A Future Somewhere

Chapter 1

Thursday 1st November

It was Glinda’s idea to cheat in the scholarship exams for Cavies. We both knew I wasn’t getting in any other way. I’m average in class, rubbish at sport, and I can’t play a musical instrument for shit. So when Glin told me about a free ticket to one of the best schools in the country, I didn’t think twice about cheating me a place. I was ready to be someone, get out of that skanky house in that skanky town, away from Mum, away from Charlie, away from everything.

Where I’m from, there isn’t much emphasis on putting others before yourself, there isn’t much emphasis on anything. When I realised I could trick my way into a posh private school, I went for it. And so here I am, the academic scholar at one of the best boarding schools in the UK. The irony is that I hate this place. I hate these silver-spoon-in-mouth kids who welly-wangle at weekends and have a horse for polo. I hate the pitch-black countryside nights. I hate it all.

What you should know straight away, is that time-travel’s over-rated. In my experience, it’s mostly bad headaches and confusion. I’m so focused on getting to the end of each day that the rest of the stuff that should matter, like morals and all that, just gets chucked out the window. And of course, keeping on top of the work is exhausting. I can’t use time-travel every time I get stuck in class or there’s a test. Instead, I keep my head down and study. I get up at 5.30am to pre-read and post-read my course notes. I revise until my brain is fried, and then I rest for twenty minutes and revise some more. I suppose it makes a change being known as the swotty girl and not the slutty one.

There are a thousand things to be doing at Cavies, but all I do is study. I don’t have any friends here, not really, and I deleted all my social media. I didn’t want to know what my mates from home were up to. The constant stream of clubs and pubs and smiley faces was getting me down. The internet became this miserable montage of parties and drinks and nights at the park, that I wasn’t invited to. Snapshot upon snapshot of other people having a better time than me. I figured if my old friends wanted to keep in touch, they had my number, they’d message me. Only they didn’t, Charlie didn’t.

I don’t blame Charlie for moving on. Not really. Somehow over the last six months he’s turning things around and “making it.” It was easier when he was just a loser, busting loud, angry hip-hop from his flat, but now his DJ-ing is going somewhere. I don’t know what to make of him anymore.

He used to do a bit of dealing, nothing too serious, mostly weed. But in all the years I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him drunk or high. One day, I asked him why he never did the stuff he dealt. He tilted his head, flashed his teeth in one of his grins, and said, “Darling, I’ve seen too many people messed up on that shit.”

Now, somehow, he’s got himself a manager, and he’s doing some big club nights in London. He hangs out in Shoreditch with the reality TV stars and pop singers from gossip magazines. If you knew him like I do, you’d think it’s ridiculous.

When I left Leyton, I told Charlie that I thought we should stop seeing each other. I’d hoped he’d put up a fight, or declare his undying love for me. Instead, his face took on this strange mix of relief and excitement. Then he put his arms around me, told me he respected my wishes, and asked for a hand job.

Apart from the horrible ex-boyfriend and my lack of friends, the real icing on the self-pity cake are my rubbish grades. It’s a condition of my scholarship that I keep my classwork and course marks to a high standard. But in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m no Einstein, and my marks are crap.

Every week I have to see Mr. Simmonds, my tutor and head of pastoral care. The first few sessions were tricky. I’d been put off by his abundance of friendship bracelets and an ill-advised necklace that looked like he bought it on a gap year.

“I know it’s not all Harry Potter.” He smiled, running his fingers through his shaggy hair. “You need time to adjust. We offer a unique environment at Cavies, and we completely understand that at first you might find it overwhelming. But you’ll find your feet! You’re an incredibly bright girl—you won an academic scholarship—quite a feat!”

But of course, I’m not incredibly bright. I’m very average with a bad habit of going back in time. I spend hours every evening reading back on class notes, preparing for lessons, doing extra homework, but still, my marks are in the lower 40% of the class. I’m terrified I’m going to lose this stupid scholarship and I’ll have to go back and be who I was before I came here. Only I don’t know how to be her anymore.

But I can’t, I can’t go back that far, and I can’t get in that mess again. You see, last night something bad happened, something really bad. I killed someone. I killed this boy called Evan.

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