I was halfway down the staircase to the school dining- room when my life changed forever.Amelia's Blog P...
I was called into the headmistress’ study. When I saw her face I knew this wasn’t going to be a lecture about running in the corridors.
It was about my father: Fear sluiced through my bloodstream. The old fear, the worst fear. The nightmare I’ve always had since childhood.
I fixed my eyes on Miss Mapthorpe’s mouth: “Ship lost at sea… ..Sunk without trace...Missing feared drowned..So sorry, my dear..”
I couldn’t speak. The room softened to syrup around me. I came to on the carpet, roused by smelling salts, and was taken to the sanatorium.
So I didn’t need to worry about my Latin exam, or my feud with Perdita Mildbrace. School was over for me. My Aunt Cora and Uncle Enoch, two complete strangers, would be arriving to take me away. Away from school. Away to their house in London. I was twelve years old and had become...an orphan.
Through the thick glass of the window, I saw them step out of their carriage in the drizzling rain. Uncle Enoch was a gaunt, dark figure – so tall that he seemed to blot out the grey sky. On his arm teetered his tiny wife in foamy lilac frills.
Aunt Cora had ardently-parted pink lips. She clutched me to her small, perfumed bosom.
“You poor creature. We are going to love you so much. Love you...like our own. And we’ll have so much amusement together. We’ll get rid of this horrid, plain school dress and you won’t have to worry about learning...or anything nasty ever again.”
Aunt Cora stroked my plaits. I wanted to snarl and bite her hand. To sink my teeth into the white palm, like a rabid dog, until it streamed with blood.
“Thank you, Aunt Cora” I said.
My classmates peered through the carriage window as we drew away. I hid my face from their pity, chanting inside my head. “Missing-feared-drowned does not mean dead. Missing-feared-drowned does not mean dead.”
My heart was a flint pebble as we left school behind, with my pet bird Miss Lovington trilling in her cage on my lap. The solid building, which had loomed so large in my life, shrank now to a tiny dolls-house as the carriage left the driveway and rumbled on towards London.
If I hold my breath for long enough, could I die?