The selection happens every year, five girls are picked to join Greybridge academy, 'The most prestigious school in England'. All i know is that i don't want to be picked.


2. Selected

Chapter  2                     

I lay in bed, staring at the clock, willing myself to fall back asleep. If only i could sleep through the day and just skip the selection. Maybe i was over-reacting when i said that people are dragged into the school, the scholarship is a big deal and refusing it would be a big mistake so girls oblidge. I pulled the covers over my head and let them muffle my screams. I couldn’t take it, i just wanted to be free of the burden of the selection. I let my head pop out the cover and stared at my clock willing the 5:30 to turn to 5:31, i just needed a minute to pass so that i knew time was passing, instead my mind spun in the time that i seemed to be consumed in, it was like someone was trying to punish me by trapping me  where i am constantly on edge. 

All through the night, i tossed and turned and woke up and got up and fell back asleep, my neck felt stiff and my body was coated in a slick sweat, keeping me from being warm and comfortable. I shuffled in my bed and stared at the ceilings, thoughts running through my head as the minutes passed away in an achingly slow fashion. In the blink of an eye, the time that had previously gone so slowly had nowpassed like a flash, soon my mum was knocking on my door. She came in without permission and placed a cup of tea on my bedside table. Upon her knock i had stuffed myself in my covers completely cocooned. “Honey?” my mother shook my body. I kept still willing her to leave me alone. If i got up i was giving in to the possibility that i could be selected for the prestigious scholarship. “fifteen minutes.” she said to herself more than me. As the door closed, i gulped down the boiling tea, ignoring the pain searing down my throat. I just needed something to dissolve the lump that was forming. Another twenty minutes passed slowly and as my mum burst through my door, i ducked under the covers. “Marley, get up, come on we have alot to do.” My mum hit my legs lightly. “Marley. Get up.” she went silent for a moment. “ok, you’ve drunk half you tea, i know your up.” I steadied my breathing. My mum sighed and sat down on the bed. I slowly uncovered my head and looked at her. She stared back reading my expression. “I know you’re nervous but hiding beneath your bed covers will not help. Look, it’s a small chance that you’ll be selected, now come on, you need to shower.” My mum hopped off the bed a sort-of pleased look plastered on her face. I groaned as she walked through the door. I drunk the rest of my tea placidly, for a moment i returned my gaze to the boring ceiling above me and closed my eyes, listening to the sounds. A persistent drumming echoed outside and, in curiosity, i peaked through my blind and looked at the grey sky that greated the morning, the rain thuddering down in big fat drops, it was almost as if the sky was reduced to tears by the prospect of the selection

When i hopped out the shower, the smell of my mango shampoo diffusing from my hair, i felt refreshed and the daunting prospect of the selection didn’t seem as... daunting.  The smell of sweat had been washed from my body and my mind had been cleared by the steam caused by the shower. Carelessly i rubbed my hair with the towel and pulled the knotted tendrils into a tight bun at the crown of my bed. For a while i sat on my bed, the tiredness threatening to engulf I was happy to abide by the threats  but my mum wasn’t so after a command from the bottom of the stairs i began painting my nails a burgundy colour.Painting them like i was painting the mask that was required to cover my face. Cover the nervousness and hatred of the selection, instead showing a happy girl who is having the best day of her life.

“uff.” I said, as i fell against the mirror when my mum had zipped up the tight dress. When i had regained my balance, i stared at my self in the mirror. My air dryed hair messy and long against my bare shoulders, the dress fit me like a glove but something didn’t feel right. The dress was too perfect. If i left it as it was, i would just be another shy. If i added a leather jacket and eyeliner then i’d be dangerously close to the rebels, and accessorising the dress would make me a princess. I looked at the dress feeling unsatified. “Oh honey!” Sqeauled my mum, her hands clasped poshly. I force a smile on the face, thinking how lovely the dress would look on someone like Skye. “It’s beautiful mum.”
“Mum!” shouted Josh from downstairs. My mother jumped at her voice and then smoothed down her hair. “I’m just got to go to the shops with Josh, i’ll be back in twenty.” My mum gave me a final happy look and before i shouted at her to not keep Josh waiting, she ran out the door, her dazed grin glued to her face. When the door was safely shut, i let the smile fall and flopped on my bed. 

