Читать онлайн «The Classroom: A gripping and terrifying thriller which asks who you can trust in 2018»
The tears threaten to return.
‘Don’t worry, I’m coming back.’
Kirsten gathers up her things. She’ll leave a little note for the headmistress, say she’ll make an appointment – work emergency, very sorry.
The headmistress walks in just as Kirsten is rummaging round the desk for a Post-it.
‘Mrs McGee, I’m going to have to run – everything’s kicking off at work, and …’
She’s met with a stony stare.
You don’t get it! Kirsten wants to scream. I’m just trying to be good!
But instead, Kirsten half sits, half stands, at the chair by Mrs McGee’s desk.
‘Ms Robertson had some suggestions to make,’ the head says. The tone is chilly, different somehow to when they last spoke. ‘And I think they might help you out. How does a breakfast club sound to you? And some casual extra after-school lessons – to help Harriet with these behavioural issues?’
‘Yes, yes, of course,’ Kirsten says. She wants to shout that Harriet doesn’t have behavioural issues. But the clock won’t stop ticking.
‘Ms Robertson also had one slightly more … controversial … suggestion. A child psychologist? She thinks psychologists can have a really powerful effect – work wonders.’
Christ, the irony … Kirsten knows full well what wonders they can work. It’s why her sister still won’t speak to her.
But no. This is going too far.
‘Tell Ms Robertson I appreciate her concern, but I don’t think we’re at that stage yet. My daughter just wanted to play with another girl’s toy. And she’s only just five. She doesn’t need a shrink.’
But Kirsten cuts her off. ‘No, Mrs McGee. I’m sorry. I have to get back to work.’
You can see the disappointment lines on Mrs McGee’s face – little pinches round the corners of her mouth, a special line amongst the crow’s feet round her eyes.
Kirsten draws herself up and remembers suddenly the power of being a working mum. She knows how to pull rank.
‘I have emergency patients waiting for me. If there are any additional fees for these clubs, over and above what we already pay you, then of course we can pay. Now I really must go.’
And of course, at the mention of emergency patients, of fees, Kirsten sees Mrs McGee remember Kirsten’s place in society outside these walls. That this matters too.
‘Yes, of course,’ the head says. ‘I’ll see you at parents’ evening in a couple of weeks and we can catch up then.’
Maybe Kirsten actually flinches. She must do something, because the head follows up by saying, ‘There’ll be an email reminder coming out soon.’
But Kirsten doesn’t acknowledge she’s forgotten about parents’ evening. She just goes. And then, finally, she’s on the way to the clinic. Stress levels rocketing. In the olden days, she’d have called Ian, calmed down that way. Now she relieves her stress by channelling it into anger towards him, practising the argument she knows they’ll have later on. Not just about this.
Because this is all his fault. If it weren’t for him, they wouldn’t be where they now find themselves. They wouldn’t have to rely on Kirsten trying to be in two places at once. Or on Ms Robertson’s breakfast clubs. But thank God they will now have those. Because they can only be a change for the better.
Chapter 12 (#ulink_1d8b20f3-1758-5685-9f53-dff3e05fc7d4)
BECKY, 2 AUGUST 2012
Becky can’t find Andy at breakfast. She can’t find Caitlin either. So she heads to the audition room, thinking maybe Andy will be there too.
But no. It’s just the course leader.
‘Hey, you made it!’ he says.
She shrugs, clutching the brand new Music Theatre Compilation book her mother bought her. It’s medium voice because that seemed to Becky to translate into ‘average’. Sopranos were special. Before she grew up and became a boring mum, her eldest sister had been soprano in the choir at school. Voice of an angel. So pretty. Et cetera.
‘Where’s the male talent – Andy, isn’t it?’
‘I don’t know. I figured he might be here.’
‘OK, well, let’s give him a minute. Are you warmed up yet?’
She shakes her head.
The teacher gives her a look of mock disapproval. ‘You must always warm up. Protect those vocal folds.’
He takes her through some exercises. They have to bend down low, swing their arms around as their heads nearly touch the floor. Becky becomes conscious her bra is on show – not a cleavage enhancer, just one that makes her breasts look flat and squat. She tries to pull her top back into place, unsuccessfully. The teacher seems not to notice. He is just saying, in calm, steady tones: ‘Now, wind yourself back up, vertebrae by vertebrae.’
She does as she is told.
‘Relax your neck. Set it squarely on your shoulders, then rock it gently from side to side.’
She does as he says.
‘Now stretch right up. Come on, hands up, stretch out your fingers!’
Again, Becky does what he says. This time, it’s her belly that’s exposed, her top riding up. Please let there be no flab hanging over my waistline, she thinks, as she stretches extra hard to make her tummy as taut as it will ever be. The teacher seems to be having the same problem – even his big baggy top isn’t long enough for this exercise. It rides up, revealing the dark grey waistband of some Calvins under his black jeans. She catches a glimpse of tummy flesh too, covered in black hairs. They look soft, masculine. She realises she is staring and looks away.
That’s when she sees Andy and Caitlin in the doorway. Andy is looking between them both, while Caitlin whispers, giggling, in his ear.
Becky drops her arms down, and pulls her top back over her midriff, crossing her arms over her waist. She sees the teacher follow her gaze, and he changes his posture too. Except he is relaxed, welcoming.
‘Ah, Andy – you made it!’
‘Yup,’ Andy says, noncommittal. Where’s the enthusiasm of the previous day?
‘We were just warming up,’ Becky says, feeling an explanation is needed.
‘Are you warmed up?’ the teacher asks Andy.
‘Yeah, I’m good – thanks.’
‘I could do with a warm-up,’ Caitlin coos. ‘I just feel really … tight, you know?’
Becky stares at Caitlin. Is she flirting with the teacher?
There’s a beat.
‘Let’s do some arpeggios and jazz hands, then!’ says the teacher, brightly. ‘Loosen everyone up. Ready?’
So off they go. No one comments on the fact that Andy and Becky’s audition seems to have become Andy and Caitlin’s personal training session. Becky stands at the back, watching Caitlin show off her hair, her legs, her voice. Andy sings pretty well, but he’s not a drama queen – just quietly capable. It’s one of the things she likes about him. Liked. She doesn’t understand where she stands this morning.
The teacher gets them to sing back some song lines to him, as a group, then individually. Becky tries, but her voice is reedy and weak. She peters out on the high notes, and the low ones suddenly come out too strong.
But it doesn’t mean Caitlin needs to giggle.
The teacher seems to think so too. He shoots Caitlin a dirty look.
‘Everyone’s just trying their best here – it’s not competitive,’ he says.
Caitlin smirks. ‘Even though some people are better than others.’ She sticks out her chest. Caitlin, Becky notices, is wearing a cleavage-enhancing bra. But the teacher doesn’t look in that direction at all. His gaze remains firmly at eye level.
‘Some people may be naturally gifted, but this summer school is for everyone. I’ll let you know later what parts you’ve got, if any.’
Becky doesn’t know why, but she suspects she might end up with a bigger part than Caitlin. She hopes she doesn’t.
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