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Author’s Note: Although they are still very much “schoolgirls”, all of the characters in this story are over the age of eighteen.
(Tuesday 15th September 1998)
Heather ignored the first nudge and kept watching the video, afraid of missing a vital twist in the plot. Not that Mary Rose was so easily ignored. She gave Heather another nudge then, for good measure gave her a dig in the ribs . . . hard.
‘What?’ Heather hissed.
Mare nodded to her left, as if something was worth seeing, but Heather couldn’t work out what it was. The room was dark, for one thing. And, so far as she could tell, everyone else was glued to the action, like she wanted to be.
She shrugged and carried on watching the film. There were four of them at it now: two men with two rather similar-looking blondes. The storyline, as far as it went, was that Hubby had come home to find the blondes having it off with the postman. It wasn’t immediately obvious which was Hubby’s wife but that didn’t seem to matter much. Instead of creating a scene he’d simply ripped off his clothes and joined in.
And he had the most enormous willy; it couldn’t possibly be real. She simply had to see it again.
Warm breath in her ear preceded Mary Rose’s whisper.
‘Look at Daphne and Madeleine. They’re holding hands.’
Now she knew what she was looking for Heather could see Mary Rose was correct . . . as per just about always.
Except “holding hands” wasn’t the all of it. There was more going on than mere hand-holding.
So it’s true, Heather thought. Those two really are special friends.
The film ended half an hour later, exactly as the bell rang signalling ten minutes until Lights-Out.
‘Okay,’ Jacqui cried, clapping her hands. ‘That’s your lot for tonight, ladies. Let’s have you back in your own rooms, vibrators at the ready.’
‘Can I borrow your batteries please, Madeleine?’ Mary Rose smiled sweetly. ‘Mine have gone flat. And you probably won’t need yours.’
‘No chance,’ Madeleine replied. She was blushing but unbowed. ‘You’ll have to settle for Creepy’s tongue, like you do every other night.’
Mary Rose made exaggerated choking noises. ‘Please . . . anything but Creepy’s tongue!’
‘What about her big toe instead?’
‘Please Mads . . . anything but Creepy!’
Cackling, the crowd of teenage girls left Jacqui’s illicit picture palace, scattering back to their own quarters. Mary Rose’s room was quite close to Heather’s so they didn’t need an excuse to walk side by side. As soon as they were out of sight they linked arms and swapped shameless grins.
‘What did you think about that?’
‘Not too shabby,’ said Heather. ‘Jacqui’s offerings get better and better. I don’t know where she gets them all from.’
‘Not the video, silly, I meant Mads and Daffy. I told you, didn’t I? You don’t have to be at university to go all the way.’
‘Oh, that. Well, they were hardly going all the way, were they?’
‘I bet they’ll be at it as soon as they’re alone.’ Mary Rose’s eyes flashed. ‘It’s not fair that they get to share and we don’t. We should make Creepy move in with Tanya, so you can move in with me.’
‘Shush,’ said Heather as they stopped at her door. ‘Tanya will hear.’
‘I hope she does. It might make her do the decent thing.’
‘Please don’t, Mare. She’s really nice. I don’t want to upset her.’
‘You’re nice too,’ Mary Rose countered, ‘and you’re as fit as a butcher’s dog. That’s why I want to go all the way with you. And a few hundred million times, not just once.’
Heather kissed her. It was all she could think of to shut her up. And they always kissed goodnight anyway; it was a sisterly thing, as well as very, very pleasant.
Mary Rose sighed as full Lights-Out sounded. ‘I suppose I will have to be patient. Just remember you’ve promised to save yourself for me.’
‘Oh I’ll remember. I could hardly forget with you reminding me every two minutes, could I?’
‘No. And you’d better not even try to pretend.’ Mary Rose rubbed noses with her. ‘Night, night, Hev; I love you.’
Heather always tingled when her best-ever friend said that. She returned the nose-rub, smiling soppily. ‘Night, night, Mare; I love you too.’
Tanya was in bed with Nine Modern Poets. They had Yeats in next week’s exam and she found him hard going. She’d been cramming since netball practice and didn’t look anywhere near done.
‘Hi Hev,’ she said, barely glancing up. ‘Good film?’
‘Yes, it was another pound well spent. You really have to come along to the next one. Get a bit of excitement into your life.’
