Takeoffs & Landings

Chapter One: Wright Preston Academy

I hate this part. Takeoff. I'm fine once in the air but landing and takeoff are the worst. So here we go, getting faster and faster until we lift up. My brain is reminding me to calm down but my body just doesn't seem to understand. My hands are gripping so tightly to the arm rests that the muscles in my arms are beginning to hurt.

Finally we're off the ground and just like that my body relaxes. Now I have to wait 2 and half hours until we encounter the dreaded landing. Luckily this is the last plane I will be on for awhile. In the last 36 hours I've been on 4 different planes (including the one I'm on now). You'd think after taking off and landing 6 times in the last 36 hours I would be used to it but no, no, still scared shitless.

So why have I been on 4 planes in 36 hours you ask? Well I'm transferring school. That's simple enough, but why so many journeys? I used to live in Seattle, Washington State and I attended a very nice boarding school in Connecticut. My parents didn't like the idea of me attending a local private school just in case I came home early or something and ruined their plans. So they shipped me across the country hoping that they would only see me when it suited them. Sadly they didn't tell me this part and when I came home early for the holidays they were less than happy to see me. Instead they berated me and made other plans so I spent the holidays alone. This happened for about 2 years then they finally decided I was too close to them and they didn't like my surprise visits. Therefore they put an ocean in-between us. They stay in Seattle and I now stay at a private academy in Scotland. This is their idea of me making a life for myself and becoming independent. Quoted straight from the schools brochure.

Which brings me on to my next point. The school. It is located in the Scottish highlands, isolated from the bustling cities to allow the students to mature away from a busy society. In my opinion this is crap. It is only located in the highlands because the grounds are too big to be located any closer.

Looking at the map that was sent to me in a students starter pack I can clearly see I'm going to get lost countless times. For starters there isn't just one map there are seven!

The seven maps include the layout of the entire school grounds, the first floor of main building were majority of the classrooms are, the second floor of the main building, my dormitory house, the art block, the back playing pitches which is connected to the loch (yes the school has their very own loch!), and finally the horse paddock and front pitches.

The school is huge.

From what I can see it is also very big on sports, which is bound to be my downfall. I'm not very sporty. I like sports but never really took a keen interest in them to take it seriously.

Other than the maps in the starter pack there is an option list of which sports I want to take. I have to pick 6. Seems simple enough yes, but then there is the list below. The sports which I have to choose from are: aerobics, archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, canoeing, cross-country running, dance, fencing, fishing, fitness, golf, gymnastics, hockey, horse riding, lacrosse, netball, polo, rowing, rugby, sailing, shooting, squash, swimming, tennis, volleyball, water polo and yoga. As if the list couldn't get any longer!

I probably should have filled these forms in already but I wanted something to do on the flight. I'm arriving a week before the term starts so I can get acquainted with the school and they can get my schedule in order.

Anyway, back to the list. Well there is no way in hell I'm taking anything too physical. I bruise like a peach. So that narrows it down a bit. I'm also scared of horses so that ticks another two off the list. In the end I write down my six choices at the bottom, which are athletics, cross-country running, hockey, lacrosse, sailing and tennis.

With that done I move on to the rest of forms in the pack. First off we start with an identification form. Nice and easy.

Name: Riley Walters

Age: 16

Year: Lower 6 (what ever that means I have no idea)

Sex: Female

Date of Birth: 21/03/91

Student ID No: 103260

Dormitory Name: Richmond East House

Dormitory Room No: 216

Dietary Requirements: N/A

Medical Conditions: N/A

Nationality: American & British

First Language: English

Alternate Languages: Chinese (Mandarin), French, Spanish, German and Italian.

The rest of the form has already been filled in. It's all about my parents contact details and what they wish to happen if there is an emergency. It turns out that if there is an emergency then the school is to contact the family lawyer. Could my parents care any less about me?

The rest of the journey I spend catching up on the summer reading I should have already done. I was told 4 days ago that I had been transferred and that I would be moving. Therefore I had to very quickly get a jump-start on the reading list for my classes as I refuse to fall behind before the term has even started.

The pilot has put the seatbelt sign on and the plane is about to land. I knew this moment was coming and a braced myself for it but it still didn't help. I'm absolutely terrified.

With a sudden jolt we hit the runway and the brakes are thrown into action. My eyes are shut tightly just praying that we didn't overshoot it and crash. God was apparently on my side as we didn't and we came slowly to a stop before the pilot drove the plane round to the terminal building.

So I've touched down in Edinburgh Airport. Now all that's left is a 4-hour car drive to the place that is going to be my home for the remainder of the year.

