That Fateful Monday
On that fateful Monday, Susie woke up early even for her. She was a very light sleeper and often woke at around six, but waking at dawn was strange for her. She used the time to choose the outfit she was wearing that evening. She was going out with the girls after school to celebrate passing their first few GCSEs. (The results were coming back today).
While she attached her small earrings on she took a long hard look at herself. She was pretty enough she supposed. She wasn’t outlandishly ugly. But she hadn’t been asked out on a date in years. Maybe it was worse than she thought. She presumed it was because Sadie was her best friend. Compared to her Susie looked like a monster. She looked closer and studied her face. It was simple, a sweet heart shape with pretty, dark hazel eyes and thick pale pink lips. They were her best features. Her nose was a little too big but not as bad as Megan’s. She was thankful for that at least. She put on a little concealer on her only spot, a great red thing.
Susie stared into the clear mirror as she carefully applied the black mascara, put it in her blazer pocket and pulled out a lip gloss and began applying the pale pink balmy gloss to her lips. She threw in her mobile phone as well. Once that was over she looked over her hair. She had finally managed to grow it to the perfect length for her with a simple fringe that fell over one eye and was parted to one side. She tied it back with a band so that only the fringe was not tied back, falling softly to one side. It had taken months to get it cut just like that at the perfect length. She pulled on her fitted white shirt and then her fitted blazer came from hanging over the back of her chair and was put on top. Finally she found her belt in her house colour with the school symbol in the centre and put it on her waist over her shirt. The belt could be worn there or around her hips, depending on where the girl wanted it. In the winter she would have to be wearing under her shirt a strappy top in her house colour that would be clearly visible as well as a black jumper. Her small black skirt (she could have been wearing trousers or a long black skirt with a slit instead of that one) sat perfectly and the small black shoes clacked against the floor. She put one hand on her hip and gazed into her hall mirror. She looked perfect. For her anyway.
She walked down the street with a calm air about her. She had music from the musical Wicked pumping in her ears. At the moment it was her favourite musical and she often listened to it. Her bag swung against her side as she walked. Her bag had the image of a pretty pattern of flowers along the side. She crushed the folder to her chest which contained all her music for her class (and separate lesson) that afternoon.
She turned the corner and placed a hand over her neck to hide her necklace as she saw a teacher standing by the front gate. Her hand trick worked and she sauntered past the music teacher, Miss Loana, who may not have even noticed. Susie was her favourite pupil, though Susie wouldn’t tell anyone she liked being good at something. Now she was in school she would dump off her bag in the tutor room and then go to find Sadie. She often walked with her in the morning but today she had a project to hand in. it was something to do with Sadie’s latest passion, art. She sighed and went to find her. She must be here somewhere. A little later Sadie was done and they went back to just outside their tutor room on the nearby bench where they normally waited for their friends. Megan was already here. Caitlin and Hannah would come later as they took the bus but she was surprised that Alexia wasn’t here yet. She was never late. As they waited they took off their blazers and dropped them on the bench. It was too hot for blazers now. The badge from Megan’s blazer was showing clearly, the green leaf standing out.
In Newell school there was four houses. Winter, spring, summer and autumn, each with their own colours. A student wore their house colours on their blazer badge where the symbol of their house, either an ice blue snowflake (winter), a pink rose (summer), a red nut (autumn) and a pale green leaf (spring). The rest of their blazer badge was emerald green. Susie along with Sadie and Hannah were in winter, Megan was in spring while Caitlin and Alexia was in summer.
Suddenly the last three girls arrived as a group. She smiled to herself. It would be better with them all there. As the bell rang they filed into their tutor rooms, Susie saying goodbye to girls who weren’t with her.
“See you at break.” She called after them.
The first lesson was music for her but Sadie had art and Hannah had cookery. She sat down in music and got out her notes. She was supposed to be composing a piece of music in one of their chosen fortes (Susie’s were vocal, piano and flute) but she had finished that last lesson. Hers was a song with a piano accompaniment which she had practised as well. Miss Loana came over to her.
“Why aren’t you working?” she asked Susie.
“I’m finished.” She replied, showing her the music. It had taken the longest time to write out the music. The woman smiled.
“Perfect. Now, will you perform it for me?” Susie nodded. How could she say no? She went over to the piano which was currently empty and set up the music. The first few bars were sung without the piano but when it began she felt it sounded good. In her opinion anyway. When she had finished madam looked over at her and began to clap.
“That was beautiful Susie. Class, it’s time to hear a finished piece. Susie, will you play yours and then Karen, it’s your turn.” Her teacher looked at Susie and she played her piece again. Most people, if any, hadn’t been listening the first time around as they had been listening with headphones on to their music as they wrote it down or had been playing themselves. At the end she got a round of applause and then she sat down to hear Karen’s unfinished piece which wasn’t anywhere near as good. She could tell as the applause was much smaller. When Karen sat back down she glared at Susie and hissed in her ear:
“I’ll get you for this Susannah.” In her poshest voice. Susie just flicked her hair over her shoulder at her.
