Rachel and her friends were gathered around a small wall on the school grounds during recess she went everywhere with her three friends. Michelle Hanral was slightly taller than Rachel; she had wavy brown hair that came just below her shoulders and light blue eyes. She was pretty and she knew it but she wasn't vain about it. Christina Almond was the tallest girl of the group, she was African American and wore her long black hair in braids and pulled them all back into a ponytail. Christina had warm brown eyes and a friendly attitude. Finally there was Sandra Clow, Sandra had short red hair and brown eyes, and she was a shy girl and didn't talk to a lot of people. The girls laughed as Christina told a joke and Rachel bit into a ham and cheese sandwich that Wendy made for her.
'' So are you girls still coming around for horse riding after school today?'' Rachel asked.
'' Of course, what kind of stupid question is that Rach?'' Michelle said and nudged her friend.
'' Oh talking about those stupid horses again?'' An unpleasant voice asked.
Rachel turned around and saw her school arch enemy Melissa Ballet. Melissa was tall and slim, her hair was as black as the night sky and her eyes as blue as the tropical ocean. Like Michelle, Melissa knew she was pretty and unlike Michelle, she was vain.
'' Oh shut up Melissa, if her horses are so stupid then what does that make yours? Marbles beats you every time '', Christina said.
'' Moonlight is a wonderful mare '', Melissa blushed, '' Marbles must be on drugs!''
Rachel rolled her eyes, '' he is not, now go away and... fix your hair or something. I can see a bit of hair that is not as stiff as a board so you must have missed that when you doused yourself in hairspray ''.
Sandra gave a shy giggle and Melissa glared at her, '' don't know what you are laughing about cow, oh I mean clow ''.
Rachel jumped off the small wall and stood in front of Melissa, '' don't you dare make fun of her name!''
Melissa smirked, '' well well, I thought you were suppose to be peaceful with a surname like Dove. Well we all can't live up to our names now can we?''
Rachel went to say something but Melissa's friend Patsy Nightshade came jogging up. Patsy was very athletic; she had blonde permed hair and brown eyes.
'' Hi Mel, what are you doing?'' Patsy asked as she reached the group.
'' She's leaving '', Rachel said coolly. Melissa snorted and Patsy rolled her eyes.
'' I'm not going anywhere '', Melissa shot back, '' not the same for your father though is it? I heard he's gone back to the mountains ''.
'' What's it to you? He's a busy man ''.
'' Yeah busy getting away from you! Man I hardly see him around a lot. Maybe you remind him too much of your mother and he can't take the pain any longer ''.
Everyone gasped and Rachel's anger boiled. Rachel's mother died when she was a baby so she never met her.
'' It must be hard '', Melissa continued as if it were an everyday conversation, '' I guess that butler of yours Alex could adopt you ''.
'' It's Alan actually, and I don't need to be adopted because my father will return in a few days ''.
'' Well Alan is around more than your dear daddy he practically is your father when you think about it ''.
'' Melissa just shut up and don't talk about my family, you know nothing!''
'' Well nobody does because you basically have no family!''
That did it. Rachel lost all self-control and tackled Melissa to the ground. Patsy shrieked and repeatedly hit Rachel to get her away from her friend. The two girls wrestled with their friends trying desperately to separate them. Suddenly two large hands pulled the two girls apart and onto their feet.
'' What on Earth is going on here Miss Dove, Miss Ballet?'' Demanded Mr Garfree the school principal.
'' She attacked me for absolutely NO reason!'' Melissa exclaimed and pointed her finger at Rachel in disgust.
'' As if! You should learn to shut your mouth about things that do not concern you '', Rachel snapped as she brushed dirt from her burgundy blazer.
'' What happened to cause this such unlady like behaviour? '' Mr Garfree said as he looked from one girl to the other, '' this behaviour is absolutely unacceptable. If you acted like this in public then you would have disgraced our elite school ''.