 After a dazed moment of being alone with the multitude of confusing thoughts buzzing through my head, all tangled like a bunch of wires, I began the unattainable task of learning how to walk in Alys’ heels. Carefully i stepped into them, holding onto my wardrobe for balance. After a few cationary steps forwards and back, i began to get the hang off it. The shoes pinched my toes but i felt sense of pride wearing heels. With confidence i let go off the wardrobe and walked up and down the hall, waving and generally acting like an ubnoxious princess.
“Marley.” said Aaron taking me by surprise. I spun dramatically and the heel of my shoe twisted. With a resounding bump, i landed on my knees the dress pulled taut over them. A sense of dread grew down my spin as i looked down at the waist of my dress. A gigantic rip stared up at. “Aaron, my dress.” I screamed in utter panic, tears streaming down my face, the dress had cost so much and in an hours time i had managed to ruin in. Aaron stared at me blankly, a pair of scissors on his hand. It was then an idea popped into my head.

Anxiously, i stepped out of my dress and climbed into my pyjamas. “What are you gonna do?” asked Aaron who was standing outside my door, biting his lip in concern. “Put the kettle on, please.” i said ushering him the door and pulling my hair into a ponytail. He looked confused and in a jokey way i waved before slamming door in his face. I pulled open the door of my wardrobe and dropped to my knees. I pushed my hands into the depths of my wardrobe until my hand came into contact with a familiar material.  

I’ve never been great at sewing but with my ripped skirt, i knew this was my only choice. I clampered to the top of my wardrobe and managing to hold on with one hand, i pulled down the sewing kit i had never used and chucked it on my bed, it landed with a springy bump and as it bounced the lid came off revealing the needles and thread. With care i pulled out the stiches connecting the skirt to the corset of the dress and began sewing Alys’ burgundy tulle skirt to the top of the dress. As the final thread slid through the material, i made a knot and cut the thread, hoping my amateur sewing skills would suffice. I took a look at the makeshift dress and felt immensley proud. This dress was one of kind and although it wasn’t as beautiful or delicate as the original dress, it held a part of my family within it and holding the dress to my chest i knew i had made the right decision. 

“Marley.” shouted my mum as she walked through the door. Taking a deep breath, i climbed down the stairs, the netted fabric of the skirt brushing against my calves. I prayed, hoped and willed that my mum woudn’t be angry with my sudden outburst of creativity. “What happened to the dress?” said my mum not sounding angry but not sounding pleased.
“it kinda ripped.” I said biting my bottum lip, my palms sweating.
“Oh Marley, you clumsy girl.” my mum pulled my into a hug and a smile crept up my spine.
“Do you like it?” I said, twirling once she had released me. Mum stepped back, twisted me with her hands and tilted her head. “It’s you. The other dress was too...” she didn’t finish.
“too perfect.” I pointed out, how could little old me be perfect, i can’t even walk down a street without walking into a pole or being hit with a stray football. Mum smiled at me and wrapped her arms around my body, cradling me in her warm cocoon. I breathed in her smell mint leaves and rose petals scent.


“Come on, Marley, we don’t want to be late.” I stared in the mirror, taking in the delicate curls of my hair, and the straight line of winged eyeliner drawn so carefully. I turned my dark red lips into a smile, the perfect mask for today’s ceremony. “Marley!” I clutched the skirt of my dress. “Coming.” In a rush, i grabbed essential items in case i was selected. I plucked the picture of my family from our a summer barbeque last year, Josh and Aaron had tiggled me as Auntie Mary took the picture and it resulted with me looking stupid my head pulled back and my open mouth turned in a smile. I pulled a picture from my wardrobe of Skye, Frank and I from forever ago when Frank was still a puppy. Other items followed; my ipod and it‘s charger, my phone, a necklace with a heart on it and Alys‘ Letters. 
“Marley!” Mum called. I sighed, surveyed the room a final time and started out my room turning out the light and descending the stairs.

