Reardon Children Do Not Board

Reardon Children Do Not Board

A Chapter by enid
"

This is the first chapter of my first novel and lays the scene for the book ahead. It is set in 1972 and details Grace’s first train ride to her boarding school.

"
Glass panes dispersed rays of light throughout the station and its corrugated metal ceiling. It was 8:30 am and London Victoria was packed with commuters. Businessmen bustled past with their briefcases as crowds poured off
the full trains arriving from the suburbs and in and amongst it all was a skinny teenage girl pushing a metal luggage cart. She was wearing an incredibly ill-fitting school uniform - it was bunched up weird places and large enough to fit a boy twice her size. A gentle pattering sound echoed from her polished black school shoes as she raced her way towards the platforms. She needed to find platform nine in the next couple minutes or she was going to miss her train.

It wasn't like the girl to be late, she always liked to be places ahead of time so she didn't have to rush but today was different. Perhaps if she hadn't made that stop at the grocers to pick up some toffees on the way to station she might not have been so late but she didn't see much point in dwelling on it as it was really her last goodbye to be London- her home. Her only home. She was going to boarding school and was to be gone 4 weeks minimum: she'd never been away that long.

It wasn't that she didn't know anyone else who boarded, it was the fact it was her turn. Over her fifteen years, she'd said goodbye to many a childhood friend when they disappeared of into the depths of Surrey and Kent. Despite being well versed with the realities of boarding school she had always been under the impression she would not be attending. As her mum, Juliet said, " Reardon child do not venture from their parents without necessity as there is little that  they could not learn from them." By children, her mum meant her as she was the only child of two only children so had no cousins or siblings of which to share her name.

Being an only child in London sounds like a lonely existence but the girl begged to differ; she thought her life in London was as an exciting of an existence as one could hope for in the early 70s. She spent 8:30 am till 4 pm at a private all-girls day school with her friends who she then spent an hour in the park with eating toffees and giggling followed by returning home to complete her homework and gossip with her mother. On the weekends she was able to see her friends and go shopping and the return in time to make an appearance at one of her mother's gatherings. It was a simple yet exciting existence which she valued greatly. There had been little change in this routine until June of that year.

Her father Robert was to go away on business to Brussels before returning, hopefully with a large contract in hand. He was to leave by plane from Heathrow and despite the pilot strike, the flight went ahead. At the time the news of the flight's continuance had been greatly celebrated but no one knew quite how ironic that was going to be. Not five minutes after the plane took off it crashed into a field by a motorway. Almost everyone died on impact and.those who did survive soon died in hospital, in total 118 people passed away. Her father's death had become part of a tragedy, just a group of letters in a list of names and she hated it. Not only was he dead but no one seemed to care, all they wanted to know was if it was a problem with the plane or the pilots- they didn't so much as offer their condolences.

She couldn't stop crying at his funeral; not just for his death but also for the change she knew it would bring. Her mum never worked, she spent her days socialising with other well-to-do London housewives. That would have to change. She'd have to change schools as well, to where she didn't know at the time. Never in a million years would her mother be able to afford her school fees - even with the life insurance payout. At first, they began to look round other local private schools in hopes of securing a scholarship or bursary but she either didn't qualify or wasn't bright enough. At the beginning of the month-long hunt for a new school, she had received one offer - from a coeducational boarding school. Her mother despised mixed-sex education and boarding so, to begin with, there was no chance she'd be sent there. However, as it became more and more clear no school in the capital could offer her an affordable place, her mother gave in. In the end, it became a decision between there and an underperforming state school- a concept doubly as horrifying to Juliet Reardon.

In fact, the Reardons were lucky the place had been offered. Robert has been part of a livery company before his death although largely to fuel his own narcissistic tendencies and they owned the boarding school where his daughter was to attend. In a clause typical of the philanthropic Victorians who had written the contract between the school and the company it stated that a company member was to die his children were to gain free admission. This clause had more relevancy in the measles rife Victorian Britain and yet a 100-year-old afterthought was going to change her life.

