Beneath The Surface

For the Hidden Power contest.

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1. The Flaming Redhead

  If Eleanor Jones didn’t stop talking, I was going to do something I would later regret.

  Physics used to be my favourite subject, but that was when I could actually listen to what was being said and learn about physics. Then at the start of term Mr Roblins had decided to shuffle the seating arrangement. Big mistake.

  Now I was stuck next to Eleanor, a fiery redhead, the loudest girl in the year, who not only had the most booming voice of anyone I knew, but also seemed to think I was interested in what she had to say.

  I wasn’t.

  “... and I, like, had no idea what to say, like what do you even say to that? I just...” she babbled on, oblivious to my gritted teeth and my knuckles which had gone white from how hard I was gripping my pen.

  “Something you’d like to share with the class, girls?” Mr Roblins called from the front of the classroom.

  I took a deep breath and shook my head. It wouldn’t do any good to cause a scene.

  Clearly Eleanor had other ideas. “I’m really sorry sir, I was just asking Lily here if she could be quiet so I could listen.”

  My jaw dropped open in shock, and I could almost hear blood rushing in my ears. But before I could give my side of the story, Mr Roblins gave me a stern look and said, “Come on girls, I expect better of you – you especially, Lily.”

  I couldn’t believe it. Blood rushed to my cheeks, my face flushed red, but I just clenched my jaw and nodded, looking down at the desk. Mr Roblins started talking again, and almost within an instant Eleanor was back to her incessant whispering.

  “So anyway, he looked, like, so shocked, it was like I’d slapped him or something...”

  I’m going to slap you in a minute, I thought. I shut my eyes, trying to calm myself down and stop myself from doing anything stupid. But my heart pounded too forcefully in my chest and she just wouldn’t stop talking. It was impossible to blot her out.

  I wonder if she’d stop talking if she fell off her chair or something, or if her hair caught on fire. The thought made me smile. God, that’d be funny. I’d love to see her stupid hair catch fire.

  There was a screech from next to me, and everyone gasped in unison. My eyes flew open and I leapt out of my chair with a yell.

  Eleanor’s flaming red hair was quite literally on fire.

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