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Inverness, Scotland, 1990
First day of school. Again. I could not stand moving again. Three
times in four years. I feel like a universal gypsy, moving from
Senegal, to Montreal and from Montreal to Inverness. I hardly
remember that I was a normal American.
I stood against my new locker in my retched, new school. I wanted to
hide away from all of the unfamiliarity of this new life.
"Ms. Smithson," said a man walking toward me.
"Yes?" I answered. He extended his smooth hand to shake mine. I just
stared at it. Eventually the young man brought it back to the pocket
of his dark blue jeans.
"I am Charles Benson, your new home room teacher. Follow me. Let me
show you around."
I pushed myself off the wall to follow my new teacher. I scrutinized
the back of him. Charles Benson wore a navy blue dress shirt that was
tucked so tightly into his jeans that I saw the well structured
muscles of his shoulders as he walked.
"Ms. Smithson, the front desk only told me your last name. Would you
"Morag," I interrupted, " my name is Morag Ally Smithson."
"Perfect," he commented. I was just starting to notice his soft
Scottish accent. It was surprisingly intriguing. My face started to
tingle. I wanted to reach out and feel his shoulder blades.
He finally turned around and smiled at me. Charles Benson was young
and elegant... And hot. Wow.
"This is the other Year 13 class," he pointed to adjacent to a door
that said 'LIBRARY'. Year 13?
"Year 13?" I voiced my question.
"Oh, yes. I forget that you go by the American system. Year 13 is 12th
Grade. This class is called Year 13 RR, which are their home room
teacher's initials. Rose Reymond is her name."
I looked through the small window on the door and let my eyes suck up
the profiles of my new classmates. Except for one. A very pale, very
terrified looking girl. As our gazes fixed on each other, her eyes
grew huge and her mouth gaped opened. As quickly as her more terrified
face showed, she snapped her head toward the board where Ms. Reymond
was taking attendance. As she turned, her two inky black braids
slapped her cheeks. Subconciously, I twisted my fingers into my
chocolate brown, waist length hair.
Mr. Benson stopped talking and turned around to find me still twisting
my hair and still gazing through the miniscule window at the pale girl
with the inky black braids.
"Morag?" He questioned.
"Wh-who is that?" I pointed to the pale girl with inky black braids.
I finally noticed that I was playing with my hair and quickly stashed
my hands behind my back.
"Oh." His face turned completely emotionless. "That is Sauren Wells.
She has skipped a couple of years. She is actually sixteen years of
age. She is deaf." His accent tickened as Charles Benson grew more
somber and more formal.
"Okay. She seems... nice." I commented blankly.
"Yes, well. Let us move on." He quickened his stride and therefore I
had to as well.
"I am now going to show you my home room class and give you your
schedule. You have already been appointed a guide in most of your
suggested courses. His name is Damien Robinson. He is the headmaster's
middle son." My teacher's features brightened at the changing of the
subject. Charles Benson smiled and I was dazzled by the beauty of it.
"Here we are", Mr. Benson jestured toward the door exactly twelve
doors away from Mrs. Reymond. "This is my room. You can-" but his
words were drown out by a horrid, meloncholy bell ringing right above
our heads. "Oh, crap," Mr. Benson actually cussed? Again, wow.
"Am I late?" I asked.
"Just about to be, yes." Mr. Benson answered.
Just then, twenty students stormed out of home room Year 13 CB. They
pushed me all over the place. Yet again, wow ( it must be my new
"Damien," I heard my teacher's voiced calling from the other side of
the giant crowd of late students.
"Ah," said a cute baby face looking boy stood still in the thinning
crowd. "You must be the sexy new girl that every little seniour has
been obsessed about since Katy Freemore killed herself two years ago."
Just now, I did not think he looked, or sounded like cute baby.
"Look, moron," I started, "number one: do not call me 'The Sexy New
Girl'. Number two: I did not want to know about some chick named Katy
who killed herself. I just want to fit in in this crappy joke of a
school. Now, are you Damien Robinson?" I asked a little bit rudly.
Once again: wow. I was never a goodie goodie two shoes but I also was
not Satin's Mother. Wow. Note to self: find a new favorite word.
"Thank God, no. There he is." The boy pointed to the window at the
opposite side of the corridor. There, was not a boy. There was a man.
A fiercly sophisticated man. He glared at me.
"Ms. Smithson," Mr. Benson called between an intertwined couple
making kissy faces at each other. "Damien Robinson is a bit shunned by
the rest of the class. Take it easy on him."
Mr. Benson led me toward Damien Robinson. Now, as Damien stared at me
from between his thin, long black hair, I did not feel very confident.
"Damien, this is Morag. She is American, from North Dakota."
Damien swished his head to one side to get his hair out of his eyes.
And that is when I saw them. His eyes. Grey as a cloudy sky and hard
as steel. Now I really wanted to run. He turned his gaze away.
"Her name dos'nt sound American. Your name," he turned his head toward
me, "is Scottish. And you better believe that, to fit in around here."
Wow. He was fierce, aggressive and, the reason for being that way,
shunned. I pittied his pain.
"Yeah," I said in a comforting and understanding, yet distant voice, "
I believe you. My grandmother was Scottish. She named me. So..." I did
not know how to finish my sentence.
"I am Damien Robinson, and therefore you are my shadow. Come on. I'll
show how to appoligize to Mrs. Northings." Damien started walking back
the way Mr. Benson and I came from. Toward my locker. Toward my
apparent first class.
"I wasn't given a time table-" He turned back to look at me with a
look that said I have mental issues.
"The heck is a 'time table'?" Wow. Damien's accent was thick. So thick
even, that hardly understood what he was saying.
