Big City Dreams: A Prequel to The Apprenticeship

"The Apprenticeship Programme? What's that?" Vienna Barnes has her sights set on making it big in the Acting Industry, but when an offer comes along to take part in a once in a lifetime opportunity, she teams up with her best friend Megan to embark on the Apprenticeship Programme. Join the Barnes girls as they leave everything they have back in Nottingham to spend the next six months competing to win an Apprenticeship with Sunderland AFC. WARNING: Contains explicit language and heavy references to alcohol.


1. Post Christmas Blues

Here we are! The Prequel! This is all you'll be getting for a while, so I hope you like it! :P


My feet crunch against the snow that has turned the grass in our local park from a fresh spring green, to an almost winter wonderland. Megan and Sam see to be engaging in some ridiculous conversation about their ex boyfriends, and I really can't be bothered to hear them whine on and on about how devastating it is be to single again. I mean I would obviously know all about what that's like, with my many successful relationship...that have never happened.

"I hate being single, it sucks ass." Sam groans, "I want George back so badly."

"I know you do, but we're so much better without lads! Am I right, V?" Megan calls upon me to join in her in some sort of female alliance.

"Yeah. Fuck lads. Totally."

"See! I could not be happier since Nathan and I split up. Just do what I do and hook up with lads at clubs, no strings attached and that sort of stuff. It's brilliant." Megan explains.

We approach a nearby bench and sit ourselves down, and as usual I'm sat in the centre of the girls on going boyfriend discussion. As the conversation turns to female solidarity, my friends question me on the one only important male in my life right now - who really doesn't need to be brought up in this conversation right now.

"You've been spending an awful lot of time with that Year 10 boy...what's his name...Henry?" Sam questions, frantically tapping her fingers on her phone.

"Yeah, I guess. We've known each other for about a year and a half."

"He fancies the shit out of you, I hope you're aware of that." Megan chimes in, "Just be careful, please. He's underage and that's just going to look bad if something ever happened."

I mumble in agreement at Megan's advice, and to be honest I totally agree. Henry Wilson is three academic years younger than me, and also under the age of consent. I guess we both are to be fair because I'm not yet a legal adult, but once I turn eighteen we're pretty much screwed. That's because I absolutely fancy the crap out of him, and although he's young we just click so well. We're in the school choir together and both share a love of music and the performing arts, so we have endless conversations about all our favourite performers - it's just, perfect.

Henry is the only guy that's ever really given me the time of day. Any other guy that I speak to never really gets to know me, and it really pisses me off. So when Henry joined the school choir, he seemed to always want to talk to me, and we became such good friends. We've been spending more and more time together not only outside of the choir, but outside of school too and I don't know, there's a few feelings there.

"Is there no one else at school who you've got your eye on?" Sam questions, her attention suddenly turning away from her phone and towards me.

"Everyone in sixth form is too far up their own arse to be honest. Tom and Jack are okay, but Henry's just nice. He talks to me and we get on well, but honestly nothing else is going to happen. I promise you." I laugh half heartedly.

"What's up with you anyway? You've been so down recently." Megan rests her head sympathetically on my shoulder.

"My anxiety's been playing up a little, that's all." I mumble, patting Megan gently on her head, "They've decided to put me on medication to help with it, and I guess it's working but there's a lot going on at the minute."

"It's always really shitty after Christmas isn't it?" Sam practically yells, her voice echoing through the deserted park, "All the excitement over that one day is over and then you just feel really miserable."

It's not that my Christmas was bad or anything, well actually it was, it was fucking horrific. After being diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder not even two months prior to Christmas, I spent the majority of my time seeing councillors and therapists to try and keep my anxiety under control. I learnt a few decent techniques, but doctors decided to put me on some form of medication just to 'help'. So I spent my Christmas in a sort of rut which I couldn't get out of, and whilst my whole family was so happy and full of joy, I was popping pills that strangely enough look like smarties.

"I'm absolutely dreading going back to sixth form, I really am I just can't deal with it right now." I blurt out, randomly changing the subject, "I know we've got just over a week left but I'm already dreading seeing all those miserable fucks again."

"And you're not a miserable fuck at all, are you V?" Sam laughs, tapping away on her phone screen once again.

"I most certainly am not!" I playfully protest, "The football's on later, so I get to watch my beautiful man for a whole ninety minutes on TV and I'm absolutely buzzing with excitement."

"Well I'm glad to know a Swedish footballer can make you happy over your two closest friends!"

We burst into fits of laughter as a familiar looking figure enters the park, their gaze set in our direction almost immediately. Within seconds, Henry Wilson can be seen walking over to us, alone on this early Boxing Day afternoon. He lifts his hand up to signal his presence, and I feel a sharp nudge coming from Sam's direction, "Here comes your boyfriend."

"He is not my boyfriend you absolute idiot!" I groan, jumping up from my seat to meet Henry, "What are you doing here?"

"I'm on my way to see family and I could hear you all laughing from about half a mile away." He jokes, adorably grinning at me, "How was your Christmas?"

Henry's thick black walking boots shuffle around in the snow, but his eyes are still set on mine, "Good, yeah. Anxiety was playing up a bit but it was alright. What about you?"

I watch Henry's face sink slightly as I inform him on my anxiety-filled Christmas, and he shrugs off his reply, simply telling me that it was 'like any other day'. He then follows this by stepping towards me, and pulling my body into his for a hug.

"You know you can always talk to me if you need to." He whispers into my ear, causing a few hairs to stand up on the back of my neck as his calming voice comforts me slightly.

As Henry and I detach ourselves from each others bodies, I can hear Sam and Megan laughing behind us. Henry smirks a little bit which is actually the most adorable thing, and waves towards my friends who seem set on embarrassing me.

"I better leave you to it. Text me later, yeah?" He smiles, before placing a gentle hand on my arm and walking away.

"See you later Henry!" Sam calls.

"You two are so fucking embarrassing!" I groan, walking back to sit with my friends who are laughing so uncontrollably I think Megan might be crying.

"He looked so happy when he hugged you, it was actually quite creepy."

"It was just a hug for goodness sake. You're acting like we had sex in the middle of the park, just chill out." I laugh.

"Whether it was a hug or not, he likes you." Megan calmly informs me for I think the tenth time this afternoon.

I guess Henry could like me. But he seems like a sensibly boy so it must have at least crossed his mind that next year I'll be a fully grown adult and he will still be below the age of consent. At least we have our friendship, and I wouldn't want to ruin that even if I was given the chance.

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