I stared out the window of the car, my face slightly reflected in the glass, my dark lips being the most prominant image and I watched the scenery of Quentin flash by. The dark grey roads, the tall green trees, every thing looked menacing in the dark stormy weather. The leaves of the trees had gone the dark green colour of rot and the jagged branches looked like menacing fingers ready to snatch anybody wandering the streets alone. Behind the broken and horrid trees sat the old community hall. It was abandoned years ago after the roof caved in and when the new hall was built it was simply left. The walls towere over the trees and the dirty brown bricks are covered in grafitti tags, all badly drawn. The feild around it had become a dumping ground for broken bikes, old sofas and various other metal things. As we drove past the sunlight filtered through the trees, creating a flashing at the corner of my eye. I peered through the twisted branches to the series of windows that all lay smashed, the edges jagged and mirroring the floor below them. As my eyes investigated the mirrors, something caught my eye, hidden just behind the glass was the face of a girl. My eyes focused on the emeciated person that stared back. Her eyes bore into mine and although there was a large distance between us, i could still clearly see how bloodshot they were, beneath her eyes, dark circles loomed. Her cheekbones portruded and the skin seemed as though it had been stretched over the bones. Upon her head the hair seemed unevenly sheered and the skin of the face seemed bruised. Everything about her was wrong, sick, illegal but i felt sorry for her, i wanted to help her, reach out to her, but she wasn’t real, she couldn’t be. The car rolled over a bump and my vision was torn away from the girl. When i looked back the girl was gone.

 I wriggled in my seat as we pulled into the drive of the Greybridge Academy. As we were guided by miserable and wet looking men, in a luminous jackets, I shrugged off the blanket and readied myself for any possible outcome.  After climbing through the no man’s land of mud and grass, seperating the path and front entrance, mum and i came to the white marque. Beneath the white materia, every aspect was perfectly dressed and placed, thousands of wooden and pink chairs for the spectators, a stage up towards the front covered in white flower basins and most visible the raffle box. The raffle box that decided my fate. 

In the crowd i spotted Skye, who was sitting down next to Chloe, a girl from our science classes. Skye waved me over excitedly. “Hey,” she sqeauled. I sat down in the chair next to her and waved to Chloe, who was busy babbling to the girl in the row in front. “Wow, your dress!” stuttuered Skye. “It’s amazing.”
“Thanks, i made it...” and so i told her the story of how the dress came to be. 
“Now i feel inadequate in my dress.” I looked down at the pretty navy and white pinstripe dress Skye was wearing. “I thought you were wearing your sister’s selection dress?” I said confused.
“I was but Lily spilt sauce on it, so my mum gave me an old dress of hers. Lily said it looked better than the old one anyway.” Skye blushed.
“Well i for one love it.” I reassured her rubbing her shoulder. 
“Are you guys excited?” said Chloe. Skye and I turned to her and she beamed, the braces from her teeth gone and her usually frizzy hair, straightented. To say she was transformed was an understatement. “I hope i get selected!” she squelled excitedly. Skye and i muttered answers and then turned away.

After ten minutes or so, the seats began to fill. A girl with cappachino coloured skin sat down beside me, her long dark hair curling down her back, she was wearing a bright blue sari and had a golden cuff around her arm. Beside her sat an identical girl wearing a green sari, they sat with their hands clasped and their heads close together, together they prayed they would not be seperated. 
“So what happened with you and that boy?” asked Skye, nudging me with her knee.
“Oh, nothing, ya know just the usual pizza and marshmellows.” I said my cheeks turning the same colour as my skirt.
“Marley, you sly fox.” laughed Skye, in embaressment i bit my fingers a uncontrollable smile forming on my face. 