After going through baggage claim I walk out into the main terminal area. There is supposed to be a driver here to pick me up and take me to the school. As I'm only 16 I can't drive yet in the UK, which pretty much sucks. That's one thing I'm definitely going to miss, my car.

Eventually the driver makes his presence known and he leads me towards a car parked on a double yellow line right out side the terminal building. He puts my bags in the trunk whilst I get in the black car before me. Soon enough were off and are driving away from the city. This disappointed me. I was sort of hoping we would need to drive through the city so I could at least get one last look at civilisation before I'm shipped off.

With no such luck I decide the best thing for myself is to sleep. It is already 11:37pm and I'm beat. I will be arriving at school at the early hours in the morning so the best thing for me to do now is to get a good rest.

The driver telling me that we've arrived awakes me. Oh whoopee we're finally here, to my new home! Sense the sarcasm. As you could probably tell I'm not very happy when I wake up. The driver is looking at me with a terrified expression on his face then I realise that I've given him my death glare that usually appears when I've just woken up. Poor guy, having to drive all through the night then has to wake up some one who looks like she is going to kill him.

I quickly get up and out the vehicle. Stretching as I get out the car I look around to see a massive building in front of me. It looks like and old Georgian Castle/Mansion. With my eyes adjusting to the darkness around me I notice the driver is unloading my bags and a few other gentlemen are carrying them away into the darkness off to my right. I frown at them in confusion as they walk away. The next thing I know a man has walked down the stairs in front of me and is giving me his warm welcome.

"Good morning." sorry is this guy kidding it's 4:26am and I should be sleeping, how exactly is this a good morning. " My name is Dr Rosenberg and I would like to welcome you to Wright Preston Academy. My job at the school is to make the students feel at home and make their stay enjoyable." Well if that's the case let me go sleep. " I can see that your luggage has already been taken to your dormitory so I will get someone to accompany you there too…" finally he's letting me go! "…But before that…" Oh come on! Is he kidding? I'm tired! Great now I sound like a petulant child whining. "…I just wanted to let you know that you will be woken at 7:30am as breakfast will be served at 8:15. After breakfast you will be given a tour of the grounds and then sent to the administrations office for your identification card and we will take in your forms. At 12:30 lunch will be served then you have the afternoon to spend with your roommate to become acquainted and finally dinner will be served at 7:45pm. I hope you enjoy your time here and if there are any problems just come find me."

With that he gestured for a gentlemen to accompany me to my dorm. Dr Rosenberg gave the man the key then we were off, me following a complete stranger into the darkness.

On arrival at the dormitory the gentleman escorting me here handed me the key and told me to go in, go straight along the corridor and take the second right, somewhere along that corridor my dorm is situated.

So off I set into the building. Once through the doors I was blasted with heat, thank the Lord because it was freezing outside. I slowly made my way through the halls looking at the different posters and banners on the walls. Eventually I found my dorm but I was too nervous to open the door.

This would be it. Once I open the door there is no going back. Okay well that's a bit of an exaggeration. That saying was technically true the minute I stepped on to the first plane.

I must have stood there for about 10 minutes mentally debating whether I should open the door or not. Logic told me I should so I put the key in, turned the lock and entered. It was pitch black. I had no idea where anything was and then I remembered that I'm not the only one in this dorm.

Somewhere in the darkness was my roommate. I could here shallow breathing coming from my right so I assumed she was over that way. My eyes took a couple of minutes to adjust then I started to see shapes form around me.

The room was pretty big. I could make out 2 double beds, one on the right with my roommate in it and the other on the left which I take to be mine, there was a desk and chair at each side of the room, a next to both of our beds there were doors, I assumed these were the walk in closets, and finally a door on the side wall with my desk near it which has to be the bathroom.

As quietly as possible I made my way over to my bed. Before I had a chance to reach it properly I tripped over something and went headfirst into the bedside table. There was a big crash and I swore as my head collided with the wood.

The next thing I felt was something warm running down my head onto my face and the room being suddenly lit up by an unknown source. I was on the floor with what I could now see to be blood dripping down on to my jumper and hands.

"Oh my god are you alright?" I looked up to see a girl dressed in pyjamas standing at the edge of my bed, right were I was standing before I fell, and at her feet were my bags. So that's what I fell over.

Before I had a chance to answer she ran into the bathroom and came back with a towel in her hand. She leant before me and quickly handed it to me.

"Here use this to stop the blood. I'll call the nurse to get you some help." So as I took the towel, my roommate picked the phone up off my desk and began dialling.

The phone conversation lasted about 3 minutes with her telling whoever was on the phone what had happened and that I was bleeding profusely. Eventually they sent someone over to help me. So here I was sitting on my bedroom floor with blood all over me and my roommate looking sympathetically at me.

"Oh by the way I'm Casey Atkinson your roommate." She smiled at me from the desk. She seemed harmless enough.

