On my bed lie all of my school books, my new wand, and my school uniform for my last year at Goldrose. Mum has clearly brought it all home from work. This made my life a hell of a lot easier. Our house in Brunswick is a strange one – built in 1902 – it is a double storey white wood, however, not the kind of double storey that the Wilted are used to. The first level is actually underground, and the second level is the level on which the front door is on; the level our bedrooms are on. It’s so that when we have parties and guests over – we can all go up to the third storey – the storey the Wilted can’t see – the storey that only bloomers and rooks can see – because it’s magical and so are we. It’s kind of like having a rooftop party, with fairylights, and candles, and music, and dancing, and food, and laughter. However, if you were Wilted and stood in our street on the road, and looked up at our roof – all you would see is our roof – and not the rooftop party that would be in full swing! You wouldn’t hear the talking or the laughter, the singing, or the slurring of words because someone has drank too much cinnamon ale. You would not have the faintest idea there even was a party on the roof of Hibiscus Terrace. The only people who would know are those who have been invited. And the only people to be invited are the ones from our realm, our world – the magical world.
I bound down the stairs and go into the kitchen where Mum is cooking dinner and our cats Farley and Briar and sitting on the benchtop, licking the bolognaise sauce that has splattered out of it’s stainless steel pot from off the stove and onto the granite benchtop. They clearly think they are having pasta for dinner.
“Thanks for all the school stuff.” I say, sitting down in a kitchen chair, and scrunching my legs up and inward, and wrapping my arms around them.
“That’s ok. I figured it would be easier. Besides Zinnia and I have enough people to serve without having to worry about you gnattering away in the background.” Mum is joking.
“I hope you gave yourself a good price for all of it.” I joke.
“I did. I did.” She says, scooping pasta into two dishes and then pouring bolognaise sauce over both serves. She places mine in front of me with a fork, and then sits down to my left.
“Oh shit. I forgot the parmesan. Parmesan.” Mum says, and the parmesan cheese comes whizzing out of the fridge and lands on the table and nearly rolls off the edge, but I catch it in time.
We get through dinner uneventfully, and the kitchen cleans itself with a wave of Mum’s wand, before I go into the bathroom to take a bath. I can’t imagine what the Wilted have to go through having to scrub each bowl and dish and plate. That would be so depressing. Not to mention, the time it would take. It would take longer to clean the dishes than to actually eat dinner, I think.
I lay in our black and gold claw-foot bath contemplating my first day of year twelve which will begin in the morning. I’ll have to get out of bed at seven. Catch the train at eight, and be on time for homegroup at eight thirty. How depressing. Sleeping in will now become a distant memory.
I get out of bed and put on clean undies and a bra. I locate the bundles of socks in the mountain of cloth called uniform. I rip the cardboard from my pink and black socks, the clear little tags flying everywhere, as they always do, and put them on. I pull on my pink school skirt and zip it up. I pull on my white blouse and button it up, and then tuck it into my skirt. My black and pink velvet-trimmed blazer goes on over my black wollen-knit jumper and blouse and skirt, and I choke myself with my disgusting black and pink tie that we all hate wearing. I get a text message from Raina: “I’m on my way. xx”
I throw all of my school supplies into my school bag – which fits everything in perfectly. I charm it with a weight spell, so that it isn’t heavy when I wear it, because without applying a weight spell to it – it weighs a tonne! Cauldrons, and my broom for PE, and textbooks, and potion sets, my pencil case, and everything else. The list is endless. I bound downstairs with my backpack, skipping breakfast, scratching Farley and Briar in between their ears quickly, and then run back upstairs and slam the front door closed behind me.
I catch the train from Brunswick Station to Flinders Street Station, and then get off there, and wind my way through the small alleys and lanes in the city until I arrive at the entrance to The Royal Arcade. “Peach Blossom Lane”, I mutter under my breath, and The Royal Arcade transforms itself for the one hundredth time, before me, becoming Peach Blossom Lane – which is how we at Goldrose all get to school. Raina slaps me hard across the head, and I turn around and slap her back.
“Oi!” She whines, following me down Peach Blossom Lane, where hoards of girls walk in groups with their friends, and year sevens are supervised by overbearing, over-protective mothers, with well-manicured fingernails, pearls around their necks, and woven suits that look like they cost a small country.
“You hit me first.” I say, poking out my tongue.
“What have we got first period?”
“Umm, I think Global Magic, ” I say, pulling out my diary and looking at my timetable pasted to the first page inside.
