Autumn leaves scattered the ground in the hues of the season. Their paper thin membranes becoming alive as watery sunlight flowed over the drive, to the double front door. Made of oak, it was solid and strong - a productive barrier to the front of the manor house. With three stories and a basement, plus the exclusive grounds and front drive, the house was probably the largest in the town. The inhabitants were most definitely the richest and the most proud, with the best lineage. Ducharme Manor. Home to the family of Alexandria Ross. Alexandria Ross' family minus one - her brother.
Staring out the window, she sat with her cheek resting on her knees. Chestnut toned hair tumbled forward over her skinny legs, which were covered by black trackie bottoms. Her baggy, purple vest-strap was severely wrinkled as Alexandria stretched and repositioned. This time, instead of the left side, she sat on the right of her round window seat. It had a view of the full front drive, it was completely empty. No BMWs or Bentleys in sight. Until her mother pulled up at the front door. The tall and slender woman came out with nearly half a dozen shopping bags. Surely for the next few years where Alexandria would be staying at Hampton's Boarding School.
The oaken door slammed, sending reverberations throughout the house. She could feel her mother coming up the stairs and approaching her bedroom. "Again, Xandria?" Ida Ross asked her daughter, flicking her eyes over the window seat and its many pillows. Her daughter always sat there, everyday and every night. Ever since that night. Ida had lost her only son, and now it seemed like she was loosing her daughter as well. The slow duration of it, however made it that much more painful. "I know that..." Alexandria sat up before her mother could carry on with the horrible eulogy that seemed to happen all the time "Never mind. I got all your clothes for school. Would you like to see them?"
Alexandria nodded. Her loose curls bounced as she bobbed her head. Clouds parted and a few beams of sunlight broke through into her room. The white scheme became as bright as heaven for an instant; before darkening back to watery hues of pale blue. "Were there any other people going to Hampton's at the store?" she asked the question timidly, her slight smile ever so faint on her reddish lips. Hoping there were was at lest someone local who was going to the boarding school, Alexandria fingered the colourful card bags that her mother had lace on her queen-sized bed. Inside were two A-line skirts, chemise short and long sleeve shirts with cotton tights and leather waist belts; never mind the deep navy blazer and tie. On the breast pocket of the blazer, including the bottom of the tie, there was a shield. Mistletoe and an arrow crossed each other diagonally at the centre of the shield, completing the insignia of Hampton's with a few words in Latin at the bottom: 'faber est quisque fortunae suae'. Or in other words, every man is architect of his own fortune, Alexandria thought as her fingers came into contact with the material. How true...
"I didn't see anyone, love, but that doesn't mean that no one is going. They could have gone at some other time to collect their uniform, couldn't they?" her mother's voice was hopeful, however dark Alexandria's thoughts were. Next to the bags was a cardboard rectangular box, which meant only one thing. Shoes. Opening it up, Xandria peered at the dark brogue-style pair of black leather shoes. Their laces were thick and drawn straight through the eyelets in uniform lines. Somehow, they were classically beautiful. "I thought you would like them," Ida smiled with a certain glint in her eyes. Alexandria watched her mother. Why was she grinning like that?
Until she, herself, realised that she was smiling too. That was the first smile in six months. The first proper smile that actually stayed on her face for more than a few seconds and wasn't a silent thanks for someone's condolences. My first smile... was over shoes? Alexandria almost thought about the accident, nonetheless distracted herself by her new clothes once more. "It's a shame that I won't be able to see home every day. I think that I will find it quite odd. How was it for you, mother?" the daughter asked her mother about her own time at boarding school; though the circumstances were quite different. Hampton's Boarding School had accepted both Alexandria and her brother after the few years of home schooling they had had from their mother and father. But now, with her brother dead and his constant memory everywhere, Alexandria needed to get away from home. Boarding school was a good option; she might even have fun.
"I found boarding school quite amusing really," Ida sat down on her daughter's vintage frame bed. The mattress sunk and the covers creased from the woman's slight weight. "You get to meet friends who will become your family - and that is something quite truly rare." Alexandria sat down next to her, receiving a warm smile, Ida glanced down. Stroking her daughters head with a moisturised hand, she got up and strode to the door. "You should start packing your trunk, it's almost five o'clock and I want to have dinner ready - with you down there - before your father comes home." One last smile and then Ida was gone.
