Heartache high, p.1
Heartache High, p.1Jon Jacks
Other New Adult and Children’s books by Jon Jacks
The Barking Detective Agency
The Lost Fairy Tale
A Horse for a Kingdom
The Most Beautiful Things
The Last Train
The Dream Swallowers
Nyx; Granddaughter of the Night
Jonah and the Alligator
Dr Jekyll’s Maid
The 500-Year Circus
The Endless Game
Heartache High: The Primer
Heartache High: The Wakening
Text copyright © 2013 Jon Jacks
All rights reserved
Wow, what a dream!
I’d just dreamt that, at last, Iain Sinclair had finally started to take an interest me!
One of those dreams you could almost have sworn was real!
But no; unfortunately, it wasn’t real after all.
Because here I am, waking up in bed.
Back to reality.
The reality where Iain doesn’t even know I exist.
Unless, that is, I get in his way in the school corridor.
Or make a fool of myself right in front of him. Dropping my bag and spilling its contents all across the floor,
He must think I’m the dumbest girl he’s ever come across.
But I can’t help it; not when I’m around him.
All my coordination goes out of the window – suddenly, I’m the gawkiest, most inept girl in school.
Stumbling over my feet.
Stumbling over my words
Like I’m tongue tied with the thickest rope anyone could manage to find.
I’m not like that normally; honest.
Normally, I’m okay.
Like any regular girl.
Yeah, that’s the problem I suppose.
Like any regular girl.
Not like the pretty, popular girls that hang around Iain like he’s got them all on strings and they’ll dance to any tune he’ll play.
Yeah, he plays the guitar too.
No chance; I’ve got no chance of getting off with Iain Sinclair.
Before I get around to opening my eyes, I go for a lazy stretching of my arms and legs, preparing my body for the rigors of the day ahead.
Yeah, that’s my morning exercise regime, see?
Hey, if it works for a cat. Why not me?
How many unfit cats do you see?
(Come to think of it, don’t answer that; next door’s cat looks like it overdoses on Katomeat every hour of the day.)
Trouble is, my strenuous workout is running in to problems; mum must have made the bed like she’s aiming on joining the navy, the quilt tucked in amazingly tight into the bed’s sides.
What’s she gone and done that for?
My legs and arms only get so far before they’re wedged tightly between quilt and mattress.
It feels like the bed’s only half size.
I finally get around to opening my eyes to see just what the heck is going on.
It’s not a quilt; it’s sheets and a scraggy old whatever those things are called that the Amish like making out of bits of old material.
And the bed really is half the size, going by what I’m used to.
Has someone played a joke on me?
Moved my bed out, and somehow slipped me into this one without even waking me?
Still groggily half asleep, I look around my room.
This is my room?
No, it’s not my room!
I jerk upright into a sitting position, giving my dozy head a shake. Thinking, Hey, am I still dreaming?
The bed’s small and simple, like it’s just enough to stop you falling out provided you only move as much as an Egyptian mummy.
The room’s hardly better; tiny, and with only the most basic things.
Small bedside locker. Closet hardly much bigger. Couple of armchairs, long past their best.
Tiny window. Curtains little better than dishcloths.
Bared light bulb hanging from the ceiling.
Paint left over from camouflaging a few army trucks.
Yeah, that’s it; it’s like an army barracks.
Either that, or it’s the world’s worst hotel.
I can’t remember coming here.
I can’t think how I could have got here.
Where is here anyway?
I’ll phone mum and – my mobile’s not by my bedside, where I’d usually put it.
I glance around the room again, looking for where it might be.
The clothes I was wearing yesterday have been carelessly thrown over a simple wooden chair placed against the wall.
(Yeah, that would be me who did that!)
I skip out of bed, realising for the first time that I’m wearing a long, plain-white nightdress, like I’m some sort of patient in a–
Please tell me this isn’t an asylum!
Please tell me I haven’t been committed, mum and dad finally despairing of my endless moping over Iain-bloody-Sinclair!
Where’s that phone?
My bag isn’t underneath my clothes, where I was expecting it to be.
I search through my jean pockets.
Nope, not there either.
Thing is, they take things like that off you in an asylum, don’t they?
Sharp things too.
Oh come on! I wasn’t that crazy!
What am I thinking here?
Well, I’m thinking I’m in a weird place and I can’t remember how I ended up here!
I search through my clothes again, a little more frantically this time.
Yep, still no phone.
There’s no landline phone by the bed, or on the wall either.
If this is a hotel, I hope we’re not paying much for the rooms.
I open and peer out of the door.
