"I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets.
Scorched to the root.
My red filaments burn and stand, a hand of wires"
Meg seems slightly more at ease when we iron the clothes. I am glad I gave her a helping hand and befriended her. Well, to call it friendship is going a bit too far. I see friendship as trust and respect. Right now, she has my pity and compassion. It will take a while for me to be as close to her as I am to Poppy, but I still feel the need to help her out.
The steam rushes out from the iron and the shirt I am ironing is now smooth and warm. The scent of fabric and soap is nice and I don't mind this part of the laundry. We can't go too fast, because the clothes need to be properly straightened and we can't go too slow.
I am finished with my pile in about and hour and a few minutes and I fold the clothes neatly, separating the shirts, trousers, lingerie, socks and bed sheets from each other. Meg still has half of hers to do and I give her an encouraging smile, as I pass her. Her eyes flick up momentarily to meet mine, but the moment she lift them, they are back down.
When we finish the ironing, we have to leave out clothes in the baskets until everyone is done. On every Monday morning we return them to their owners during assembly.
Right now, I have free time to do what I want for an hour and a half. Then I have to wash the windows.
I change out of my big dress and fold my apron neatly, placing it into my drawer. My bed seems to be seducing me to lie down, but I flick my eyes away, not giving in. They are probably bloodshot and when I change into my ordinary clothes, the slashes on my back are now healed and only scabs remain.
My clothes consist of a plain grey dress, that passes by my knee. I pull a cardigan over my shoulders to keep me warm and comb out the knots from my hair, wincing as the brush bites and doesn't want to let go.
Suddenly, I hear voices in the bathroom. I think they were there when I came, but I was too distracted to listen.
"...you can't tell anyone," I hear a familiar nasal tone. I silently, place my brush back on the drawer and tiptoe over to the door. I shouldn't be doing this. I should just walk away and pretend I have hear nothing, but the intrigue is too much. Curiosity is not one of my better qualities.
"But they'll find out!" a whimper comes from another voice. I peek through the crack in the door, holding my breath.
Willow and Loraine are at the sinks and Loraine's eyes are full of fear and worry. She chews on her lip and her hand fidget around the hem of her dress. Willow looks out into the window and sighs heavily. What's going on?
"Will," Loraine breathes, "You...how...this isn't realistic! Just because your little lover boy promised, it doesn't mean that it will work!" Loraine is now in hysterics.
"Keep it down, Loraine!" Willow hisses and towers over her, her eyes resembling a predator's, "We love each other and that's what matters! Do you honestly think that they would match us together?!" she flings her arms in both directions.
"Oh, sweetheart. No, that will never happen, but you realise the danger of it? Did you think about the possibilities of how many things can go wrong?" Loraine whispers.
Realisation seeps into my mind and I almost gasp. I bite on my lip to the point of blood. My hands shake violently, but for some reason, I can't keep away. Excitement buzzes through my veins, not because of the gossip, but because of how serious this is.
"Like what?" she snaps.
"Like him setting you up and giving you away. Like you two getting killed. Like you being used for experiments. Like me seeing your head on a stick!" Loraine blubbers. Willow hushes her and gives her a tight hug.
"I can't stay here. We have to run away, don't you see? It's the only way. I...I can't stand hiding in the corners just so I can hold his hand. I'm sick of living under a beating stick,"
"When?" was all that Loraine asks, tears glisten on her soft cheeks. I understand why Willow chose Loraine to speak to. She is the most comprehensive.
"Not soon. We can't go now. There's....stuff going on. It'll be somewhere in spring. Just promise me you won't say anything to anyone," she says quietly.
"I swear," Loraine defends herself and they smile at each other, "I only hope it works,"
Accidentally, I open the door from leaning in too far and I fall inside with them both staring at me. I scramble up, trying to run, but Willow is already on me, pinning my shoulders to the ground with her knees. I feel my fragile bones crumbing under her heavy weight and the wind is knocked out of my lungs.
"Now, now," she purrs, "What have we here? I little sneak, I say. Are you going to tell Rees? Will you be a faithful little lapdog?" she drags her finger across my neck. I kick my legs and try to wriggle free, but she is sitting on top of me.
