One Word From You: A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation

BOOK: One Word From You: A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation
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One Word From You

by

Natalie C. Penna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For

Emma-Leigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man of good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

 

 

 

Chapter One

Rightful property of some one or other.

 

 

 


Oh my
God!

 

I was barely out of the car when the excitable girl barreled into me. I staggered back against the vehicle, and patted her awkwardly on the head. Lisa was the same age as me, but I didn’t think she’d matured much past thirteen. Indifferent to the way people were staring at us as they dragged their trunks towards the dorms, she bounced on the balls of her feet, making her strawberry blonde curls bob up and down on her shoulders.

 


Okay,” she continued, “I have the most exciting news ever, and you won’t guess, so I have to tell you! Are you ready?”

 


Are you getting a tattoo?” I asked.

 


No! Oh, but I should! Do you think I’d look good with one?”

 


No, and it would be illegal,” I added, “Lis’, can you let go? Your head is squashing my boobs, and this is getting weird.”

 


Right, sorry,” she stepped back and beamed up at me, “So, you know how we’re going co-ed, right?”

 


You know, I don’t think I noticed during any of the meetings, or assemblies, or when we had that open day, or got the letters -”

 


Shut up. I get it. You know.”

 


And I also got the notice that it’s going to happen next year.
After
we’ve left. Do you remember that part, Lis’? That part that says we won’t be here when the boys turn up. You know, the part with the date?”

 

A wicked smile played across her lips, “Then I know something you don’t know!”

 


Great. Do you really have to tell me?”

 


The boys are starting
this term!

 

I nodded as if it was the most interesting thing I’d heard all day, and then stooped to pick up my backpack. Honestly, I didn’t care if there were boys at the school or not. I’d started out in a normal school like anyone else, and then transferred into the boarding school during the second year. It wasn’t like having guys around was going to change much of anything for me.

 

Teenagers were really unattractive.

 

Lisa made a noise of derision at my lack of enthusiasm. She asked, “Can’t you at least
pretend
that this is the best thing to happen in the history of forever?”

 


Not after a four hour journey, I can’t.”

 


But we could get boyfriends!” she exclaimed.

 


Or,” I suggested, “We could
not
. I don’t think they’re coming here just to go out with us. I’m pretty sure they’re looking to get an education.”

 


You’re so boring.”

 


And you’re so bouncy, but I don’t complain at you about it. Now, either let me take my stuff inside, or stay and help me.”

 


You are
so
on your own with that ugly old trunk.”

 

Lisa ran away at top speed, and crashed into another group of girls, eager to spread the news to anyone who was willing to hear it. As long as she wasn’t getting in my way, I didn’t really care. She was a good girl and everything, but I didn’t understand how she was so hyperactive all the time. If I used up half the energy she did, I’d be burnt out before I got to lunch.

 

The peace restored, I loaded myself up with as many bags as I could reasonably manage, while maintaining the ability to walk. It was not an easy feat. Fortunately, my father was on hand. He disconnected whatever call he’d been in the middle of, and heaved the heavy luggage from the boot of the car.

 


How about I help you with this one, Elly-Bear?”

 

I visibly cringed, “Oh my
God
, why are you still calling me that?”

 


I always call you that.”

 


Not in public!”

 


Fine, Elisabeth.”

 


Beth,” I hissed at him, “You’re such a pain in the -”

 


All right, I get it. You’re not my baby girl when you’re at school. But you’ll always be my
Elly-Bear
when you’re at home with me.”

 


You use that name one more time, and I’ll make it my business to flunk Geography. Do you want a daughter who can’t use a map? No. No, I didn’t think so.”

 

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I did love my father. He was the only parent I really knew properly. Not because my mother had died, or anything nearly so tragic. In fact, she was doing very well for herself. She just happened to be doing well in the south of France, on her third husband’s vineyard. It was the guilt she felt at being so absent that had afforded me a place in the prestigious school I attended.

 

Because, of course, all problems could be resolved by throwing money at them.

 

Especially if it wasn’t actually her money.

 

I’d never felt out of place at Netherfield Academy. When I first arrived, I had envisioned mobs of well spoken young women, all with seven ponies each, having me beaten senseless by their menservants for the audacity of attending their academy. For I was a mere commoner, and they were the future wives of top ranking footballers. I was happy to find that the nice girls far outnumbered the cliques of princesses, and was situated in a quaint, plain dorm, with my new sisters.

 


Hey, Mr. Blake,” Jenny greeted when we struggled into the room. Her sleek blonde hair was tied into a neat braid, which dangled over her shoulder as she leaned down to force her suitcase beneath her bed. She’d already unpacked, and had probably arrived before everyone else so she wouldn’t be in their way later on.

