by Frieda D., Age 13 , Grade 7, Lexington Montessori School, Lexington, MASSACHUSETTS UNITED STATES
Teacher: GM Hakim
Beadora Boarding School
My head slams on the wall behind me. I open my eyes and carefully peel bandages from my legs. The wounds are still fresh but are healing quickly. I turn to face the rounded window which encases me in a sort of bubble. I can tell I’m on a train. It is racing. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was flying. I stare out and watch the evergreens rush by.
I can’t remember much from the accident. We were on our annual camping trip to Alaska. The bears chased us to a ledge in the dead of night. I remember the stone I firmly placed my foot upon, cracking. I remember the searing pain that filled me. I remember looking up and seeing something, staring over the ledge. I knew in that moment that they were dead, and I was soon to die as well. I may be dead now I think as I watch a lake speed by. I hear a door open behind me. I turn and see a bald man grinning at me. He places a royal blue couch cushion on the stool that is missing a leg and sits on it. He sighs and reaches out to hug me. I jerk back in alarm and gasp as my legs throb.
“Don’t worry Erin,” he chuckles. “I’m family.”
I glare at him in disgust. Neither of my parents resemble him at all. His eyes shine with happiness which just makes me despise him more. Still, he may have answers.
“They’re dead, aren’t they?” I ask.
“Well, that depends who you’re talking about doesn’t it?” he asks. “People die every day.”
He chortles wildly to himself about this which causes him to have a fit of loud coughs and wheezes. I shake my head and decide he’s a lunatic.
“Yes” he sighs. “They’re dead. Found a couple limbs on that mountain just last night.”
“And who are you?” I ask.
“I am Albert Bartholomew Walrond,” he announces. He notices my confused expression and adds, “a distant relative I’m sure.”
“Where are we anyway?” I ask.
“England” he sighs, “the most beautiful place in the world.”
“I recently started working and living at a boarding school here,” he says, “and seeing as I’m the only family you have left, you’ve been sent to live here, too.”
I turn my attention back to the window. My dad always wanted to move to England. I had been selfish and told him that I could never leave my friends. Now that I’m here without him, I feel so guilty. It’s gorgeous here and I can imagine how happy he would have been to live here. Albert stands up and informs me that we should be arriving very soon and that I should change into the uniform. The uniform shirt is a horrendous shade of maroon and feels like a picnic blanket. The pants are a pair of black jeans that are tightly fitted and tear at my cuts as I pull them on. I stare at my reflection in a large oval mirror. My face is pale and is covered in cuts. The shirt is in desperate need of ironing and the pants make my legs look like sticks. My dark, greasy, stick-straight hair pokes out at every angle. I pull it into a knot on top of my head and flatten the collar of my shirt.
“So much for making a first impression,” I mutter to myself.
At that moment Albert bursts in.
“Lov..lovely darling,” he stutters and ushers me into the hall. With much effort, he pulls a large brown case from a rack and shoves it towards me.
“Some of your personal things,” he says, “from home.” I feel a longing to be home tug at me. I lift my head to thank him and see that he has been replaced with a very short and muscular girl. She bares her teeth at me and pushes her way through the crowd of people, waiting to get out. I weave my way carefully through and and push the two glass doors of an empty compartment open. I slump down onto one of the seat cushions. At that moment a boy bursts in. I stare up at him in surprise and bewilderment. His fire red hair is messy, sticky, and totally soaked, his uniform is far too tight and looks like it’s cutting off the circulation to his arms, and his shoes are a pair of neon green boots that have lost their soles and laces.
“Sorry,” he mutters as he kicks my suitcase aside and sits on the seat opposite me. He pushes his hair out of his face and whistles. “I really thought I could dye my hair,” he says in a rough British accent. “Didn’t want to go back to school as a ginger, you know?” he continues, “as I was washing the dye out in the bathroom I saw Liam and George tearing my shoes apart. I knew they would punch me straight in the face if I went up to them, so I stopped washing out my hair and sort of ran. It’s lucky I found you so soon,” he pants, “I thought I wouldn’t see you till we got to the rooms.” For the first time since he walked in he looks up at me. All the color drains out of his face.
“I….I..thought you were someone else,” he splutters.
“I gathered,” I laugh. He peers curiously at me.
“Have we met?” he asks.
“I don’t believe so,” I reply. “You see, I’m not from here.”
“You don’t sound like it,” he remarks.
“My name’s Morec, Ashley Morec,” I say reaching my hand out to shake his. He slaps a high five on my hand instead.
“I’m Oliver Rusicer,” he says. “We should probably get off the train," he adds, nodding towards the door. I hasten to pick up my bags and hurry after him as he marches down the hall and leaps out of the train. I step carefully onto the platform, my legs burning. He starts walking briskly towards a dark tunnel and I limp faster to follow him.
“What happened to you anyway?” he asks.
“Fell of a cliff,” I say.
“Yeah right, you’re funny,” he snickers.
“I’m not kidding,” I say, feeling offended. “And my parents got eaten by bears.”
“Wow, that’s rough,” he says and pats me on the back.
We’ve now entered a fairly dark tunnel. It’s wet and smells like meat. Oliver lights a match and holds it up so we can see. I gasp. We’re in a long cage of sorts. Below us are thousands of rotting bones and animals trying to eat them.
“Haha, are you scared?” he asks. “I was the first time I came here. It’s called The Tunnel of Bones. Not very original,” he adds with a shrug, “but it’s been here for centuries.”
“Why don’t they clear it up?” I ask, backing away as something that could be a wolf fixes its eyes upon me.
“Tradition, I guess,” he says “you have to add bones to it as punishment here.” He continues to walk along and I follow him, but more cautiously this time. As we reach the end of the tunnel, he covers my eyes.
“I want it to be a surprise,” he says. I nod and feel him tugging me into the light. “Okay, open,” he says. I open my eyes. Were standing in front of the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. It’s covered in smooth stones and vines made of cement. It’s surrounded by towering mountains and a giant glittering lake.
“Wow,” I breathe.
“Welcome,” he bellows, “to Beadora Boarding School.”