Pulling out several clothes on hangers, Alexandria lay them all on her bed. The closet was to the left of her bed, adjacent to the door. Both of them opposite to her round window seat, they were illuminated to a bright white as the sun set. Winter was coming. Its cold hand so close to grabbing England in a fierce grip until spring would break through. Picking up cast aside leaves was the wind. Outside the dead foliage flew to the left side of the house, in the direction of where Alexandria's bed rested below a window. It's vintage frame had half-peeling paint. Her father had wanted to re-paint it, however, she herself liked the look. It completed her room.
All the walls were white. Her room was a rectangle, with a small gap for the window seat. It was round and outstretched from the confines of the house; almost like a balcony. To the right of the window seat were a whole few shelves of books. Xandria loved books - she was an English literature prodigy and never wanted to give up the subject. Her prized tomes were held by grey frames, wood peaking out from beneath the faint paint. Some had gold-leaf pages and others had pearl inset into the covers. Your family were certainly rich when you could afford jewellery in books. Other than the bed, book shelves and window seat; there was desk. It had come from previous generations, its varnished brown surface sticking out sorely in the pale room. Resting to the right of the door, it had a few ink pots and fountain pens for Alexandria's dedicated interest in calligraphy. A draw was in the centre, where inside you could find a laptop of red hue. Other things littered the top of the desk as well, such as a few cameras (old-fashioned and new alike) or maybe the text books were more interesting? Along with the photos of friends, family and other things, plus the note books of varying size, it was quite on the littered end of the spectrum for desks. So truly, the bed completed the room.
Alexandria's trunk was shoved to the right of the room, up against the wall where a long, enormous photo booth strip was hung. There was quite the few assortment of pictures inside its frame - all of her and brother. He was mostly pulling faces, at which she was laughing. And that made her laugh; therefore, Alexandria would never take it down. No matter how much pain came along with the joy. Sighing, she returned to her long task of packing.
At the bottom of her wooden trunk were books and five pairs of shoes. The new ones her mother had bought for school, a pair of long boots lain flat, red sneakers, pumps and a small-heeled shoe for possible nights out. Maybe she was being optimistic, but Alexandria didn't want to be a pessimist for her first term either. Her school clothes were already folded neatly and placed on top of each other inside the trunk as well. Now, she just needed her clothes for spare time. Snatching up the horse riding clothes, which were also folded obsessively neat, she carefully plopped them down into the trunk. On her bed were many dresses and trousers and shorts and jeans and tops and shirts from her walk-in closet. They were all either Marc Jacobs or Calvin Klein, maybe the occasional Prada, each expensive by themselves - let alone paired with a few other items of her extravagant wardrobe.
Looking at three dresses - on a floral print, another light yellow and the final one a rosy pink - Alexandria decided they were far too summery for this term and quickly hung them back in the closet. That left the six other dresses. Three were floor length and baggy, the other knee-length and tight. Wishing that this wasn't as difficult as it should have been, Xandria folded them nicely and grouped the dresses together with her other clothes in the trunk. After that, she chucked in a few pairs of jean - by which, there were at least ten - and some long sleeved tops, with matching blouses and jumpers; maybe the occasional jacket. At the end of it all, the teenager ended up with an almost-full trunk of dark to medium toned outfits with their matching accessories. "Knock, knock!" her father rapped on the open door with thee back of his knuckles.
"Hello, father. How was work?" Alexandria asked politely. He still word his suit jacket and patent leather shoes. If her father had been home for a while, his woollen vest and cotton shirt was enough and usually he didn't wear shoes in the house. In other words, he had come straight to his daughter immediately after arriving. Smiling, he came over and kissed her on the forehead, careful to mind the chestnut strands of her wavy hair. Glinting was his watch in the electric light. It was now dark, the stars burning fiercely in the night-sky.
He smiled that sad smiled once more before replying, "Fine, excellent in fact. I got all my work done and was permitted to take the day after tomorrow off. So, I'll be coming with you on that long journey up to the north country." those big hands of her father's rested steadily on Alexandria's frail shoulders. She had always been so thin, but after her brother's death - it had seemed as if the girl had become a walking skeleton. "Alexandria, are you okay? You seem distracted..." Worry leeched his voice desperately. Those sparkling eyes of his were narrowed as he cocked his head sideways in thought.
"Yes, I'm fine," she rescued herself quickly, snapping out from her almost-daydream. It always seemed, nowadays anyway, that the memory of that night came and went. Was she getting better or merely holding it back again? For the first few weeks after the accident, Alexandria had stayed in her room and not spoken at all. She barely left to go to the toilet or get a glass of water. But then, one day, it had all become real. It was so painful that she couldn't stop feeling it anymore. Alexandria cried her heart out, screamed until her throat was sore and hit her hands against the wall until they were broken. Three months after that, her hands had healed and she was fine. She was talking - and not just to a therapist. "Is dinner almost ready? I'm rather hungry after all this packing."
