Rachel's visit to the Parker's continues allowing both girls to study for their upcoming exams. How will Sarah's parents react? How will Rachel's Mother?
Sarah had got Frank to bed, while Rachel emptied the washer of the white wash. She placed the basket with damp clothes in the utility room, that was off the kitchen and had the rear door to the garden as its other exit. Both girls would hang it out in the morning before leaving for school if the weather looked good. If not, Sarah’s Mum would possibly put it out before she headed to work, and both would have to get it in and ironed after returning from school tomorrow.
Sarah glanced at the phone. It hadn’t rung. Did that mean Glenda hadn’t passed on her note and the hurried discussion to Rachel’s Mum or something else. She’d stopped the older sister preventing her plan from getting implemented by telling Rachel to get to the other platform while she spoke to her sister. Initially of course Rachel looked to be getting ready to refuse. Then either she’d run out energy to fight or trusted Sarah or a combination and had left for the footbridge. If a combination it was likely far more of the former though Sarah hoped it was weighted in the latter.
Needing to get to the other platform for her train she’d had to talk fast. She had handed over the paper with her home phone number and stated plan for Rachel to stay the next two nights so the pair could study. She’d wrote the note while waiting outside the councilor’s office earlier. Having got Glenda to jot her number on a slip of paper torn her from one of her note books, she had then made for her platform as quickly as she dared while breathing carefully.
The phone not ringing was frustrating. She wanted to give the girls’ mother a piece of her mind. It would also enable her to provide a better reason for this spur of the moment sleepover to her folks when they got home this evening. She could ring the number Glenda had provided but she was both worried and anxious for talking to Rachel's Mother. Sarah nearly jumped out of her skin when the phone rang.
After a calming breath, Sarah answered, ready to battle. “Hello, how can I help you?”
“Evening Sarah, are your parents home?” Sarah heard Jenny, the lady that took care of Frank after school.
Having been girded for a verbal battle, Sarah had to pause a moment before letting Jenny know they weren’t home yet. She then happily agreed to tell them and Frank of the delay in the usual picking Frank up from school, so the school could be informed from the Parkers too. Phone call over and now less desirous in her opinion of getting Rachel’s number to enable calling her house she decided to get back to what she had said they would do, studying. If Rachel's Mother called she would give her a talking to, but if she didn't then she would avoid that battle.
They were being a bit silly singing ‘Alouette, gentile alouette’ while trying to trump each other on the French words for items in the room, having exhausted body parts, when they were startled by the knock on the bedroom door, just prior to its opening.
“Sarah, and who is this?” Sarah’s Dad inquired. He’d heard the two girls’ dulcet tones and giggles from the bottom of the stairs and thus hurried the entry as Sarah knew she couldn’t have friends over when alone without prior parent approval. Some of her friends could over excite Sarah, and were not allowed to be with her without parental supervision. They were so scared of losing their daughter.
“This is Rachel, from my class we have been studying for tomorrow’s exams.”
“Nice to meet you Rachel. I assume the uniform drying on the utility room radiators is yours?” Rachel nodded, while worrying if they were in trouble. Sarah’s Dad looked really angry. “Are your parents bringing dry clothes when they come to pick you up?”
“Dad, Rachel is staying the night…
“Just a moment. Rachel your parents are aware, and have accepted this?” Michael interrupted his daughter and having got a guilty half nod that was so tentative it was obviously covering a lie, smiled. The smile was one that scared Rachel even more, something was truly wrong with that smile. “If you could just excuse us for a moment Rachel, I need to talk to my daughter downstairs. Sarah come with me.” He opened the door and ushered his daughter out in front of him.
Rachel was left in the now empty bedroom staring at the closed door worried, and wondering what she should do. Had she got Sarah in trouble? Was she about to be smacked with shoe and belt? Was he like her Mother? Should she run? Where?
“What’s going on Sarah?” Michael asked his daughter after turning the TV on.
“You said I could have a sleepover if I wanted, and she is really smart, and we are studying for exams…
“Sarah, I know Rachel is not in your class. How old is she? Is there a problem at her home?”
“Dad she is in my class. She is a genius and already got bumped up two years ahead. This is my last chance to get back into my form and she will likely be promoted again next year and is my best chance to get back into my form… Also, you’ve seen her Warrington school uniform drying on the radiators.” Sarah couldn’t believe her dad thought she was lying.
“Sarah, yes, both Mum and I have said you could have sleepovers. That is after we have met your friends and their parents. I’ve never heard mention of… Actually, I recall a few weekends ago when you had Allison and that Lewis girl over. The three of you were being nasty about some childish baby you had to share class with?” Michael’s tone let Sarah know he was asking while fairly sure he knew the answer.
“We were being bitches and jealous. Do you enjoy hearing me say I was in the wrong…
Michael pulled his daughter into a hug and ruffled her hair. “I would never enjoy that, but I am proud when my daughter owns up to making a mistake and being cruel, as it tells me she is trying to grow up into a great young lady. Now I note that you have avoided a couple of things still, like your Mum and I knowing the friend and her parents prior to a sleepover, which wouldn’t be on a school night too.”