"You know. A time table, where you can see what class you have next?"
"Oh. You mean a schedule paper."
"Well, I learned it as time table." I said stubbornly.
"Well, sweet heart, you're in my neck of the woods and you better say
it the way people around here say it."
"Okay. So, what classes do we have today?"I asked nervously, not
trying to upset him again.
"We first have Social Studies. After two boring hours of hell, we have
a single english with Mr. Murray."
"Oh, God. I hate English teachers," I groaned.
Don't get your nickers in a tist. He's cool."
"My what in what?"
"Your undergarments. It's an English expression for 'Don't Worry'." I
noticed that now since he was away from the other kids, his mood was
getting more amiable.
"I am socially impaired, so can you warn me who is- as I like to call
it- on the dark side and who has the force? You know, like in Star
Wars?" I did not want to seem geeky, but it was the only analogy I
could think of. And then, when I thought all was lost, Damien put a
hand around my shoulders and laughed.
"Morag, I think we will be great friends."
"Mr. Robinson, you are late... yet again. And who is that?" Wow. That
woman was definitely related to Satin's Mother.
"That," Damien said, putting on a 'You Work For My Father' sort of
look on his face, "is Morag Smithson. She is new and she is my
shadow." He folded his arms, leaned on his left leg and raised his
right eye brow. Wow, I swear, if I did that in front of my old science
teacher Mr. Davidman, I would be buried alive and he would be dancing
on my grave. Ways to go, Damien- wait what? What the heck is a shadow
and why is it me?
"Alright", Mrs. Northings said, even though it was not alright. "Have
a seat, you two. Over there, at the back of the room. Where I do not
have to see you." And she went back to teaching about the Russian
As we stalked to the back of the class room, I leaned into Damien and
"You follow me around, like a shadow does." he explained.
I looked to the right of me. I saw nothing but eyes burning through my
skin. I looked to the left of me. I saw people whispering, sounding
like little mice, running on wood.
"Hurry up, you two." Mrs. Northings snapped at us, and we quickly
rushed to our places.
I could not concentrate during the whole of History. I mean, we were
learning about the Russian Revolution. I have already studied it about
So I day dreamed and wondered about the people I have glanced at. Like
"Ms. Smithson," Mrs. Northings said, "where was Trotsky sent to be
executed?" She tapped her foot in impatience.
"Mexico. Stalin did not want competition to be ruler of Russia so he
sent the better guy away to be assassinated." I answered boringly.
"Not bad," she commented, "for the new girl." I felt very insulted.
How dare she? I wanted to get out of the class room before I started
losing my grip on humanity, so I asked, "may I go to the rest room?"
" The what?"
" The bathroom."
" Oh, no. Next time, speak proper English."
"Excuse me?" I was so shocked that I sounded rude.
"You are not in America, young lady, so I decide you learn our English
"Your being very hypocritical, ma'am. Aren't you from England? We are
"Yes I am," she replied sternly, "and I will see you in lockdown. In
America," she mimicked a terrible American accent, "it is detention,
is it not?"
"Yeah," I mumbled, going back to my seat. Damien was shaking his head
with a wry smile on his gorgeous face. Wow. He was better looking than
"You should not have done that. She always wants her way."
I sat down and Damien slid a piece of paper onto my desk. Curious, I
picked it up and read the sentences. They said: I will come and rescue
you from your locked tower, Sleeping Beauty. Soon, you will see. Your
"What is this?" I whispered to him.
"You'll see." He smiled at me. His eyes had finally softened, but I
knew they could switch back to the titanium walls. Damien could be a
sweet guy, but he decided to be secluded from his class. I had a
feeling that many things were about to change about him, and not in
very good ways.
I will not contradict Mrs. Northings during Social Studies. I had to
write that one thousand times by the next lesson, which was tomorrow.
After twenty, my hand was hurting. After fifty, I heard a tapping
sound at the window. I looked toward it, thinking it was a pigeon.
Then I saw a finger, then a hand, then his face. Damien's face,
peering at me with his grey eyes. Mouth wide open, I went to open the
"What is wrong with you?" I hissed at him while he crawled in.
"I said I was going to rescue you, Sleeping Beauty." He made a
thudding sound when he jumped from the ledge, his knees bent. He stood
up straight and he was towering over me. Wow. Compared to Damien, I
was a child's size. He turned his head toward me after swishing his
hair out from in front of his face. He stood so close. His breath
ticked my forehead. I looked up at his face with a questioning little
girl. I squinted my eyes.
"Why are you doing this for me? Why are you being so nice? What do you
want me to give you when you help me?" My questions sounded harsh and
rude, but I wanted them to notice that life is not a fairytale. Damien
looked hurt. What I expected.
"What do you mean? You're my shadow. My shadow is supposed to follow
me around. If my shadow goes one way, I have to be led around by my shadow. It's the way things work in life. Besides me and my shadow
have to look out for each other because, at this school, your shadow
is the most vulnerable thing. All you owe me is a thank you. Nothing more."
He spoke fast, so fast that his accent sounded more British. I liked
how his voice sounded, soft, quiet, yet sharp and groggy.
"Thank you. But I still have to finish this by tomorrow." I went to sit back down at my desk to finish my punishment. I looked at my watch. Half past five. School finished an hour ago. I sighed heavily and continued to write the phrases I had left. I had already done a page.
A hand was set upon mine. A hard, but warm hand that would always remember. Damien ceased my writing with one quick movement.
"Don’t." He spoke, "come with me to Cafe Día. I'll photocopy the paper next door at the junk store.
Please, come." I could not refuse.