"Hi, I'm Riley Walters." I smiled back but I must have looked terrifying because I still had blood all over me.

"The Dr said that he would be here in a few minutes to take a look at your head. From the amount of bleeding I think you might need stitches." I nodded then realised I probably shouldn't have as the towel moved against my cut. I flinched and so did Casey. She probably realised why that hurt.

"So how exactly did you fall?" she asked in a quiet voice as though she was worried asking me might harm me.

"I tripped over the bags and hit my head against the side table." I said whilst motioning with my free hand the table behind me. She nodded then the door opened and we both looked over to see who entered.

A guy who looked old enough to be my great grandfather walked in and looked around as though he was surveying the room. Eventually he looked down at me and moved forward to the floor.

"Can you sit up on this chair dear so I might be able to get a better look at your head?" He asked whilst pulling the chair next to Casey in front of me. I slowly got up and sat down. He pried my hands off the towel and moved it away. Then he brushed my hair out the way to get a good look at it.

"Ah yes, just what I suspected you'll need stitches. Casey can you get my bag please." When Casey tried to hand it to him he shook his head and asked her to fetch him the needle and stitching thread from within.

Suddenly my heart was crashing against my chest. He was going to give me stitches here and it didn't look like he was going to give me anything to ease the pain. After Casey handed it to him he threaded them together and told me that it might hurt a little. Before I knew what had happened I was on the floor again.

I woke up at 7:06am with a splitting headache I put my hand on the side of my head and flinched as I realised that it wasn't a headache that was causing this pain. Instead it was the cut I had received last night after toppling to the ground. The bathroom door opened and Casey walked out and smiled as she saw me awake.

"Morning." She chimed

"Yeah morning" I said whilst taking in the room. It was a lot nicer than I remember it being last night. Then again I was distracted.

"How did I end up in bed? The last thing I remember was some creepy old guy coming at me with a needle" Apparently what I said was funning because Casey began to laugh.

"That creepy old man was Dr Valley. He was going to give you stitches for your cut but before he was anywhere near you, you fainted onto the floor giving yourself a lovely bruise on the other side of your head."

"Oh, right" she laughed again. I got out the bed and headed for my bags on the floor that were no longer there. She noted my confusion and indicated that they were in the closet behind me.

"You should probably take a shower before coming down to breakfast." At first I thought she was being rude but as I walked towards the closet I spotted myself in the mirror and was horrified by what I saw.

I was covered in blood. My hands, face, hair, clothes were all stained dark red. My hair had matted in some places due to it. How had I not noticed this? I nodded weakly and took out my toiletry bag; towel and a fresh set of clothes then headed for the shower.

The warm water seeped over me and turned red as it ran down the drain. After what felt like ages I emerged from the shower and quickly got dressed. I noticed a hairdryer on the bathroom unit and asked Casey if I could use it. She said yes and I began to think that she wasn't a half bad roommate. Granted we hadn't really said anything but she was very helpful last night after I woke her up and she hasn't shown any sign of resentment for that.

After blow-drying my hair I entered our room and put my belongings away in the closet. Casey sat at the end of her bed with her laptop, she was typing furiously but the expression on her face was calm.

"So do you want to go to breakfast?" She asked me kindly. I nodded apprehensively.

She obviously noticed that because she slowly rose and then turned to me.

"If you want to wait longer or if you don't want to go just say. I really won't mind."

"No it's okay. Lets go" She smiled again.

"By the way it gets easier," she said whilst walking down the hall "being new and everything. Eventually you will get so used to this routine you will be sick of it and if it's your cut that your worried people looking at then you really shouldn't because it's not that noticeable." I smiled at her. She was trying her best to comfort me. To be honest I was terrified. Everyone looks at the new student and I find it really difficult to handle people staring.

We were about to enter the dormitory dinning hall. I was petrified. Some people were staring as we made our way through the corridors, which didn't help matters. To add to the fun as two girls walked away from us one of them commented on the cut across the top of my forehead. That's just what I needed.

As we entered every one of the girls turned to look our way, just like I thought. Casey then whispered to me.

"It's okay. They are just sizing you up. Come on lets get some food and then we'll sit with my friends. Okay?" I just nodded.

This is just like being back on that plane. The takeoff is scary. I have no idea what's to come. I never know if I'm going to make it off the runway or not. Just like I don't know if how these people are going to treat me. Maybe once we're off the ground things will be okay. Once the beginning is over it might be all right. But then again the landing always ruins it. How's it going to end? Am I going to make it through the journey only to crash and burn at the end? We'll have to wait and see.

So what do you think of the first chapter? No matter what your opinion is please tell me so I can see if it's worth continuing or not. Thanks.