"I'm not stupid!" I hiss through my teeth. It's true and she knows it. If I tell them, they will most likely be suspicious of me too, but I will be rewarded for rooting out the traitors.
"There's a good girl. You wouldn't anyway, because I'm still here and well, who knows? I could just pop in and give little Poppy flower a goodnight's kiss," she smiles wickedly and her eyes twinkle with atrocity. I spit into her face, but she doesn't lose her calm. Casually, she wipes the saliva off her cheek and grabs at my hair, tugging it backwards.
"Get off me!" I scream, but she shakes her head sideways and clicks her tongue impatiently.
"Oh, but that would be so not in my character!" she giggles, "How about we play ...and you die?" she lowers her face to mine. The corners of her mouth are upturned like a cats.
I can see Loraine standing frozen in the background, unknowing what to do. Her knees tremble and she looks like she wants to interfere, but thinks better of it. I turn my gaze back to Willow. Her eyes are intently staring into mine and I can see the flecks of blue towards the inside of them.
I use the moment and slam my forehead into hers. She flies backwards and howls in pain, clutching to her head. I stumble onto my feet and pant. My eyes are blurry and the room is zooming around me. I can faintly see Loraine helping Willow up and I hear some voices, but the pain courses through my veins like poison.
I throw myself in the direction of the door, hitting my arm as I run blindly into the dormitory. There are a few girls inside and they all stare at me like I am wild. Willow is behind me and I can hear her snarling. Somehow, she doesn't lunge at me, because she knows everyone will be watching and most likely, someone will report.
I escape down the staircase and almost fly head forward into the marble floor. A few people give me quizzical looks, thinking that I must have gone mad. I dodge them on my way down and violently push them apart. Some hiss and curse at me, while others push me back.
I brush off my dress and grab the railing to steady myself. I regain focus of the image of the Foyer and take a deep breath. My lungs feel cremated and my face like I have been smashing bricks all day with it. That is the last time I am doing something like that again.
The horror and shock of what she will do still clings to me like a shadow. I am of course deeply disturbed that she would do this, but didn't I want to run away too? And what did I think I would do? How would I do it? This is all nonsense and maybe I really am stuck here forever. I shake the memory of the bathroom off and make my way to the Glasshouse.
Everything happened too quickly and I don't know what to make of it. I secretly feel a bit jealous that Willow has Andrew to rely on, but what if he really is using her? What if he decides to leave her struggling across the wall and he escapes by himself? This is why I never trust anyone here.
My head still throbs painfully when I open the Glasshouse doors. The rain is now a soft drizzle and my dress is only slightly wet. I can't say the same for my shoes though. I inhale the warm air around the flowers and the scent of honeysuckle and lilies and roses blossoms around my nose, softer than feathers. It's the only place that has beauty in this school.
The Glasshouse is colossal. It's about the size of the school and it has various narrow pathways zigzagging all around the building. The centre of the Glasshouse has a large pond filled with pink water lilies. All around me there are beautiful flowers tangling like vines; the pink, yellow, white and purple orchids bloom everywhere, the bluebells are dangling with dripping water, the yellow hibiscus spreads its petals out magnificently. All of it is like a colourful dream that stretches on and on.
There are a few benches around for visitors and the ceiling shows the grey louds outside, moaning and crying.
I hear a childish laugh and I stop dead in my tracks. It can't be...that's not possible. Poppy is laughing like a happy little girl. Her laugh echoes off the walls and fills the chambers of my heart. I want to keep it forever and to never forget it. It's so musical and warm. I stand for a few minutes, to let it sink in.
I wonder what she's up to. She can't be alone in here, because if she was she'd keep quiet. I slowly trudge my feet across the tiled floor and as I come around the corner of the huge palm trees, I see her running around the open area with water dripping down her hair.
I was right. She isn't alone. A tall figure appears from behind the tree and the blue eyes follow Poppy in admiration and laughter. James Redwood is making my little mouse laugh.
Something I couldn't do.