'' She started badmouthing my family sir and I lost my temper '', Rachel said honestly but she didn't take her eyes away from Melissa.
'' I think you two should come with me to my office '', Mr Garfree said and marched the girls away from their friends.
Rachel walked into Science a little late after she was dismissed from Mr Garfree's office. She handed Mrs Stone a note, the teacher read the note and shook her head slowly, '' Rachel, what are we going to do with you young lady?'' Mrs Stone asked with a laugh. Rachel smiled and found her friends around their usual desk at the back of the room. After organising her books and stationary she turned to her friends.
'' So what happened?'' Sandra asked as she sharpened her pencil.
'' Well, Melissa and I have lunchtime detention today and our houses were called. As you know with my luck Alan answered the phone '', Rachel said as she pulled her chair closer to the table.
'' What did Mr Garfree tell him?'' Michelle asked.
'' Oh no I had to tell Alan '', Rachel said.
Christina's eyes widened, everyone knew how strict Alan was. The whole school knew how strict Alan was when he came down to inspect Rachel's work with Lord Robert at every Parent Teacher Night. '' And?''
Rachel sighed, '' you are still allowed to come round today after school since we already planned it but I have to study an extra two hours tonight ''.
'' Ouch '', Christina said.
'' Now that Miss Dove has arrived we can start our quiz '', Mrs Stone announced, groans could be heard throughout the class as she placed a piece of paper upside down in front of each student. Mrs Stone then stood at the front of the class and looked at the clock.
'' You may begin '', she said.
Rachel flipped her paper over and stared at the thirty questions. Rachel smiled and picked up her pen, the questions were quite easy. Based on astronomy they included questions like 'Who discovered Jupiter's four major moons? Which planet is the hottest? And the final question was what were the famous words Neil Armstrong said when he landed on the moon?' After thirty minutes Mrs Stone called for pens down and collected the quizzes. Whilst she did that she instructed the students to read their books until the quizzes had been marked. Once that was done the students received their marks and Rachel earned eighty six percent.
'' Now everybody did really well '', Mrs Stone started, '' however may I remind you all that Neil Armstrong did NOT say ' oh look I can see Earth! 'He said ' that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind ' ''. Everybody in the class looked at Michelle and she tried to hide her giggles.
'' Michelle!'' Christina exclaimed.
'' That's what I would have said!'' Michelle responded, the whole class laughed including Mrs Stone.
The next class was gym and the girls entered the change room and changed into their grey shorts and white sport shirts. Rachel tied her trainers and walked with her friends out into the gym. Rachel's eyes lit up when she saw the volleyball nets. Volleyball was one of her favourite sports, after horse riding of course. Mr Jett walked out of the sports office and greeted his class with a smile.
'' Hello, as you can see we are doing volleyball today. I mean proper games too, over the past weeks I have watched your techniques and feel you are ready to have a proper game in teams of four. Now to warm up can everyone jog three laps of the gym and stretch your arms and legs while I pick the team captains and take the register ''. The whole class turned and began their warm up and Mr Jett marked each student's name off the register and randomly picked four captains.
'' Now the captains are ... Josh Day, Andrew Lander, Melissa Ballet and Rachel Dove '', Mr Jett announced, '' please pick your team members ''.
Rachel of course picked her three friends and they walked onto a court. Melissa dragged her team over to the same court as Rachel and the two captains glared at each other. Melissa mouthed '' you're going down '' and Rachel responded with '' bring it ''.
Their teams organised themselves and Michelle was the first to serve. Patsy called out '' mine '' so her team didn't collide with her; she dug the ball up beautifully and moved out of the way so another member could set it up. Melissa eyed the ball and then tapped it over to Rachel's side. Christina dug it up just like Patsy and Sandra set it up. Rachel jumped and spiked it but Patsy crouched down and dug it back up and over the net. Sandra squealed and set the ball, Rachel dug it up and Michelle returned the ball to Claire who was on Melissa's team. Claire dug the ball but it flew into the net so Rachel's team won that round. Michelle served again and Melissa's team worked together and managed to plant the ball in the corner of Rachel's court.
