Summer rejected the alarm on her phone and rolled over burying her head in her pillows refusing to get up. Elizabeth burst into the room singing loudly and badly in an attempt to make Summer leap from her bed. Summer threw a cushion at Elizabeth’s head and missed. Determined Elizabeth kept singing until Summer rose from the sheets in a tangled mess.
Elizabeth passed Summer her school uniform and walked into the kitchen. Having spent most of the summer holidays trying to tidy the house the girls just wanted to relax this morning.
Hitting the shuffle on the speakers the girls got dressed and ready, eating breakfast singing and dancing along to cheesy pop. By the time the fun was over they had to move swiftly to drop Summer off at Darling Honor before Elizabeth could make her way back to town for work.
The building before the girls stood tall and forbidding. Summer took a deep breath entering the cast iron gates. Teenagers swarmed through the hallways, Summer felt disorientated until she heard her name as she was tapped on the shoulder and lead towards headmaster Maiden’s office.
Summer’s heart raced as the door opened as she was called inside. By the desk sitting down was a tall, grey, stern looking portly man scanning a folder as he asked her to sit. Summer obeyed the icy grey eyes that met hers.
He waited a moment before he introduced himself, “I am your headmaster Alexander Maiden, the headmaster of one of the very few elite schools. Here you have the potential to become anything you want, if you apply yourself. However, it is not possible to cruise your way through this school doing the bare minimum.” Summer felt the knot in her chest tighten as she was handed a behaviour code to sign and the other school codes. She couldn’t escape the feeling she was signing her life away.
With a tight smile Alexander Maiden handed Summer a folder to take to the front desk to be filled. As she made her way to the front desk Summer absorbed the statement made by the old grand staircases while the sun teased through the windows. Summer began to allow herself to feel the importance of how she had to define herself for the next year. More than anything, she just wanted to be left alone.
Entering her first class Summer felt very aware of the eyes on her, having been formally introduced as “Miss Summer May Darling” she made her way to her assigned seat. In each class she took dutiful notes, answering questions aimed at her but not volunteering. From the corner of her eye, each question she was asked she saw a rather sullen girl shoot her hand in the air should Summer not be able to answer. Any hope of this school being an easy adjustment were thrown out of the window.
Summer was sat next to the girl with the energetic hand, and her friends. That little group, she had taken an instant dislike to, that was mutual. A couple of bimbos and the most uptight little snob she could have possibly imagined.
Summer learned the uptight snobs name, Cassandra Devonthorne, it suited her for sure. The girl seemed intent on making Summer’s next year here incredibly difficult. Summer had yet to answer a question wrong, and to Cassandra, that seemed to make Summer a threat.
It seemed to be that Cassandra’s detestation of Summer was heightened by her Darling surname. Somehow that had made Summer some kind of threat in Miss Devonthorne’s beady eyes.
Summer heard whispers, sniggers in the hall that she was the new girl who is about to destroy Devonthorne’s life mission, to be the valedictorian. Apparently being Darling Honor’s valedictorian made it almost certain for a place in Darling college, the sister to the school. The sights of Yale and Harvard still attractive. It seemed Cassandra was a natural at making life difficult for everyone, perhaps not always of spite, mainly from habit. She saw herself as the front runner for the whole school.
At the final bell Summer was itching to leave, even with a stack of two hours-worth of homework and a short shift at the Diner, she knew today definitely is a long day.
Elizabeth had, had a long day on the cupcakes. It really truly was a mindless, endless onslaught. When the end of her shift came she felt the familiar ache of exhaustion behind her eyes.
Arriving at the Diner Elizabeth saw Summer springing between her shift and a stack of books on a table in the corner. Elizabeth not wanting to get too in the way she sat herself by the counter and kept brief conversations with Simon, stealing the odd moment with Summer trying to find out about her day.
Summer was multitasking between the books, the Diner and the odd stolen words with Elizabeth. Elizabeth hoped that if Summer could start the year on the right track she might be able to keep up, but at this pace, could that really be sustainable?
After a couple of hours Elizabeth decided to make her way home, walking past Oaks bakery she saw a light still shining, as she got closer she found herself entering to find Caroline sat quietly behind the counter. Caroline looked up, “what are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same question.” Caroline smiled back at Elizabeth and offered her a seat, she seemed glad for the company all the same. Sitting beside Caroline Elizabeth was shown how to make fondant icing petals. Tomorrow they were going to start work on a wedding cake.
Elizabeth found herself making petal after petal, and with a little time it got easier, almost instinctively. As the mindless instinct of petal making grew she finally spoke.
“I’m worried about Summer, she seems to have this ‘I can do it all’ determination but the pace she is setting herself, I don’t know if she can sustain it.”
“Then talk to her”
“How can I?” Elizabeth began the next stack of petals, “how am I meant to have any kind of form of authority, I am literally just her legal guardian, distant family, I am here so she can go to the right school.”
“You are here for so much more, you have a chance to get to know your family, we don’t always get that opportunity in life. Don’t worry yourself over authority and making sure she behaves.”
“She’s a teen, what if she starts acting out, getting drunk and doing things she really shouldn’t?”
“Then talk to her, set some good communication, build trust and respect between the both of you, she will come to respect your opinion and your advice, even if it is unsolicited. She is still young but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be allowed to make her own mistakes, just show her how to overcome them.”
“I just don’t want her to get herself hurt.”
“Don’t worry about it, remember, you are not her mother.”
“Thank god, the way Summer feels about her, well, I don’t think I would want to be her. Summer just seems so shy of the freedom of responsibility I am trying to give her, it is really obvious she is used to being controlled. I can’t help but feel for her.”
“Just be there for her. She seems like she is thriving with you.”
“Except that unsustainable pace she is setting for herself.”
“Relax dear, go home, we’ve done enough tonight.”
Elizabeth smiled and helped Caroline pack up for the night. Finally leaving she bumped into Summer making her way back to the manner. They paused at the gazebo looking at the unlit shadow. Moving forward they reached the manner not wanting to walk right in they took a moment to look back at the town before resigning for the day.