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Chapter Nine

“Miss Caddel, explain to me if you can, what on God’s green Earth you’re doing out at this time at night.”

Harper shifted her feet from left to right, “ I was just, erm…Sleepwalking!” She said loudly, excited by her lightbulb moment.

“Is that why you’re wearing shoes and clothes instead of pyjamas,” Mrs Neathway replied coolly.

Harper cursed. She knew that she was done for. Mrs Neathway grinned and took a step forward. She leaned in towards Harper so close that she could smell the dorm-mistress’ foul breath.

“Detention, Miss Caddel, come see me tomorrow for your assignment. I shall also be contacting your Father, I’m sure he’ll be very interested in knowing that you’ve left school without his permission.” Mrs Neathway said, she leant back, and with a self-satisfied smirk, she pushed past Harper and disappeared into the darkness.

Harper snorted, her dad wouldn’t care if she’d left school. If Mrs Neathway was under the impression that she’d just handed out a punishment she had another thing coming. Harper smiled before turning and walking up to the bathroom door. She tapped it lightly.

“Lois you can come out now,” she whispered through the crack in the door.

The door burst open and Harper found herself smothered in Lois’s hair.

“Oh my God! Did you get in trouble? Are they going to expel you?” Lois asked with panic in her voice.

Harper peeled Lois’s arms from around her next and gently pushed her away. Once she had regained the ability to speak she smiled reassuringly at Lois.

“Relax, I just go a detention,” she told her, “And be quiet,” she added when Lois started to apologise for hiding. Once Lois fell silent the two of them sneaked upstairs to bed.

The next day, Harper headed over to the main building to complete her detention. That morning, Harper had discovered that at Crow Creek detentions included a lot more work than in most schools. Mrs Neathway had told Harper that she was to clean the school kitchens and the bathrooms in the main building and that she wasn’t allowed to stop until she could see her face in the basins. Harper was glad that she didn’t have anything exciting planned for that day, as the detention was going to take up the entire day. Harper didn’t even know it was legal to make her work on a Sunday, back in Texas ‘detention’ meant staying an hour after school to chat with your friends while the teacher at the front of the detention hall slept or completed a crossword.

What made it worse was the orange sash that she had to wear. It marked her out as a detentionee and made her look totally stupid. Sniggers followed Harper as she walked; obviously the plan to publically humiliate the person wearing the sash was working. Harper picked up her pace in an effort to avoid the laughter, but she could still hear it when she entered the building, Harper couldn’t tell if it was in her imagination or if the school had very bad sound proofing.

Luckily, Harper wasn’t the only one in an orange sash. A group of seven students stood in the lobby; they all had a pair of marigolds and a sponge in the hands. Harper joined them in the centre of the room and picked out her own pair of gloves and a sponge.

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