The Big Project

So here it is, the very first view of the big project. The first chapters. Please do not copy without credit and so on and so forth as the copy right still belongs to me (just a little reminder) for all that is on this website (a reminder can be found on the about page but if here is a little reminder here too: “Please be aware that unauthorized use and or duplication without permission from the author and owner of this blog is strictly prohibited. Links and excerpts may be used on the condition that clear credit is given to the author/owner A. R. Appleby.”).  Thank you for your patience.

Perhaps this could be considered my Christmas present to you.

I know I have mentioned this project many times, it is part of a series called “Promitto Memorari” and this is the thirdd chapter of the first book entitled “Just Say Yes”

Chapter Three

Now

Katie

“You know you’re doing it wrong?”

The interruption… I feel my eyes roll when I put the bookmark in place and look up at the face grinning at me over the fence. I can’t help but feel suspicious. The grin turns to a smirk on his face, “you’ll never get a tan like that. What is it you’re doing anyway?”

I feel the bubble of discomfort and anger knotting its way into my throat. “Biology homework.” I feel blunt. I feel interrupted. I want to be left alone. “You look confused; homework is that thing we have to do to avoid detention. You should try it someday.” I know that stung. His smirk faltered. For a millisecond I feel bad, until he opens his mouth. “You have to be joking, I barely follow what the teacher says.”

My irritation is rising, and I can’t stop myself. “Yeah and don’t we all know it.” I start to pack my books away, saving my pages netting them together.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Wow, did I actually offend him? Surely not. That question wasn’t said with sincerity and I am not in the mood for this, when I agreed to the favour I didn’t agree to the obnoxious prat. “Heaven forbid that anyone actually wants to learn something. But yeah, sure, you go on coasting by, pretending not to give a flying monkeys even though you and I both know you could actually pass, if you tried.”

I pile my books onto the ledge near the door and collapse the rusting chair and push it under the ledge, stuffing the plastic cover around it.

“Tutor me.” And there it is. What he wanted to ask. What I had known was coming. Mr Thomas had warned me. But the words still felt strange to hear. It wasn’t even asking. Not really. “What?” I respond not turning around.

“Tutor me. Please?” I begin to turn around, slowly, I am not going to lie, it feels a tiny bit satisfying. “You say I can do it, so teach me how. Help me pass, please, Katie.” I turn back towards the door, just a fraction. “Katie! Please.” The pleading in his voice was such a nice touch.

“Fine. Ok it with my parents first, as long as you do the work, I will help. But you can’t copy my work.”

~ * ~

Dad put down his knife. “So Mary stopped me on my way in this evening.” He was directing that at me, even though mum looked up like her neck would snap. “Apparently you are tutoring Chris today.” I nod, trying to ignore the reluctance that would seep into my voice stopping me from speaking.

Mum begins to busy herself picking up the plates. Her voice is tart, “You will need a hammer to get anything through his head.” Dad laughed but it never met his eyes, it’s no secret I don’t like the boy next door, it’s no secret what happens at school. “Good luck, and if he puts even a toe wrong, let me know.”

I roll my eyes and nod. “Yes mum” my tone feels flat as I help get the plates from the table into the kitchen. “What time was he meant to be coming?” I call out to dad. Who is twirling the knife in his hands, playing absent minded, he shrugs, “ten minutes ago.”

“Oh great.” Slips my lips. The knock on the door catches my attention. I slump away down the hallway a few thumping steps that feel like my feet are made of concrete. I pull the door open and Chris is leaning against the wall, lazily dragging his bag. It’s a wonder it doesn’t break. I think to myself ‘start as you mean to go on’.

“You’re late” I snap, “shift it.” Chris steps past me but waits for me to close the door and lead my way upstairs to my room. My desk is strewn with homework. I step inside and wait for him to follow but he is standing in the hallway.

For a moment I see him taking in the sight of my room, he’s never seen it. The purple, black and cream splashed everywhere. He makes his way to my desk now. The alcove covered in “aged” (tea stained) paper so that I can stick things to my wall without pulling off paint and bits of wall with the sticky tack. I watch him examining the posters of west end shows, my doodles, photos of my childhood. My childhood feels like a millennial ago and yesterday all at once. I feel like the little girl is not me, like that person no longer exists. She doesn’t. My recent photos are a secret life he doesn’t get to see at school.

I snap out of my own thoughts and pull out a book and push it in front of his face. “Here, get on with question one for a start and see if we get the same results. At least then I can find out where you actually need help.”

I can feel him want to say he doesn’t need help, before he can the next words slip through my lips “and show your work” I twitch a smile and sit on my bed. I’m continuing where I left off earlier. I’m on the last question of the homework. I take a quick glance up from my page and watch Chris tapping his pen looking at the wall.

“This is stupid. I’m wasting my time.”

I snap, “no, you are wasting my time.” I pull myself up off of the bed and stand behind him and look at his work, he is essentially right, but the presentation, well that is where he is getting lost. I guide him through the simple structure. He follows it and rewrites it out, and stares at how it is meant to look as though I just showed him my plans to poison him.

“Do you actually not want help?”

“I just, I hate the hoops they make us jump through.”

“I just obey them, hate them, and then reward myself with the knowledge that there is only a limited time left in that hell hole. Now if you don’t mind. Question two.”

