Life's Little Surprises

Life's Little Surprises

A Chapter by avoria

The ringing bell was sharp and clear, and more than enough to wake Clare up from her reverie. Pushing her hair from her eyes she scooped up her bag onto her shoulder, waving goodbye to the small group of friends she left behind her in the sixth form common room. Annabelle was by her side in a second, their respective friendship bracelets dangling from their wrists.

English now, yes?” she asked as they pushed their way through the thousands of over people attempting to tackle the college’s narrow corridors.

Clare laughed, diving out of the way of someone in a younger year. “Would it kill you to check out your timetable once in a while, Anna?”

Why on earth would I, when I have you?” she grinned back.

Annabelle was one of Clare’s closest friends, probably her best now that Francesca no longer moved between the college’s walls. They shared a lot of common interests and had taken more or less the same subjects for their A-levels. The only difference was the third: where Clare had taken Maths, Annabelle had taken History and neither envied the other whatsoever. For English and Philosophy they made sure to sit together whenever the chance arose.

Annabelle was a pretty girl, with hair that couldn’t be tamed and a complexion that was battling against the odd spot here or there. She was taller than Clare, though not by much, and had a little more meat to her bones too. She was definitely the extrovert to Clare’s introvert, but the pair had got on like a house on fire since they’d been in the same tutor group from year seven.

Climbing the stairs to their designated English classroom, Clare felt a moment of apprehension twinge in her gut.

I’m going to miss Mrs. Fedora. She was great.”

Yeah, it’s such a crying shame she had to retire half way through,” Annabelle agreed, her bag swinging left and right as her converse slapped the tiled floor. “I hear the new guy they’ve got in is right from the other end of it.”

Clare frowned. “What do you mean?”

Well, he’s fresh out of training.” Annabelle shrugged, then looked at her friend with a gleaming grin. “And unless it was very good training, boy is he going to get hell at this school. They don’t like baby faces.”

By the time they got to the class it was already half full. The room was different to the one they’d studied in all last year and Clare had never been up here before. The windows looked out over the grounds of the college, trees rattling at the windows like bony fingers and children scattered all over the grounds like leaves. They looked so small from up here that Clare wondered how she’d never noticed the height of these buildings before.

She and Annabelle took a place by the window, glancing briefly to the empty teacher’s desk. Whoever was taking their class must be coming from a free period himself, she deduced, and started unloading a pad of paper and her pencil-case from her bag.

The chattering of college students rang high around the room, the excitement from the summer break getting to each and every one of them. The same questions fired around as they always did: how was your summer, what did you do, who did you meet up with ... and every question was met with the same, generic answer as always.

She was always grateful when Annabelle showed no shallow interest in her life like that.

A door towards the end of the class opened, housing �" most likely �" the teacher’s office and, from behind it, stepped the man himself. He was dressed in a thick v-neck jumper, beige, with dark blue well-fitting jeans that hugged him very nicely. He definitely seemed to be in good shape for someone who’d just started �"

Their eyes happened to meet and in that moment the universe revealed its cruel, laughing joke. About a hundred emotions slapped Clare in the face all at once, as well as one word: Sam.

The lighting may have been dark last night, and she may have been the smallest bit drunk, but those eyes were eyes she would recognise anywhere. She hadn’t a qualm about whether he recognised her or not, either: the expression on his face said it all, and what’s more, it was open for the rest of the class to read as they liked.

Look away, look away, her brain said and thank god she did. Their gaze lasted only a second, but in that one second a terrible realisation had dawned on them both about who the other was and what had nearly-but-not-quite transpired the night before.

Perhaps she was overreacting, she thought, as her heart hammered painfully in her chest and guilt hared through her body as though running a race to her organs. Nothing had actually happened and she had never expected to see him again anyway. He was nothing to her but another stranger, another customer, another man who had liked her music and thought her worth a compliment or two. Nothing but her teacher.


Breathing steadily, she kept her eyes on the page in front of her. It was nothing, her brain told her. Just get over it and move on and never speak of that night again. Nevermind that his intensity was like striking gold, that his gentle nature was such a welcome breath of fresh air in a place she usually had to avoid being groped. Never mind that she almost kissed him. All she had to do was pretend that it had been someone else, another man, and nothing had to come of it.

Clare?” Annabelle’s cool hand on her shoulder made her jump, and she looked up into the warm eyes of her friend. “Geez, Clare, you look like you’ve seen a ghost. Are you all right?”

Licking her lips, she wondered if she should tell her friend the truth. No, she decided, it would just invite in more trouble. Forget it and move on.

She forced a painful smile. “I’m fine.”

Yes, you really look fine.” Annabelle’s sarcasm was biting, even if her intentions were caring. “What’s going on?”

Clare shook her head and, with the action, all thoughts away from her mind. She was Clare Amelia Abbott, college student, and that was all Sa�" the teacher ... knew.

I just had a funny turn,” she breezed with a smile, snapping the lid off her pen and writing ‘English’ in delicate letters in the margin of her book. Annabelle’s eyes burned into the side of her face until relenting, Clare looked up. “I’m fine,” she insisted through a laugh. “Honestly.”

Sam, too, seemed to have regained his composure. He was writing on the whiteboard, so far just his name, and Clare burned his surname to the forefront of her mind. Mister Logan. Mister Logan. Mister Logan ... Sam. Crap. She shook her head again.

The last of the students filed in, the rumble of chatter now as loud as the club had been the night before. Logan paced to the back of the room, shutting the door, where it slammed loudly and rattled against the frame as though it might at any point fall out. Silence descended on the classroom as though sent from heaven and, slowly, Mr. Logan approached the front of the class.