 


Hello, sweetheart. Elly, why can’t you be that organised?”

 


Because Jen’s perfect, and I’m not.”

 


You’re telling me,” Dad joked, “Jenny, do you think your mother would be up for a trade?”

 


Yeah, I’d much rather live at your house,” I said to her, and elbowed my father in the ribs. He grunted in pain, and tried to ruffle my dark brown hair. I dodged out of the way, and threw my things onto my usual bed. Obviously it was beside Jenny’s. She was my best friend. I hugged her tightly, and said, “I missed you.”

 


I missed you too!”

 


You saw each other for most of the summer,” Dad said, “And that reminds me. Jenny, thank your mother for me. I was happy to have her taken off my hands for a couple of weeks.”

 


Well, if you’re so happy to get rid of me, then you’ll want to get out of here quickly.”

 

Dad opened up his arms, and beckoned me to him. I dragged my feet on the carpet, and made a show of groaning in displeasure when he crushed me in a bear hug. Jenny giggled behind me, but I didn’t mind it. Her mother doted on her, too. We understood the agonies of affectionate parentals better than most.

 


Okay, I’m going. Try not to cry.”

 


I’ll do my best,” I promised, “I’ll be strong, for your sake.”

 

Dad gasped dramatically, and clutched a hand over his chest, “You poor, brave soul! No, say nothing more! I will away at once!”

 


Good.”

 


Ouch,” he said, “So mean! Bye, Jenny. Try not to kill her.”

 


Goodbye, Mr. Blake. Drive safe!”

 

If we’d been at home, I’d have slammed the door after him. But we were waiting for three others to join us, and I didn’t want to risk breaking one of their noses if I timed the gesture poorly. I would miss him, just like I always did, but Jenny and I would have too much fun to have time for it. I rolled my eyes at the bags, and asked, “Do I really have to sort this out now?”

 


No, but you’ll just be delaying the inevitable.”

 


True. Have you seen Lisa yet?” I asked as I returned to the veritable mountain of luggage, hardly sure of where I should attack it first.

 


Yeah, she told me about the boys. I think she’s already picked out her future husband.”

 


Poor git,” I laughed, “He won’t know what’s hit him.”

 


Don’t be like that. We might make a few new friends before we leave.”

 


What’s the point?” I asked, “It’s not like we’re going to keep in touch with them afterwards. When we get out of here, you’re one of the only people I’m going to cling onto, and never let go of.”

 


Likewise,” she laughed, “You’re stuck with me.”

 


Who’s stuck with you?” Lisa asked as she crashed through the door, “Oh! Hi again, Beth! Did I miss your Dad?”

 


He just left.”

 


Aww, I should have waited for him to finish on the phone outside. Your Dad is such a stud.”

 

I gagged, “I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.”

 


You just don’t see it because you’re his daughter.”

 


I don’t see it because it’s not true,” I corrected, “And - and the daughter thing. Anyway, where’s Megan and Chrissy? They’re coming back today, right?”

 


I’m here!” Chrissy announced.

 

She was every bit as silly as Lisa, but I got the feeling that if the two weren’t joined at the hip, she’d actually be bearable company. Regrettably, the two saw one another, and shrieked their excitement in shrill voices. They held hands, jumped up and down, and fulfilled just about every stereotype of a teenage girl within the space of two minutes.

 


At least it’s out of the way early,” I muttered to Jenny. She shushed me, but was clearly stifling a laugh of her own.

 

It was hard to believe we were all the same age.

 

I looked to the door in time to see a girl wander past in a daze. I called out after her, “Meg! We’re in here!”

 

She wandered back, missing us again.

 

I swore softly under my breath, and jogged out after the girl. I pulled one of the earphones free, and said, “Try looking where you’re going this year, hm?”

 


Sorry,” she said in a sheepish voice, tucking some of her wiry curls behind her ear. They didn’t stay put, and sprang back to their original position. Meg didn’t notice, and explained, “I just had to finish this chapter, and then I forgot where I was, and -”

 


You know, most people put music on these things,” I said as I scrolled through the content of the music player, “Who the hell listens to
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
when they’re trying to relax?”

 


It’s good!”

 


I know, but I’d rather read it, than hear some stiff reciting it into a microphone.”

 

Meg giggled softly, “True. Hi, Beth.”

 


Hi, Meg. Think you can find your way through the door this time?”

 


Yeah.”

 


Wait,” I put a hand on her shoulder, “Where are your bags?”

BOOK: One Word From You: A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation
2.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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