So on the first Sunday of September, she was to arrive at London Victoria with a second-hand leather trunk filled to the brim with uniform and home clothes. However, the idea had been to be on time. As her eyes scanned the signs above her desperately she saw the number nine just in the corner of her eye. It was about ten metres to her left but had been obscured by an absurdly tall newspaper stand until she'd begun to wander aimlessly. Immediately, she grabbed her trolley and ran awkwardly through the crowd trying to reach the platform gates before they closed. She reached the gates in quick time but it was still evident she was late.
The guard at the gate looked her up and down and grabbed a list of names, presumably of the other children due to ride the train to her new school. She soon saw that her name was the only one yet to be crossed off and the guard noticed too.
"Reardon, Grace?" he questioned.
She nodded her head profusely. As he wheeled her trolley and trunk towards the luggage carriage. The letter she'd received from the school had said each coach in the train was to be for a different year group, hers being the Upper Fifth. Wooden notices had been hung on the doors of each carriage denoting their purpose. The first two carriages were for the general public, the normal first class carriage for the prefects and the rest in descending order from the Upper Sixth to Form 1. Eventually after a little speed walking she reached her carriage and clambered on.

As Grace stepped into the carriage, a collection of 30 heads spun to look at her. The loud boisterous chatter descended into whispers as her new classmates watched for her next move. A small South Asian girl sitting nearest to her moved up one seat to allow her to sit down, an opportunity she took most gratefully. After a few more seconds the peering heads seem to loose interest and the whispers crescendoed into laughter and screams once again. Grace just sat there awkwardly gazing out the window, desperately avoiding eye contact.

The train itself was new but the carriages still managed to look aged and grotty. Each seat had been upholstered with green and blue swirls, an obvious attempt at referencing the sea which unfortunately drew more resemblance to vomit than the beguiling blue waters of Brighton. The scent of tobacco lingered in the air making the it feel dense and stuffy. A poor choice of cherry wood colour added to the headache inducing atmosphere.

"Hey, my names Annika," said her new seat mate rather loudly.

"Grace Reardon," she said reaching to shake the hand of what she hoped would be a new friend .

" I'm not your boyfriend's father, you don't need to shake my hand" Annika said giggling

"Oh I'm sorry it's just a nervous reflex."

" Don't worry I'd be nervous to if everyone had looked at me like that my first ride."

"Looked at me like what?"

" Don't worry it's only because your new and a bit of a novelty especially considering how late you've joined."

" I guess I have joined very late."

"It's quite rare to get anyone joining past the Upper Fourth so I guess you just surprise them."

"Didn't I surprise you?"

"Of course you did but I didn't feel the need to gawk like the others."

"Well thank you, I guess."

" You're very welcome. No one meant to be rude, your just a bit unexpected- that's all."

Grace reaches into her blazer pockets and produced a bag of toffees, offering them to Annika.
"I think I'm going to like you," she said chewing the hardened sweets. Food had always been her top priority. She then chocked a little as the train pulled way from the station violently. The carriage swayed aggressively and then settled into the familiar two beat rhythm synonymous with trains everywhere. Rowdy laughter faded in to gentle conversation as the interconnecting door between the carriage and the one behind it slowly opened as a girl in a yellow and blue striped blazer entered the carriage trying but failing to maintain a sense of decorum. Annika whispered something about it being the head girl in Grace's ear though she didn't hear the whole sentence before a shrill voice boomed through the carriage.

" Hello Upper Fifth. I'm glad you're quieting down as we don't want to disturb the general public," there was slight sarcastic sneer in her voice, " I hope you are look forward to a new term GLSB and honestly I can say the prefects are too. So before we get to school I would like to remind you of your place in our school and who is on top."

The girl let her words echo for a few moments before strutting towards the door into the next carriage and crossing tentatively over.  Other students began to speak louder and shout words of endearment towards the school before culminating in a chant along the lines of " GL, GLSB, the GREATS." This left Grace feeling completely lost.

A few moments passed before a girl sitting opposite to  her saw the delirium on her face.

