Darling Daughters

Chapter Twenty-Six

 

Come Monday morning Darling Honor were very unimpressed by two students wearing visible marks from a brawl. It turns out that was heightened by the gossip that flew around the school thanks to Jamie. Summer had an obviously cut lip that didn’t seem to help her though. There was one consistency to the rumours, Summer broke up a fight between a couple of boys.

In truth Summer ignored it. She ignored the hype around the choosing of the valedictorian. The only thing she cared about was what her options would be for college even if she knew she had no choice. Cassandra was an anxious ball of energy. Even after an in theory relaxing weekend with Elizabeth and Summer.

When Summer returned that evening after a day of enduring Cassandra’s nervous chatter Summer walked into the kitchen to find a pile of letters on the counter. Elizabeth’s mail still in the mix, but Summer picked out her letters. Not wanting to deal with the pile of letters right this moment, her shift at the diner was speeding towards her. Summer threw her post into her bag and got ready for the next few hours.

With Summer flying about the diner she didn’t notice her bag fall from the peg, or Simon pick it up. He didn’t have the intention to pry, but the small stream of letters that fell out piqued his curiosity. He read the return address labels and called Elizabeth asking her to get to the Diner as soon as she could.

Within ten minutes Elizabeth and Caroline appeared in the Diner which was crammed full of people who had heard rumours. Summer returned from her short break having a snack. Everyone had their eyes to her, darting their gaze from Elizabeth to Summer.

Simon put Summer’s bag on the counter in front of her. “You might as well open the mail; we all want to know. Plus, you know, it saves time having to announce it repeatedly later.”

Summer didn’t bother to argue, Elizabeth handed her the first letter. Summer fumbled opening the envelope shaking slightly. Simon read the letter over her shoulder and yelled that she had got into Harvard. The crowd cheered. Summer still shook opening the next envelope thrust into her hands. Yet again Simon yelled the result. “She got into Yale.” Summer’s heart raced. She gulped trying to get rid of the tight dry feeling in her mouth and throat. Her heart raced. As she saw the next envelope to be thrust into her hands.

It was from Darling. She felt silly, she already knew the result, even in denial she felt that same niggling nervous energy. “We are delighted to inform you…” the words echoed in her mind as Simon announced that she got into Darling. “Darling is going to Darling.” The crowd in the Diner cheered.

Kingston called halt to the celebration that there was another envelope which he had taken from her pile and was waving it around. Summer whipped it out his hands reading the back “Kingston leave my bank statement alone.” He made a swipe to get the letter but missed. Summer frowned and put it away.

The crowd thinned and Summer and Elizabeth hugged before they had to go back to work.

***

The next morning in the school hallway Cassandra seemed to be skipping her way towards Summer. Summer smiled when Cassandra finally burst with joy, “I got into Yale and Harvard and… Darling. I did it I’m in. That makes me the first Devonthorne in a hundred years. I did it!” Summer congratulated her. Cassandra took a while to ask where Summer had been accepted.

It didn’t take long for Jamie to pounce on the clearly excited girls who were both set on Darling, even mildly pleased that one another was going to be there. “Anyway, it’s not like we will see each other much.” Cassandra had reminded her. Jamie finally spoke, “So I’ll be seeing you both at Darling too? I can’t wait.”

Summer’s heart sank, “somehow it doesn’t sound so attractive.” She said before walking towards the assembly hall. Summer sat herself away from Cassandra and Jamie. She prepared from the oncoming tide of boredom.

Half an hour later and Headmaster Maiden was still talking. He was no closer to announcing the valedictorian than he was to announcing lunch. It took him a while to talk himself full circle back to the topic of the assembly. The hall descended from boredom into a tension that was palpable especially surrounding Cassandra. Headmaster Maiden announced that he was unable to make a decision, instead the choice was made for three students to be valedictorian this year.

“First I would like to welcome to the stage, for their ambition and humour to all that he applies himself to, Jamie Godson, congratulations.” Murmurs spread through the hall with the applause. Cassandra’s face was pure envy watching Jamie saunter to the stage.

“The second, is thoroughly tenacious, bright and passionate, congratulations Cassandra Devonthorne.” The hall clapped, some reluctant. But the headmaster reminded the hall that there was indeed to be another valedictorian, spreading a stir through the students.

“Last but not least, our newest addition who has proven herself with determination, Summer Darling.” Summer’s legs were jelly, she felt a numb wave hit her.  She heard herself being beckoned forwards.

On the stage Cassandra whispered in Summer’s ear, “shared valedictorian better than not being one at all.” Summer shrugged. Cassandra pulled herself to the microphone on the stage. “Thank you headmaster, on behalf of all of us. I know it may not be perfect, but if I had to share being valedictorian, I am glad it’s with these two.”

Jamie nodded and went to sit back in his seat.

With graduation tomorrow there was a distinctly excited energy pulsing through the school. That energy seemed everywhere.

***

Summer was finally able to relax and enjoy her graduation, after the fact. It wasn’t until the wave of relief hit in the car leaving the ceremony.

Summer couldn’t argue with her grandfather when he told her she was going to Orkney for a few weeks. She wanted to stay behind with Elizabeth but she was reminded that she needed to see her mother for a while. However unhappy about it she was she had to agree.

Simon felt the odd one out on the drive back as the girls were told their fates this summer. That was until Simon was asked to look after Elizabeth while Summer was away. He agreed and said he would do his best.

From the end of the car journey to the manner it would be the last time they would be all together for a couple of weeks at least.

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