“Ugh – I hate Global. I’m really not interested in how other countries do things.” Raina says, annoyed.
“I like Global. I think it’s interesting. Other countries do things so differently to us, and that’s wonderful.” I say, all chipper.
“You are far too happy this morning.” Raina complains.
“I’m this happy every morning.” I say, whacking her over the head with my diary.
“I’m dying for a coffee.” Raina says, referring to the Turkish coffee we drink every morning in Homegroup. We all have one to two cups each, taking it in turns to spend the next twenty minutes reading all of our cups. Sometimes the readings we get from eachother don’t apply to us at all. Sometimes they apply to the Wilted world. And in those cases, that’s when the teacher who is taking us for homegroup has to report our findings to the Wilted media.
As it is, we have Miss Graveberry for homegroup this morning, because we have her for Global, Period One, that is, Global Magic, which is a subject that teaches us about how rooks and bloomers worldwide live and do things.
Raina and I and our seventy fellow year twelve classmates all swarm the year twelve corridor and pack our belongings into our five foot high metal lockers. I shove my broom in first – I don’t think I have PE until wednesday. I pile all my textbooks and writing books in a neat row on the top and middle shelf, and my pencil case, diary, potions set, teamug, teaspoon, bark-cutter, my glasses and gloves for flying, on the third shelf. I throw my grassboots on top of my school bag at the bottom of the locker and slam the door closed, locking it with a personal lock charm, by saying Deramente and pointing my wand at the lock. I shove my wand into my skirt pocket and hang out with Raina, waiting for the bell for homegroup.
“So, as I was saying, we have Global Period one, Goverment Period Two, Wandart Period Three, Potions Period Four, Spells Period Five, and Cardsight Period Six…” Raina says.
“Thank goodness for that!” I say.
“Thank goodness they stopped teaching maths and english in year ten. We aren’t stupid. We know how to write.”
“It’s such a wilted subject. I mean, the wilted, they don’t need to know all this important stuff, do they?”
“No. But that’s a good and a bad thing. They probably don’t have to stand in the pouring rain cutting bark off trees, or fly in the pouring rain.”
“They don’t fly period.”
“True that. How boring. I can’t imagine how boring a game of soccer and netball would be without brooms. I couldn’t think of anything worse actually.”
“Toddler stuff. That’s what they make us do in kinder isn’t it?”
“We aren’t four anymore.” Raina rolls her eyes.
“Don’t get me wrong. They have cool stuff. Like shops and cafes, and clothes. But the way they do things is so weird.”
“I know. So weird. Who the hell cooks and then washes their dishes? Or washes the car? Or washes the dog? Or the toilet? I hear they wear gloves and scrub their toilets with their hands. It’s just so gross. Thank goodness we will never have to do that.”
The school bell sounds and we all open our lockers to pull out our teamugs and teaspoons. A chorus of slamming locker-doors is then heard.
“Good morning ladies,” Miss Graveberry says, sitting in her beanbag, with her mug of coffee on the floor beside her. We all pull up a bean-bag or a cushion to sit down in a large circle. I seriously think homegroup is my favourite part of the whole day. It’s a great chance for us all to unwind, and relax before the studying begins.
“Welcome to your first homegroup together for 2017. This is your first day of your last year and I have known some of you since you were babies. I’m not going to cry. But I will be feeling sentimental every now and then so don’t laugh at me okay? Everyone place your mug on the floor so I can fill them all.” We all put our mugs on the floor, Miss Graveberry shouts TEEPOREE, and our mugs are filled with either tea or turkish coffee depending on the reading we each want to do. We have long since stopped being surprised by how her spell knows what we want. Raina and I sip our turkish coffees and chat to two other girls – Sage and Begonia – who will be our reading partners for the morning. Sage and I drag our cushions over to a corner by the window and sit back down again.
“Where did you go for your christmas holidays? We just got back from Tasmania. Have you been?” Sage asks, her cheeks cherub ruby in colour, her eyes excited; a glistening-ocean blue, and her blonde curls smothering her face, as she gushes about her family holiday.
“Mum and I didn’t go anywhere. We stayed in Melbourne with the family.” I say.
“You Goldroses are so boring. Live a little!” Sage swats my hand playfully.
“We do, don’t worry. You know how it is. Grandpa Thistlethorn is getting on you know; too old to be flying where he wants to be flying.”
“Oh fair enough. Yeah I understand. My grandparents, well… they’re not my great grandparents, so I guess it doesn’t count. Never mind.”