"Our alums are the GREATS, we're not crazy narcissists- don't worry"

This did very little to quell Grace's fears she just joined an extremist religious sect. If she was joining a school this passionate on a train, she did not want to experience house competitions. The houses at the school were Bludworth (Red), Hardel (Green) and her own house Wilkes ( Blue). Strangely the houses of GLSB, The Greater London Boarding School, were mixed- the girls houses had been amalgamated with the boys two decades prior. Also unlike other boarding schools the houses where not boarding houses, in fact there were only two boarding houses split between the boys and girls. The boys house was a sprawling new development containing the gate house and medical centre while the girls dorms where spread throughout one side of the Georgian Mansion at the centre of the schools campus. The idea of living in this stately home was one of the few things that Grace had found herself excited about. That and the possibility to socialise with boys more often.

As her mind enchanted itself with the idea of her first REAL boyfriend, Grace felt a sharp fingernail prodding her arm. It was Annika.

“ Can I have another? Please!” she asked louder than necessary, drawing eyes back in Grace’s direction. As much as she was delighted to have a new friend to guide her, she wished desperately that Annika would stop drawing more unwanted attention. Grace has enjoyed her status as the slightly boring pet to her louder friends at her old school and valued the freedom that came when few people bothered to care about you and your actions. She had hoped that perhaps she wouldn’t be the only new face at her new school but it was now evident that she was joining a sea of faces that had seen little change from the school’s entrance age of nine. Grace was to be an outsider.

Outsider sounds bag but perhaps it was for the best. If they did not her there they would not care to judge her she thought. However, she did have one friend, though from what she could gather from the looks of those around her she was an outsider too. Annika had darker features and thick wavy black hair, her darkish skin contrasted with the pale freckles skin of the other girls in the carriage. She was pretty but in a non-Eurocentric way. The girl across from Grace was pretty also but she also looked like something out a magazine. She had large blue eyes and white blonde hair which was hard to differentiate at her hairline from her pale rosy skin. Her fave seemed smiley and friendly, there seemed to be a sense of naivety in her demeanour as though you could already see that she saw the best in everyone. Grace thought she could be a friend also so tried to smile back graciously though she ended up looking more awkward than friendly.

“Her names Chrissy,” Annika said cocking her head towards the girl, “ she’s a friend.”

“I could’ve introduced myself, I didn’t need to be presented like a gift!” Chrissy retorted producing a rude hand gesture. Grace muttered a halfhearted introduction back unsure if Chrissy had been listening in on her previous conversation and worried to appear patronising.

“ I’m sure Chrissy was spying on our conversation Grace, there’s no need to introduce yourself,” Annika sneered jokingly.

“Want a toffee?” Grace said placing the red and white striped paper bag on the table between the seats.

“ Sure I’d love a toffee, I was worried Annika would eat them all before I got a chance to introduce myself.”

“ Sorry but I would’ve introduced you sooner had you not sat there smiling like a goon.”

Grace, Annika and Chrissy sat there giggling obnoxiously and eating their toffees for the next hour until the train lurched to a stop. Grace turned her head to look out the window to look at the station sign- it said Epsom.

“ The trains direct Grace so there’s a small stop here at the main terminal and then it’s our stop next so I’d get ready to jump off soon.” said Annika as though she were a tour guide presenting the most interesting fact in the world and not a train timetable. She was right in fact as the girls stood up a few minutes later the train ground to a halt again but this time it was their terminal. The rest of the carriage had had the same idea and pupil holding satchels and mess tins had already filled the aisles, jostling towards the exit. Annika however had pushed a gap between two boys for the girls to fit in and allow themselves to be one of the first to exit the carriages vomit inducing interior.


© 2020 enid


Author's Note

enid
Please be kind yet honest- this is my first draft of my first chapter of my first novel.

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Featured Review

I think you’re going to hate me. But you did ask…

First, let me assure you that what I’m about to say has no connection to how well you write or your talent. Nor does it relate to the story. It focuses only on a huge misunderstanding that virtually all hopeful writers make.

At graduation from school we recognize that we’re not ready to write a screenplay without more knowledge of the field: acting, script presentation, camera technique, and lots more. We also recognize that we’re not ready to apply for a job in journalism or tech-writing. Yet almost universally, we assume that the word “writing,” that’s part of the profession, Fiction-Writing, refers to the skill we were given early in school, and spend so many years refining.

