruffled through it.
His expression showed that he was feeling a bit awkward, and then
it made me realize I was staring right at him without even a
I shyly smiled then turned away, letting some strands of hair
fall in front of my face. Blushing with embarrassment, I was at a
loss for words leaving us in an awkward situation.
He stood up and jumped on to the stair railings sliding his way
down towards me. He spread his arms out to his sides to keep
himself balanced. I backed up before he landed where I had been
standing. "Salve, my name's Eric, and you-" Eric
extended his hand for me to take.
"Alice May," The voice of a British accent cut in, "So glad that
you've arrived. I apologize for running a bit late to come and
greet you, I got held up in my office." A tall woman dressed in
a black blazer with matching bell bottom pants walked in with a
warm smile aiming towards me, but stopped, turning a hard glare
over to Eric. "Mr. Calistro," Her tone became stern, "Is there a
reason for why you're not in class right now?"
Eric dramatically crossed his arms and flung his head back to
look at her. "In fact I do, you see I was excused from class
because I had asked to go to the bathroom and while I was walking
back I saw our new student," He gestured his hands on to me,
"Ally- Alice here looking a little lost, so I offered to show her
I looked away trying to hold down my laughter knowing that was a
load of bull-crap. I even saw the woman grin at Eric doubtfully.
She did a once-over at me, "All right then, if that is the truth,
please make sure Alice is welcomed here at Perpetual Sorrow,"
Then her attention fully turned to me. "Ms. May-" She stopped and
quickly took a look around behind me "Where are you parents?"
"They're not-um-they just dropped me off, I didn't know you
wanted to speak with them." I felt nervous and my hands started
to fidget with my bag straps.
"No, no its fine, we had already discussed everything. I was just
a little surprised is all, usually parents come in and help
settle their child in and prolong there stay."
My parents had already talked with the principal? When? And
I raised my head and cleared some strands of my black hair away
from my face to give good eye contact. "Oh, well, you see they
were going to b-but they had somewhere else to be so…"
"Well, this will be a lot easier now, if you don't mind I would
like for you to come by my office once you are settled in,
please." She said, with a warm smile.
"Y-yes ma'am, I mean not at all." I bowed my head.
"Oh and before I go, here is your dorm key" Smiling again, she
handed the small silver key attached to a chain over to me. She
gave one last look at Eric before walking off, flipping her light
brown ringlet hair back and fixing the bottom of her blazer. She
walked up one of the staircases and disappeared.
I looked up at Eric who gave me a lazy shrug. "Let's go, and here
allow me to carry one of your bags for you." He reached over to
"Oh no, that's okay." I heaved up my duffle bag and backpack,
still holding onto my suitcase behind me.
"No, no, I'll be the gentlemen here." He removed the duffle bag
that lay on my left shoulder and slung it over his. I instantly
felt the pressure on my shoulder lighten, but felt my shoulder
stiffen. He motioned for me to follow him, walking up the right
staircase and down one of the few corridors.
About a half hour had passed since we began the tour and there
hadn't been much talking going on. Well, maybe some small talk,
but only about which classrooms were what. He started off showing
me all the art classrooms. Each one of them had its own art
medium and same went for the drama classrooms. Peeking in here
and there, I watched people create masterpieces from clay or on
canvas's, and dance around on a stage, acting out tragedies and
romances. We moved on to the music classrooms that were all like
a ghost town compared to the art or drama classrooms we just
finished spying on.
I didn't know if a sorry or thank you would suit this situation,
or maybe both. I bet the last thing he wanted to do was show
around a newbie, when all he wanted to do is ditch class, but it
was nice of him to do so. But I said the first thing that came to
mind. "I- I'm sorry that you have to show me around and
everything." I shyly apologized
"No, no per favore. Don't worry about it, you actually
saved my ass back there" He moved the bag to his other shoulder.
Probably wondering what the hell I packed that made it so heavy.
"I was running out of excuses to skip my classes."
We walked down a different corridor.
"R-really?" I smiled, but my voice was quiet and wary.
"Sì, if it weren't for you I would be sitting in her
office by now, receiving the death stare."
"Oh well thank-you for showing me around." Even I'll forget
everything the next day.
