Secrets, hopes and dreamsâ¦ School friends are for ever!
Silver Spires is the best school in the world â they're even filming a TV documentary here to prove it!
I'm not bothered about the cameras though. I'm more excited about my fab new idea to make our school more “green”. The trouble is, this older girl, Jet, thinks I'm trying to steal her camera time â she's such an attention-seeker. I wish she'd just leave me alone so I can get on with making my dream a realityâ¦
To Valerie Wilding, with lots of love, and thanks for your humour and wisdom.
What's Bryony doing attacking me like this? She's supposed to be my best friend
. I stopped staring at the cloudy grey sky through the gap between the treetops, and raised my eyebrows at her in a vague kind of way.
“Ems, come back from whatever planet you're on!” said Nicole, laughing. “We've been trying to attract your attention for ages!”
And when I looked round I saw that it wasn't only Bryony and Nicole who were finding me amusing, but all of my little group of friends.
“What were you daydreaming about, anyway?” asked Sasha.
It was true I'd been miles away, thinking about my other best friend, my beautiful horse, Barney, who lives back home in Ireland. I was imagining myself galloping him across open fields on a beautiful summer evening when all the work on our farm had been done â well, all the work
had to do at least, because Mum and Dad and my big brother Will always work till really late in the summer.
But how could I explain all that to my friends? None of them have got much of a clue about horses, and they certainly don't know the first thing about farming. I still love them dearly, though, because the six of us have been together in the same dormitory here at Silver Spires Boarding School for Girls for a term and a bit now, and the others don't seem to mind that I'm always either daydreaming or, if you press my other button, rushing to get out in the fresh air. They're not bothered that I don't care about fashion or that I'm not the best in the world as far as lessons are concerned. They all just accept the way I am. Well, apart from a few times like right now, when I think I
get on their nerves.
But I always know how to bring them round. “I was daydreaming about winning the lottery and just wondering which friends I might take with me on my trip to see the wonders of the world!”
That had exactly the effect I expected. Izzy and Sasha stopped trying to keep warm by jogging on the spot and gave me big beaming smiles, while Antonia and Nicole both shuffled close to me and linked their arms through mine, and Bryony started batting her eyelashes about two centimetres away from my face in a totally over-the-top way, which looked so funny, knowing what a tomboy she is. We must have seemed like a really weird little group standing in the middle of the main lane that runs through the Silver Spires grounds.
“Okay, I'll take you all!” I said, sighing a bit and pretending they were a lot of pestering children that I had to keep quiet somehow.
When they'd finished being amused by me for the second time in two minutes, Izzy started doing vigorous star jumps. “How come you don't feel the cold, Emily?”
“I'm just used to it, I suppose,” I told her with a shrug. Then I looked at my watch. “Surely a few of the guests should have arrived by now, shouldn't they?”
Well that sent Izzy and Sasha straight back into their big excitement zone. “I can't wait to see them. I've got so many questions!” said Sasha.
“Me too!” squeaked Izzy. “And I bet they've got loads to ask each other, too. I mean, it'll seem so strange meeting up for a grand reunion party after all these years.”
And then Nicole and Antonia were joining in with the buzz, while Bryony and I stood quietly to one side. Neither of us was looking forward to the afternoon in quite the same way as our friends were, and we'd only really come outside to look out for the guests arriving because the others had wanted us to.
“I suppose it'll be quite interesting when we get talking to people, but I'm not as excited as the others, are you?” I asked Bryony quietly.
She's a very thoughtful person, my best friend, so she didn't answer me straight away. But then her face suddenly brightened. “I'm looking forward to the tea!”
“Me too!” I said, giggling. “All those totally fab home-made cakes and biscuits!”
“I hope they decorate the hall to make it very grand,” said Antonia, joining in with us now. “And use Silver Spires's best silver teapots and china!” she added, with a dreamy look in her eyes.
“Is that what your dad would do in his restaurant in Italy?” I asked her, because I'm interested in how the different countries all have their own traditions and ways of doing things.
“Afternoon tea isn't a custom in Italy, like it is in England,” Antonia replied. “But yes, it's true, PapÃ makes his restaurant look extra-specially wonderful for important occasions.”
Just about every time Antonia speaks I think how much her English has improved. When she joined Silver Spires with all the rest of us Year Sevens last September, she had trouble with lots of English words and she had a really strong Italian accent. But now you only notice her accent a bit. Nicole, her best friend, has helped her loads with the language. Antonia's also taught Nicole quite a bit of Italian, which Nicole has picked up really quickly, as she's the brainiest one in our group.
When Antonia started talking about decorations, I'd been imagining the big hall here in the beautiful old main building of Silver Spires full of women in their sixties all enjoying their grand reunion, introducing themselves to each other and chatting away about what they'd done since they'd left Silver Spires all those years ago. Now I suddenly felt myself wanting to break into giggles again.
“Isn't it funny the way everyone always calls them old girls?” I spluttered. “I mean it sounds kind of rude, doesn't it, to say, âA load of old girls are coming to a reunion party at Silver Spires'!”
“Well, if you put it like that it sounds rude. But that's exactly what they are, aren't they?” said Nicole. “Old girls. It's really amazing that they're all coming back to meet up after fifty years.”
“Yes, they might not even recognize each other,” said Sasha. “It'll be so weird for them all, won't it? They'll be comparing notes about what boarding houses they were in and what their housemistresses were likeâ¦”
“Just think,” I said, as something suddenly dawned on me, “this party could be
in fifty years' time.”
“Yes,” said Antonia, nodding firmly. “And we will all agree that it is Forest Ash which is the best boarding house, and Mrs. Pridham the best housemistress!”
“And Miss Stevenson the best assistant housemistress, and Miss Callow the best matron,” I added.
“I've just had a thought!” said Nicole, looking shocked. “Forest Ash wouldn't have even existed fifty years ago, because it's one of the modern boarding houses, isn't it?”
Bryony was staring round. “That's right. In fact the whole school must have been so much smaller in those days.”
“I can't believe that we're just about the only Year Sevens who've signed up to come to the tea party,” said Izzy, frowning. “It'll be really interesting talking to the â” she let out a giggle â “old girls!”
“See!” I said, stabbing my finger in the air with triumph, which was a bit over-the-top, I have to admit. “It
“Yes, but seriously,” Izzy carried on, “don't you think it'll be great to ask them questions about the old days and what the rules were like and the uniform and whether they had midnight feastsâ¦”
“And what the lessons were like,” Nicole chimed in.
“Yes, and what kind of things they got up to at weekends,” said Izzy.
“And whether any of them came from foreign countries, and if they were homesick,” Antonia added, looking a bit sad.
Nicole immediately put her arm round Antonia. “Imagine what it was like with no mobiles to call their parents or text them.”
“And no e-mails,” said Bryony. “Not even computers.”
“What about TV?” asked Sasha. And we all looked at Nicole for the answer to that one.