It doesn’t.

Think back the writing you were assigned in school. Over 90% of it was in the form of reports and essays—nonfiction. And the goal of nonfiction? To provide an informational experience. In it, the author, as narrator, explains and reports in a dispassionate voice: Fact-based and author-centric.

History books are nonfiction, and no one ever called a history book a “page-turner.” Why? Because it’s told in overview—explained. Events are immutable and reported, one after another. And without uncertainty there’s no reason to wonder what comes next, or care, because all will be explained.

But fiction gives us an emotional experience. It seeks to make the reader feel as if they’re living the events in real-time. It fills them with uncertainty and concern, the things readers feed on. It makes them NEED to turn the page. It makes us CARE.

In example, if you’re reading a horror story do you want to learn that the protagonist feels fear as they descend the steps nto a spooky cellar? Or, do you want the author to make a shiver trail down YOUR spine? Learn that the protagonist feels terror? Or shall the author work to terrorize YOU. Obviously, a reader seeks that shiver. But did you learn how to do that in school? Did any teacher explain the short-term scene-goal, or why a scene ends in disaster for the protagonist?

Did a single teacher spend a single minute on what a publisher looks for in a story submission—and dislikes? Did even one explain what a scene is on the page, and why it’s so different from one on film? If not, how can you write a scene?

As the author, before you read a single word of your own story, you know where we are, who we are, and what’s going on. So you have context as yuo read. What does the reader have? Only what the words you choose suggest to THEM, based on THEIR life-story, not yours. And they have not a clue of your intent for how they are to either read the lines or interpret them.

With that in mind, look at the opening as a reader must:

• Glass panes dispersed rays of light throughout the station and its corrugated metal ceiling.

"Station?" A radio station? TV station? Bus Station? Train? Sheep or cattle farm? Military post? Those are but six of the things it could be called a station. You know what you mean, but the reader has no access to your knowledge.

Where are we in time and space? We could be 1899 or 2999. This matters to the reader’s picturing the setting.

Whose skin do we wear in this scene? No one cares what the author is paying attention to, because they’re not in the story, nor on the scene. And talking about what COULD be seen wastes time and delays the actual beginning of the story.

Telling me that the place has a corrugated metal ceiling without saying how high that ceiling says little. The only corrugated metal ceilings I’ve experienced, for example, were in the Quonset-Hut that was home for a time when I was in the service. So my mind-picture will be very different from what you intended. And in the end, the material of the ceiling it irrelevant to the story. The protagonist is ignoring it. But it does take time to read about it, and that slows the narrative.

Two quotes apply:
“Don’t inflict the reader with irrelevant background material—get on with the story.”
~ James Schmitz
and
“To describe something in detail, you have to stop the action. But without the action, the description has no meaning.”
~Jack Bickham

So in the first line, what you intend and what the reader actually gets differ.

The problem is that true to your training, you’re focused on events and places—Story with that capital S. But story lives in the protagonist's response to events, and their struggle to control their environment, not in the flow of events. That's history.

Complicating the problem, because you’re transcribing yourself telling the story to an audience there are things so obvious to you omit them, not noticing that the reader won’t find them obvious. And when you read, your mind will fill in the missing data and you’ll not notice that it was missing, so the problem persists.

More than that, verbal storytelling is a performance art. Your performance, both vocal and visual, matter as much as the words you use. But…how much of that performance reaches the reader? None. You get it all as you read, of course, and never notice what’s missing. Have your computer read this story aloud to hear how different what the reader gets is from what you intend them to get. It's an editing technique all authors should use.

SO how do you resolve the problem? You use the professional techniques of the working writer—none of which are part of our schooldays training because professions are acquired IN ADDITION to our schooldays skills. And Fiction-Writing is a profession.

Not knowing that we are given none of those necessary skills is why most hopeful writers never seek that knowledge, and why the rejection rate for fiction is 99.9% of what’s submitted. After all, you can't fix the problem you don't see as being one. So seek that knowledge out and you’re ahead of most would-be writers. And since this is your first novel, it’s a great time to learn of the problem. I wrote six unsold novels before I learned that I had not a clue of how to write for publication. And it was only AFTER I did, and took steps to fix the problem that I sold my first novel.