Later, at break time George came up to her.
“Susie, I have a question to ask you. In private.” Susie felt her face blush. Was this what she had been hoping for?
“Of course.” They walked around the corner.
“Susie, I have, a friend who likes this girl. What do you think I-he should do about it?” Susie smiled secretly to herself.
“Well, I think he should take courage and ask her out.” She smiled again. The boy smiled back.
“Thanks. Now, what do you think Sadie would like?” Susie stared at him.
“Sadie?” she asked, slightly confused.
“Yes. Sadie is here isn’t she? She isn’t going out with someone else is she?” asked George. Susie nodded and then shook her head to his questions. Sadie. He loved Sadie. Not her, but beautiful, perfect Sadie. It wasn’t fair. She barely managed to put together a coherent sentence about Sadie liking strong men. Then George was gone. He had just broken her heart and he didn’t even know. Her best friend, not just anyone, but her best friend. She placed a hand to her chest and walked around the corner again to the art block and sat on the bench out of view. She didn’t want anyone who knew her to see her.
She heard George and Sadie move around the corner and she heard him ask her out. Sadie said yes as well. She thought that Sadie had liked Luke. She was obviously pulling her normal trick of dating one boy so she could get close to the one she wanted. She didn’t even love him. George left her after giving her the first kiss and Sadie heard her snuffling. She turned the corner and found Susie.
“Suzie!” (She never could spell my name when we were young and Suzie had stuck) “What’s wrong?” she ran over to me and hugged me. I raised my eyes and looked at her. I tried to stop crying. She hated anyone seeing her like that.
“Guess?” I said pathetically.
“A boy?” she said. she nodded. Suddenly Sadie’s eyes widened.
“Oh my God Suzie I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to, I wouldn’t ever hurt you on purpose.”
“I know.” I sniffed slightly and rubbed my eyes again. Fumbling in my blazer pocket I found the mirror which I used to check my eyes. They were slowly easing from the bright red of earlier.
“You know, this is one of the first times I have ever seen you cry. The only other time was when Carl hit you by accident with the hockey ball on your arm and you had to have it in a cast. But that wasn’t real sadness, just pain. You love him don’t you?” I looked at her and nodded. She bit her lip and hugged me again.
“I’m sorry,” she said over and over again. “I’m so, so sorry.”
When they returned to the bench everyone was talking. The bell rang again and they spilt for our next two lessons before lunch. They were jewellery and Geography for Susie, but the others often had other lessons.
Soon they were leaving their next lesson and arriving for their lunch. Susie was carrying her blazer in one hand as it was far too hot to be wearing it. It was a typical summer’s day. It was hot, enough to be cool outside but stuffy inside the rooms they were all forced to occupy in school. Geography had been fun. They all dumped their bags on the bench, pleased that for once they had the space on this bench to place them on. It was often being stolen from them if they weren’t there quickly enough. Susie pulled on her skirt as she watched Sadie and the others act.
Despite the appearance of pleasantries, the group was fraught with difficulties. Only the leadership of Sadie and her willpower had meant they even spoke to each other every lunchtime. There was Caitlin and Hannah who of course were still best friends, as they had been since primary school and Alexia was there as always. However there were the enemies. Alexia and Sadie often didn’t see eye to eye. Mainly Sadie hated Alexia as she never followed her orders. Sadie was Queen Bee in their group and she was not pleased with anyone defying her. Alexia was the only one who had done this on several occasions and survived the clash.
The last one (apart from Alexia) who had threatened her group, Jessica, one of the ‘Perfect’ pretty, popular, girls (not unlike Sadie herself) had been dealt with by a confrontation by the two girls a few months ago. Of course, Sadie accompanied by Hannah and Megan had been able to face off the girl until she had retreated enough that Sadie had achieved dominance once again as the Queen Bee that she was. Her Nickname of Queen Bee was not an understatement. If she had wanted she could have been the leader of the ‘perfect’ girls and of the whole year. But then she would have been forced to leave all of her old friends behind. Caitlin would defiantly hate being that popular.
Soon they were joined by the usual suspects, George and Joshua. The other boys would probably turn up later. Apparently they were at the canteen getting some lunch. Sadie smiled over at George. Susie avoided his gaze when she saw from the corner of her eye, it fell on her. She couldn’t even talk to him now. They were all talking for a while when Megan noticed something. She looked around and then tugged on Susie’s sleeve.
“Doesn’t something seem wrong?” she asked. As everyone looked around they realised what it was. It was too quiet. It was a school after all. How many silent schools have you been to? As Caitlin opened a door to see if anyone was inside, Benjamin, James and Luke turned the corner. (Three of the most popular boys in their year). No one saw her blush as she saw one of the boy’s reflection in the door. She smiled to herself. Susie held her head up high.