A girl walked on to the stage, a guitar slung over her shoulders comfortable and a mic stand in her right hand. She was wearing a long black dress the had a slit down the side, revealing a thin leg, her hair was tied in a bun apart from a thick fringe that was cut just above her eyes. “Welcome to the Greybridge Academy’s selection.” She spoke into the microphone her words silky. “Before we get started though, i’d like to play a short song.” The audience clapped as the girl played with the strings of her guitar. As she played some notes i noticed the infinity sign printed on her pluck, as if she knew i had spotted it she turned the puck quickly from mine or anybody else’s view. She readadjusted the guitar, gave the audience a small grin and began to play. 

The notes played through the air filling the marquee with a soft tune, when she began to sing, a shiver ran down my back. “Don’t forget your mind... don’t forget me” She finished softly and the audience roared. Silently i wished for more but my wish was not granted.  A loud clap rang over the audiences, loud and slow almost demon-like, as Miss Anderson, the headmistress, walked onto the stage. Her heels like daggers and her hair tied in it’s signiture bun - when i was little people would say that her tight bun held up her face- i shivered in disgust. The headmistress pouted her browny red painted lips and took the microphone from the singer. “Please give a hand for Lucinda Prince.” The audience applauded again as Miss Anderson sauntered across the stage, whilst behind her the teachers of the school sat down on chairs either side of the side, next to the teachers was the main benefactor of Greybridge Academy’s, Harvey Storma, and next to him an empty chair. As the audience fell to a quiet hum, the headmistreses  voice rang through the speakers. “Now, as you may already know, our beloved Ms Casket passed away last year, so please welcome the new art teacher, a former pupil or ours, Miss Fox.” The audience clapped as i stared in disbelief. A twenty-something, platinum blonde girl graced the stage dressed in a brightly coloured midi dress and cream suede heels. “Alys.” I breathed.
She walked over to the headmistress, a small smile on her face. She took the microphone. “Good afternoon, thank you are this oppitunity. It is so great to be able to give back to the school that shaped and taught me to be who i am today. Although it is sad that we have lost a dear teacher, a teacher whom i was very close with, i am very much looking forward to filling the place she left.” Alys said, her voice completely different. She sounded so fake where before her words were sincere. I looked away in disgust. The headmistress took the microphone and Alys paraded over to the empty seat. As she sat down in her chair Mr Storma whispered something in her ear and Alys gave a giggle. A glimpse of the old her passed over her face. 
The attention was quickly drawn back to Miss Anderson who had moved over to the raffle box where a piece of paper with the candidate number of every girl was written. “Now the moment everybody had been looking forward to.“
“Hardly." I muttered causing Skye to laugh, in the moments pause we clutched each others hand.
“If your name is called please come to stage as swiftly as possible.” The headmistress gave a sickly sweet smile as her hand delved into the raffle. She pulled out the first number, looked down to a key of the numbers and called out. “1023: Taylor Kingsly.” A shriek arose from the crowd as a posh looking girl, dressed in a white dress covered in appliquéd flowers of the same colour, hopped onto the stage in her bubblegum pink heels, her hand carefully played with a brunette ringlet. As she danced to the headmistress, she looked gleeful and happy and reminded me of a rabbit. 
“1579: Blaze Smith.” A quiet sign arose from the crowd and along with it a less than pleased girl. Her purple lips formed an unhappy grimace and she trudged up the stairs her chunky biker boots creating a thud with every step. The Headmistress gave a disdainful stare as she took in Blaize’s ripped baggy t-shirt dress and laddered tights. Every part of her look screamed the old Alys, if i squinted carefully i could see Alys’ features in Blaize’s face. I glare turned to Alys who still had a dazed smile on her face. 
“986 Ivy Templeman.” A girl stood and walked up to the stage. Air caught in the audience’s throats as people realised what the girl was wearing. Trousers. Skye and i shared a confused stare. Although it’s not illegal for girls to wear trousers to the selection, it’s not normal, every girl wears a dress or skirt. The girl wore a content smile as she elegantly stepped across the stage. She turned into the line of girls and looked outwards. Her eyes , i noticed, were slightly large for her face but they looked as though Ivy held the knowledge and wisdom of the world in her eyes. Her skin was the colour of intensely rich chocolate and matched her eyes. A thick cascade of ebony curls tumbled over her bare shoulders. 
“1851: Emmerson Black.” A giggle sounded above the crowd as a girl with a long golden hair stood. A large smile danced upon her face as she floated through the crowd her cream dress billowing at the bottom. She had beautifully tanned andher  green eyes stared intently into the crowd. Her joyfulness made me smile as she twirled on the stage, reminding me of a newborn puppy, eagar to explore. 
“And finally.” The headmistress took a long time, milling about, i closed my eyes and crossed my fingers,  finally she called a name. “1554:Tabitha Scott.” Relief flooded my body but dread soon followed.

