We passed trees and buildings and many, many roads in a blur. Aside from the blaring music in my ears, all that I could hear was that rowdy bunch of Year 11s behind me, going through popular song after popular song, singing flat or singing in a chorus at the tops of their voices.
Diagonally across the row from Rebecca and I was Mr. Smith, and, though he laughed, I could see that all of this music and chatter was getting to him as he tried to read in peace. During a particularly quiet moment, when even Rebecca’s music was off, we happened to be observing my classmates at the same time.
“Hey, Eileen,” he said with a wave as we caught each other’s eyes watching the ‘singalong’ behind us.
In the end, however, it didn’t matter that they were rather irritating; in a strange way, it kept my attention occupied during the journey, since watching scenery skip by was not particularly very entertaining. Not once did we stop, but that didn’t matter.
It was 11.30, by my wrist-watch, when the bus seemed to pass through a vortex: no longer did the motorways rush, but instead, my window presented us with a back-of-town lane, shielded on both sides from the sun by greedy, green-leaved trees. As the bus passed over bumps, all the passengers rocked from one side to the other, laughing at the sense of adventure. Even the musicians had shut up.
Finally, Mr. Smith stood up, his body swaying with the movement of the bus as it turned into our destination.
“Okay, girls, when the bus has come to a complete standstill, off you get! Welcome to High Lareigh!”
There were no spires; High Lareigh estate was an amalgamation of many different years: its front reception, ten years old since the estate became a conference centre as well as a ‘site of interest’, was painted with subtle whitewash; the older part of the estate still gleamed in a red-brick haze, the small rooms with one window each; the new games area, barely a year old, so we were told, was a combination of the old bricks and the new paint, two windows opening into every tiled room.
Quickly we jumped off the bus, rushing to grab our suitcases and enter this new world.