‘I don’t have time for excitement, just like I don’t have your photographic memory. I really struggle to get this. And that’s the bits I think I understand. Most of it goes way over my head. Do you mind if I keep going a little longer?’
‘No probs. I don’t think we’re going to get raided.’
Tanya chuckled and kept cramming. According to legend, Lights-Out used to apply poker oyna everywhere, with punishment for transgressors starting at execution and getting steadily worse. Nowadays it only applied to common passageways and the first and second year dormitories, not to single and double rooms. The death penalty had been relaxed too. Execution now only applied to third-time offenders; second-timers were thrown into the school dungeons while first-timers were merely flogged.
Heather looked at herself in the mirror as she undressed. She hated vain people but Mare was (as usual) right: she was as fit as a butcher’s dog, and strikingly pretty with it. Some folk even claimed she was bewitching. Her eyes were just as green as Mary Rose’s, if not nearly so wicked, and her lavishly long, jet-black hair and never-fading tan made her intriguing and exotic.
She knelt at the foot of her bed and prayed, thanking God for her good fortune and asking Him to forgive her sins, especially vanity, promising to keep it as a secret, best as she could, until it wore off altogether. Then she jumped between the sheets and called goodnight to Tanya before switching off her lamp.
‘Night,’ Tanya mumbled, still buried in her book.
Heather usually fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. Tonight there was no chance. Her mind was filled with images from the video. She was going to have to get rid of them before she could possibly sleep. And, in the absence of one of Jacqui’s mythical vibrators, that was going to take a lot of will-power.
As she surveyed shadows on the ceiling Heather marvelled at how she’d ended up here, at one of the UK’s most elite educational establishments.
Me! Enrolled at The Manor School For Young Ladies!
More to the point, she marvelled at how smoothly she’d fitted in. It sometimes seemed as though she’d arrived only yesterday, scared and excited, wondering how she’d find her way through the maze of corridors and if she’d struggle to make friends. But everyone had been really nice. Once she’d got to grips with all of the routes and names she’d been completely at ease. Her first year (in the school’s third year) had whizzed by. So too had the rest of her pre-university educational lifetime; it was nearly over already.
And not a mangel-wurzel wisecrack ever to be heard.
Heather had been brought up on Hunters Farm, in that bit of darkest West Yorkshire where nature starts to take over from brick and concrete. All of her early memories were of the sights and sounds of countryside, the very first being one of a horse foaling. By the time she was thirteen she could rabbit, wring chicken necks, climb every tree and run faster and farther than any boy she had ever met. Most of her waking hours had been spent outdoors, innocently acquiring that never-fading tan. Her life had been exceptionally good. She hadn’t ever stopped to wonder why Dad worked brutally long days then spent his evenings frowning over piles of paperwork.
Thirteen had been when it all changed. Up until thirteen her only concern had been the lack of a brother or sister to share all the fun. She had been born at home and there had been “complications”. That was tough on Mum, who came from a big family and had intended to have five or six children, at least. Tough maybe, but thanks to Mother Nature they’d both survived. Lots of births didn’t end well at all. Heather had delivered her first lamb when she was eight and seen her first “wrong ‘un” long before then. If nothing else, farming had taught her that giving birth was a risky business.
What, risky? Too right it was. She was going to avoid giving birth herself if she could. Or else save it until she was pushing forty, with nothing left to lose.
Life altered forever one sunny Thursday evening. Mum and Dad had sat her down at the kitchen table and told her that, after six generations of Hunters, the debts were finally too much. The choice was to stay and go under, or sell. They were telling her because she was the seventh generation in its entirety and everything was supposed to pass to her. If she wanted them to stay then stay they would, and damn the consequences. They had, however, found a lovely new house in Kettlewell. And they’d had an offer on Hunters Farm that would ensure money would never be a problem again.
Looking back Heather was surprised how well she’d taken it. Although she loved the farm she had suddenly realized she’d no desire to be a farmer. Starting afresh hadn’t seemed the only option; it had seemed far and away the best option . . .
Well, it had as long as they could take Gyp, Dad’s sheepdog and Patch, her pony. When she had been assured they were included in the plan it had been dead easy to strike a bargain.
At Mum’s insistence, she’d agreed to the private school.
At her insistence, Dad had agreed to stay in charge of the money.
