Back to School

“Well, children, here we are again.” Gerald Braidwidth, headteacher of Zanzibar, said to his students as they sat crossed legged on the wooden floor of the sports hall, ready as they’ll ever be to resume the school year, which wasn’t very.

Eleanor surveyed her fellow students in the hall. She knew something was very wrong if the only people she considered friends were fictional characters in an American series on Netflix that she enjoyed watching.

But oh well, all Eleanor had to do was get through 6 more years of this and then she will escape to the honey coloured cloisters of her preferred Oxford college. If Oxford will focus on Eleanor’s intelligence rather than her school history, that is.

Of course, having friends would make these 6 years easier to handle, but they weren’t necessary. Being engrossed in her work should be sufficient.

Eleanor didn’t belong here, she knew that. She was privileged and upper-middle class, her compatriots were not. She lived in the most desirable house in one of the most affluent villages in England. The others didn’t. Her mother was a leading Guardian journalist and her father was a technician at the county’s leading technology company. The parents of the other students could only dream of having those kinds of jobs.

But she also knew that the only difference between herself and the other people in this room was luck. Heck, they may even swap places somewhere down the line, though she hoped that wouldn’t be the case.

Because of this, she was determined to make at least a few friends by the end of July, who she’ll hopefully keep until she went to Oxford.

But if she didn’t, she didn’t mind. She was here to learn. Her work was enough. Besides, the other people may not want to be friends with her, no matter how clearly she made it, she will be friends with them. Cobra Kai showed her that much.

“Today is an interesting day,” Gerald Braidwidth said, “because today, 69 years ago, a play premiered in France.”

The students moaned, Eleanor rolled her eyes. Here he goes again, talking about something he discovered in his diary that morning in order to sound intellectual.

“Can anybody tell me what that play was?” Gerald asked.

No one answered.

“How would I know that? I’m not a nerd.” One student said, which was followed by rapturous laughter from the other students.

Eleanor sighed and rolled her eyes once more.

“That’s enough, children.” Gerald said to no avail, as like a crossed eyed teacher, he couldn’t control his pupils.

“Perhaps Eleanor would know?” One student said. “She the clever one round here.”

The other students laughed. The teachers tried again to control them but found they could not.

“Well, Eleanor, do you know what play premiered today?” Gerald said.

Eleanor was silent for a moment. All eyes were on her.

“Actually, I don’t, because I don’t know everything. So there!” Eleanor said, flipping the bird at the student who singled her out.

“Oooh,” the other students said, and laughed.

Eleanor knew that what she did was bad, but it felt good. Perhaps she should do it more often?

“Right, Eleanor, in my office now.” Gerald said.

Eleanor had never been called to the headteacher’s office before, but she gladly did as she told, if only to get out of this awful assembly.

Soon the other students went quiet, and the assembly continued.

“Ok, the play was, of course, Waiting For Godot.” Gerald said. “A play about someone waiting for Godot, I assume.”

Eleanor sat alone in the headteacher’s office. She’d never misbehaved at Castle Hill, but somehow misbehaving was refreshing.

Perhaps if her parents are told about the incident, they’ll realise that school has a bad influence on her and therefore will transfer her to St Mildred’s?

Oh well, she thought, she can live in hope.

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