The Visitor

This is about a girl who desperately needs a second chance after she fails her exams. Will she achieve her dream of going to university?

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1. The Visitor

“The time is now 9:03 you have 1 hour 45 minutes, you may start.”

Fear stalked the geometric rows of desks, following in the footsteps of the strangers patrolling the hall. The heat of the day climbed. Chewed biros and lucky pens scratched furiously the ribbons and shapes to be graded later. Sweat beaded their foreheads as they tried to recall, the months of revision readying them for this moment. A wave of pages broke as questions were conquered and insecurities drifted. The first eyes read the words END OF TEST at 10:21.

At 10:42 one test lay, stubbornly untouched, pages pristine and stiff. It looked at her, she looked at it and neither of them moved.

“You have 5 minutes left,” the stranger warned, splitting through the concentration.

She jerked up in her seat, as blood struggled to reach her face. She opened the booklet looked at the words, and tried desperately not to be sick.

At 10:27 the girl entered the room next to the Headmaster’s office. She collected the brown envelope that had her name printed on it.

At 10:45 the envelope lay, still unopened next to the unwashed breakfast dishes.

“Are you going to open it then?” her mother enquired, whilst chewing on a bleeding, bitten nail.

“Erm…” the girl stammered, “Can I open it alone?”

Uncomfortable seconds passed as suspicion and doubt clouded her mum’s face. Reluctantly she stepped out of the room.

The girl hesitantly picked up the envelope, flipped it over and slowly ran her finger under the glued seal. She inched out the sheet of paper. As her eyes scanned the words the paper fell from her hand and gently drifted to the floor. Her mother rushed back into the room and retrieved the paper from the floor.

“Mathematics 1 Higher Tier 3/120 Grade U.”

Neither of them knew what to say.

Eventually her mother asked, What happened?”

To which the girl replied simply, “I don’t know.”

“But what about university?” her mum’s voice rose as tears began to trickle down her cheeks. “How will you get a job without a grade in Maths? Who will want to take you on?”

“Mum, please,” the girl begged, shaking as the realisation hit her.

“No! What will your father say when he gets home? We had such high hopes for you to become…” she broke of sobbing. The girl tried to console her mum, but she was shrugged off. As she stood there helplessly she had never felt more alone. Although the gap between her and her mother was just a few centimetres they felt worlds apart.

“Got to your room!” her mother wailed. The girl jumped and fled upstairs. Curled up on her bed, body racked with sobs she heard the unmistakable sound of the front door closing. Her father had arrived.

Muffled voices floated upstairs from the kitchen. The girl listened fearfully as her father paced to the bottom of the stairs.

“CHARLOTTE, GET DOWN HER NOW!”

Time ticked, cells split. 737 days later...

“The time is now 9:01 have 1 hour 45 minutes, you may start.”

Fear stalked the geometric rows of desks, following in the footsteps of the strangers patrolling the hall. The heat of the day climbed. Chewed biros and lucky pens scratched furiously the ribbons and shapes to be graded later. Sweat beaded their foreheads as they tried to recall, the months of revision readying them for this moment. A wave of pages broke as questions were conquered and insecurities drifted. The first eyes, hers, read the words END OF TEST at 10:21.

At 10:42 one test lay, neatly folded, embossed with bold font. It looked at her, she looked at it and neither of them moved.

“You have 5 minutes left,” the stranger warned, splitting through the concentration.

She sat up confidently in her seat, a smile tugging on the corners of her mouth. She opened the booklet one last time, looked over the words and relaxed.

Six pairs of eyes fixated hungrily on her as she picked up the envelope. She ran her finger slowly under the seal, then with a burst of excitement, ripped it open. She unfolded the piece of paper, and read the words:

“Mathematics 1 Higher Tier 113/120 Grade A*!” Charlotte squealed. A huge sigh of relief escaped from her parents and grandparents as everyone gathered round from a hug.

“Finally, you made it!” her mum congratulated, beaming. “I am so proud to call you my daughter,” she whispered in Charlotte’s ear as they embraced. Charlotte grinned.

The fogged up window rubbed away, revealing a picture of scenic countryside and placid cows grazing grass peacefully. Feathery pearl clouds drifted along the deep azure sky. The sweet perfume of cut grass floated through the crack in the window, sending Charlotte back to sleep…

 She woke as her forehead smacked against the cold hard glass. Opening her eyes she saw looming tower blocks and red bricked houses. The car jolted to a halt. They had arrived.

“Hello there, what is your name?” asked a friendly women with a broad smile.

“Charlotte,” the girl replied nervously. The women consulted her clipboard and nodded.

“Welcome to London University, Charlotte. Here is your map of the campus. If you get lost just ask one of our students or teachers, they will be willing to help. Have a nice day and enjoy yourself!” She handed Charlotte a map and a little badge. Curiously, Charlotte turned the badge over and read the inscription on the worn plastic.

VISITOR.

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