This is like a flashback
This is like a dream
This is like all the things you can fit inside a memory

June 2010, Kensington, London

'Isla, it's about time for you to decide sensibly what you are planning on doing with your life. I think that you need to be more ambitious. Hugo's applying to Oxbridge after his gap year, you know. We would love for you to go there.' Isla was in the dining room of her four-storey London home, eating dinner with her mother, father and elder sister, Lola, whilst being asked the same question by her father that was posed to her almost every day. 
'I just think you need to maintain the right connections, darling, and Hugo's from a very nice family, as you know. You need to start thinking about your options, considering what path your life's going to lead.'
'Dad, I've told you, I don't like Hugo, and I'm never going to get into Oxford or Cambridge in a million years. I don't even need to go to university to become a writer', Isla replied, giving the same dull answer to the question that she always did. Predictably, her mother piped in at this point.
'Sweetheart, a writer? Why don't you go to university and study English, a solid degree -I know how much you love reading- and then decide when you've graduated what you want to do. I just think you're too young to be making important decisions like this.'
'Mother, I know what I want to do. I don't want to go to university and I wish you'd both stop asking me about it and telling me what to do. It might be what you want for me, but it's not what I want', Isla replied, beginning to feel her blood boil. She hated how Lola was the 'ideal daughter' in her parents' eyes and how she was the 'black sheep' of the family; the disappointment, the failure. Lola was in her third year of an art history degree at Durham University and had a boyfriend who her parents approved of- his family were landed gentry who lived in a stately home in Edinburgh. 

With this statement, she stood up and left the room. She knew that it had been a mistake to decide to eat with her family- it was something she had been avoiding for months now, due to the incessant arguments between them and her. She felt as if there were two different sides in the house; her mother, father and Lola on one side, and her, alone, on the other.


She went upstairs and switched her laptop on, hoping that someone would be online for her to talk to. As she did this, her mobile phone rang next to her, and she hurried to pick it up, seeing the name of her boyfriend on the screen. For the past four years, she had not told her parents about Harry, for she knew that they would instantly disapprove of him. Although from a very well-off family, Harry would never be good enough for her for the simple fact that her parents had not selected him for her from their circle of friends. In addition to this, he smoked and drank and was in a band. However, Isla had never loved anyone more; he was tall, muscular and tanned with dark, messy hair and eyes the colour of liquorice. He was kind, funny, and claimed to be distantly in line to the throne, apparently, according to him, a descendent of a love child of King Charles II, something that Isla never knew if he was joking about from the serious tone in which he insisted it was true. He was everything, in Isla's opinion, that a boyfriend should be.  

Isla pressed the green button on her BlackBerry curve. 'Hello?’ she said, trying to sound calm and collected although she was still angry and frustrated after the previous argument with her parents. ‘Isla’, his melodic voice came down the phone, instantly calming all of her worries. ‘I haven’t spoken to you for such a long time with exams and all, how are you darling?’

‘Oh, I know. I’ve missed you so much, Harry. I’ve just been stuck here in Hell, really. I can’t wait to finish school for the summer.’

‘I know me neither. Not long now. Anyway, I was wondering whether you felt like breaking the monotony and coming out next Saturday. Millie’s got a free house and she’s having a party. I need to get on the lash so badly, Is, you have no idea. Come?’ Millie Cheselbourne was the ‘queen bee’ of her private girls’ school; a girl who Isla felt distinctly uncomfortable around and yet was forced to make acquaintance with on a regular basis due to her socialite boyfriend. Isla never deliberately pushed her way into the ‘in’ crowd at school, and yet seemed somehow to get to the very centre of it. Maybe it was her looks or the air of mystery that she always ensued, although she was not half as aware of either of these things as she perhaps should be. She was surprised that Millie herself had not left her an impersonal message on Facebook to invite her as she usually did.
‘Ok, I’ll come. Who else is going?’ Isla replied grudgingly. The only reason that she had agreed to go was to ensure that Millie, who had a habit of repeatedly making advances on Harry in her presence, did not take her inappropriate interest in her boyfriend too far.

‘Everyone, I think. The usual crowd. Can I come and pick you up like the loyal boyfriend that I am? I want to take my belle to the ball’, he said, a slightly humorous tone in his voice.
‘You are a fool, Harry Gatesby. But I’ll allow you to come and pick me up, mainly as my parents will probably refuse to bring me, they generally object to me going anywhere these days...’ Isla sighed, feeling the anguish from earlier coming back.
‘Are you alright, Isla? Are they pressurising you again?’
‘No, it’s just... Well, yes they are. They want me to go to university. I haven’t told them about our plans, obviously. It’s all a bit of a nightmare’

‘You know, if this world trip is going to cause more trouble than it’s worth, maybe... have you thought about just going to university?’

‘Don’t tell me you’re backing out of thi-'

‘I’m not. I’m just saying- my parents want me to do the same thing. Maybe it’s something we could think about. I mean, we could still see each other regularly, and we can travel next year when we’re both on gap years, only not for as long. We’ve got our whole lives to be together and do whatever we want... If that’s what you want’, said Harry, sounding slightly hurt at the end of this speech. Isla felt shocked; they had been planning the world trip together for months now, and after all of the refusing to go to university and arguing with her parents, he was suggesting that they cancel their plans like some superficial lunch date.

‘Of course, of course that’s what I want, Harry. It’s just... I don’t really want to go to university. It’s a future my parents have carved out for me, it’s what they want me to do, so that they can live vicariously through me and tell all of their friends about their daughters at university. I don’t want to do it.’

‘Maybe doing what your parents want sometimes isn’t such a bad thing, Isla. You can’t live always being a disappointment; it’s something I’ve learned. Anyway, I’ve got to go now, we’ll discuss this another time. I love you, hang in there.’ However confused Isla was as to Harry’s sudden change of mind and attitude, this last thing melted her.

‘I love you too, see you soon’, she said, hanging up the phone to go to bed and mull over Harry’s words. Harry was very much the rebellious and non-conformist type; she would not have envisaged him ever saying something like this.


The End

1 comment about this story Feed