"You're welcome." He kindly said, then he pointed to the rooms
down the hallway. "These music rooms here are for practice, we
can use them anytime we want, and we have the poetry, writing
classes down the next hallway to your left and-"
As he talked on, I became distracted with his accent. What is
it? Definitely isn't from around here. Spanish maybe?
He noticed my stare. "There you go, looking at me like that
I slapped my hand over my face to hide the embarrassment. "I'm
sorry, I was just…you accent..."
"It's quite all right," He patted my shoulder comfortingly.
"Sorry, I tend to speak a bit of Italian; I've lived in Venice
all my life and haven't been anywhere else until now."
"Wow," I couldn't comprehend it. "So, you came to England,
because of this place?"
"Sì, just like you." Eric nodded, and then looked
stepped closer to me, looking around in case anyone was near.
"I'll let you in on something," He wagged his finger for me to
come closer. "Here at this school, it wasn't popular before and
still not very popular today, so what was decided was to invite
teenagers with artistic gifts from all over the world to come
here." Eric explained.
"Ah, that makes sense." I looked up at him, seeing his stare look
down the hallway.
"It's something like that, but it's kind of strano…weird. I don't
see why they want to keep this school up and running, I mean the
place looks like crap and we barely have any students as it is…oh
well." He shrugged, then suddenly coming to a halt and turned to
me. "You mind waiting right here for a sec?" He put my duffle bag
down in front of me
"Uh no, I don't." I studied him, seeing the panicked on his face,
which didn't seem possible for him compared to the laid back
attitude I've been seeing.
"Okay, io torno subito…I'll be right back." He sprinted
off down the hallway. I leaned up against the wall and dropped my
bags beside me, as I slid down and laid my head back closing my
eyes. My fingers started to dance along the floor and realized
that they were tapping along with the distant sound of a violin.
I stood up and wiped off any dirt that decided to stick to my
butt, while my key jingled on its chain.
Following the sound, I then started to quietly sing along.
"Hmm...I've learned to live half a life, now you want me one
more time, and who do you think you are running around leaving
scars, collecting your jar of hearts..."
I stopped once I reached the fifth music room that listed the
piano as one of the instruments. I raised an eyebrow in question
then pushed open the door and popped my head through first to
take a look, but there was no piano or violin. Music stands,
music sheets, fancy picture frames of what seemed to be past
pianist's and different colored piano benches. My ears still
followed the music and noticed two sliding doors that were
cracked open a bit. Tip-toeing across the room, I heard the
violin's music begin to fade. I slid one of the doors to the side
to see only a black shiny grand piano in the middle of the room.
No one was playing it, but I noticed another door leading out
into the hall that was opened. I walked over to feel the glossy
piano keys that my fingers tingled over.
"Ci sei. I thought you just left on your own but then I
saw your bags lying on the floor." Eric's voice boomed.
I slammed down on the keys, and everything rattled in the room.
"I'm sorry" I practically screamed then spun around to face him,
"I-I just heard someone playing-"
"You saw him play the piano?" He sounded shocked.
Him? The piano?
"Uh no, I guess he left before I had the chance to see him."
"I'm not surprised," He curled his lips. "So let's go to your
We exited through back doors of the school and walked through a
dead grass courtyard, with lose stone pathways and more chipped,
broken statues and withered gardens. Up ahead there were two
separate paths, one which lead up to another gothic castle, like
structure and another one with a small gate leading into a creepy
"Alice, it's this way." I heard Eric say as he touched my arm.
I felt him tug on my sweater, driving me away from the creepy
forest that I just now realized I was walking towards.
"Oops, I'm sorry." I shook my head and walked beside Eric
"Curiosity is what killed the cat." He peered over at me then
gave a warm smile.
I felt a knot in my stomach tighten quickly.
"Scherzando, I was just kidding." He rested his hand on
my shoulder, after seeing the fearful look on my face.
The only thing that came out of me was a guarded smile.
We came to a pause at a similar large arched doorway, with a sign
that engraved 'Dormitory'.
"Ladies first." Eric bowed and lugged open the door, using his
hand to motion my welcome.
