After I’d buttoned up the blouse I stepped into my tartan skirt and pulled that up my hips, fastening it at the side. Then sat on the edge of my bed to pull on my socks – keeping an eye on the clock as I did. I wanted to be almost late, but not really late. Breakfast was already served but I had no interest in it.

I pulled on my shoes and tied them, then stood up and slipped on my blazer and stepped to the dresser. I ran the brush through my hair and examined myself in the mirror. Everything seemed to be in place. My chestnut hair gleamed glossily, my blouse was clean, my green blazer neatly pressed. The checked tartan skirt was in two shades of green mixed with white, and hung midway to my knees. Below it I wore white socks and black shoes.

I made a face and shook my hair minutely. I didn’t like school uniforms, but I really hadn’t been asked my opinion. It did save time wondering what to wear, of course, but at least in six more months I was done – permanently.

I checked the clock on my nightstand. I was running late – deliberately so, as I said. I would not have time for breakfast, and would have to leave quickly in order to get the bus – well, it was a black SUV, actually, a special one which picked me and a few others up to take to school.

I took a deep breath, then picked up my bag and hurried out the door. I tried to walk softly but it was difficult in these shoes on the wooden floors. I eased down the stairs as lightly as I could, reached the bottom, and headed for the door.

“Wait a minute.”

I froze, and turned towards the dining room, my features blank, heart beginning to beat faster.

“Where you going? No breakfast?”

“I’m late,” I said.

“What?” He glowered.

I felt the tension increase.

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