Valorie enjoyed the pizza – the crust was a bit too thick and bready, but the pizza itself was nice. They’d taken some of it back home in a box.
‘I’m quite tired now,’ her mother said as they all piled into the hallway. She yawned. ‘Oh dear. Straight to bed for me, I think.’
‘Yeah, me too.’
‘Can I watch a film, Mum?’
‘What time is it now… Eight o’clock? It’s a bit late for a film, isn’t it?’
Valorie sighed. ‘Yeah, I guess so. Maybe I’ll go to bed as well. I’m quite tired.’
‘Big day?’ Mrs Morse said, hanging up her coat and putting the keys back on the hook.
‘Yeah, you could say that. Very tiring, anyway.’
Valorie took her bag upstairs with her. She still had some homework to do. She often did her homework late into the night, because she was so busy with school and Charley’s sessions during the day. Valorie stepped into her room – which was getting to be a bit of a mess. She made a mental note to take out that bin bag which was sitting in the corner of the room. It had been there about two weeks. She kept meaning to take it out to the wheelie bin, but things kept distracting her.
Better do it soon, Valorie thought to herself. That cheese sandwich from last week is beginning to go a bit nasty.
Valorie crawled under her duvet, propped the pillows up behind her, and opened her geography book.
She had an assessment due in – design a theme park based on Geography, i.e. Countries of the World. She began to draw the Ancient Egypt section – complete with giant foam pyramids for the kids to play on, a few giant sandpits and so on.
Valorie bent miserably over the book. Why did she bother to stay up late into the night doing assessments that bore little or no relation to the actual subject? Theme parks had nothing to do with Geography really.
She sighed. Just had to draw that Sushi bar for the Japan section… the dragon roller coaster… the video game arcade…
Valorie’s eyes felt heavy. Moaning, she pushed the book off her lap and turned off the lamp. Who cared about theme parks? She needed sleeeeeeeep…
The next day. Valorie was woken up by her father banging on the door.
‘Come on Val! You’re going to be late for school. It’s 7.47!’
Valorie tried to sit up, but it was difficult because her face was buried in the pillow. She rolled onto her front and then sat up.
‘Urgh,’ she said.
‘Are you up yet?’
‘I said, are you up yet?’
After that, her father gave up and shuffled back down the hallway. Valorie rolled back onto her face.
‘I don’t wanna go to school.’
The geography assessment was still due in. She really couldn’t face school. What was the point? It wasn’t helping her training in magic; it was making her more stressed than she needed to be, and it was a terrible bore. Maybe if she could just take a nice, long holiday from school, she could get her etheric projection down. How was she supposed to concentrate on grabbing things with Mr Faulkner and various other teachers chasing her up for homework?
Groaning audibly, she stood up. It was chilly this morning. She wanted to keep the duvet wrapped around her and go to school like that, a 100% cotton sausage.
Valorie pulled on her clothes as quickly as possible. They were cold from yesterday because the radiators hadn’t been on. Shivering, Valorie stepped into her trainers and walked downstairs.
‘There you are at last,’ her mother said. She had a very miffed look on her face this morning, and she kept taking impatient puffs from her cigarette. Valorie suspected something was up, but decided not to ask. She was supposed to be getting ready for school.
‘Just got to pack a few things, and I’ll be off,’ Valorie said, trying to lighten her mother’s mood. ‘Do you reckon I’ve got time for some toast?’
‘If you make it quick. Please get home early today. Your father and I want to talk.’
This was bad. Valorie put the bread in the toaster, and the two waited there in silence until it was done. She hurriedly buttered it, and rushed from the kitchen with the toast hanging out her mouth.