Where foundlings hide, p.5
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       Where Foundlings Hide, p.5

           KL Mitchelson
Chapter Five

  The girl standing before me is beautiful. She has a creamy, flawless complexion and her blonde hair is like silk. She wears a beautiful gown of midnight blue and a silver crown rests upon her head, glinting in the light of the moon. Her mouth moves and I lean closer to hear her words, but my hands find the invisible barrier between us. The girl raises her palms so that they are level with mine. She reaches through the glass; it seems to melt, turning to water that shimmers in the light emanating from her. Her hands close around my wrists, painfully tight, and then she pulls me towards her.

  I wake with a start. A rare, morning sun streams in through the bedroom window, bright and brilliant. It invades my eyes, making them water. Squinting, I stagger across the room and pull the curtains across the window, the image of the dream still lingering in my mind.

  It’s Friday and that means a free morning for sixth formers. We’re supposed to spend it studying, or on our extra-curricular activities, but I long to go out to the running track and burn off the nervous energy that’s been building since I returned to school.

  I dress hurriedly and shove a pair of sunglasses on, thinking how ridiculous I’ll look running around in a pair of Aviators. My eyes are still stinging from the onslaught of the sudden burst of sunshine. It happens sometimes, this aversion to light, the doctors think it has something to do with my head injury.

  Even with the sunglasses on, I find myself blinking in the harsh sunlight, and I keep my head down as I jog towards the track field.

  There is still a chill in the air and the ground is hard with frost, but looking around at the green grounds under a crisp blue sky, it’s hard to believe that it was snowing just a few days ago.

  I’m not much of a distance runner; I usually just run around the four hundred metre track, getting faster and faster until my legs feel shaky. It keeps me fit for fencing, fast and strong, but it has been ages since I’ve exercised properly and the muscles in my legs protest.

  I pick up the pace, relishing the feel of the wind on my face, the hard ground beneath my feet, the fog of my breath in the air.

  When I reach the field, I’m surprised to find Bria sitting on the ground with Orla and Jas. Bria has one leg extended out in front of her.

  “Hey Sleeping Beauty,” she says. “What’s with the shades? It’s bit too late to start keeping a low profile.”

  “My eyes are sore,” I say pulling a face at her. “What are you doing out here anyway?”

  “Thought we’d get some training in,” Bria says, her voice strained. “You know, before we have to squeeze into those dresses for the Banquet.”

  Jas and Orla nod, trying to look sincere. They both sit cross-legged, leaning back on their hands, as though exercise is the furthest thing from their minds.

  Sport isn’t mandatory for Sixth Formers. Orla is on the hockey team and attributes her strong, curvy figure to all of the extra gym sessions her coach puts the team through. Jas is slim, but her limbs are soft, because she hates exercise. At the end of year eleven, she threw her gym bag into the river. It was returned by one of the farmers nearby, who found the bag and its contents scattered in the water. Each item of clothing had ‘Jasmine Kharral’ stitched into the labels, so the bag was soon returned to her, filthy and sodden.

  “Bria, you never worry about squeezing into anything, what are you really here for?” I ask, my eyes narrowed in mock suspicion.

  She grins up at me “Thought I’d give you a sneak peek.” She points towards the fields and I tilt my sunglasses to follow the line of her finger. The sunlight instantly invades my eyes and I quickly push the shades back up my nose, but I can still make out the group of boys jogging along the top embankment; I see Nick, his tanned complexion and blonde hair shining in the sunlight. The boy jogging beside him is tall with dark hair, and even from this distance I can see the muscles moving in his arms and legs. I recognise him immediately and my stomach flips.

  “That’s Caleb.” Bria squints up at me, gauging my reaction.

  I frown back at her. “Yep, that’s Coffee Boy alright.”

  Bria jumps to her feet. “Ha! I knew it.”

  Jas stands and shields her eyes with her hand. “Who are you talking about?”

  “Caleb,” Bria laughs, pointing again at the group of boys, “Casey’s date for the banquet.”

  “I can’t go to the banquet with him. I don’t even know if I want to go.”

  Bria rolls her eyes and sighs dramatically. “Of course you’re going.” She cups her hands around her mouth and shouts “Looking good, Nicky” The boys turn in our direction and Nick waves. He starts to jog sideways, making funny faces, much to the amusement of his friends.

  Orla laughs behind me. “Why did you call him Coffee Boy?”

  “He spilled coffee on her in dining hall.” Bria says, her eyes still on Nick as he continues to horse around on the top field.

