Day 8:What about their earlier school days? Write a scene of your character in grade school or middle school.
So since I covered early years here, I’m going to keep going chronologically. It’s not exactly sticking to the challenge, but I think it’s an important part of where we end up. This follows immediately on from Day 6.
That was how ended up at the Ventnor Court School for Special Needs. It was a redbrick Victorian construction that had been adapted for the needs of the school. A central hall led out into classrooms and activity spaces, while upstairs held the bedrooms. ‘Carers’ stood guard at all times and helped those who couldn’t help themselves.
Memories of Ventnor come back to me in flashes, really. The first year was all gratitude that I wasn’t getting beaten for being weird anymore. Everyone here was weird. It was just the way it was. The fact that I knew things I didn’t know I knew was barely more than a quirk amongst all these kids who really needed help.
Scott was the first person I met after my parents bid me a tearful goodbye outside my room. He was sitting on his bunk watching us hug and cry out in the hall. When I came in he nodded and said,
“Your parents. They’re a bit relieved you’re gone.”
And that was how our relationship started. Looking back, I’m sure he was somewhere on the autistic spectrum. We fought over that for a while; probably because he was right. As a kid, just thought he was rude and smart. I wasn’t wrong, I just didn’t know at the time that that was a thing.
The bedroom had a cold fireplace and two hard single beds. The girls lived on the other side of the stairwell. At 12 I was only just starting to realise why that was important.
We took classes like any other kids our age: English, maths, science, etc. A few of us were given classes away from the other kids at a higher level. I remember Scott describing the other class as “Pencil-use 101”. I didn’t really know what he meant, so I just nodded.
As usual in class, whenever I was asked a direct question I could answer it. The funny thing was that a lot of the time, so could Scott. He devoured books like no one else I’d ever met. He could apply his entire mind to a thing – like a book or a math problem – and it would be done and past in the amount of time it to the rest of us to get halfway through the book or understand the question.
History class was the most interesting to me. I was fascinated by all the swords and horse-riding and Kings and murder. Our teacher, Mr Mirrlees was a very intense man with a shaved head who used to jog to work every morning with a huge bag on his back. We used to talk about how it was full of bricks and how he’d been a spy or a marine or something. Even as an adult I can’t completely convince myself that these things weren’t true.
I remember one day Mr Mirrlees took me aside one day after class. We’d been studying the Aztecs and Conquistadors. Ironic in hindsight. Anyway, he’d asked me the names of all the Kings of Tenochtitlan. And I had. That was when he sent me to speak to Mr. Fleming.
“Do it now, Wilson.”
I’ll never forget that last order. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be working in a bank now if I’d ignored it.
Mr. Fleming was at least a thousand years old. He had and unconvincingly dyed beard and teeth that all seemed to have their own routes to success. He had an office in the Victorian depths of the building decorated with the smell and heft of old, leather-bound books. He sat behind a polished oak desk. Scott once pointed out that it’s dimensions were such that it had clearly been built either inside the room or before the walls had been completed.
It was Mr. Fleming who first started teaching me about some of the other sapient species who share our Earth. He taught me the alternative history, taught me about my power. Fleming was my mentor. But I won’t bore you with all that Dumbledore stuff. What really changed things for me was when he introduced me to his granddaughter, Maria.
Okay, this one petered out. I don’t write YA fiction for a reason.