Eight inches of Water
I was eight went they sent me away.
The two-hour drive to the South of London felt like a trip to a funeral. I had no idea what a boarding school entailed, but fear of the unknown got the better of me.
“Take me home” I snivelled on approach.
I remember the trip a month earlier for the interview. Deep in the heart of Hampshire, we approach the school up the long driveway. An Old English Sheepdog came to greet us. He had no idea he served as an icebreaker.
The headmaster welcomed us into the study.
“How do you spell Wednesday?” was the single question that sealed my fate. I soon discovered this was a lose-lose affair as I timidly responded “W-E-N-S-D-A-Y?”
“Not quite” he said, proceeding into the correct spelling.
“Welcome to Highfield” he beamed while shaking my limp hand. All I could hear was a mocking hiss.
That year England suffered from a heat wave like never before. The water taps all had little “Save Water Now” stickers on them. The bathroom had two rows of baths neatly lined up. The matron stood ominously with a ruler in her hand as we poured our baths.
“Eight inches! No more than eight inches” she quipped as she went around the baths measuring the water height with our puny naked frames immersed.
A week into the school term I got, delivered from home, a package. I hurried up the massive stairs to the dormitory and sat on my wire frame bed with two-inch mattress. Ripping open the package, out emerged a long red velvet box of chocolates. I remembered the day before, one of the prefects confiscated a Cadbury Flake from a friend before tucking him in and slipping his hand down the boy’s pajama bottoms. I hid the box in my sweater and ran down the stairs, out the entrance, across a whopping great field, and into the woods. I dug a hole with my tiny hands and buried the box. The woods were littered with prickly green conker and chestnut shells. I gathered a few sturdy looking conkers and snuck back into school. I was sure I had a winner.
We played conkers every chance we could. By the end of the day I was proud to have an elevener in my possession before it being obliviated by a twoer.
I was looking forward to our first Exeat. I was slated to stay in school as most of the other boarders went home for the weekend.
The rain had finally made an appearance the night before and I trotted merrily into the woods to dig up my chocolates. I found the box scratched to pieces with nibbled out fondants.
“I hate this school” I whimpered as I trundled back in the rain.
At the end of term I begged my parents to not send me away again. They put me into day school near home in London. I would not return to boarding school again until I was thirteen. Those five years that carried me through to university were the best years of my life.
I turned towards my buddy. He made a twisting moti ...
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