Well here goes nothing Sarah thought. She’d known this had to come up. Perhaps a little more easing while pointing out how she would benefit. “She is helping me with all my subjects except music and French. While I am helping her in French. She’s in all my classes except music, Rachel does art, and is really good at it.” Sarah quickly barreled on when she saw her Dad about to complain again. “… and even though it is a school night the exams are tomorrow, and we are studying not playing, and I made friends with her today, and when Misses Thatcher was attacking her, and I saw the opportunity, so I took it, and there wouldn’t be time for you to meet her before it was too late….
“Woah hold up a second. What did Misses Thatcher do?” Michael interrupted her.
Sarah refrained from smiling, her Dad zeroed in on her ‘accidently’ mentioning of an attack by the counselor. “I met Rachel this morning when you dropped me in to school early. She was already there, and we studied, and I am sure I did much better in my Math and Geography exams because of that studying.”
“Sarah, that is all well and good, but I asked you a question.”Michael brought his daughter back to the ‘attack’ that he was more concerned to learn more about.”
“I am getting to that Dad. At lunch while we were studying for Geography her older sister Glenda yelled some stuff about how she was in trouble for leaving home extremely early in the morning. Also, that Rachel had threatened their Mother with jail.” Sarah, waved her hands. “Misses Thatcher was attacking Rachel, when she refused to talk about it. The counselor was angry that Rachel refused to provide any fire for the smoke and threatened her with punishment if she didn’t talk.”
“Rachel is being abused at home?”
Sarah quickly increased the TV volume and ensured the door was closed. “I don’t know. I thought it best to get her away, to let both sides calm down. Misses Thatcher was trying to make the situation worse, causing Rachel to be more protective and defensive of her home life.”
“Am I likely to have the police arrive on a concern of kidnapping?”
“I told Glenda what Misses Thatcher tried and how Rachel took punishment to protect their Mum. I also gave her our phone number and told her to tell her Mum what I had said and that I thought some evenings apart is best for both sides to calm down. The phone never rang.”
Michael took a breath in. “How old is this older sister?”
“Glenda is in Tanya’s form.” Sarah told her Dad, while wishing she hadn’t lost that friendship. It had been resting on shaky ground heading from fall into winter of the year before last. That was when Tanya had noticed boys slightly earlier than most of the other ten year old girls. Sarah was stuck between doing well enough at school to keep her parents happy and spending enough time looking through teen girl magazines and practicing make-up to keep Tanya a friend.
Then in February, Sarah caught a bad flu that hospitalized her. It caused secondary illnesses of whooping cough, pneumonia, and laryngitis. It seemed as if she was just improving from one when the next illness attacked. She was extremely weak after being sick for over three months. The doctors recommended at minimum keeping Sarah out of school through nearly the end of the school year to ensure she didn’t catch anything off the other children there. Both the doctors and school advised writing off the whole year rather than just returning for the end of the year exams. The upshot of that was with poor results on December’s exams her only showing for the year, the school recommended holding Sarah back a year to recover from the lost time in school.
Sarah in the fall returned to repeat her last year at Saint Albans Primary and Tanya made new friends at Warblington Secondary. If Sarah hadn’t wasted so much time appeasing Tanya’s interest on boys and make-up she would have done better on the exams and not lost her best friend by being held back in the old school. Then she finally gets to Warblington and Tanya behaves as if she’d never known her and a little kid over three years younger than her is easily top student in her new class.
It was easy to join in with the bullying of Rachel. Rachel’s own sister seemed determined to make her life hell, and her year mates including Tanya were more than willing to join in. Initially Sarah wanted to get her friend back, but even when that failed she didn’t stop bullying. Sarah had found herself the head girl in first form and made friends before realizing it. She was able to sway them slightly from becoming gossiping, make-up plastering, and boy crazies. Most aside the one they all bullied were not as much believers that boys were the root of all things evil though.
“Sarah.” Her Dad startled her out of her memories. “Sorry Dad.” Her Dad just looked at her in exasperation before repeating. “I asked if you got their phone number.”
“Yeah, let me get it. I have it in my school bag.” Sarah ran upstairs to get the number Glenda had given her. Two thirds up the stairs she slowed down to catch her wind. She glanced and saw her Dad’s worrying stare. He’d followed her into the hall. Damn she had kept her parents from hearing her wheezing, only to forget and over exert herself.
Carefully breathing in deeply and trying to stay calm “I’m fine Dad. I shouldn’t run on the stairs.” Sarah offered.
Not waiting to give him time to think she resumed her climb at a more moderate pace while concentrating on deep breathing. She was sure the barely there rattle couldn’t travel to where he stood. Hopefully, he wouldn’t schedule a doctor’s visit, especially during her exams.
“What’s wrong?” Rachel by way of greeting met her when she entered the room.
Sarah startled replied. “I shouldn’t run on the stairs, I’m not wheezing!” The brittle rattle was barely present, how had she heard… Sarah then saw Rachel’s concerned face morph to confused. Oh, yes she’d been worried about something else. “Don’t worry. My Dad just needs something. I’ll be back soon to test you on your French so study ‘till I get back, ‘k’.”
Having confused Rachel she got the slip of paper from the book bag’s pocket. “Learning from a book, works better when you open it.” Sarah offered to distract Rachel as she left for downstairs.
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