It’s a corridor, long and thin with lots of doors similar to this one.
Same job lot of paint used for the walls.
Same basic decoration too; no pictures hanging on the walls, no flowers.
So no phone either.
There’s no one around.
There’s not even any noise hinting that someone might be close.
No clanking of a chambermaid’s cleaning buckets, or fresh bed sheet trolley.
No yelling kids, no dad bawling at them to be quiet.
No music playing or dreary presenters droning away on a TV.
That figures, I realise looking back into my room; there’s no TV, nothing to play any music on.
Come to think of it, there isn’t any electrical equipment in here, apart from that lonely looking light bulb.
I can’t even see a plug socket.
How’s a girl supposed to manage without a hairdryer?
I could knock on a door and ask where I am. First, though, I need to put some clothes on, spruce myself up a bit.
I hate putting on clothes I’ve warn the previous day, but it’s hardly like I have any choice. At least there’s a towel, soap and a toothbrush and paste, all neatly stacked on the seat of one of the armchairs. But that can wait.
I run a tongue against my teeth, just checking that there aren’t any tell-tale signs that maybe I had something to drink last night that might have been best avoided.
All seems fine.
Thing is, though, there goes another explanation as to how I could have ended up here without remembering a single thing about it.
I think, Forget knocking on a door.
How’s it going to look?
‘Oh hi; er, could you tell me where we are please?’
Yeah, that’ll go down well.
All I need to do is find mum and dad and have a minor rant at them for bringing us to the Dreary Hotel, Drearyland.
As run and decorated by your friendly proprietors, Mr and Mrs Dreary.
While I’m at it, I can ask mum and dad what sort of travel sickness pill they slipped me to knock me out for the entire journey.
Both the corridor and the bedrooms leading off it are still eerily silent.
Sometimes, I get this weird impression that doors are opening and closing behind me. Movement I think I’m seeing out of the corner of my eye.
But I must be imagining it, just a little freaked. Because when I turn to make sure, there’s never anyone there.
Perhaps we’re the only ones staying here.
Not that that would be too much of a surprise.
Near the end of the corridor, I at last find what I’m looking for; double doors, opening up onto a landing connected to wide stairs, leading both up and down.
Before using the stairs, however, I take a look out of the large window at the end of the corridor.
(Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier? I could have looked out of my room’s window.)
As soon as I look out, over smart lawns and imposing Victorian gothic buildings lying just beyond them, I immediately regret it.
It’s a layout that just screams – hospital!
You’re in a hospital Steph!
No, no; I’ve got to stop torturing myself, trying to guess where I am.
Just how many Victorian hospitals are left? Most of them have been converted into business parks, or apartment complexes.
Mum and dad are probably downstairs, waiting for me in the hotel’s breakfast room.
‘Where have you been sleepy head?’ they’ll ask. ‘We let you sleep in to recover from the journey.’
(The journey I can’t remember, yeah?)
I step through the double doors onto the wide landing.
Once again, everything’s bare and basic.
No signs. No directions.
Down; that’s where a hotel’s breakfast room usually is.
At the bottom of the stairs, either side opens up onto corridors similar to the one I’ve left behind upstairs; long, straight, lots of doors leading off. Every door the same, like it’s all nothing but more bedrooms.
Wow, just how big is Hotel Dreary?
How many people do they expect to stay in a place like this?
There is another door, however; one leading to the outside.
In the circumstances, that seems my best bet.
I step outside, breathe in the fresh air like I’m clearing my lungs of all the dreariness I’ve been inhaling over the past few minutes.
Moving a little away from the building I’ve just come out of, and looking back up at it, I can see that it’s of a similar style to the building facing it, only plainer, less decorative and elaborate.
A dormitory, that’s what it reminds me of; a university’s student dormitory.
I look back at the building standing across from me on the other side of the lawns.
No, not a university – a boarding school.
A school with only one student – me.
So, if this is a school, where’s mum and dad got to?
Where, for that matter, are all the other students?
I wander across the lawns, heading towards what I take is the main block of schoolrooms.
There are other buildings spreading out either side of me, like it’s a large complex.
Could be the students – if this is a school, of course – are in any of these other buildings. Could be the dormitory’s empty because we’re all supposed to be in class.
I check my wristwatch to see what time it is.
Still, you’d think there would be somebody other than me wandering around between classes.
And I’ve still got to figure out why and how I happen to be here.
What, exactly, was I doing before I woke up here?
Dreaming of Iain.
Nothing unusual in that
And sure, as it’s my dreams rather than reality, he totally responded to what I consider are my considerable charms rather than completely ignoring them.