'' The score is one all '', Mr Jett said as he rolled the ball under the net to Harriet who was to serve. The game went well; Rachel and her team were winning with two points in front. Melissa was clearly frustrated at losing to her school enemy. Sandra served the ball nicely and Melissa jumped up and spiked the ball down as hard as she could. The ball smashed into Rachel's face and knocked her off her feet; she hit her head on the floor when she landed. Rachel's eyes watered and she thought for sure her nose was broken; she cupped her hand over her nose as she felt blood pour from her nostrils.
'' Rachel!'' Christina ran to her friend's side and Mr Jett was there alongside her.
'' Rachel are you OK? Let me have a look '', he said firmly. He pulled Rachel's hand away from her face and inspected her nose.
'' My word you are lucky you didn't break your nose girl!'', Mr Jett exclaimed, '' I'm surprised there is no blood, it should be spilling out of you!''
Rachel looked confused and Mr Jett felt her forehead, '' you are not feeling dizzy Rachel?''
Rachel shook her head and Mr Jett turned to Melissa, '' that was not very nice Miss Ballet. You know you are not to spike the ball when it has been served. You are lucky Miss Dove is fine. Anything you want to say to her?''
Melissa looked at Rachel who was sitting on the ground, '' move next time you idiot ''.
'' Melissa that is it! In my office now. Rachel I will give you a nurse's note and the rest of you can change and then go to lunch ''.
Sandra and Christina helped Rachel to her feet, Rachel saw Mr Jett walk to his office with Melissa. She looked down and picked the volleyball up. There was blood on the ball, and on Rachel's hand.
For the second time that day Rachel arrived late to her next class after Mr Garfree lost track of time with her and Melissa's lunchtime detention and shooed them off. Rachel walked into her cooking class and gave Mrs Brown her note before she was ushered to her cooking bench she shared with Sandra.
'' Are we cooking today Sandra?'' Rachel asked as she placed her bag under the bench.
'' Yes '', Sandra replied as she flicked through the recipe book.
'' Good, we do more writing here then we do cooking, I mean if I want to write I'll go to English ''.
'' Well I believe English is your next class Miss Dove '', Mrs Brown said as she walked past. Rachel blushed and smiled, Mrs Brown smiled back and handed everyone their ingredients. Apple pikelets and pizza were the meals to cook.
Rachel washed the apples and pulled out the cheese grater and began to grate.
'' So what did the nurse say?'' Sandra asked as she mixed the batter.
'' She couldn't find anything wrong '', Rachel replied and shrugged, '' but there was blood on the ball and my hand. I could feel my broken nose and taste the blood. It hurt! But now I'm fine ''.
'' It looked like it hurt, but where did the blood come from? Didn't you show the nurse?''
'' Don't be stupid Sandra; I washed the blood off before I went to the medical room. How would I explain where the blood came from if I had no broken nose or open wound? She said I was fine and there was nothing wrong with me. Then I was late to detention. I tell you what, sitting in silence writing ' I must not fight with fellow students and be ladylike ' for twenty minutes is not fun at ...OW!'
Rachel scratched herself on the grater as she talked to Sandra, she had skin missing from her knuckles which oozed blood and some skin was on the grater. Rachel looked back at her knuckles and they were fine. She glanced back at the grater and skin was still there.
'' Rach, are you alright?'' Sandra asked and looked at the cheese grater, '' is that skin?''
'' Yes, my skin ''.
Sandra looked at Rachel and had the same expression, confusion. Sandra walked back to the batter and Rachel filled the frying pan with oil. Everything was weird today. Within minutes the room smelt of batter and sizzling apples. Sandra removed some of the cooked pikelets out of the pan and Rachel scooped the remaining batter in. Rachel dropped the bowl and it knocked the pan off the stove, the oil spilled over her arm and Rachel cried out in pain. The pan landed on the floor and the bowl smashed to pieces. Everybody stopped and ran to the accident.