So the solution to your problem is simple: Add the tricks the pros take for granted to your current writing skills. Not good news, I know, but every successful writer has faced the same problem.

And I won’t kid you. You’ll be learning the skills of a profession, not looking at a list of, “Do this instead of that.” So mastering it will take study and practice. And you will spend a lot of time saying, "That's so...how could I not have seen it myself?" But on the other hand, if you are meant to write you’ll find the study like going backstage at the theater. And once you master the techniques, the act of writing becomes a LOT more fun, as the protagonist becomes your co-writer, and creating the story is like living it.

The library’s fiction-writing section can be a HUGE resource. It’s filled with the views of pros in writing, publishing, and teaching. My personal suggestion is to pick up Dwight Swain’s, Techniques of the Selling Writer. It’s the best I’ve found at imparting the nuts-and-bolts skills of creating scenes that sing to the reader, and, linking them into a cohesive whole. It’s an older book, and talks about your typewriter, but I’ve found none that equal it. And the author, a professor, used to fill lecture halls when he took his all day writing workshops on the road. You can download it from the link below. Use the leftmost button (the one in Russian) to select the format your reader requires.
https://ru.b-ok2.org/book/2640776/e749ea

For a sample of the kind of issues covered in the book, you might dig around in the writing articles in my blog. They’re primarily based on the man’s teachings.

And lastly, don’t let this discourage you. Writing isn’t a destination—a skill you learn, then use. It’s a journey that lasts a lifetime. So hang in there, and keep on writing.

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/the-grumpy-old-writing-coach/

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I think you’re going to hate me. But you did ask…

First, let me assure you that what I’m about to say has no connection to how well you write or your talent. Nor does it relate to the story. It focuses only on a huge misunderstanding that virtually all hopeful writers make.

At graduation from school we recognize that we’re not ready to write a screenplay without more knowledge of the field: acting, script presentation, camera technique, and lots more. We also recognize that we’re not ready to apply for a job in journalism or tech-writing. Yet almost universally, we assume that the word “writing,” that’s part of the profession, Fiction-Writing, refers to the skill we were given early in school, and spend so many years refining.

It doesn’t.

Think back the writing you were assigned in school. Over 90% of it was in the form of reports and essays—nonfiction. And the goal of nonfiction? To provide an informational experience. In it, the author, as narrator, explains and reports in a dispassionate voice: Fact-based and author-centric.

History books are nonfiction, and no one ever called a history book a “page-turner.” Why? Because it’s told in overview—explained. Events are immutable and reported, one after another. And without uncertainty there’s no reason to wonder what comes next, or care, because all will be explained.

But fiction gives us an emotional experience. It seeks to make the reader feel as if they’re living the events in real-time. It fills them with uncertainty and concern, the things readers feed on. It makes them NEED to turn the page. It makes us CARE.

In example, if you’re reading a horror story do you want to learn that the protagonist feels fear as they descend the steps nto a spooky cellar? Or, do you want the author to make a shiver trail down YOUR spine? Learn that the protagonist feels terror? Or shall the author work to terrorize YOU. Obviously, a reader seeks that shiver. But did you learn how to do that in school? Did any teacher explain the short-term scene-goal, or why a scene ends in disaster for the protagonist?

Did a single teacher spend a single minute on what a publisher looks for in a story submission—and dislikes? Did even one explain what a scene is on the page, and why it’s so different from one on film? If not, how can you write a scene?

As the author, before you read a single word of your own story, you know where we are, who we are, and what’s going on. So you have context as yuo read. What does the reader have? Only what the words you choose suggest to THEM, based on THEIR life-story, not yours. And they have not a clue of your intent for how they are to either read the lines or interpret them.

With that in mind, look at the opening as a reader must:

• Glass panes dispersed rays of light throughout the station and its corrugated metal ceiling.

"Station?" A radio station? TV station? Bus Station? Train? Sheep or cattle farm? Military post? Those are but six of the things it could be called a station. You know what you mean, but the reader has no access to your knowledge.

