School feels very dull by comparison

The next day, Valorie’s alarm went off, and she woke up feeling extraordinarily tired.

This always irritated her – she’d had well over the eight hours of sleep she was supposed to need, so why was she tired? Was it a good thing to wake up feeling tired? She didn’t know.

She flicked the alarm off. Just two more minutes.

She began to cocoon herself back into the duvet, but a second alarm went off. Grumbling, she got up.

She was just getting dressed when a third alarm went off, reminding her to take her hay-fever medication. She reached over to her cabinet, took a triangle-shaped tablet, and swallowed it. Then she sipped from yesterday’s cherryade, and went downstairs.

Her mum was already down there, sitting at the dining room table, drinking her coffee.

‘Hiya Val,’ she said, gazing sleepily at her. ‘Sleep well?’

‘Yeah, you?’ Valorie said, giving her mum a hug.

‘Not great actually. The radiator in our room kept making banging noises.’

Valorie crossed over to the cereal cupboard. ‘I thought I heard something.’ She took down the bag of porridge oats, tipped some into a bowl, and added milk. She joined her mum at the table.

‘Why don’t you ever heat it up? It can’t taste very nice cold.’

‘I like it cold. So does Granddad, sometimes.’

‘I’m just saying, it can’t be very nice, first thing in the morning. You should microwave it.’

Valorie gobbled up the porridge – for some reason she was really hungry today – and continued to talk to her mum while she washed up her bowl.

‘Going into uni today?’

‘Yeah,’ her mum replied, finishing her coffee. ‘Got an exam in a week, so I’m afraid you’ll be seeing less and less of me for the next few days. Gotta revise.’

‘Well, I’ll come in and visit you. That’ll make it a bit less tortuous, won’t it?’

‘Er, sure. Of course it will.’ Mrs Morse looked shiftily around the room; Valorie laughed, then she bombed her way up the stairs to get her bag.


School felt duller every day; partly because of all the magical training Charley was giving her, and partly because of their new English teacher. Mr Faulkner was unspeakably boring.

‘In… what… way… does the… poet… communicate… sentimen… tality?’

It wasn’t his fault of course – he couldn’t help the way he was. It was just that his lessons were completely uninspiring. Her friend Amrita felt the same way. They spent the lessons slumped over their desk, conversing quietly or playing paper games.

‘Wanna play consequences?’ Amrita asked.

‘Sure,’ Valorie said, and watched her friend prepare a piece of paper for the game.















They passed the paper back and forth, filling in the blanks. The finished paper read thus –

‘Batman met Lady Gaga at the roller-skating rink. He said “Do you like ketchup?” She said “Get your filthy hands off me”. Then they took a bath. And the moral is “Pianos are too heavy to lift with one hand”. The End.’

Valorie sniggered, and when Amrita nudged her and hissed ‘Shut up, you sponge!’ she laughed ever harder. Soon they both had the giggles.

‘Mr Faulkner looked up.

‘Something the matter, you two?’

‘Sorry, sir,’ Amrita choked. ‘I was just thinking of something funny, that’s all.’

‘Well, could you stop thinking and start writing, please. You two haven’t done anything for the last ten minutes.’

Valorie kept her head down so the teacher couldn’t see her, still chuckling to herself. ‘Yes, sir.’

Within two minutes, Amrita and Valorie had given up working and resumed their paper game.

‘Mr Faulkner met Mary Poppins at the morgue. He said “Oooh, I fancy a curry.” She said “This is the best birthday ever.” Then they threw jelly at each other. And the moral is “There are worse things than being dead”. The End.’

This time, Amrita nearly burst a gut trying not to laugh, and Valorie slid giggling under the desk.

Mr Faulkner marched over and snatched the piece of paper. Then, without even looking at it, he tossed it into the waste bin by his desk.

‘Oh well,’ Amrita said, a little disappointed, ‘at least he didn’t read it.’

‘True,’ Valorie agreed. She drooped over the desk again. 20 minutes to go.

The End

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