"Thanks." I bowed back at him and entered.
The dormitory was a bit different from the school as it contained
a modern foyer that had a main seating area between the
staircases in front of a large lancet window. Floral printed
couches, chairs, and a glass coffee table as well as
gray-asparagus coloured drapes covering the windows, with a
matching large round rug that laid in the middle of the room.
Lastly, there were two curved staircases on either side, leading
up towards several hallways.
"As you can see there is another sitting area, oh, and down
there," He pointed down to a door that was tucked in behind one
of the staircases. "That's the laundry room."
"Oh okay, good to know."
Eric switched my duffle bag to his other shoulder. "What's your
room number? It should say on your key."
I fumbled my bags to retrieve my key. "It's…" I squinted at the
His eyes widened. "You're all the way down at the other end." He
"Oh…lucky me." I said sarcastically.
We finally came to a stop in front of a plain oak door that was
boring compared to other doors that were near. Some with signs
that said they enjoy their privacy while others with boy band
posters, hand drawings, paintings, and other…odd objects.
Eric must have seen me looking around because he patted me on the
shoulder, making me flinch. "We're allowed to decorate our
"Cool." I was slightly more excited now about this place.
"All right, so do you think you know your way around the school?"
"I think so…the instrument and vocal classrooms are down stairs
and visual and drama arts are upstairs, and poetry, writing
classes here and there?" I used my finger to point in the
directions of where I think they are.
"You got it, well I'll leave you to it then, I'll see you later,
Alice." He released my bag, just as I caught it with my hand
wrapping it around my wrist to get a better hold.
"Thank you, again." I said appreciatively.
He smiled showing some pearly whites and walked down the hallway
whistling a catchy tune.
I reached in to my back pocket for my key, stuck it in the key
hole, and giving it a turn to the right pushed myself into my
room. The room was beau-ti-ful.
The first thing I noticed was the queen size bed with a floral
pattern and decorative pillows that lay upon it. Then eyeing a
door that I was beside, I already guessed it was my own bathroom.
Walking slowly, moving about here and there, and all around the
room, I saw a Victorian styled white wooden fireplace, not to
mention a chaise lounge with a cocktail table standing in front.
Across from that were an old fashioned desk and a fancy attached
dresser and wardrobe.
I threw my bags on the bed, relieving my shoulders, and started
to un-pack. I took all my clothes, still having them in their
folded positions, over towards the wardrobe. I stacked and hung
my clothes, organizing my shirts by colors and my bottoms by
shorts, skirts and pants. I dropped my bags down on the floor, I
still had a few more things to unpack, but I felt exhausted and
fell back on my bed. Something felt a bit off and realized what
was missing. I leaned down and took out my black bunny that was
named Secrecy (that was actually printed on the tag).
"Welcome to your new home Secrecy." I adjusted his Lolita hat
while leaning him up against the pillows.
Something was poking at the back of my mind. I'm forgetting
something, I think it was...
I shot up and reached over to un-zip a small pocket of my
back-pack taking out my phone. I had to call mom and dad. Just as
I was going through my contacts list to click on mom's cell phone
number, the screen switched to the phone companies logo and made
that annoying ringing sound then shut off. It died.
"Perfect…" I groaned.
Well I guess calling them would have to wait now. Rolling over
again to take my charger out of the same pocket, I looked for an
outlet that was half tucked away behind the nightstand. Crawling
over I plugged it in, leaving my phone beside the antique lamp.
While waiting for my phone to come back to life I decided this
would be a good time to go see the principal. I just hoped I
could find my way there.
It must have been twenty minutes until I found her office. I'm
estimating. It didn't take me as long as I thought it was going
to take me, but then again her office was right in front of you
when you walked up either staircase. I stood in front of the
arched doors that appeared similar to the school's entrance, just
smaller and with a shiny gold plate bearing the name Principal E.
Siddens. I hesitated a bit then I ended up knocking lightly.
No way did she hear that, maybe I should knock again...
"Enter." A stern female voice yelled from the other side.
Taking slow steps past the doors, I looked down at my feet while
holding on to the cold door handle that my sweaty hands kept
slipping off of.
