Scarlett McPherson sighed and cocked her head to one side as she stared at the reflection looking back at her in the full length mirror. Her worn and faded school uniform hung off her thin frame and her long blonde hair hung loosely at her shoulders.
It was a Monday morning, the worst part of any week. Her white polo shirt collar stuck out from beneath her regulated black sweatshirt with the school logo on. Her knee-length black skirt flared at her knees revealing her long legs. She ran her old hairbrush through her soft blonde hair and replaced it on the chipped dresser.
She looked round at the mustard walls, a colour chosen by the previous occupant, and sighed once again. Ever since she moved here she had tried to work out why anyone would want to paint their room such a depressing colour of yellow. The once beige carpet was now covered with stains and made the room seem even gloomier. There had been no choice of room when she had arrived; this was definitely not a hotel.
Holystone Children's Home was...average. It was no different from any other children's home in the UK; the walls were covered in bright paper with encouraging messages and inspirational quotes. There were pictures of all the occupants and their names written underneath in the entrance hall, a technique used to make the place seem less formidable, Scarlett was sure.
She glanced at the unopened letter on her dresser addressed to her; she didn't need to open it to know who it was from. Claire and Daniel. At 38 and 41 respectively both Claire and Daniel had ever given up home of raising their own family and had instead turned to fostering. It was only when Scarlett had just turned 17 that they had broken the news. Claire and Daniel were expecting. Which of course meant moving on for Scarlett and as there had been no space at her previous home she had moved across the city to Holystone where she had stayed for the past 11 months. They sent letters regularly and e-mailed constantly, although Scarlett thought that part of that was more out of guilt than actual interest.
So here she was, in a putrid coloured yellow room, on a Monday morning dreading the day of lessons that lay ahead of her. She picked up her plain white schoolbag and consulted her timetable again. Double French and History.
Scarlett turned when she heard her bedroom door creak open. She smiled when she saw the handsome head of her boyfriend, Deacon, poke round the door and smile warmly at her. Deacon was an enigma. The most confident and attractive 18 year old in North London had taken 6 weeks to pluck up the courage to ask her out, at her workplace. She remembered him coming in everyday after school and at weekends with his friends 2 weeks after she had started working there. She caught fragments of his conversation as she had walked past ..."absolutely gorgeous" "...boyfriend?" Assuming he was talking about some flavour of the month FHM model she had taken no notice until he had startled her by asking her out right if she wanted to go see a film with him, Mamma Mia.
"I thought men weren't meant to like musicals?" she had asked sceptically as she had looked at her feet, trying to avoid the anxious look in his blue eyes.
"We don't. But we'll do anything for a pretty girl" he had answered, shifting his feet nervously. And that was it. Little did Scarlett know that she had just embarked on a relationship with the King. Worshipped by all who met him, teenage girls, boys and parents alike who were won over with his charming demeanour and smile and that that boy would become the most constant thing in her live over the last 9 months.
"Hey Gorgeous" he said as he shut the door behind him and headed towards her, a smile fixed on his face.
"Hey" she replied. He ran a hand through her pale blonde hair and took a seat on the bed behind her. As always he managed to look effortlessly immaculate. His tousled dark brown hair stuck out in awkward directions, still wet from his morning shower. Sleep laced his azure blue eyes and his skin tone suggested a permanent holiday in the South of France. It was safe to say that Deacon had no problems with presentation and appearance.
"Come here and give your boyfriend some love" he laughed. Scarlett rolled her eyes and sat down on the bed next to him. He reached up and stroked her arm through her sweatshirt.
"Wanna come out tonight?" he questioned as he pulled her closer.
"Can't. French Oral Exam tomorrow" she sighed.
"Oh" he said dejectedly "Oh well, one of us has to bring the brains to this relationship" he laughed again.
"You're clever" she reassured.
"If 'clever' means being able to explain the offside rule without hesitation, then yeah, I suppose I am" he smiled at her.
She ignored his jest and continued "How did your trial go?"
"Same as usual, build up my skill a bit more and come back in a year. Don't know why I bother" he said sadly. As well as Deacon possessing looks, he also possessed a skill with a football that was envied by not only his peers but those older and more experienced than him. Scarlett was not a football fan but even she could see the graceful elegance each stride of his legs had. The way the ball soared through the air and landed right on target in the back of net without much effort. Deacon played for both his school team and the local league side and had done ever since he had joined Forrest Hill High School when he was 13. He was quickly established as the most gifted player on the team, if not in the County and was promoted to captain in the second term of year 10 – or so she had been told by some followers when she had gone to watch one of his matches. He had been talented spotted on more than one occasion but when push came to shove, the coach hadn't picked him.
"Don't say that. What is it you always say? Things happen if they happen and if they don't it's not the right time. Well then, you will be picked by a premiership team and it will be at the right time" She nudged his shoulder gently and he smiled crookedly while staring at the floor.
