If You Only Knew

Submitted into Contest #64 in response to: Write about someone who’s been sent to boarding school.... view prompt


Creative Nonfiction Drama Horror

You choose not to smile that day. You’ve been crying. I can tell.

“I am not crying”

“So, smile then”

Click, click. You hear the impatient huff of the Headmaster and you bow your head down. It is an instinctive act, which prompts giggles and name calling, followed by more annoyed intakes of breath.

“Chin up please. It’s extremely rude to keep your classmates waiting”.

The photographer looks at you, his cheeks flushed with irritation. I want to break his neck. Creep up behind him and twist it. He’s making you sad.

You step off the stage and join the others. But you are not really there; your face is one of sheer stone but I can see it in the pools of your eyes. They are dark and tinged with sadness, and you cower at the constant giggling and the shoving. Later, you will get on the same bus that brought you here from Hill Grange, where from your window on the bus you saw the sun as it set across the stone of Sinton.

Sinton, your new home. I remember the first time I saw you walk through the glass double doors. You came in after a tall man and with him you walked in the Administration office. He then left and you stayed behind. He seemed relieved, and if I were to ask someone they would tell me that he considers you a burden, and he’s glad to have gotten rid of the burden. But no one will tell me. Because no one ever talks to me.



Today I made a friend. Her name is Lara.She is nice and sweet but I am nervous. Everything here makes me nervous. My legs are shaking slightly and the tears I cried this morning are stained dry on my cheeks.

“What a change it must be from Greece?!”

I nod, because there is nothing else I feel like doing; there is no gesture, no emotion, it is a weird feeling, it is as if my body is not here, and my feet have left the ground. And if I am careful, I can see the figure, the shape in my dreams standing underneath the stone arch that separates the garden from the rest of the building. Sometimes it’s my face I see; other times… it’s darker, but still familiar.

After lunch, my legs are still shaking as I climb the steps to Sickbay. Last year, I had two epilepsy attacks which put me in the hospital for three days, and now I have to take this medication that makes me feel drowsy. My insides quiver as I knock on the door. This part, as the meds go down my throat, is poison. That is the word that comes to mind. My stomach reacts and jumps as the acidic taste of the medicine intertwines with the acids of my stomach. I want to vomit as I climb back down the steps. Lara is waiting for me at the bottom.

She begins to tell me the history of Sinton. This Gothic manor that stands in the middle of 84 acres among trees and stone on lush green grounds was built in 1896 as a home to a family, a daughter and her mother, to be exact. It was said then that the architect who built it vanished.

“And Hill Grange is haunted, of course”.

She then told me about the infamous Lady in Black who plays the piano in the hallway, every morning at 7.

“If you are really quiet, you will hear her”.

“Who tells you these things?”

“My father, Mr. Bailey, he’s our History teacher… In fact”.

She directs her gaze to the clock inches above me. “Class starts soon. Let’s go”.

It is then that I realize that no one in Sinton wears a watch; no watches, no jewelry, no makeup.

The weekend has passed like a bad dream and I wake up to the nightmare of History. Lara pulls me to sit next to her. The lights are piercingly shiny and the seat makes weird rubbery noises with every shift. It is 8:30 in the morning, and the vultures have started to peck at my back. I feel the sting of the slap on the side of my head but I do not turn around. Neither does Lara.

Then is English Literature, less slaps, more groans and protests, and then a question directed to me. The new haunted girl.

“So, Hara?” Mrs. Ashby pronounces my names slowly as if she’s afraid of burning her tongue.

I lick my lips, my throat and tongue are dry as sand. “Yes?”

Another jab in my ribs and the question gets lost somewhere in my mind. My answer swims up to my mouth, and then pushes itself out of my lips before my brain has time to catch up.

I think it went like this:

“Well, a house by itself is not haunted. It’s just a house. Haunted people move in and the house sucks in that energy, making it haunted”.

Mrs. Ashby looks at me. Then she swiftly shakes her head from side to side and turns towards the blackboard. I hear myself falling and hitting water in my head.



Your hand is clasped around your favorite pen, and your other hand is idle, draped across the pages of your open notebook. Your face is blank, and your eyes are not locked onto anything specific. It’s a shame really; the view is of the garden in the back of the House, and beyond that rolling fields and then the village spreads out against the midday sun.

There is a knock on the door, and then you are gone, leaving a trail of a slight breeze as you pass. When you come back, you are once more in tears, tears that squash the features of your face and twist your lips. It occurs to me then that you are flesh and bone with the entire right to your emotions. You are alive and breathing and I want to reach out to tell you.

Let me take the pain

“She is so weird. No wonder her father calls her for like a minute and then hangs up”. The spite drops from one of the girls’ lips and before me I see a monster with saliva dripping down her pointed with fangs mouth.

“What’s her name again?”

“Hara… whatever that means”.

Joy. It means joy, I want to tell these two vampires, but I need to see how you are. You are more important.

You are sleeping now, and I watch your eyes flickering beneath your closed eyelids. You whimper, as I take my seat on the sofa that you brought from home, by the window. And then I sigh at the irony of life. I was once apart from you, complaining of the wrong time and space, and now I am right here and it seems that time is so wide that it gets lost in dark corners. We forget. You forgot. Hopefully, I will never forget.





I jump out of bed. Tamzin and the three other girls (I don’t know their names) are putting on their dressing robes and slippers. Tamzin looks at my disheveled school uniform, it feels like tattered gauze around my body, and the remnants of saliva on my cheek, and says:

“Fire alarm. Come on”.


It is still warm in the air, but a small wind drifts in the air and sways the trees, creating shadows on the pavement. I follow them with my eyes, and my breath catches as I notice on the last tree a figure. Without thinking, I start walking towards it, and with every step the figure seems to be getting smaller (or is that my imagination?), then vanishes.

“Oi, Hara! Where are you going?”

I run back, my ponytail now completely loose, and my skin feels tight and angry from sleep. I look back to the space next to the tree. Empty.



“Did you make that noise?” Lara looks at me with a strange almost amused expression on her face. We are at the second building where classes are held, and we are sitting on the floor next to the Science room.

“What noise?”

“You shushed me”

“I didn’t shush you”

She turns her body to me and lowers her head near mine, as if we are discussing a secret. 

“Then who?”

“No one.

She huffs and pulls away from me.

“Well you did shush someone”.




The muscles in your back are tight but your gait is more relaxed as you walk through the grass. You decided for that day to walk back to Hill Grange after your classes. You have your eyes on the dirt road that moves away from the grassy path. On occasion you look behind you. For a ride, maybe? But all in all, I think you are quite content with the peace around you. No noise, no traffic, just nature and the murmurs of a breeze that caresses your skin as you keep walking. You don’t see me of course. But when the car pulls up next to you, and you get in with your shy heart in tow, relieved to have met friends who care, I feel happy for you… and a little jealous.

So… I remember jealousy?

October 18, 2020 18:27

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Gip Roberts
20:21 Oct 31, 2020

I really don't know how to describe this. It has an immersive atmosphere to it that kept me reading. It's dark, melancholy, saturated with description, all the things a drama/horror story needs to be. It also has a flashy feel to it, like one of those movies that constantly jumps from one scene to the next (I guess because of the switching between first and second-person throughout). It's a deep story and I love the imagery you used.


Metaxia Tzimouli
11:56 Nov 01, 2020

Thank you! That's exactly the kind of critique that is needed for this story! I was mostly relying on imagery and the atmosphere through the eyes of my protagonist when she attends a boarding school for the 1st time!


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