In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The New School.”

And disregarding daily prompts suggestions so that I can continue my story…

I didn’t want to go to that school. One of the reasons was that I didn’t like the uniform. Another was that I had heard that it was very strict. But the main reason was that I wanted to stay with my friends.

The boys also had to travel some distance to a different school so they left before I did, which was lucky because it meant that I had more time in the bathroom. I woke to the alarm and lowered myself sleepily¬†down my steps. I¬†had hung¬†my uniform on a hanger and fixed it over the¬†edge of the hatch, because the attic wasn’t really big enough for a twelve-year-old to get dressed in. I took it into the bathroom, got washed and dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. Mum had made bacon sandwiches. The uniform felt funny. Like wearing somebody else’s clothes.

Mum made sure that I had my train-pass and checked the list of whatever it was that I was supposed to take in my bag, and I off I went. On the station platform, I saw older girls in the same uniform, standing in groups, chatting and larking about. I could taste that metallic taste of trains in my mouth. I felt sick. Eventually the train came and I sat as far away from the girls as I could, watching them so I would know when to get off.

I looked out of the window, wishing all the time that I didn’t have to go to school.¬†As the train lurched to a stop, I followed the group of girls, keeping a good distance behind. Then I spotted someone from my old school. I didn’t know her very well – she was a quiet girl with a rather limp demeanor,¬†who¬†didn’t live near me.¬†I approached her and asked if she knew where we had to go. She did. Her sister was already attending the school, in fact that was her up ahead, with the mass of black curls, joining the group of girls that had been on my train.

608px-St_Philomena's_Catholic_High_School_for_GirlsHer name was Linda and I think her older sister was quite happy to have shaken her off. When we arrived at the school gates there was a very large intimidating lady dressed in a burgundy suit, graying hair pulled back in a forbidding bun, telling the¬†newcomers where to go.¬†We were rounded up into the assembly hall which had a strong¬†smell of new varnish mixed with some unidentifiable chemical. I felt sick again. I had lost sight of Linda. I couldn’t tell you what the assembly was about but it took quite some time, giving me the opportunity to scrutinize the teachers who lined themselves up across the stage. I didn’t like the look of any of them.

At the end of the assembly, our names were called out and we were shown¬†to our classroom. Most of the new girls seemed to know each other and had already picked their¬†desks by the time I arrived. I didn’t feel as though I was meant to be here. I had no choice but to take one of the desks that were still free in the front.¬† A few more girls came in from the corridor. I recognized Linda, the last to come in, looking timid and lost. ¬†I¬†smiled at her and¬†pointed to the empty desk next to me.¬†¬†I was relieved that I wasn’t by myself any more.

Photo Attribution

“St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls” by The Saatchi Gallery¬†: London Contemporary Art Gallery – http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/portfolio/SchoolInfo/St+Philomenas+Catholic+Girls+School/534299.html. Licensed under Copyrighted free use via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St_Philomena%27s_Catholic_High_School_for_Girls.jpg#/media/File:St_Philomena%27s_Catholic_High_School_for_Girls.jpg

Writing 101 – Recreate a single day

Writing 101 – Recreate a single day

It’s been a long time. 55 years. But I remember that day as if it was yesterday.

I had woken early and since the weather was warmer, I put on my slippers and strolled outside with my tea to watch the sunrise. Birds were singing, and I had an open view across the fields. A few clouds stitched the sky into a golden tapestry, making it appear all the more awesome and special, as if heralding a brand new and beautiful day. I was grateful for these few moments of peace, all to myself. I wondered where he was, what he was doing now, and whether he was watching the same sunrise.

As I turned back towards the house, normality returned. I could hear the hum of traffic far away, which would grow louder as the day progressed. Upstairs an alarm was abruptly turned off and the radio blared the latest news. I quickly washed, dressed and grabbed my lunch from the kitchen. As I slammed the front door and ran down the path, I could hear a neighbor brushing their teeth. I started my familiar walk to the station.

It was just a normal day at work aside from the fact that I had arrived a half hour early. That¬†hadn’t felt quite right. Fewer people on the train. Different people who I had never seen before. Arriving before Miss Jones. That was definitely a first. But it gave me a chance to catch up, and¬†by lunchtime everything was back to normal. I met up with Jean¬†and we¬†sat in the park to eat our lunch. Girl talk and giggling about her American pilot.

217px-Coccinella_magnifica01The afternoon in the typing pool was uneventful, except for a visit from a lady-bird, who came to inspect my typewriter. At first I thought it was a drop of blood, until it spread its wings and changed position, perching itself atop my left hand ribbon. It would not be deterred, even by my confident and forceful carriage returns. When it was time to go home, I picked it up and placed it gently on my lapel, but by the time I got on the train, it had flown away.

On the walk home from the station, the sun was setting. The sky was peppered with grey clouds, and the salmon-pink sun was moody and sad as it sunk behind the outline of the trees. The gate squeaked its complaining squeak as usual, announcing my arrival and bringing Mum out to greet me.

I knew as soon as I saw her face.

He was gone.

