...I tried to speak to Valeria at first possibly on more than one occasion but the only time that I recall I approached her in my friendliest most convivial manner and was simply brushed past and ignored. Clemency was incensed. MS Halisted could never even find Valeria`s name when calling out the register and after several weeks had still not added it.
Both Valeria`s set of friends and Clem`s and mine where soon edgy with each other. Uneasy and unsure how to end this thing that hadn`t really started yet.
If we had been hoping for a distraction we were in luck. Our whole year was filed one wet and wild morning up to the primary school hall we usually only visited at dinnertime. The assembly was held by the not often sighted head teacher Mrs. Goldgren. Always struggling to tone down her naturally imperious style she reminded us at great length in her most authoritative public speaking tone as we all sat crossed legged on the heavily varnished hall floor, trying not to feel the wet in our clothes that we which already knew. Stay away from the upper level railings.
You stayed away from the upper level railings because they overlooked the sheer drop down to the school below, everyone said they were not safe and because the view through them whilst oddly thrilling could be equally terrifying and got you screamed at by teachers and friends alike.
At even greater length Mrs. Goldgren went on about the space behind the lower school, the mere mention of which sent more than a few shivers up spines. It was a dim,grey,airless,colourless space with an unusual emptiness. Nothing grew there not even the weeds despite the absence of many feet to trample on them. You didn’t go there because it creeped you out of your skin and the view upwards was as unnerving as the view from above. The impossibly high wall loomed over you oppressively, the railings at the top barely visible.
With a powerfully commanding tone confident of unquestioning certainty Mrs. Goldgren then informed us that there were no rabbits living in the high wall. None Whatsover.It would be an entirely unsuitable and inhospitable environment for such a species, domesticated or wild. There was not now nor had there ever been...
I stared blankly at Clem and she stared back in equal disbelief.
Apparently there was a "Mass Delusion" of rabbits going on that we knew nothing of. If people had been too embarrassed to talk about it openly then how was it a mass delusion we wondered. As we walked to the stairs on the way back a boy in front of us who had been staring at his feet began to stamp down each footstep getting heavier and heavier and louder
"What are you doing!?"
Yelped the boy next to him giving him a shove to stop it
"Do my feet look real!?"
Shouted back the stomping boy
"The rabbits looked as real as my feet"
Which had everybody in a mood of utter puzzlement looking down to study their own feet.
People had been keeping quiet about rabbits for fear of being accused of "imagination”. The silence broken about rabbits meant of course great excitement about rabbits. Everybody who wanted to see them went en masse to the back of the school where primary children had been seeing them from above too. The teachers then spent for ever herding everyone away.
Clemency and myself were glad everything was not about Valeria for a while, but it was then Valeria let us see or developed the habit of appearing to feel superior to her friends. She told them they were imaging rabbits. It was "the power of suggestion" she said smugly. She laughed at them and our dislike deepened. Nevertheless her friends defended her
"You can`t pick on people cos` there foreign!"
They would throw at us
"When did we?"
We would throw back. Valeria never said anything herself. Never said she was foreign. We would be glad if she had. It would explain those strange times when Valeria who had become quite comfortable at her table would sometimes when we had forgotten ourselves forget herself too .She liked to talk. The more comfortable she became with the sound of her own voice and the odder and stranger that voice became.
Words she knew how to pronounce ordinarily became wrong, although still seeming to sound right to her. Mrs. Halisted seemed most taken with Valeria in these moments. It was always obvious she favoured her. She would study her totally absorbed.
We all wondered what they were not telling us about Valeria, was it for our own benefit and how? Was it a condition? Often Valeria`s only real struggle seemed to be within herself. Sometimes she wanted to scare us, her black looks lingered too long, then at other times her better side won out. “But she should`t be able to scare us so much..."Argued Clem
VALERIA available to purchase for Kindle here
Part One is HERE