Her father chuckled and guided her to the door, "Yes, dinner is nearly ready. I was surprised when I came home to find your mother cooking herself. She told me that she wanted to have a 'proper' meal for the last time you were here." Those sparks were back in his eyes. They really did make his whole profile change, it wasn't just Alexandria imagining it. Walking slowly down the stairs, step by step on the spiral platform, they reached the entry hall where Ida was waiting for them.
"Robert, when did you get home? I saw the car outside but didn't know where you were. It made me feel slightly freaked out!" Alexandria's parents hugged quickly before running off to the kitchen, arm in arm. Following, the teenager sat down on a white high stool at the island. Salad was being prepared in a metallic bowl, pots were bubbling and steaming away on the hob and a dessert was on the counter ready for the oven. "Alexandria, could you get me the dressing for the salad please?" Twirling around, she pulled open the gigantic fridge door and pulled out the cool bottle of Greek salad dressing. Her mother heavily hit the bottom of the bottle after Alexandria passed it to her silently.
Soon enough, the food was ready and they were transferring the dishes from the kitchen to the dining room. It had a ceiling-to-floor window which looked out onto the back garden. There were wind-blown leaves all across the green grass, which was surprisingly long. The flower beds had withered from the on-coming cold and the bushes were heavily out of shape. "We'll have to get a gardener in soon otherwise it'll seem like we're attempting to grow some sort of jungle for a back garden." Alexandria's father mused as he drew out the chair at the head of the table opposite to the window. "Could you close the drapes for me, darling?" Robert asked her as Alexandria came in with the casserole. Nodding, she hurried to the pane and drew the fabric over it. Then, having returned to her seat, she sat down on the left side of her father and served herself some of the food her mother had expertly prepared after her father was finished.
Breaking some bread, Alexandria spread some butter over it before taking a bite. Meanwhile, her mother and father talked about their days and what would transpire on the morrow. At this point during the conversation, they turned to their daughter and included her, somehow not picking up on how she had felt left out. "Have you finished packing, Xandria?" her mother cut up a piece of beef and plopped it into her mouth. She blinked, waiting for her daughter's reply.
"Yes, mother," those green eyes flickered up to those of her mother, "I have. I was thinking of putting a few things in a bag for the first day, however, don't think it will be necessary any longer. May you remind me on how my trunk will be arriving?" Alexandria took a sip of water gingerly. The cool liquid soothed her mouth, it was quite parched. Only God knows how many hours she had spent fretting over which clothes to pack or not pack. Her father grabbed two spoons and dropped some salad onto his plate. After taking a bite and swallowing, he spoke up.
"Tomorrow, we shall go to the train station, where the private train for Hampton's will be coming in for the district. There, we will hand over your trunk to the good people of you new boarding school and hope that it will arrive in time for Thursday - the day we arrive." Robert glanced at Ida, brown and green connecting together across the table. "You must remember there will be students who wish to get to Hampton's by that mode of transport. So, it should be that your trunk arrives at the same time they do - eight o'clock in the evening the day before everyone else arrives." Lasping back into silence was her father, meaning that her mother could speak up once more.
"What do you think you would like to do tomorrow, honey?" Ida smiled at her daughter, truly giving her the choice to do what she liked the day before she left. And it was a hard question. Ever since the accident, Alexandria had cut off from society. All of her friends no longer spoke to her - especially the ones who had been at the club with Alexandria and her brother. Most of the town smiled sadly at the girl when she walked past them in town. Where they lived was such a small community, that everyone knew what everyone else was doing. So there was only on thing that Alexandria thought she could do - privately.
"I suppose that it would be nice to go into the woods for a while." The girl mused as she stared at the blue and gold patterned drapes that blocked out her perfect view of the garden, just before the beautiful, league-long woods of her town. A horrified look was plastered to her mother's face as Xandria turned round.
"T-the woods?" Ida managed to stutter out. Alexandria nodded vigorously in response. Robert laughed.
"Why not? The girl's hardly been out for the past six months. It's time she went for short walk and get some fresh air, use those limbs." Her father was agreeing with her, for once. So tomorrow, she would go to the woods an say goodbye to her old life. Maybe even say goodbye to her brother. No, I can't go to his grave. Not yet, I haven't remembered his name... Alexandria smiled and carried on with her dinner.