High school was when the trouble[1] started in Heidi’s life. She seemed to drift and rarely expressed an interest in anything. There were no friends and there was no favourite teacher and her reports, those few which survive, paint a picture of a girl with a good deal of intelligence who happened to lack direction. She next appears in the records as a suspect questioned by the police.


1 It was what she used to do when she was at school and it was lunchtime and she was about fifteen. She took her bag with her and wandered towards the big gates on the other side of the oval. To call it an oval was being polite: the grass grew only in patches and then without any real commitment; if it rained or there was a hot spell the few sickly outposts of green quickly died. There was a line of trees on the other side of the field where the older boys played football and occasionally tortured one of the younger boys for fun or because they had kicked their ball over the fence accidentally and it had rolled away down the steep hill and into the valley many hundreds of metres below. At recess she would sit under a tree and feed the birds who attended her with raisins and small fragments of sandwich she had broken off and scattered for them. She preferred her own company. At one time she had joined the girls who smoked behind the science labs on the other side of the school, and that was good up to a point – it was easy to put the stultifying teachers and the beautiful girls out of your mind and she found that it calmed her – but this was a group like any other and when they started pestering her to show them her wrist she realised that it was a kind of pre-packaged rebellion she had become part of. And the ironic thing, it seemed to her, was that it wasn’t true rebellion at all, because to honestly react against the system you need to do it your own way – not to conform to the way other people did it. The smokers all had the same hair and wore their uniforms the same way. So she left them. They were sad to see her go, but she just thought they were sad. And now at recess she fed the birds on her own and read Camus and occasionally smoked, while at lunchtime she walked slowly past the trees and through the gates and kept walking and usually didn’t come back. There didn’t seem any point. Besides, she had met Andy, who worked in the cinema in town. The cinema was mostly deserted during the day. She had walked in once when it was raining and begun talking to Andy, who was an anarchist and the most interesting person she had ever met. He also lit fires, and this fact was about to cause them some serious problems.

Published in: on April 7, 2014 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

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