"Yeah and then I can give you everything you deserve" he said. The Spencer family encompassed everything the traditional family should. His parents had married straight out of school at 16 and had their first child one year later, Elle. Connor followed 5 years later. Deacon chased him 4 year later and then Megan arrived 3 years after that. Everyone in Deacon's family married young. His parents at 16, Elle at 19 and Connor had just gotten engaged at the grand old age of 21. Scarlett could almost see the images of her own wedding masked out perfectly in the mind and eyes of Deacon's mother. Scarlett's own family tree was not nearly as extensive, or even existent. She knew nothing of any family members, no knowledge of her mother and father and no recollection of any childhood memories surrounded by adoring relatives. She didn't think of them often and did not dwell on it, she preferred to live in the present and take things as they came.
"Sure you don't want to swap me for some perma-tanned, surgically enhanced, kiss and tell girl?" she laughed and nudged him again, this time he didn't smile.
"Scarlett, you know I would never do that to you, don't you? I love you" his face was stern and serious the way it always was when he said something like that. Deacon was not as relaxed as she was when it came to her absent parents.
"I know, I love you too" she re-assured him. He grabbed her arms and pulled her close to him, holding her tight. They stayed like that for a further 5 minutes before Scarlett glanced at the clock and reluctantly pulled away.
"Anyway don't give up, you're amazingly talented. One of those teams will realise soon enough" she said.
"Someday Babe, Someday" he said as she looked him in the eyes. His fingers ran through her hair affectionately.
"Come on, let's go" He grinned and followed her out the room, his hands firmly on her shoulders from behind.
The air in London was littered with profanities as rush hour motorists yelled at each other from behind the safety of their windscreens. It was that time of year when the seasons merged between the end of summer and the onset of autumn. Leaves lay on the ground, still green from the past summer. Scarlett's hand was entwined with Deacon's as they approached the bus stop where members of several different London borough schools had congregated. There was a clear divide.
A number of boys jeered as Deacon approached and he smiled smugly at them as he took a seat on the only available seat in the bus shelter, he pulled Scarlett down so she was perched on his knee and placed his hands on her waist to hold her steady.
"Well," One boy, Ryan, began "are we looking at the new Ronaldo?" he laughed although his question was laced with curiosity
"Na," Deacon replied "they wanted to sign me for 100,000 grand a week but I told them that I just couldn't leave my mates alone in PE lessons" He said and his comments were met with raucous laughter from all of the awaiting boys. They launched into a conversation covering the play by play of last night's match, all of them listening intently to Deacon's judgement.
"Here's my bus" Scarlett said as she saw the bus pull round the corner. She pulled away from him and stood in front of him as he replaced his arms round her middle, pulling her close in-between his legs. He winked at her and he reached up and brushed a kiss across her lips.
"I got training tonight but I'll call you later on" he said as he loosened his grip on her so she could board her bus.
She took a seat on the bus along with the rest of her peers and tried not to listen as a group of girls pondered why Deacon Spencer was going out with a girl from a children's home. Scarlett often wondered too.
The morning bell rang out crisp and clear as Scarlett entered French for first period. Ashlee was already seated and was busy pouring over the latest edition of one of the many magazines she subscribed too.
"Oh My God," Ashlee exclaimed before Scarlett had even taken her seat "Have you seen what Rihanna has done to her hair?" Her face was aghast as she stared at the picture of the girl in front of her.
"Who?" Scarlett asked. She wasn't a football fan and she definitely wasn't a follower of celebrity culture.
"You know," Ashlee sighed "The one with the song about the umbrella" At the look of confusion on Scarlett's face she continued "You can stand under my umbrella ella-ella-eh-eh-eh" she sung.
Mrs Madison, the A level French teacher, who had been handing out marked tests stopped and peered as Ashlee through her black square glasses,
"Miss Smith, if you cannot say it in French, do not say it at all" She looked down at Ashlee from her perch on her impossibly high heeled shoes and shot her a warning glare.
"Erm...Vous pouvez se tenir sous mon parapluie –uey-uey...eh-eh-eh?" Ashlee responded. Scarlett smiled at her from the corner of her mouth; she was beginning to wonder if Ashlee had learned any French over the past 2 years. The class erupted into laughter and Ashlee turned and nodded her head at each one- a smile spreading across her face that stretched from ear to ear. Mrs Madison's face twisted into one of distain before ordering the class to settle down and turning to Scarlett.
"Top of the class again Miss McPherson, we'll make a linguist out of you yet" A shiny red A+ had been scrawled across the page followed by a very short list of corrections. She walked past Scarlett onto the next couple at the desk behind Scarlett and Ashlee.
"Snotty tart" Ashlee muttered under her breath. Scarlett laughed.
Mrs Madison took her place at the front of the class and began assembling lists of conjugated irregular verbs on the board and Scarlett sighed once more to herself as she willed the final bell of the day to ring.