Marked – Original Beginning
This is where the book originally started, however I had already completely deleted this from my original submission to Jo and Nicola. I thought it slowed up the story and wanted to start nearer to the action.
Fifteen years ago I walked away from this place and swore I’d never come back yet here I am, standing in the drive, looking up at probably the ugliest building in the south-east of England and wishing with all my heart that I was somewhere else.
Twenty or more rectangular, glass eyes looked down upon me, dark and brooding matching the gloomy, grey sky that threatened an onslaught of rain. I didn’t want to be here, didn’t know why I’d agreed to come – but I had and, God help me, I really wished I hadn’t, as even standing out here on the drive I could hear the sibilant whispers of voices calling to me.
Last time I had stood on these steps I had been waiting to be escorted off the premises. They hadn’t even allowed me to stay inside while I waited for my father to come and collect me. I was to be “excluded” for the rest of the term, but it was their polite way of telling daddy I was never to come back. How times change; they didn’t want me then but they needed me now.
As I mounted the grey, stone steps the first spots of rain splattered down staining the slabs with dark slate blotches. Even then I didn’t hurry. Each step took me closer to a place I didn’t want to be.
I almost turned. I almost swung around and fled down the steps and back to the low, shiny, black Mercedes that waited in the drive, but I knew they were watching and I didn’t want them to know I was afraid.
I took a deep breath, raised my head, pulled back my shoulders and plastered what I hoped was a faintly aloof smile on my face and climbed the steps, my patent, high heels clicking a forceful, almost military tattoo. Click, click, click, click here I come and I mean business.
The large, oak, double front door was open for the academic day. I stepped over the threshold and, despite in my heart still wanting to run, pushed open one of the inner oak and glass swing doors and there I was back to where my already troubled life had begun to fall apart.
The entrance lobby somehow looked smaller than I remembered, but then the last time I had been in this place I was only ten, young and easily intimidated. I had changed since. My heels announced my progress as I strutted across the tiled expanse. Outwardly poised and calm, inwardly my stomach churning.
I stopped outside the secretaries’ office, took another deep breath and, before I could change my mind, rapped three times on the door.
While I waited I looked around the lobby. Nothing much seemed to have changed. There was still one of those weather gizmos slowly rotating inside its glass case while a brass arm inscribed a haphazard, purple ink line on a tube of graph paper. It had always fascinated me and I often wondered what they did with all of the hundreds of lengths of information that it produced. So it rained on Friday the 13th of April 1990, who cared?
Seconds passed and I almost thought that they might want to make me knock again, somehow trying to maintain control although they had clearly lost it. Their hard luck if they did. I didn’t need any such excuse to turn and leave.
I took a step back and was about to turn away when I saw a shadow pass across the glass peephole. I hesitated. Last chance and then I’d be gone. I was hoping they’d blow it. The door jerked open.
‘Can I help you?’ asked Mrs Payne in the same supercilious voice she had been using since before the beginning of time.
I’m sure they stuck her in a vat of formaldehyde overnight. She hadn’t changed one little bit. Same faded blonde hair scrapped back in a bun so tight I’m sure it must have been painful. Same faded blue eyes that seemed to bore right through you. Same candle wax skin leeched of all colour that made me think of the dead.
‘I’ve come to see Miss Mitchell,’ I said.
Her eyes slid from my face down to my shoes and back again.
‘I’ll see if she’s free,’ she said with a derisive sniff.
‘If she isn’t not to worry. We can always reschedule our appointment. I think I have a slot sometime next month,’ I said as she turned to walk away.
Her eyes jerked back to mine. ‘I’m sorry, you have an appointment?’ she asked with a frown, ‘can I take a name?’
She hadn’t recognised me but I was hardly surprised by that. What did surprise me was that the Head hadn’t told her I was coming.
‘De Salle,’ I said, ‘Lucky de Salle.’
Her eyes widened slightly and her hand rose to her throat only to drop to her side when she realised she had lost a small measure of her usual composure.
‘I’ll… I’ll let her know you’re here,’ she said as she took a step back away from me and then another, ‘please sit.’
She gestured to a couch across the hall, retreated inside the office and pushed the door closed leaving me standing there completely dumbfounded. Mrs Payne lost for words? She’d had more than enough on the morning of my disgrace. Undisguised vitriol had dripped from her lips before she told me to go and stand outside to wait for the car as she couldn’t stand the sight of me any longer.
I turned away, but didn’t take the offered seat. Instead I wandered around the lobby checking out the trophy cabinet. I hadn’t been at the school long enough for my name to grace one of the silver plated cups. I’d dreamed one day it might but that was all it was, a dream.Back to Deleted or Alternate Scenes