Where are we in time and space? We could be 1899 or 2999. This matters to the reader’s picturing the setting.

Whose skin do we wear in this scene? No one cares what the author is paying attention to, because they’re not in the story, nor on the scene. And talking about what COULD be seen wastes time and delays the actual beginning of the story.

Telling me that the place has a corrugated metal ceiling without saying how high that ceiling says little. The only corrugated metal ceilings I’ve experienced, for example, were in the Quonset-Hut that was home for a time when I was in the service. So my mind-picture will be very different from what you intended. And in the end, the material of the ceiling it irrelevant to the story. The protagonist is ignoring it. But it does take time to read about it, and that slows the narrative.

Two quotes apply:
“Don’t inflict the reader with irrelevant background material—get on with the story.”
~ James Schmitz
and
“To describe something in detail, you have to stop the action. But without the action, the description has no meaning.”
~Jack Bickham

So in the first line, what you intend and what the reader actually gets differ.

The problem is that true to your training, you’re focused on events and places—Story with that capital S. But story lives in the protagonist's response to events, and their struggle to control their environment, not in the flow of events. That's history.

Complicating the problem, because you’re transcribing yourself telling the story to an audience there are things so obvious to you omit them, not noticing that the reader won’t find them obvious. And when you read, your mind will fill in the missing data and you’ll not notice that it was missing, so the problem persists.

More than that, verbal storytelling is a performance art. Your performance, both vocal and visual, matter as much as the words you use. But…how much of that performance reaches the reader? None. You get it all as you read, of course, and never notice what’s missing. Have your computer read this story aloud to hear how different what the reader gets is from what you intend them to get. It's an editing technique all authors should use.

SO how do you resolve the problem? You use the professional techniques of the working writer—none of which are part of our schooldays training because professions are acquired IN ADDITION to our schooldays skills. And Fiction-Writing is a profession.

Not knowing that we are given none of those necessary skills is why most hopeful writers never seek that knowledge, and why the rejection rate for fiction is 99.9% of what’s submitted. After all, you can't fix the problem you don't see as being one. So seek that knowledge out and you’re ahead of most would-be writers. And since this is your first novel, it’s a great time to learn of the problem. I wrote six unsold novels before I learned that I had not a clue of how to write for publication. And it was only AFTER I did, and took steps to fix the problem that I sold my first novel.

So the solution to your problem is simple: Add the tricks the pros take for granted to your current writing skills. Not good news, I know, but every successful writer has faced the same problem.

And I won’t kid you. You’ll be learning the skills of a profession, not looking at a list of, “Do this instead of that.” So mastering it will take study and practice. And you will spend a lot of time saying, "That's so...how could I not have seen it myself?" But on the other hand, if you are meant to write you’ll find the study like going backstage at the theater. And once you master the techniques, the act of writing becomes a LOT more fun, as the protagonist becomes your co-writer, and creating the story is like living it.

The library’s fiction-writing section can be a HUGE resource. It’s filled with the views of pros in writing, publishing, and teaching. My personal suggestion is to pick up Dwight Swain’s, Techniques of the Selling Writer. It’s the best I’ve found at imparting the nuts-and-bolts skills of creating scenes that sing to the reader, and, linking them into a cohesive whole. It’s an older book, and talks about your typewriter, but I’ve found none that equal it. And the author, a professor, used to fill lecture halls when he took his all day writing workshops on the road. You can download it from the link below. Use the leftmost button (the one in Russian) to select the format your reader requires.
https://ru.b-ok2.org/book/2640776/e749ea

For a sample of the kind of issues covered in the book, you might dig around in the writing articles in my blog. They’re primarily based on the man’s teachings.

And lastly, don’t let this discourage you. Writing isn’t a destination—a skill you learn, then use. It’s a journey that lasts a lifetime. So hang in there, and keep on writing.

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/the-grumpy-old-writing-coach/

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

19 Views
1 Review
Added on May 30, 2020
Last Updated on May 30, 2020
Tags: Boarding, Teen


Author

enid
enid

London, England , United Kingdom



About
London Baby with a longing to be back in her childhood more..

Writing