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For the second time I’m joining in with Anna Spargo-Ryan’s Flash Fiction, writing prompt.
Walking on dry leaves, she veered away a little and the rustling deepened, as though a new stridence had entered her step. But it wasn’t enough to drown the whispers, the sporadic peels of laughter. There was no joy in the squeals, only malice and a quite deliberate intent to wound.
Samantha quickened her pace, separating herself from her friends, though to deem them friends was to attribute a virtue to the epithet that reality lacked.
“Sammy, you’re out of bounds, you’ll get sprung!” cried Georgina. “Come back, you don’t want a detention, Sammy!” Feigned concern at her welfare abounded in Georgina’s tone but Samantha recognised it for what it was. They knew she hated Sammy, that she only liked to be called Sam. Sammy set off a train of memories she wanted to forget.
Ignoring them, she continued wending her way down towards the large piece of land that dipped into a kind of field, adjacent to the sports oval. Trees lined the path, old trees, and Samantha gazed up, allowing the shards of sunlight through the thick leafless branches to warm her face.
Her mother had taken on an extra job to pay the fees at St. Clare’s Senior College, making it a total of three jobs. She barely saw her mother now. She was either cleaning houses a few suburbs away, at the office in the car-yard or in the seedy bar, where she was the perfect employee because she was cheap – a cash-in-hand, no-questions-asked member of staff.
Her mother announced the school switch, presenting it as a fait accompli. “It’ll be good for you…get you away from that nasty crowd, now that Bianca’s gone.”
“I can cope. I’m not going to a new school. Again. It’s not the school, Mum, it’s me.” Her voice had a steely quietness, belying her certainty that her mother had already won the fight.
Ignoring her daughter, she continued, “I want you to focus on your school work…the academic standard is much higher at St. Clare’s. And I want you to do well in your final year Sam, unlike me…” She trailed off.
There were some further arguments but her mother had already paid the fees and starting mid-term, almost inviting stress and misery, Samantha walked through the school gates. The elegant tunic had a matching blazer, which in spite of her misgivings she rather liked, but the hat made her feel slightly ridiculous.
“Sa-man-tha!” shouted Elissa, “Mr Sante is coming now…you’re in major trouble. So don’t blame us!”
The girl’s voice suddenly changed, becoming a sychophantic whine as she directed her attention to a tall athletic man, wearing John Lennon glasses.
“We tried, Sir.”
“Back to the in-bounds area, girls. Seniors have a few privileges but you’re pushing it.”
“Sammy wouldn’t listen,” simpered Georgina, with a hint of the coquette.
Samantha’s feet were weighted to a spot on the path. She wasn’t scared of detentions. In fact, few things frightened her.
“Samantha…or do you prefer Sammy?”
“I hate Sammy.” She couldn’t keep the petulance from her voice.
“Well, Sam then…” He smiled, cool and business-like, “I have a proposition for you. Our debating team is short one member and we have a comp at the end of…”
“I haven’t been on a debating team before,” Samantha cut him off.
“It’s settled then. I think you’ll like the topic: “School days are the best years of our lives.” He smirked a little but there was no meanness in the grin, more an ironic arching of an eyebrow under the small round spectacles and a tilting at the corners of his mouth. “We’re the affirmative.”
“Affirmative..? It’s not possible then.”
“Oh, I don’t know. It’s a jungle – we all know this – but I think you’ll be up for the challenge. I marked your essay from last week’s exam…I’m confident you’ll rustle up some strong arguments. We meet most lunch times – Room 43. You can bring your lunch,” he added, as though the matter were settled.
As they walked back up the leafy path towards the quadrangle, Samantha was already thinking of things to say, constructing sentences about the quality of friendships forged in the classroom and playground; respect and kindnesses initiated and lasting; life lessons and challenges. Perhaps she might fudge it.
“They’re up there now, if you want to join them. We still have some time left…nice group of girls.”
Samantha nodded, not noticing the expressions on the faces of her friends, Georgina and Elissa. The spite remained but some of their triumph had dissipated.