And at Dad’s insistence . . . Well, he’d just been glad the womenfolk agreed it was right to move on.
They hadn’t been debating canlı poker oyna five minutes before they were spitting on it, fully committed to the new beginnings. Heather could remember thinking the private school sounded cool if a little daunting, but looking forward already, sure that she would do well. Thoughts of control of the money had been even more daunting. To her it seemed better to keep everything in one family pot. She could always inherit anything left over in due course, preferably two hundred years down the line.
Seeing her dad’s face after the three of them shook hands had given her the best-ever feeling. After a moment of sadness, when the tough old so-and-so looked like he might actually shed a tear, he must have thought about his bank balance. More probably he’d thought about his piles of red bills, blowing away on the wind. Ten years of worries fell from him in less than one second. He had looked younger, taller and even stronger. She would never, never ever regret her part in that decision as long as she lived.
Not ever, ever.
Coming to The Manor meant that Kettlewell hadn’t really become home for her, but her parents settled in overnight, along with Patch and Gyp, of course. The “new” house (which had originally been built in the eighteenth century) had a quite enormous garden . . . big enough to keep Dad busy for all of a fortnight.
By the start of the third week he was doing casual farm-labouring around the village and, by the end of the first month, he was helping out fulltime. If asked, he would tell folk he felt guilty working as few as fifty hours with Sundays off, and guiltier still at surrendering to house builders when he still had a living breath in his body. He would also mutter darkly about “damn supermarkets”, saying they were all plotting to grind honest farmers into the dust.
In other words Dad shared the same opinions and spoke the same language as the locals. Mum fitted in just as well. The fact they were country people helped, obviously, but not nearly as much as the fact they’d moved there wanting to fit in. Too many properties in those parts had been snapped up by townies as holiday homes, driving house prices up and youngsters away.
Tanya clicked off her light without calling goodnight. She must have thought Heather was already asleep. Lost in thoughts of her own, Heather didn’t correct her.
Her roommate was a lovely girl but she worried too much. These internal school exams weren’t important in the scheme of things, yet poor Tanya was treating them as if they were make or break. And it wasn’t as if she was bottom of the class or anything; she was in the top five in every subject. If she could only recognize how good she was, lighten the intensity . . .
Heather wasn’t much of a worrier. Starting “late” she’d assumed she would be behind the girls who had been here for years one and two. She’d soon realized that wasn’t irretrievably the case and relaxed, easing into a new life where she was always in the top three in every subject.
Her concerns about making friends had been settled even sooner. That very first morning, after her parents had deposited her, she’d been shown to her room and introduced to Tanya. She had then been left alone to unpack. Seconds later, before homesickness could properly kick in, there had been a knock on the door. It was Mary Rose, eager to meet her.
‘You look lots more interesting than the other newbies,’ she’d said, with a wide smile. ‘Don’t you shilly-shally about with them; stick with me. I know everything there is to know about this place. I will show you the ropes, no worries.’
Mary Rose turned out to be just two days older than Heather. She was miles beyond beautiful with reddish-auburn hair and the world’s most mischievous grin. Her skin was flawless and her body could have been stolen out of Playboy . . . or maybe she was the Penthouse pet of every month.
Goodness only knows what she’ll be like in a year or so, Heather had thought at the time, just shy of fourteen and every last inch of her already reeks of sex!
Initially, until they really got to know each other, Heather had been overawed by the stunning (self-proclaimed) redhead. Each day seemed to bring another revelation. When she took tally she realized that, academically, Mary Rose was always in the top one for every subject. Out on the sports field she captained every team and was always in the top two or three for every individual activity. Socially, she knew and liked everybody and was known and liked by everybody. She also knew the school and its grounds like the back of her hand, swiftly teaching her new friend the quickest routes to all of the best places. On the negative side . . . Well, once a blue moon she might forget to wash her hockey socks.
Otherwise she was perfect.
It had taken Heather a fortnight to come out of Mary Rose’s shadow. She did this by finishing top in the Wednesday morning maths test and then obliterating all opposition on the running internet casino track after lunch. Mary Rose had been slightly taken aback but not in the least offended. Still gasping for air after trailing in a distant second over eight hundred metres, she had said it was going to be good to have someone to push her along a bit at long last. Then she’d invited Heather along to one of Jacqui’s illicit video showings; an honour only bestowed to the chosen few, and never before to a newbie.