  “Oh, I heard about that.” Orla says, pulling her lip down and revealing her bottom teeth.

  The boys continue to glance in our direction and I am suddenly aware of my faded sweatshirt and pale face, no doubt still puffy from sleep.

  I watch Caleb running gracefully beside Nick. This is the first time I’ve seen him since Physics on Monday. Not that I was looking for him or anything.

  He stops and leans forward, his hands resting on his hips, as though catching his breath. His head turns in our direction, and even from this distance, I can tell that his eyes are fixed on me. My cheeks flush beneath my oversize shades.

  “He’s gorgeous, isn’t he?” Orla stands and dusts the grass off the back of her shorts. “He’s a bad boy too. I heard he got kicked out of his last school and his Dad had to pull strings to get him into Malvern.”

  Jas looks at her in surprise. “How do you know that?”

  Orla ties her short brown hair into a stubby ponytail at the back of her head. “My brother is the captain of the rugby team, Caleb just made the squad.”

  “Why did they kick him out?” I ask

  Orla smiles and leans forward conspiringly. “No one knows, but the rugby boys think he had a relationship with one of his teachers.”

  I scrunch my nose up. “He sounds great.”

  “Oh, get over it,” Bria laughs. “You’re only going to the banquet with him, you don’t have to marry him.”

  “I’m not going anywhere with him.” I say.

  “If you don’t, I will.” Jas laughs.

  “Let’s go say hi.” Bria takes off in the direction of the boys, her hair bouncing around her shoulders. Jas groans and sets off at a slow jog behind her, dragging her feet as she moves sluggishly across the field.

  Orla busies herself with retying her shoelaces. “Are you coming?”

  “Um, I think I’ll just stay here.”

  Orla straightens up. “You sure?”

  “Yeah, I’m just going to do a few laps.” I jerk my thumb in the direction of the track.

  “Well, I guess I’ll see you later then.” Orla hesitates for moment, like she’s about to say something, but then her mouth snaps into a smile and she takes off after Bria and Jas. I watch them race towards the bank, half wanting to go after them and half glad to be alone again. With a heavy heart, I head towards the track.

  An hour or so later I return to the main house, my legs like jelly and my whole body damp with sweat.

  Ms Gould is in the foyer, directing a group of year elevens carrying tables and chairs. “Looks like the weather’s improved just in time for the party.” She calls to me.

  I offer a small wave in response, almost colliding with a young, male teacher carrying sound equipment. I mutter my apologies and hastily take my sunglasses off.

  Just then, the ground begins to shudder beneath my feet and without thinking, I grab on to the young teacher. The walls around us shake and the furniture in the arms of the year elevens clatters to the ground.

  The quake is over as quickly as it started and I shakily mutter my apologies as
I release the teacher’s arm. He barely seems to notice as he looks around, ashen faced.

  Ms Gould is already composing herself, shaking her head, as though the quake was nothing more than a minor inconvenience.

  When I feel like it is safe to do so, I put one foot in front of the other and make my way to the dining hall. I rush some breakfast down, before heading upstairs to shower.

  Once I am in the sixth form corridor, I feel in the hidden pocket of my running tights for my key. It’s not there. I try the handle of the door to my room and find it unlocked.

  I spot the key on my bedside table, as I pick up my towel and wash bag, and I scold myself for my lack of security. I am just about to leave again, when I notice a red, square box tied with a black ribbon sitting on the edge of my bedside table. I pick it up. There is a card peeking out from under the ribbon, with fancy writing that reads ‘wear tonight’.

  I pull the ends of the ribbon, it falls away like water and I take the lid off the box.

  A beautiful, antique-silver necklace is nestled against the velvet lining inside. I carefully tug the delicate chain from its bindings and I hold it up to the light. The gem – a red, heart-shaped amulet - catches the light and powders the wall opposite with tiny, shimmering beads. It is mesmerising, hypnotic.

  I fasten the chain around my neck and examine the effect in the mirror. I am surprised by the warmth of the gem; it feels like whoever left it here had clutched it tightly in their hand before placing it in the box.

  The sunlight streaming in through the window bounces off the surface of the mirror causing a glare. I try to ignore it, my eyes no longer irritated by the sunlight. I concentrate instead on the gleam of the red gem and its calming effect.

  The necklace looks good against my pale-blonde hair. I am not beautiful like Lana was. Even though we look similar, she was always somehow more striking, but I like my features, and in the light from the window reflecting off the mirror, my face looks luminous. I pull the band out of my hair and let it fall around my shoulders. It shines like silver. And that’s when I see her. Standing behind me. Lana.

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