A new start
Julia Jones was woken up by the annoying sound of her alarm clock. ‘Whoever invented those stupid things has a lot to answer for.’ She thought as she shut the thing of.
“Morning, Ju.” Her mum said when she finally came downstairs.
“Morning.” She replied, pouring cereal.
“Ready for today? You look nice, the uniform suits you.”
Julia raised an eyebrow “Mother, are you serious? I look like a plum pudding!”
“A very nice plum pudding.”
Before she could open her mouth to tell her mother she needed better glasses, her dad entered.
“Cheer up, Julia!” her dad called, noticing her staring out the kitchen window. “It’s only a new school, not the end of the world!”
She ignored him, as he was clearly delusional. This was not only a new school; this was a new special school. Last year she’d been diagnosed with autism. One of the college staff had noticed her not interacting with the other students and made enquiries, ran tests, that kind of thing. Next thing she knew she was being told that she was moving to Saint Nicholas.
Saint Nicholas school was for children aged 6 – 19. It covered a wide range of disabilities by the sounds of it. There were four ‘houses’.
· West House, for people with physical difficulties.
· East House for people with various different mental difficulties.
· South house – for people who fell in-between, i.e. a mix of physical and mental difficulties.
· North house – which was the same as south house.
Julia had been put into North house. She was to join class ‘LM’, which according to the head Mrs Gray was for ‘People with a high IQ/large amount of talent in one or more areas’, so basically geniuses.
Well she thought as she smiled a little. What was she if not a genius?
Half an hour later she had been dropped off at the gates and was waving her dad goodbye. Sighing she turned and observed the building. In big letters across the door were the words. ‘South house’ as she approached it she saw a sign attached.
‘This is South House, if you want any of the other houses please use the side gate. Julia turned, located the side gate immediately only to realise it required a code to get it. “Well that’s stupid.” She said, out loud. Going back to the door she looked over it again, this time observing a bell by the side with another sign by it.
‘Please ring for assistance’ so she rang. And waited. When no answered she rang again. No answer. On the third time she was ready to kick the door down, just as she was moving her foot back however the door was opened by a small black boy, wearing the same uniform. Julia immediately put her foot on the ground and said.
“Hi, I’m new. North House. I know I need to go round the side gate, but I can’t get in do you…” She never got a chance to finish because the boy left the step and went round to the side gate, as Julia followed she could see him punching in a code. 1967, her sharp eyes noted.
He turned to her. “This way.” Beyond the gate there were three more buildings exactly like South House, all with the respected name above the door. The majority of the space in between the buildings was grass, apart from a small building in the middle which had concrete and a few benches around it.
“Awesome.” Julia said, genuinely impressed.
“Straight ahead. North House is there.” The boy said, pointing. He then started to walk off.
“Wait! What’s your name?” She yelled after him.
Feeling a little perplexed the girl stepped up to North House’s front door and knocked the door.
She didn’t have to wait long this time as the door was immediately opened by a girl with a black pony-tail. “Are you new?” Were the first words out of her mouth.
The girl stuck her hand out. “I’m Katie. Katie Karate they call me. Come in. Do you know what class you’re in?”
Shaking the girls hand Julia said. “LM.”
“Ah. You’re with me then. Come on, I’ll show you to our class-room. What’s your speciality?”
“Like me, my speciality is martial arts. I know every form there is. I’ve been training since I was 4. So what’s yours?”
“Er. Science I guess?”
“Ooh, science, nice. We’ve already got one of them, but another’s always nice. Here we are.” While talking Katie had led Julia though a corridor, up a staircase and to a classroom. “In we go.” And with that she swung the door open.
“Oh, nice.” Julia said, crinkling her nose a bit, the room was so plain, the walls were white and the desk format reminded her of Malory towers. Basically old-fashioned desks grouped together in threes. There were display things, but with nothing displayed and a normal whiteboard at the front of the classroom behind the teachers desk.
Next to her Katie was yelling across the room. “Rhiannon! The new girls here, we’re by the door.”