“Where is everyone?” she asked. They shrugged their shoulders.
“I was about to ask you the same question.” Luke replied, looking over at Sadie. As always, she was ignoring the looks. It was easy to say she was pretty, the natural beauty she held emphasised by the simple uniform they wore. Everyone could see she was a sort of Princess. That slight tilt of her stubborn chin told the world she knew she was important. Her little snub nose even told her admirers of her position, ever so slightly turned up at people. She had to assume that if they were male she would have to beat them off with a stick as normal. Susie saw the gaze and raised an eyebrow. She sighed and turned away. She didn’t need to see that.
“Houston, we've got a problem.” Said James, nudging Ben as he did so. The boy shook his head. This was no time for jokes.
“Where is everyone?” echoed Caitlin in a small voice. She frowned and the others glanced around themselves. Suddenly Benjamin turned.
“I heard something!” he cried. As he ran off the others managed to hear a faint noise in the distance. They followed quickly, straining their ears. As they reached the gate at the edge of school Hannah saw someone she hadn’t been expecting.
“Daniel?” she asked herself. Megan and Alexia stopped as well. Why was Daniel here? Wasn’t he on a trip? The boy suddenly saw the others in the group. Ben looked over at him and Luke stood next to him. They suddenly seemed very threatening.
“Who are you?” they asked, almost in unison.
“Daniel. I go here. ” He replied meekly with only a touch of his normal spirit. They looked down at him (They were on a hill) and the boy looked threatening as they looked down at him.
“Stop it!” said Sadie finally to break the awkward silence that followed.
“It isn’t time to worry about who he is for the moment. Look he’s Hannah’s boyfriend and he is one of the few people left. Don’t shut him out.” The boys, especially Luke looked at their feet. She smiled and turned to Daniel.
“Where is everyone?” she asked finally. The boy shrugged his shoulders.
“I don’t know. We were about to set off for the competition when they asked me to go and ask Mr. Stamford. When I looked back the rest of my team were gone. Then I heard a noise and came here where I found all of you.” The boy clutched at the piece of paper in his hand. Susie looked down at it.
“What’s that?” she asked. The boy looked down at it as if seeing it for the first time.
“It’s the order for the performance and the address. Here, take a look for yourself.” As Susie reached forward to take the paper George leaned over and snatched it from him.
“Hey!” said Susie in mock anger. Megan watched and shivered as she looked around. The playground was filled with small pieces of paper and plastic that littered the normally full tarmac. She saw the seagulls watching, as confused as she was. She shivered again.
“Are you cold?” asked James behind her. She shook her head but as she did his coat was draped over her shoulders. Megan turned and managed a weak smile. The boy smiled back. Meanwhile, George was frowning as he looked at the paper.
“I hope this is a joke.” He said finally, choosing his words carefully. Susie was confused. What did he mean? When Daniel asked the same thing the boy cleared his throat.
“You twelve who read this are the lucky ones. The rest of the world has gone. There will be no bargaining. There will be no one but you left to bargain with. However, if all of you can survive for twelve months with the ability to survive for twelve more they may be returned to you again. This is not a threat or blackmail but the truth and I hope you can save us all.
That wasn’t quite what you said it was.” George folded his arms across his chest and looked at Daniel. The boy seemed as shocked as he was. George looked threatening. Susie had decided to talk and look at him again. Something like that put things in perspective. If that was the truth she would need everyone that she knew to survive.
“I, I don’t know what to say. That wasn’t there five minutes ago. What happened?” the boy took it back and looked it over again.
“What are we going to do?” he asked. Susie sighed and sat down on the nearby bench.
“They are all gone.” It seemed to be the only explanation and no one had any better excuses. She clenched her lip and then looked up. Someone needed to take charge.
“Well, first we need somewhere to live.” She said finally. “It needs to have large rooms we could sleep in, a bathroom and maybe a kitchen or living area. Somewhere like… the pavilion.”
“Well, it has a small kitchen and each of the changing rooms (for the girls at least) has its own bathroom and shower area. They each can have the separate bathrooms. That large living pace could easily hold the living area and a dining table.” She looked up at them. They all stared at her as if she was crazy.
“Come on. I’ll prove it.” Susie got up and strode off, leaving her bag behind her. She wouldn’t need it for this and didn’t want to look foolish. She showed them the girl’s changing rooms first.
“See, if we put up a dividing wall between these changing rooms there is two bedrooms each with an en-suite and shower area. We could share rooms. Hannah and Caitlin in here, Megan and Alexia in the next room and Sadie could go with me in the separate room.” Susie strode out to the living space and then opened the door to a small kitchen area.
“If we took out the dividers from this room and joined it to the living area we easily have enough space here.” The people around her seemed to be slightly more convinced.
“It will need a lot of work. But I think in a week, this place could be perfect.”