“Yeah. Not many people still have their great grandparents. It’s amazing to have them. I’m pretty blessed with that.” I say.
“Yeah. You are. Have you finished your coffee?” She asks.
“Yep. Wanna start?” I ask, tipping my cup upside down and placing it on my saucer, and then tap it with my wand so the dregs of the coffee sets and sticks to the porcelain for a good read. Sage takes my cup from me and stares hard into it.
“Hmm. This is very interesting actually. For starters – it says you are going to fail three out of eleven classes…”
“Really? Oh my Goodness – my mum is going to kill me. Does it say why?” I ask.
“No, it doesn’t. There is no indication here… it shows a massive upheaval of some sort concerning you. Upheaval. I don’t know what, or like what kind. Maybe you’ll move houses? Or move countries?”
“I doubt it. Mum won’t move anywhere.” I laugh.
“And it’s not just you. It concerns the whole Goldrose family… that’s pretty bad. It could impact on our school.”
“I hope not. I doubt it. What else?” I ask, annoyed.
“The Goldrose and Meridian Ball will be sabotaged.”
“What? In what way? By who?”
“It doesn’t say. It just says things at the ball won’t run smoothly, and there will be many headaches, and issues that arise on the night.”
“Okay, go on…”
“The door to our world will disappear… oh my Goodness – what the hell does that mean? What door? The door to Peach Blossom Lane? I really hope not. Or the door to Dark Forest Cove?”
“That’s really odd. We’ve been reading our coffee for years now. I’m pretty sure someone else’s coffee or tea would show that my coffee shows this now. Don’t you think that would be the case?” I ask.
“It would be. And maybe it has. Maybe the teachers already know. And maybe they just haven’t said anything. Maybe they know, and they just don’t want to scare us…” Sage says.
“If the door to Peach Blossom Lane or Dark Forest Cove disappeared I’m pretty sure my great-grandparents, or my mum, or my aunty could just create a new door.” I say, thinking logically.
“Oh yeah. You are totally right. Of course they could. I am worrying for nothing. Phew.” Sage exhales loudly.
“Okay, is that all?” I ask.
“Yep. That’s it. Can you read mine?”
“I can.” I take her cup from her and turn it around in my hand, looking for a good starting point.
“You’re going to drop out of school…” I say, quite frankly.
“What? As if!” She rolls her eyes.
“That’s what it says. I promise. Because you are going to be emotionally scarred by something you see…”
“I am not talking about something trivial either. It’s going to be something huge. That affects a lot of people… you are going to be stuck somewhere… you will be alone… and then someone will find you… you will be helped by someone who is Wilted…”
“Really? Ugh. I can’t see that happening anytime soon, but okay. Go on…”
“That’s all it shows.” I say, handing her cup back to her.
“Hmm. Okay. All of that stuff is really freaky. I wonder how interrelated it all is. I wonder what things other people got?” Sage says.
“Yeah, me too. Let’s go back to Raina and Begonia and see what they read.” I say, picking up my cushion and returning to the spot on the carpet I was in before.
The school bell sounds and Miss Graveberry disappears right before our very eyes. We aren’t surprised. She’s just rushing off to the next classroom where we will have Global Magic.
“What do you have now?” I ask Sage and Begonia.
“Treesight.” They say together.
“Good luck. I don’t know what’s worse – Treesight or Global.” I say, winking at them before leaving the room with Raina. We go to our lockers and put our mugs back where they belong. We pull out our pencil cases, Global textbook and writing book, and diary, and slam the doors closed again.
“Sage told me some really freaky stuff.” I say to Raina, who is leading the way to Building Two.
“Like I’m going to fail three classes, and there will be a big upheaval in our family, and the Goldrose-Meridian Ball will be sabotaged in some way. The worst part of it was how the door to our realm is going to disappear…”
“Really? As if! That will never happen! None of it! Besides, I am sure there have been glitches with the door before, both doors, and Grandpa Thistlethorn has just fixed it.” Raina says, chewing on a chewy lolly.
“Yeah. Loads. In the 1920s. Mum told me.”
“My mum never told me.” I say.
“Being a teacher, she knows this stuff. She researches, you know.”
“Yeah fair enough. All my mum has to worry about is making sure she has enough school supplies in stock four times a year.” I laugh.
“Wanna hear what Begonia said?”
“Goldrose and Meridian will be involved in international conferences regarding global magical education. That’s pretty cool huh?”
“Is that all?”
“Also, that I will have a birthday.”
“All of us are going to have birthdays this year.” I roll my eyes.