Nothing unusual there either.
But obviously, it’s not my dreams I should be focusing on; it’s whatever happened before I ended up in that ridiculously small bed.
Know what? There I draw a complete blank.
Last thing I can remember is talking to Cherry and Mary at school. Letting our imaginations and envy run wild as we tried to work out how Yvonne Gresham had managed to land a date with Darren Claudes.
Normally, I try and keep a wide berth between myself and Iain, seeing as how just a glimpse of him at school is enough to transform me into whatever the female version of the Marx Brothers would be.
At one and the same time, it’s both a blissful and an agonising experience.
I get all excited just hearing his name (making any excuse I can to bring him up in conversation, which is getting a bit irritating even for Cherry and Mary) let alone seeing him hanging around close by.
The agony comes from the way he’s always surrounded by giggling girls, none of whom fall around in his presence like I tend to do.
Today, Iain comes nonchalantly sailing past Cherry, Mary and me, carrying a pile of books like he’s on an errand for someone.
No giggling harem of girls in attendance.
No friends even.
My ears and brain immediately switch off whatever Cherry and Mary’s saying.
My eyes swivel painfully in their sockets as I try and watch Iain pass without noticeably turning my head.
My smile remains fixed, in the hope that my friends don’t notice they’ve no longer got my attention. (Yeah, some hope!)
When Iain finally passes out of view of eyeballs straining to see out of the side of my face, I’ve got no choice – I have to come up with some pathetic excuse to turn around.
Suddenly, I’m batting away at some non-existent fly that’s obviously irritating me so much I have to spin around just a little bit to try and get away from it.
(Yeah, okay, so it really is an unbelievably lame excuse; but I used up all the more believable ones long ago!)
Fortunately, Iain doesn’t seem to notice how pathetically I’m acting.
Unfortunately, that’s because he isn’t noticing me at all. As per usual.
He’s just striding past me like I’m every bit as invisible as the kids at this school.
And this is where things get a bit odd, because I can’t honestly recall what happened next.
Sure, I know what probably happened, what always happens; Iain kept on his merry way, h
That’s the rest of my day ruined.
I can’t help but spend the next few hours trying to work out exactly where he’s headed off to, who he might be meeting up with, which girl might be cunningly persuading him to take her out on a date.
Then, later, when I’ve worked out nothing but the fact that I’m never going to figure it out, I retreat into a corner of my mind where I can wallow in my misery, or rant away at nobody but myself about how unfair life is.
School work ignored.
Yeah, that’s undoubtedly the way it all panned out, going by my recent history of being one of life’s failures.
But I don’t know for sure, see? Because, weirdly, that’s where my dream sort of seems to take over, blending reality with the sort of scenario I’ve wished for so many times.
Where Iain stops; rather than passing by.
Where he turns, notices me; rather than somehow managing to look straight through me, like I wasn’t there.
Where I’m looking amazing; rather than falling over my feet, or sporting a massive spot on my nose.
Where his mouth almost hangs open in surprise at seeing this vision of loveliness, this Venus, who for some-unfathomably-crazy-reason he’s never noticed before.
Where he smiles, grins stupidly, just a little nervous about approaching someone so indescribably beautiful.
But that’s okay, because I smile back, letting him know it’s fine for him to come closer.
So he does.
He gives me one of his grins that somehow seem to say, Hey, you don’t know what fun is until you’ve hung around with me.
He walks over to me.
He says, ‘Hi, you might not know me, but…’
And that’s when I wake up in a bed made for the world’s thinnest person.
So, is that it?
Am I still in a dream?
Still not woken up yet?
I pinch myself.
Yeah, like that’s going to work, right?
If I’m in a dream, I’ve just pinched myself in my dream, haven’t I?
The doorway to the main building is huge, a line of identical doors surrounded by a beautifully ornate porch.
The school’s name is neatly carved into the stone above the porch entrance.
I mean, what school calls itself that?
Yeah, it’s got to be a dream, right?
Inside, I at last begin to see things I’m more familiar with.
Corridors with doors that open onto classrooms.
There’s even a room that could be some sort of laboratory.
I say could be because, all though it’s clean and well kept, it looks ancient.
Like it’s still being used to discover how the wheel works.
The classrooms, too, look like they’re from another age. One when kids sat behind rows of small wooden desks, and did exactly what teacher told them to do, including keeping deathly quiet as they scribbled down their times-tables.
Heartache High by Jon Jacks / Fantasy / Romance & Love have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on20 votes