A tall black girl immediately got up and made her way over. At first Julia had wondered why Katie was being so specific, after it was fairly obvious they were by the door due to the fact it was behind them. However as soon as she saw the white cane she knew. The girl was blind. She stopped just short of the science whiz though and spoke while extending her hand. “Nice to meet you, my name’s Rhiannon.” Feeling a little bit awkward, Julia didn’t know what to do until Katie stood on her toe and hissed.
“Shake her hand, you idiot.” So blushing, she obliged. Rhiannon smiled and straightened up a little.
“It’s alright; most people don’t seem to know how to act around people who are blind. What’s your specialty?”
“Ah, mine’s Maths. I want to teach it someday.” Smiling again, Rhiannon turned her back and made her way to her seat. Subconsciously Julia found herself letting out a sigh of relief. She looked down and started fiddling with the bottom of her jumper.
“It’s alright, she won’t bite.” Another voice said, startled Julia jerked her head up to see a blonde girl with glasses had appeared in front of her. The girl gave a small smile and making weird hand-gestures said. “I’m Daisy.” She then paused and looked expectantly at the dark-brown haired girl who, quite frankly, didn’t know what to say. Looking a little nervous Daisy gave a small smile. “You’re not deaf are you?”
Then it clicked. “Oh deaf, that’s why you were making all those weird hand-gestures.” Julia said, without thinking.
Daisy frowned. “It’s not ‘weird hand-gestures’ its British Sign Language you eejit.” And with that she stalked off.
Feeling as if she’d been slapped in the face, Julia frowned. “Well, I didn’t know. I’m not deaf. Sorry!” She yelled after the blonde’s retreating back. Not surprisingly she didn’t turn around.
Katie however clapped her hands over her ears. “Do you mind?”
“Hi.” A slightly strained voice said, looking up Julia was met with the sight of a tall, well-built boy with brown hair. He scratched the back of his neck, clearly at a loss of what to do. “I’m Charlie. Charlie Small.”
The new girl snorted a little at that. “Small? You’re not small. You’re massive.” He was too.
Charlie ran his hand through his brown hair and then said. “Okay, bye.” He then turned and lolloped off.
“Charlie!” The minute Charlie wasn’t taking up all of her vision she could see a boy with brown hair in a wheelchair. Rolling his eyes a little he came towards her. “Sorry about him. He has the social graces of a plank. I’m Dave, Art genius. You need anything drawing, painting, sculpting, whatever I’m your man.”
“Okay thanks…” Julia was about to say something when in the background she heard faint footsteps that came closer and closer until…
“Whew! I’m here. Traffic was a nightmare. We were stuck in traffic half an hour.” A small, black guy said, casually throwing himself through the door. “I told mum we should have walked, we would have got here in more time. Are you new?” He addressed the last question to Julia, who simply blinked. This guy seemed to be a little like a firecracker, about to burst with energy.
“Are you new?” He asked again. Getting no response he turned round to Katie, who had stepped back a little when he came bowling in through the door. “Is she mute?”
That shook Julia to her senses. “No, I-I’m not mute…I’m Julia. Nice to meet you…” She extended a hand which was eagerly grabbed and pumped up and down.
“Nice ta meet you, Ju! I’m Javier. Javier Uppel. Performing arts extraordinaire. You name it, I can do it, act, sing, dance, the works. What’s your…”
“Science.” Julia finished, anticipating the question.
“Science eh? That’s cool. I can’t do that. Never could get my head round it. But James, he’s good at science.”
“Someone mention my name? Javier you nearly bowled me over when you ran past me just then.” Another boy appeared who had blonde curly hair.
“Sorry ‘bout that James, but I had to get here on time. Didn’t want maple-syrup yelling at me for being late. This is Julia; she’s a science genius to, just like you.”
“I doubt anyone is ‘just like me’.” James said curtly, as he looked the girl over. “And she can’t be a science genius, that’s what I am.”
“What so there can’t be two of the same thing?” Julia asked, not liking his attitude.
“No.” James said, simply, going to his seat.
‘Well he seems like a ray of sunshine.’ She thought sarcastically as she took the only available seat left.
It turned out that the ‘Maple-syrup’ person Javier reffered to was actually the teacher, Mrs Maple. And Julia could definitely see where she got the nick-name from. She had this way of speaking to you in such a sugary sweet way it made you cringe. And she constantly talked to them like idiots. This had been her opening speech; picture it in a high-pitched voice.