Tabitha Scott was selected two years ago.  She was a petite girl, with shiny auburn hair and massive glasses that framed her doe like eyes. In everybodies eye’s she was the perfect selectee - she was polite, smart, pretty and came from a respected family, her mum owned a bakery and her Dad ran a smal buisness. After six months the school reported her missing. For weeks posters littered the streets, her parents made pleas on the television and people volunteered to look for her. Her face was everywhere but she was no wear to be seen. After three weeks, a body was retrived from the river but it wasn’t her. The agonizing wait continued, her parents growing more frantic. On winter afternoon a farmer reported a girl camping in his part of the woods. The police acted and Tabitha was found. 
They said she looked peaceful, her still body surronded by nature. Her gingery hair mixing into the leaves. She was dead. Her body emiciated , her hair falling out. Doctors said it was exposure and she had run away due to a underlying mental disorder. Our whole school had attended the funeral. Tabitha’s friends band played her favourite selection and her mum looked strangley calm. She said she had expected so, but that didn’t stop them moving. Soon the wonderful smell of cupcakes drifted from Quentin and the bakery was replaced by a butchers which displays dead rabbits in the windows. 

“Marley!” Hissed Skye. “Go!.” Skye pushed me from my chair and i stumbled forward catching myself before i face planted the floor. In the moment of blind panic I had stopped listening, stopped praying, my fingers had been laid limp in my lap. I hadn’t even heard her call “1478: Marley Fox” In nervousness I rushed up the stairs tripping up the third step, a few giggles rang through the crowd as i replaced myself and continued to the other selectees. The Headmistress gave me a funny look, her head cocked to the right. “My my another Fox.” She said, her voice sickly sweet. Alys gave a small smile. Inside my mind a war raged. This couldn’t be happening, they had already taken Alys. They couldn’t, shouldn’t have me too. I just wanted normalcy. My eyes focused on Skye, her eyebrows furrowed, craddling the hand i had held sadly. Chloe’s gaze fixed over me, she was envious, take the spot for all i care. I scanned the crowd for my mum, she looked back. A mask of proud covered her face but her eyes looked sad and I knew she was on the verge of tears, because i was too. I looked away suddenly, scared of crying in front of the audience. It was then that i saw him.  A familiar brown quiff stuck out from behind the side of the marquee, i focused my eyes, trying not to squint and managed to make out th black rimm of glasses. “Well that brings todays ceremony to an end, please give the selectees a round of applause.” why are they clapping we haven’t won anything, it’s like there clapping at the cattle selected for slaughter. As the audience clapped, some more enthusiastic than other, Storm emerged from the side of the marguee, he ran a hand through his messy hair. A disapproving look passed his face. Realising i was looking, he gave a smile, unhappy smile and my cheeks flammed. As we were lead away, he gave a little disappionted wave. Why me? I thought. Just when it was getting good. Inwardly i cursed, i cursed the headmistress, the raffle box and whoevers stupid idea this was.

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