'' Rachel! Sandra! What happened? Are you hurt?'' Mrs Brown cried out. She saw Rachel clutch her arm and pulled her hand away like Mr Jett did.
'' You silly girl! There is nothing there!'' Mrs Brown said sharply, '' you are not hurt at all. It must have been shock or a few specks of oil. It certainly didn't spill over your arm like your scream insisted! Look at this mess! Oil and batter everywhere!''
Rachel looked down at her arm; it looked normal and had no residue of oil. She backed away from the yelling teacher as everyone looked down at the mess. Mrs Brown ordered everyone to stay away from the mess; Rachel placed her hand on the stove and burned her elbow. The pain was intense and she screamed again. Mrs Brown spun around and pulled her away from the stove.
'' Rachel what is wrong with you today young lady?'' The teacher demanded. "You were lucky the flame wasn't on, it's just hot. You are really carless today ''. Rachel and Sandra looked at each other; neither of them had turned the stove off.
School ended and Rachel and her friends waited for Peter to pick them up in the car park. The silver four wheel drive pulled up at the curb and Rachel's insides squirmed. Alan was in the drivers' seat.
'' In '', Alan said and the girls obeyed. Rachel went to get in the back with her friends but Alan grabbed her arm through the window, '' I don't think so young lady, you are sitting in the front with me ''.
Rachel sighed and walked around to the passenger door. As she opened it she looked behind her and saw Melissa hug her father. When Melissa pulled away she hugged her mother and smirked at Rachel through her mother's embrace. Melissa gave Rachel the finger and got into her car.
'' Rachel, move it '', Alan said and Rachel got into the car.
The drive to Dove Manor was quiet; nobody dared to say a word. When they arrived at the Manor they quickly changed into their riding clothes. Rachel slipped on her boots over her cream jodhpurs and they walked to the stables. Rachel owned four horses and her friends rode three of them. Sandra pulled out Sahara, a palomino mare with a white blaze and four white socks. Christina tacked up Demon, a full black stallion with not one speck of white on him at all. Michelle grabbed Autumn, a bay stallion and placed a saddle blanket on him. Rachel tacked up and lead out her champion horse Marbles. Marbles was a large grey stallion with a black mane and tail. He was a great eventer and extremely loyal to Rachel. He was well trained and he surprised Rachel when she first got him by moon walking on his hind legs. Rachel and her friends mounted their horses and rode around the riding ring. Marbles cantered up to a jump and flew over it as smooth as silk, his mane and tail swam in the wind and Rachel felt free. The girls rode for a while and Rachel kicked Marbles into a canter for another jump, just as Marbles was about to leap a giant black crow flew right in front of him. Marbles skidded to a halt and Rachel flew over his head and landed on the ground. Her friends dismounted and ran up to her. Rachel stood up and looked down; sand and dirt covered her clothes and skin. Her blue singlet was torn but she had no bruises, scratches, blood or broken bones.
'' This is getting too much '', Rachel said as Marbles walked up to her and she patted his muzzle, '' all that I've done today is getting hurt and then I'm fine. No evidence of injuries or anything!''
'' Do you think we should talk to the adults about this?'' Michelle asked as she inspected Rachel's side and elbow.
'' No, Alan wouldn't let me go anywhere and Wendy will wrap me up in bubble wrap '', Rachel replied as she shook her head, "and Peter will just laugh".
At that moment Alan walked into the riding grounds, '' ah there you are. I'm sorry girls but I have to break you up now, Rachel has to have dinner and study '', Alan said. He then looked at Rachel's clothes, '' and have a bath while she's at it. What happened Rachel?''
'' I slipped and fell of Marbles '', Rachel replied. It was half the truth anyway. Rachel and her friends returned the horses to their stables and fed them before they left the grounds and said goodbye to each other.