Hello, everyone,” he greeted cheerfully, leaning against his desk and folding his arms. He got a half-hearted groan from the room in response and raised his eyes to the heavens mockingly. “Come on, year thirteen. I know it’s ten o’ clock on a Tuesday morning, but I woke up with a hangover this morning and you don’t see me sitting around groaning, do you?”

This seemed to win over a number of the students, who immediately perked up a little. One hand, belonging to a slim, blonde girl who went by the name of Sky, shot up in the air almost immediately.

Mr. Logan tilted his head a little. “Yes?”

Please, sir �" why did you have a hangover?”

The cheekiness of her question did not elude him, nor did the flirtatious and daring undertone beneath it. He tightened his arms around himself, giving her a smiling frown. He paused for a few moments, seemingly recollecting his thoughts, and Clare felt her face burn. She was just pleased nobody was paying her any attention, too enraptured by the new teacher who had entered their midst.

Because ... I went out and did something very stupid. But this is hardly relative to our lesson, so let’s begin properly, shall we?” He pointed to the board, then splayed his hands out on the desk either side of him. “My name is Mr. Logan. Sam Logan, for those of you who are curious, but at this college you can call me ‘sir’ or by my last name. I’m not really bothered. I’ll be taking the classes you should have had with Mrs. Fedora, had she not retired. Now then, the examination procedures for this year �" your final year of A-levels �" are going to consist of ... ”


An hour later the bell went, and the students packed up their bags with notes they’d made in class as well as the set text for that term’s examination. There had been a round of name-swapping between the teacher and his students, so he could at least begin to get a handle on who was whom and what he had to handle. The girl who’d first put her hand up he quickly learnt was Sky Hunter, a girl who had a question and a comment for every occasion. She had a twin brother, Jason, but he spent most of the lesson sulking in the back and doodling on his notebook.

He hadn’t left them with a homework assignment just yet; the poor kids would probably have enough on their plates as it was.

He did, however, spend most of the lesson wondering what the hell he was going to do about Clare Abbott. While his mouth had been reeling off the credentials for the course, his mind had been going over and over what he could possibly do about the sticky situation that had arisen. The important thing to remember, he reminded himself, was that he’d had no idea she was a student, much less his own. There was no way he possibly could have known. So in some senses, it was just an innocent mistake.

It did however make things a lot more awkward than they needed to be and he decided with vehemence to rectify it, once, and then it would never be spoken of again. Judging by the look she’d given him as she’d recognised him, the young girl was probably just as mortified as he was (and was probably freaking out a great deal more, too). In the clear light of day, and amongst her peers, she looked to him just like any of the others, and was clearly not much older than seventeen. The alcohol had marred his judgement, but fortunately, things were salvageable.

Clare,” he said commandingly whilst rifling through some papers, just as she was leaving the room. He looked up, smiling. “Can I have a word?” A friend of hers �" the brunette who had sat with her, who’d also done nothing but doodle on her notebook �" hung back. “Alone,” he added.

The girls exchanged a glance and, after a nod from Clare, her friend left them to it, shutting the door.

Clare still clasped her notebook to her chest and she approached his desk as though he was about to sanction her for the worst crime imaginable. He smiled, putting his papers to one side and leaning against his desk again.

Student, then,” he suggested, quite amicably, giving her a warm smile. Clare nodded, but said nothing. He tilted his head to one side. “And ... seventeen?” he guessed. Again it was confirmed with a nod and he gave a small chuckle. “You shouldn’t have been out last night, at your age.”

Neither should you,” she retorted snidely, and he couldn’t help but feel a pang of sympathy for her.

Touché,” he conceded. “Anyway, I just wanted to say �" don’t worry about it. It was just an unfortunate, innocent mistake.”

Hesitation surrounded her like a cloud bubble, before the words came tumbling out of her mouth: “It didn’t seem so innocent to me.”

Sam paused, his tongue resting against the roof of his mouth. He shifted a book on his desk, moving over. Then he just smiled, gently, nodding his head once.

It was nice to meet you, Clare Abbott.”

She took the gentle hint and, slowly, turned and walked away. Before she got to the door a thought struck Sam and he knew if he didn’t say a word, he would always regret it.

By the way. You see someone about that voice, won’t you?” From across the room she looked at him as though he’d just slapped her. Feeling a little daring, a little like a man on the edge of a cliff, he added, “It really is stunning.”

She left the classroom without another word. Feeling satisfied, Sam started preparing hurriedly for his next class.


And what the hell was that about?”

The grilling session from Annabelle was as unwelcome as it was blunt. Clare, keeping her head down, bit back the anger that was on the tip of her tongue.

Nothing,” she ground out. “Absolutely nothing. He just wanted to talk to me about extracurricula stuff.”

Anna shot out in front of her, barring her from walking down the corridor and upsetting the entire train of people behind her. Clare looked up accusingly, but at the hurt expression on her friend’s face quickly felt her anger abate, steam rising and cooling off a pan over boiled.

I get that you don’t want to tell me,” she snapped, steely eyes as fierce as her voice, “but don’t lie to me, Clare. God, we’ve been friends long enough.”

Without waiting for a response, Annabelle stormed past her, hair flying out as though it had a mind of its own. Clare looked after her, gobsmacked; in all their years of friendship Anna had never spoken to her like that, not once. They had had spats before, sure, every friendship somewhere along the way did ... but to blow up at her like that in the middle of the corridor was completely unlike her.

Baffled and hurt, Clare made her way to her next lesson, for once pleased that she had a timetable incongruous with her friend’s.

© 2010 avoria

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Added on March 25, 2010
Last Updated on March 25, 2010



United Kingdom

I've been an amateur writer for more than ten years. When I was fifteen I discovered fanfiction and, in my time writing it, explored my own creative writing style and and branched out significantly. S.. more..

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