Bea Chapter 1
"Bea? Are you eating?"
It was third period of the day and I was clenching a scrap of paper in my fist, poking a mint to the back of my mouth with my tongue and sneaking casually past the gym teacher in my rubber trainers.
The teacher that had snapped beckoned and I walked towards her quite fearlessly, I thought. Before reaching our gym teacher, I disposed of the sweet as fast as I could.
The mint was transferred from mouth to pocket with the simple task of rubbing one's lip anxiously and dangling one's hand at one's side, a useful trick. The note was crumpled in my other hand.
"Me, Miss Christin?" I asked, widening my eyes, the very picture of innocence.
I had nearly kicked myself when I was caught. The note that had been passed was very important, so important that I had forgotten to eat more discreetly. I usually got away with everything, I'd eaten a dozen humbugs in that very lesson and Miss Christin hadn't suspected anything.
She clearly suspected something now.
"Yes, you, Sumerby. Open your mouth,"
I obediently did so, exposing a set of shiny teeth and a pink tongue; a mouth entirely free of any sugar-coated confectionery.
Miss Christin sighed as though she had been deprived of a great treat and let me go.
"Get changed now, quickly, go on!"
"Close call," Meira said as I entered the changing room.
I laughed and unfolded the paper. There were seven words in my other best friend's handwriting.
Midnight feast, tonight. Emiline has food.- Cassie
I struggled to suppress a grin. Cassandra Clover was the class clown and never missed a chance to stir up trouble. Cassie's older sister, Emiline, ordered food once a month and there was always a few biscuits too many and a few missing bottles of lemonade that could go unnoticed. As younger members of the school we could not order our own food.
Unfortunately, the note attracted the attention of others.
"What is it?" hissed Nancy-Maria "Let me see, give it here, I want to see!"
She lunged for the note, but before she could grab it I stuffed it into my bag.
"Aileen! Aileen! BEA SUMERBY IS BREAKING SCHOOL RULES!"
None of us could stand Nancy-Maria Brown or Aileen Crazzle. Nancy-Maria was a snobbish, rather silly fourteen-year-old who tried hard to look older than she really was. Her hair was curled tightly and puffed out like an umbrella and she smothered her face in all sorts of concoctions and creams. She had a round nose and a smug face that could arrange itself into a discontented snarl. She stained her lips red and put on posh accents, trying out a new one each day. She was terribly nosey and had a wailing voice that whined when she didn't get her own way. Her stomach flabbed out slightly and her plump hands were forever searching for a mirror in which to check her reflection.
If Nancy-Maria Brown was a plump sack, Aileen Crazzle was a farmer's pitchfork. She was tall and bony, like an iron bar, with thin fingers and a long nose that poked and prodded into other people's business. She was classroom monitor and Nancy-Maria's best friend. She would run puffing down the classroom, telling off misbehaving pupils with her unusually large feet slapping the floor and her long brown pigtails swinging. She had lank, greasy hair and a long, plain face. She would tell tales on us all and Cassie and her had a constant battle.
"AILEEN!" Nancy-Maria whined again, so loudly that Miss Christin poked her head round the door
"Enough, girls! Miss Brown, stop making a fuss and get changed. Don't look at me like that, it's not my fault you let in five goals today,"
We all laughed at that and Aileen glared viciously, breathing heavily through her nostrils. Hetty in particular giggled the most.
I nudged her and showed her the midnight feast message and she let out a squeal that she managed to turn into a sneeze. Hetty Fritter is a great friend, even though she is the most terrible gossip and gets excited easily.
The bell rang as I put on my tie and I ran to our secret meeting place in the grounds, up the willow tree. Meira grabbed my hand so that I could take her and we belted down the path. Meira is blind, so I have to guide her some places. It's difficult to forget that she can't see sometimes, as her listening skills are so observant that she can paint a very good mental picture of what's happening. Meira tugged on my arm and I knew she was impatient; she wanted to know what the note had said. Obviously, she couldn't read it, and I couldn't read it out loud in case Aileen or Nancy-Maria overheard.
"Just a minute!" I said, watching Cassie sprinting over the flowerbeds and terrifying a first year. Hetty's curly black head bobbed in the distance and Cassie's wild red one was approaching me at an alarming speed. She scrambled up the tree messily and plonked herself done on a branch, her hair all over her face. Hetty finally caught up and sat down more daintily on the log beside Meira. She was out of breath but grinning, not a hair out if place despite her running. I swung myself up into the tree.
"Bea!" said Meira, still impatient.
"Midnight feast, tonight. Emiline has food. -Cassie," I read out.
Meira clapped her hands "Ooh, yes, I love midnight feasts!" She said happily.
"Hmmmm, a midnight feast," mused Hetty, looking thoughtful. She tucked a strand of her short wavy hair behind her ear "where are we going to have it?"
"And how?" said Meira, looking at my beseechingly with her her sweet blue and pink eyes. She undid her soft beige hair from her bun and it fell like a sheet, hiding her ears. "The first years got caught last week,"
"We're much smarter than first years," said Cassie, looking disgusted.
Hetty frowned and her freckles wriggled. Hetty has masses of freckle sprinkled everywhere, and when she scrunches up her face they move too.
"We will have to be extra careful about it then,"
Cassie looked at her little gold watch and squealed "Yikes! We have one minute before the bell rings!" She jumped down from the tree, shook out her messy red hair, and clutching Meira's hand like a vice, she belted to science.
At Ariem Heights, our school, science is on the very top floor. Cassie would have to be fast if she didn't want to be late.
Me and Hetty had swimming, on the bottom floor, so we didn't have to hurry as much.
"Bea, should we go?" said Hetty, and we linked arms and walked through the grounds.
I could see our shadows bobbing along on the ground; Hetty's wavy bob and schoolbag, and my round glasses and frizzy cloud of hair