 

 

 

Writing 101 – A Series of Vignettes

Writing 101 – A Series of Vignettes

This is continuation of previous posts Chapter 1 and Chapter 2

 

Chapter 3
Daisy liked having her bedroom up in the attic. Being petite,¬†it was easier for her to get up the stairs, and being the only girl, she had the room¬†to herself. She liked the idea that, if she felt like it, she could pull up the steps and withdraw from the word completely. But she wasn’t strong enough yet, and maybe¬†the hatch could only be closed¬†from underneath. It was a sunny room, but cozy and homely at the same time.¬†The very pale green wooden panels lining the room gave it a warm feeling. The pretty white cotton¬†curtains with their¬†pink floral design,¬†fluttering¬†in the breeze,¬†made her feel happy. She could lie on her mattress¬†on the low side of the room¬†and look up at the sky, dreaming about her future. Or she could sit with her schoolwork at the little wooden table¬†under the window, and watch ¬†the commuters as they made their way across the park to the station.

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It was not your typical attic. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to deconstruct a rocking horse and manouvre it up a flight of stairs? Let alone hoist it up several flights which only get narrower as they get higher.  The rocking horse went to the rag and bone man.

It was atypical also because, although it was small, it was light and airy. There are not many things that are easy to carry up those kind of collapsible steps, and that is why the attic became something of a family archive. Papers, letters and photos were the only items that were relatively easy to carry up there, and it became a convenient place to keep them, mostly in boxes ranged along both sides of the room. That is why Henry had bought the little lap desk which he kept on a narrow pine table. The chair that he sat at used to belong in the hall. He would happily spend hours up there writing letters and attending to his investments.

Fewer interruptions and fewer prying eyes.

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Hannah had thought the attic would make an ideal nursery. That was because she was sentimental, clucky and totally impractical.  She could see the lace bassinet on its stand to the side of the window, the pretty blind in broderie anglaise with the pink satin ribbons, and the mobile with the little pink hippoppotami and white giraffes hanging from the ceiling. She would place the nursing chair in front of the window where she would be able to feel the sunshine and get some air.

The fact that she was not actually pregnant meant that she could disregard reality. Ignore the fact that there was hardly room for the average adult to stand up, that it would be impossible to negotiate the steps every time the baby cried or that it would be dangerous and tiring to be carrying the baby up and down so many narrow steps.

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Being a poor relation means that your family may try to take advantage of you whilst imagining they are doing you a favor. When William had agreed to paint the attic for his Uncle George, he imagined that Uncle was trying to help him out because he knew his nephew was without work. Perhaps if he did a good job, Uncle might help him to get a position in business.

So he had turned up every day on time, and been diligent about the job. He had¬†prepared all the surfaces very well. He had managed to open¬†the window which had been stuck shut due to dirt or paint, or maybe just because¬†it hadn’t been opened in a very long time.¬†He¬†sanded the wooden panels, including those¬†that looked rather like skirting boards,¬†which¬†covered the angular space between the ceiling and the walls. He had had to remove and replace a couple of them that were loose. He had cleaned out the debris, which included quite a lot of dust, droppings, (rats?) and some long forgotten dirty looking papers¬†that must have worked their way behind the loose panels over the years. He had shoved them into the¬†pocket of his overalls intending to show them to his Uncle later, just in case they might be something of interest to him.

He had expected Uncle to pay him something for the job, even though there had been no specific agreement. Uncle had seemed happy with the work but never offered to pay him anything.

It was months later¬†when¬†William needed his overalls again. He had obtained a position in a bank¬†and had been focused on his work, but recently he had bought his own house. It was way out of town and in need of repair. Now he was getting into his overalls to start his renovations. He felt something rustle in the pocket as he pulled his¬†overalls on. It was the papers he found in the attic. There was a piece of newspaper with a date –¬†1915.¬†There was a document with the remains of a wax seal that was no longer doing its job of sticking the paper down. He unfolded the paper¬†to read¬†–¬†The Last Will and Testament of….

 

Photo Attribution: Lap Desk

By Koppas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Writing 101 – 50 word story

Writing 101 – 50 word story

As some of you wanted to know what was next, I have made this into¬†a continuation of my attic post. I will tag this story as Mrs Brown’s¬†Attic and may experiment with shorter or longer chapters.

Chapter 2

She was pleased. 

Desmond’s¬†room was locked. She hadn‚Äôt moved a thing in there.

It was easy to find a lodger for her room after brightening up with a new rug, quilt and curtains. 

No more stairs now that she had her bed in the old study.

Peace of mind.

 

The Attic

The Attic

Charles was feeling rather pleased with himself, not least because few people find an out of the way attic a convenient place to come and visit.

It would be perfect.

It must have been his lucky day. Mrs Brown couldn’t manage her stairs at all any more. She had woken up in the night. Something upstairs had made a noise, so she thought.  She had asked Charles to check when he went up. Maybe there was a rat, or a mouse. Maybe he would find signs of someone having broken in. When Charles couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary, or the source of the noise, the old lady asked him whether, if it would not put him to too much trouble, he could get up into the attic and check there.  

It was quite a job to open the wooden hatch. He had had to take a chisel to it. There was a bit of damage to the wood, but what the eye doesn’t see…After a spray of oil and a bit of pushing and shoving the hatch protested with a squeak, but then dropped down to reveal the folded wooden steps, which also yielded to a good spraying of oil.  

Gingerly, he placed his left foot on the first step to see if it was going to take his weight. Yes. A couple of careful steps up and he could reach his head inside the attic He was expecting it to be full of junk. But no. There were no ancient rocking horses or discarded candelabras. No chests full of long forgotten documents and letters. It was completely empty.

That was the first thing he noticed.

The second thing he noticed was the uncovered window which was allowing the sunshine to stream in. It had not been visible from the street. And it was facing in exactly the right direction…

He smiled. Now he would have the advantage.

Position, position, position.