“Yeah, that’s true. Well, that’s pretty boring then.”
“Did she say anything like, either of us is going to get a car, or we will get awesome grades, or some hot guy from Meridian will ask us out? Anything like that?” I ask, partially-sarcastic.
“Nope! I wish.” Raina laughs.
“Well, that’s a shame. How was your coffee anyway? Mine was so good.”
“Turkish Coffee is always good.” Raina smiles, flinging the door open to the classroom where we will have Global.
We sit in the row at the back of the classroom, and a few other girls from other houses sit down around us. Miss Graveberry is not at her desk, which I think is a bit odd seeing as she left homegroup way before we did.
“Where’s Miss Graveberry?” I look at Raina.
“I dunno. I thought she would be here by now.”
“Yeah. She should be. She left homegroup pretty quickly.” I say.
“Wish we could just disappear like that, and rock up to our next class instantly.”
“The teachers are so lucky. With their priveleges and everything…”
“Yeah. Mum boasts to me all the time. I hate her.” Raina says.
“Speak of the devil.” I say, as Aunty Alyssum Goldrose enters the room in Wilted fashion.
“Mum?” Raina is surprised to see her mum standing at the front of the classroom.
“It’s Mrs Goldrose to you Raina.” Aunty Alyssum is serious. Oops.
“Why are you here?” Raina blurts out.
“Everyone, can I have your attention please? Miss Graveberry fell ill and asked me to take this class. Seeing as I’m not a Global Magic teacher and I have no idea what I’m doing, I’m just going to wing it, and see what happens. So, I think the best way to start today is to pull out the textbook. For the exchange students – I’ll write the title of it on the board for you.” Aunty Alyssum says, and with her wand writes the words: Bloomers and Rooks Worldwide. Raina and I lift the heavy text book up onto the desk in front of us, and turn the pages to Chapter One: Introduction to bloomers and rooks all over the world and how this book will help year twelves gain an insight into the lives of their international peers.
“Who would like to start reading?” Aunty Alyssum asks the room. No one volunteers.
“Raina – perhaps you would like to read the introductory chapter?” Her mum asks her.
“Are you kidding me?” Raina says, rolling her eyes.
“I am definitely not kidding. Start reading please.” Aunty Alyssum is scary.
“Okay.” Raina clears her throat, pulls her chewing gum out of her mouth and sticks it to the corner of her diary cover.
“Throw that in the bin!” Aunty Alyssum is pissed off.
“Mum! I mean, Mrs Goldrose. I just started chewing it! What a waste!” Raina guides her chewing gum into the bin by the door with her wand.
“Raina. You know the rules. No chewing gum at school. Back to the reading please.”
“Chapter One: An Introduction by Brimley Moltenwood. For hundred of thousands of years bloomers and rooks have inhabited the magical world we all know as our realm. Although we all live in different countries, and speak many languages, it is very easy to become conditioned to only what we know – and that is Melbourne, and the lifestyle it offers. What we ought to be more familiar with however is the way in which other communities around the world, live, learn, work, and behave on a daily basis. Many bloomers and rooks overseas have their own currency, for example, whilst our two magical schools in Melbourne – The Goldrose School for Girls, located above Peach Blossom Lane, and The Meridian School for Boys, located above The State Library in Melbourne, use monies identical to the currency set by the Australian Wilted government – that of the dollar. We have our own government, however ten years ago, they felt it wise to use Wilted money instead of bloomer-rook money, with the introduction of the internet and online shopping. Many bloomer-rook communities could not shop online when the Wilted communities could, because the magical currency, the strom, which came in notes and coins, and the fen, which was available as coins only, were not recognised by Wilted governments. This brings us to our current day when we have adopted the Australian dollar and the cent, with the ten cent piece being the smallest coin, the fifty cent piece being the largest coin, the ten dollar note the smallest note, and the five hundred dollar note being the largest of the notes. In this book we will cover the lifestyles and ways of forty different countries. I hope you enjoy gaining a very useful insight into our international counterparts’ cultures, customs, and habits. Yours Kindly, Mr Brimley Moltenwood.” Raina finishes reading and looks up at her Mum.
“Wonderful reading. Thank you for that Raina. Now, who would like to start reading Chapter One?” Aunty Alyssum looks around the room. Nobody volunteers. We all hate reading aloud. Things are so much easier when we read to ourselves, on this we all agree.
“Saffra Goldrose. You can!” Of course she has chosen me. It seems to be target-the-family-day today.