Steel grey clouds drift through a late autumn sky, the world at our feet brittle, and tasteless. Solitude and cold northern air floats in abundance. A young woman walks, lightly, over the frosted grass by the banks of the old river, nameless, and quite still as if almost dead. The face is small, well rounded giving an appearance of childishness demur to her age, the eyes bright, alive, and a cherry wood brown.
Her skin, pale yet pleasing, and lips burst colour giving a sharp natural contrast, yet seemingly beauty is not an object that can be obtained, either though natures commodity’s being misplaced or lack of well-being resulting in little care or observation. To put it simply, a girl with what a painter may call the elements of the divine organised in a way such so as to hold her mortal, a real and honest girl in each syllable of her form, neither pleasant nor unpleasant to the eye.
As breathes, she watches the clouds of condensed vapour rise, floating for a second before fading into nothing. She fancies herself perhaps a great fire dragon, who roars an ocean of scarlet flame, or a spirit that hides in the chimneys and amongst the stars, weaving the very clouds from its emerald lungs.
A harsh wind billows up her skirt and slashes out at her frail limbs with a surprising furiousness, as if almost to punish her for her dreams of fantasy, her childish weakness. She is not a child, and pulling at the starched crimson coat of felted wool tighter around her thin shoulders she pushes her way forward. The wind continues to rage, and her shoe scuffs at the icy ground, she stumbles.
It’s an hour before she arrives at the bleak rusting gates of St Clément’s. The cinder black tarmac squeaks under her footsteps as she walks towards the main school building, the grounds are deserted and barren of life of any kind, bleak and silent. It makes the girl both uncomfortable and nervous, and she clenches her small fists in her pockets, digging the nails into her palms.
Mrs Beaston approaches from the main doors. Her face is prim and thin boned, her pursed lips painted a fine shade of beige. She wears a thin blue suit that has an iridescent quality, the pencil skirt clings tightly to her wide hips and flabby thighs in an attempt at giving the middle aged headmistress something of a form, though to conform to this restriction she shuffles along awkwardly in her patent blue heels as though her upper legs are bound together.
“Good morning.” She says sharply with little emphasis or intention. “Good morning” the girl echo’s back at her. Mrs Beaston makes a motion as if to indicate the girl should follow, before turning and walking back towards the polished wooden doorway from whence she came. The corridors of the school are plain, blank and dull. They pass one maybe two cabinets, and a couple of thin grey noticeboards riddled with the labours of student’s young and old, a crumpled painting, a gardening essay.
The girl stares at her feet, her soft leather shoes, thud against the floor, a steady and tiresome rhythm. “Correct posture please” says Mrs Beaston curtly, and the girl does as she is told. They pass many silent classrooms, the girl might a first assume they are empty, but then realises that this school is merely cowering from her in obedience and prosperity.
They arrive at a doorway fitted with clouded glass and a small brass plaque which read ‘7B’ “this will be your form room.” Says Mrs Beaston. “I am incredibly busy today; it is…” she looks at an enamel wristwatch. “10:35 Am. I must return to my office, but if you are confused at all during lessons or finding your way, consult a member of staff or student. As today is your first day, you are not required to wear the uniform but please be sure to arrive dressed in appropriate attire by tomorrow morning.” “Yes miss.” The girl mumbles, gazing at the polished floor.
“Yes Mrs Beaston, speak clearly and look me in the eye.” Says Mrs Beaston. “Yes Mrs Beaston.” Parrots the girl. Mrs Beaston seems satisfied, and turns to click clack her way down the corridor. The girl watches her leave curiously, before she turns a corner and disappears. Turning to knock on the door, she might have hesitated for a moment before knocking sharply on the clouded glass. The door is soon opened by a tall beansprout thin man; he peers at her though his thin polished glasses, before ushering her into the room.
The class looks up from their work, and stare blatantly at this new arrival, a sudden and unexpected change in their dreary routine. This kind of attention makes the young woman before them feel perhaps slightly sick, and she glances nervously at her new form tutor, who smiles at her in a way he thinks to be encouraging. He turns to the class, and announces to them “If I could have your attention for a moment ladies, I would like to introduce you to our new student.” He pauses, and she stands awkwardly gazing out at the sea of intent faces
“Um…” she mumbles, suddenly forgetting her own name, everything about herself, every last little thing. “Go on.” Says her teacher. “Alison…” she mumbles. “I’m Alison, and I want to be a writer.”
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