“Hello again class. Nice to see you all again, did you all have a good holiday?”
General murmurs of agreement.
“Well, that’s nice isn’t it? Now, we have a new class member, Julia Jones. Would you like to come to the front, Julia?”
The girl in question scrunched her nose up at that. “Not really…”
“Okay that’s fine. Right, here’s your new time-tables, put them at the front of your planner.”
“Miss we need the planners.” Daisy said, bluntly.
The teacher laughed in an annoying manner. “Of course you do! Silly me…” She rummaged around in a bag while Julia shot Katie a ‘Are you joking’ look. Katie frowned, not understanding it.
Julia rolled her eyes and accepted the planner Maple-syrup carefully put in front of her. After that the young genius blocked her out for the rest of registration.
After that she had class. It turned out that at Saint Nick, due to the fact that everyone was doing different things there wasn’t actually a lesson plan. The teachers changed per lesson but you usually did the stuff that related to your own course. For Julia that meant she was working on a mix of Chemistry and Biology A-levels.
Rhiannon worked, using braille. At first Julia had thought it was a blank sheet of paper, until she saw Rhiannon running her fingers across it and got the picture. After that Rhiannon typed something onto something that looked a little like a Nintendo.
“What’s that?” Julia said, as she tapped James, who was sitting in front of her, on the shoulder.
“What’s what?” He said, clearly not interested.
She ignored the tone and carried on. “The thing Rhiannon’s using. And why is she allowed head-phones when we’re not?”
“That thing is a braille n speak. Rhiannon types into it using braille and then the thing repeats back what she’s typed, that’s why she’s using head-phones. So she doesn’t disturb us.”
Julia nodded and went back to work.
Just before lunch she saw Dave do a brilliant piece of artwork. “Whoa.” She said, coming over to look at it.
Dave looked at the artwork critically and said. “Yeah I know. Usually I’m better, but it’s the beginning of the school year, so I’m a little rusty.” Yes, he seriously said that.
After lunch she discovered English was Daisy’s talent. She’d got up to sharpen a pencil and as she walked past she saw Daisy doing work that looked quite complicated. “What’re you doing?” She asked. Not getting any reply Julia tapped the blonde on the shoulder and repeated her question. After writing it down on the note-book Daisy carried around with her the girl finally answered.
“I’m working to get my Law degree.” Daisy explained.
“Are you serious? You’re going to be a lawyer?” Julia scribbled it down.
“Doesn’t that take like, four years? And for you to be like, really good at English?”
“It does. I’m an English genius and I’m already 2 years through. I passed my GCSE’s when I was 14.”
Having nothing to say to that Julia went back to her seat.
Charlie it turned out was a PE genius. “What do you mean a PE genius?” Julia asked him when she heard.
“It means I’m very sporty.”
“Well, no duh. What do you do?”
“I do everything, I swim, I play badminton, tennis, squash, rounder’s, hockey, basketball, rugby, football and even a little bit of croquet.”
Impressed, she said. “Wow. Dad would love you.”
“Is he very sporty?” Javier asked.
“No, but he likes to pretend he is.”
“Cool, do you have any siblings? I have a brother and a sister. Amajit, he’s 18 and Missy who’s 14. They’re in the foreigners group.”
“Yeah, we have nick-names for each of the four groups. We’re known as the genius’s. Then there are the foreigners, the exceptions and the young ‘uns. The young ‘uns are the primary school kids, 6 -11. The rest of us are split depending on our needs. The exceptions are 20 and 21 year old. There’s 5 of them, all girls, and there all on the autistic spectrum. That’s one class that won’t ever be getting any new members; those girls really don’t like new people in their class. Katie and Rayne are in that class, they’re our head girls.”
“Yeah, each house has two heads. Ours are Katie Britches and Rayne Adjewa’s. South house have Benjamin Tollin and Harvey Shud. East house have Benjamin Littlewood and Lozie Nikolay. West house have Nicholas and Nicole Nickintin.”
Julia stared for a moment and then said to Katie. “You couldn’t make this up could you?”