~ * ~

I haul the book out of my bag, rummaging around the bottom of the bag to find my pencil case that has gone on a wonder about in my bag. Chris brushes past me, I feel his fingers brush my blazer sleeve. I look around and shake my head looking back at him. I know he is smirking. Even with his face turned from me so that all that I can see of him is his copper hair, so light that he could probably get away with calling it ‘strawberry blonde’ unlike mine, a true red.

I pull the pencil case from the bottom of my bag and sit down in the nick of time. Mr Thomas strides into the class.

“Come on class, sit down… Today” he puts down the register and smiles. “Right. Homework folders in the air and start the assignment on the board.” I put the folder in my left hand and bend my elbow resting on the table so that the folder is up in the air and my right hand can work as he makes his way around the class. I watch him from the corner of my eye as I work, he flicks through the folders and begins to make two piles. One pile has just two folders. I can see the exasperation on his face. He is frustrated, I can just tell, he’s going to flip.

“Why is there just two folders with homework in?” His voice echoes through the room. He takes a deep breath. Putting his hand in his pocket, he has the classes rapt attention. “Katie, Chris, come here please.” I feel my heart thumping in my chest, for some reason this feels like a punishment. As we reach his desk he puts a couple of coins into Chris’ hand, and my own. I try to hand them back; this feels like a trick as much as it is a reward. “Thank you for actually doing your homework.” I feel like a deer in headlights, I thank him and follow his request for us to sit back down.

I can hear whines around the room that “sir it’s not fair” and the like.

Mr Thomas is having none of it. “I expect your homework tomorrow the rest of you.” I glance back over my shoulder at Chris. He is staring at me; he mouths the words “thank you” to me. I just nod. This is weird.

I can feel the tension as I continue the assignment, the room now reduced to no more than the scratches of pens on paper, the odd clicking of the top, the odd the sigh. I daren’t look up from my work. I catch Mr Thomas’ eye. As he walks past my desk to deal with the ruckus in the hallway.

***

Then

Enya

“You look beautiful today Lady Enya.” I look up from my sewing to see the familiar face of Broderick. I smile and thank him before returning my focus to the cloth in my hands. He sits beside me. “You really can’t sew can you?” There are loose threads mapping a rough guide for what I want to do.

“I am sure it will look fine when it’s done.” I am coldly polite; I don’t like being disturbed. I pack away my sewing and pull the parchment with my rough sketch. My plan for the cloth, a circle of rope with a weaving loop of eight, an infinity symbol crossing through the centre of the circle. I tuck it away. The rain continues to pour down in the courtyard even as the sun shines.

I stand and excuse myself taking my sewing to my chambers. I slip out from my chambers with my cloak covering me, moving as swiftly as possible I stride down to the stables. Ready my horse myself, the stable boys are running errands, as usual at this time. I don’t have long. No one willingly goes riding in this weather so I know they probably won’t notice for a while. I get out onto the flats of the cobbles of the courtyard. With some encouragement the horse and I are off and out the gates, I hear a little shouting but I am already gone. The rain whipping at my face as we gallop for a few minutes. As we near the shelter of the trees I jump down and walk beside the horse.

We walk a little, not far before our tranquillity is broken by the sound of others joining us. “Lady Enya what are you doing?” It’s Broderick, does he really have nothing else to do than follow me about?

“Enjoying the weather, what does it look like?” I hear him dismount to catch up with me.

“You will catch your death out here.” He scolds me. Then I welcome it I can’t help but scold myself for that momentary thought. I can’t be like that; I am the nagging voice that begs my father for leniency so often. I am not my own person and I have responsibilities.

“Did the Sheriff send you?” I ask.

“No, I didn’t tell your father you went off on one of your rides again. You need to be careful, you are a Lady.” I roll my eyes. I can’t tell how genuine his concern is. I mount my horse again and I start the lead for the way home before Broderick catches up and insists on the lead. Occasionally I divert and go off another way before I am rounded up and herded back to the castle. My ride in the rain cut short, the freedom was nice while it lasted.

Getting back I see Nye waiting for us at the gates. A deep frown crossing his features. “You can’t keep riding off like that Enya.” He helps me from the horse and hands the reigns to Broderick dismissing him. Nye leads me away and up the stone steps through the side gates. “It’s dangerous out there.” His worry carries through his pleading. He wants sense and reason from me.

“Nye it is dangerous in here.” I know he knows what I mean.

“I know, but out there, there is no way I can protect you, at least here there are eyes on you to make sure you are safe. Fine then I will take Logan with me from now on.” He can’t stop me from going out.

“Your guard?” Nye looked at me resigned. He knows I won’t stop disappearing off from the castle for time to myself, he stopped coming with me on the freedom excursions a long while ago. I miss my brother.

“Yes” I want him to believe me, even if I don’t believe myself.

“Fine, but try to avoid Broderick when you can.” He hugs me and I for a moment I see the brother who made that scraped knee stop mattering when we were small.

“He makes himself unavoidable. Its why I ended up gasping for freedom in the rain.” I smile trying to stop the coming lecture.

“You’re always gasping for freedom.” He pulls the damp cloak off of my shoulders that clings to my skin, soaked through.

“So are you, only difference is I act on it.” I grin. Trying to avoid the coming fight.

“You shouldn’t” Brotherly warning noted.

“Caged birds don’t do well in captivity.” I remark, looking out at the sky. “A storm is coming.” Nye nodded and handed me my cloak before I disappeared through my bedroom door and closed it behind me.

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