That was when their relationship had moved up a notch.
Make that several notches.
One thing Heather had learnt very early on at The Manor was this: her schoolmates never lied or exaggerated unless they were talking about sex.
And Mary Rose was, predictably, at the top of the class when it came to telling tall stories.
Talking after the video it seemed that the redhead knew everything about every conceivable sex act. In fact she claimed to be highly experienced in every conceivable sex act, swearing that she had a Sex Proficiency Badge as well as the ones The Manor issued for cycling and swimming. Giggling, she proudly declared, “It’s the best fun you can have without laughing,” and gave graphic accounts of imaginary sex she’d had with both boys and girls.
Boys were a must because their joysticks felt so good, she maintained. And girls had to be tried too, because they were much more passionate and skilful. Her enthusiasm for the subject was highly infectious.
Infectious and just a little bit scary.
At the time Heather had thought the stories were just typical Mary Rose. To her, being outrageous was the automatic answer to most situations. Not that Mare particularly needed a “situation”; she used outrageousness as an opening gambit to test even the calmest waters.
She’d once even declared her undying love for Heather, her “best friend, ever, ever, ever”, adding it on as an afterthought to all those proficiency badges.
But she’d declared her love again later that same evening, when they had kissed goodnight. And again the following evening, sounding less outrageous and more sincere each time, becoming quite believable.
And she’d rubbed noses on it, so it had to be true.
(Wednesday 23rd September 1998)
‘Okay, we’re all in the Upper Sixth now, all grown women . . .’
Roz snorted and pushed out her boobs. ‘Some of us more than others,’ she said, ‘hello, boys.’
Jacqui didn’t like being interrupted, especially not by someone with the chest of a Page 3 girl. She glowered and went into her best Miss Whiplash mode.
‘Rosalinda, the only boys you’ll see this afternoon are going to be badly dubbed from Danish into English. If I let you stay and watch, that is.’
‘Sorry Miss.’ Roz grinned. ‘Please don’t send me to the dungeons. I want to stay and watch the girls playing with the boys.’
‘Behave then,’ Jacqui said severely. ‘And listen to what I have to say.’
The king-sized joint had made its way round the circle to Heather again. She had two big drags before passing it on to Toni. It seemed wonderfully sinful to be there, smoking the weed, ready for a screening of Jacqui’s latest, purportedly best-ever movie. This afternoon was lesson-free as it was reserved for sporting activities . . .
Well, supposedly. In real life outdoor sports just weren’t going to happen today. While the BBC was telling the world Britain was sweltering in the sun, their posh bit of Cheshire was being hit by a deluge of biblical proportions. A lot of the girls were taking the downpour as opportunity to swot up for the latest set of exams. Tanya was, of course. So, surprisingly, was Mary Rose, who for some reason had developed anxiety about German. Maybe she was afraid that she’d only get ninety-nine per cent instead of her usual hundred and ten.
Heather was already as swotted up for next week’s exams as she had ever intended to be. And despite Tanya’s claims, she didn’t have a photographic memory. There was no point in memorizing last-gasp dates and facts now for tests a week or more away; she’d only forget them. Extra swotting at this stage might even mess up her carefully balanced revision plan.
Besides, she wanted to watch the girls playing with the boys as well.
‘The film lasts ninety minutes,’ Jacqui said. ‘And we’ve all afternoon, so I want to start with a game of True Confessions. If we remember we’re adults with nothing to be ashamed of, it’ll be great fun . . . and it’ll put us in the mood to watch a bit of hanky-panky. No arguments and no lying. The key to this game is in the name: True Confessions. Do you all understand that?’
‘Yes, Miss,’ they said in a ragged chorus.
‘Good. We’ll go round clockwise and I’m starting.’ Jacqui cleared her throat. ‘Right Daffy, what’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done with a guy?’
Two circuits later . . . two circuits of much-exaggerated “confessions” and lengthy drags on weed . . . the onus was back on Daffy.
‘My turn to ask the big question,’ she began shamelessly. ‘I’ll keep this briefer than brief. And one word answers only. Do you get turned-on by the girl-on-girl scenes in Jacqui’s videos?’
‘Yes,’ Madeleine said.
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