“Non vuoi una giacca? Don’t you want a coat?”, my dad calls out from the front door. I have heard this a thousand times before. I look up: dark grey clouds. “Non mi serve – I don’t need one”. My defiant words cut like knives, and he retreats into the house. I can already feel the ramifications of my mistake, but I leap into the car, even so.
As I get to the Gascoigne car park, the first few drops of rain start to cascade, each splash mocking me. My walk to Laxton is littered with them now, and my hair begins to lose the shape that I just meticulously crafted. It’s Thursday, so my first lesson is Physics. The laboratory feels colder than outside. I rub my hands together in a desperate bid to warm them up. As Mr Bradnam explains the concept of heat transfer for us (which is rather ironic), my hands are starting to tremble and purple flecks seep into my palms. Cold. Cold. Cold. That one word haunts me. But it’s time for Arabic now, and Arabic always cheers me up.
In those fifty minutes of Physics, the path between SciTec and Adamson has become treacherous. The rain is not relenting. A myriad of First Form pupils, clutching their satchels with both hands, are venturing to the same place as I. We are comrades in battle, with one common plight and one common mission: reach Adamson in the driest state possible. My hair is soaked and the curls that I have not seen since I was four are starting to form. I find an empty seat in A9 and open my exercise book. My hair is dripping. The Arabic writing on the page swirls and twists and turns like a tsunami, until I cannot make out a word.
It is the afternoon now, which translates as time for netball. I yank my bib over my head. It reads GS – goal shooter. I take my place on court and I remember my endless love for this game, despite the rain. Young Emilia would be so proud of me. I smile. In a flash my teammates and I work together effortlessly, and I find the ball in my hands. It’s 1-0, Oundle vs The Rain. I raise it purposefully and think back to the words of my coach last session. “Aim for the back of the ring, Emilia”. Preparing to shoot, I look up. My smile is short-lived as a Machiavellian raindrop infiltrates my eye and I am temporarily blinded. I launch the ball and miss. By some strange twist of fate, I am told another player is going to substitute me for the next quarter. Thanks, raindrop.
After Games comes Orchestra. I am a bass-playing Queen Boudicca in armour, unveiling her sword (her bow) from its sheath (her case), preparing for a duel with third position. Except, instead of armour, I am wearing drenched tracksuit bottoms. Very classy. The next ninety minutes are gruelling – an appalling combination of a bass three semitones flat and indefinitely numb fingers.
The day has taken its toll on me. The orange streaks of the sky I had wondered at this morning have abandoned me and been replaced with darkness. At least I can watch the stars while I walk home. They are beacons of hope, thorns in the side of winter. Like hot showers. Hot showers are like home. Like hugs. Like bonfires. Like Matron. Like minestrone soup. Invariably comforting. My skin is crawling, desperate for the scalding water to latch onto my skin.
With my last crumbs of energy, I open the front door. To my dismay, Dad exclaims, “Ma quanto sei bagniata! Ti serviva una giacca. You are soaked! You should take a coat next time.” I bite my tongue and nod as a way of acquiescence. I do not tell him that tomorrow morning my pride will swallow me once more.