"Oh my dear, please no need to be shy come sit." Principal
Siddens announced in that thick, delightful accent. Rising from
her large desk covered with papers, she gestured her hand towards
an empty leather arm chair.
I hurtled over and sat down at the same time she did.
She folded her hands on her desk and stared closely at me. "You
know Alice, it's in fact very rare for us to receive a new
student here, especially for one who shows such passion. Around
here news about a new student arriving is quite something."
I spread apart my hands on my knees, and sat up straight. I felt
a bit weird with her icy pale eyes locked on to me. "O-oh yeah?"
"I understand that you sent your submission online along with
your audition video, correct? And might I say good show."
My face felt warm, realizing the compliment she gave me of the
video of me singing, which was embarrassing for me. I didn't
enjoy showing myself singing to anyone, but it was my only chance
to stay in one place for longer than a year.
"Thank you." I mumbled.
Principal Siddens broke eye contact. "Now," She searched all over
her desk, lifting papers only scattering them more. She bent down
to open a drawer taking out a black book. "Here is the schedule,
along with the school information. I've spoken to your teachers
as well you will be starting tomorrow." She looked back up at me.
"And we are most deeply grateful to have you here. It will be
wonderful to finally have someone open those vocal room doors."
I nodded, "Okay, thank you again." I took the book from her hand.
There were still many things that I wondered about this place
"And you might have noticed from our young man Eric, and
yourself, that here at Perpetual Sorrow we have tried to gather
many students from around the globe to share their artistic
talent with us. So hopefully one day they take their first step
into following their dream."
It was like she was inside my head, digging through my thoughts,
but that last part almost seemed typical for someone in her
position to say. "Eric did mention something like that."
She nodded. "So, are there any questions?"
Something sprung from the back of my mind and I had to say it.
"Uh, well, earlier you said you talked to my parents?"
Ms. Siddens elevated from her desk again, this time walking
around to the side and sitting up on the edge of it. "Ah, yes
well they just wanted to clarify some thing's with me about you,
like-" She stopped and we both could hear the phone that was
behind the computer. She reached over tapping one of the buttons
on the dial pad, picked up the phone and pressed it to the side
of her face. She held up her finger to say give her a minute.
"Elizabeth Siddens, speaking."
I couldn't hear who was on the other line, not that it was any of
"Yes, well-okay, okay, give me just a moment." She lowered the
phone to her chest and cupped the speaker. "I apologize for my
rudeness, Alice, but I must take this call" Her eyes looked back
and forth between me and the door.
"That's fine." I mouthed the words towards her, as I got up from
my seat. I broke out into a fast walk again, not looking back.
I closed the door behind me and leaned up against it, inhaling
the air around me. My knees stopped trembling, that I didn't even
notice they were till now. I figured now I would head back to my
room and catch up on some real sleep, finally.
I hobbled down one of the staircases and I walked between them to
exit on to the terrace and I gazed down to the courtyard below. A
group of students were hanging out around the swan statue
fountain. The swans necks were twisted and intertwined, their
beaks were opened for the water to spew out, but it seemed to be
turned off due to the chilly weather rolling in. The group of
teenagers didn't seem to notice me, too busy sucking up the
tobacco in those cigarettes that I could smell when I reached the
bottom of the terrace stairs. I tried to coolly saunter past them
in case I caught they're attention, but I suddenly felt
light-headed and my foot scuffed against one loose cobblestone
and had me stumble. My sight blacked out just for a moment, but I
managed to regain it and my balance. I quickly shot my head up
and a girl with blazing red hair in loose pig-tails that was
hidden from under a black hood smiled wide, along with the other
few of her punk styled groupies. My cheeks instantly felt
sizzling hot, as the rest of my body started to shudder. Red-head
raised an eyebrow and sucked up another puff of her cigarette,
then blew the smoky air at me. She sniggered with the rest of her
friends and had me sprinting back to the dorm.
I curled up on my bed with Secrecy clenched tightly against my
chest. Once my head hit the large fluffy pillows, my eyelids
became heavy. I couldn't help but think about what an
embarrassment I've made of myself since I entered those school
Then my head started to spin but I came down to the conclusion.
Just go to sleep.