Sunday 12 March 2023

Sunday Serial: The House of Clementine, Chapters 25 & 26, orange juice,


Tamsin and her classmates were now outside the House of Clementine High School. Those Clementiners. They were up themselves, weren't they? Poncy and posh. Just who did they think they were? Well, they were nothing. The Normalers were going to show them. Any minute now it would all kick off.

To think she used to be one of them. She'd felt uneasy at first and now she realised that had been the right instinct. That first day and that ridiculous uniform. She remembered the conversation with her mother.        

"I hate it. I really do. Why do we have to wear this stupid orange? It's just not my colour." She'd tugged at the linen tunic that was part of the House of Clementine school uniform.

"Because that's what the uniform is. Everyone will be wearing it."

"The boys won't. And neither will Catty."

"The boys' trousers are made of the same cloth. Listen, I know you'll miss your friend but Catty just wasn't smart enough to get a place at the school." 

"So what will happen to her?"

"Oh, I expect she'll be fine."

"Can I still see her?"

"Well, maybe that's not such a good idea. You won't be doing the same things at all. Come on. It's time to go. The walking bus will be here soon."

Tamsin grabbed she school bag and opened the front door. Yes, they were already making their way along the street.

"Go Tamsin!" cried one of the older boys.

Tamsin felt herself blush but soon she was talking to Rozzy Steeper a girl who had been in her class at her previous school.

"It's going to be really good, I think. So much more important and more interesting than the Ground School."              

Tamsin shrugged. "Maybe." But she'd always found Catty so funny and they'd always played together so well. Catty had such a vivid imagination. Rozzy always seemed a bit dull.

The walking bus made its way past the orchards towards the shiny new school that had only been open a few months. A tiny girl, in the grey uniform of the Normal School, stood at the side of the road as they made their way past. It was Catty.

"I expect she'll have to get the real bus into town," said Rozzy."It was so worth making the effort to pass the entrance test not to have that hassle. Mind you, she might not have even been entered. She's so small. The Order wouldn't want her. We can't dilute the Order with misfits."

Catty was staring at Tamsin. Tamsin went to wave but Rozzy nudged her. "Best to ignore her, don't you think?"

Tamsin pulled her half-raised arm back down.

Catty shook her head.

Tamsin followed the others and wondered what had just happened. 


Oh soon enough she'd go used to the posh school. And she'd got used to Rozzy. She'd found her good fun after all. What about the day when Catty had arrived?

Rozzy poked her in the ribs, making her giggle. Tranny was about to make one of her speeches and as usual, as she took in a deep breath, her breasts wiggled. The trouble was, Rozzy always managed to giggle quietly to herself. The teachers usually heard Tamsin. Rozzy was a laugh a minute these days. Why had she ever thought she was dull?       

"As you know at this time of year we welcome new students who have passed the entrance test two years late. I urge you to make them as comfortable as possible. These late-developers often go on and do surprisingly well. And maybe the fact that they can enter our system will serve to remind us all that we can just as easily lose our own places in it." Miss Tranus banged her ruler down on the desk. "Tamsin Bokart and Rozzy Steeper, will you stop messing around and pay attention."

Tamsin felt herself blush. She wished that Rozzy wouldn't keep on getting her into trouble. They'd become good friends over the two years they'd been in the House of Clementine High School. But it was all right for Rozzy. She got good marks even without trying very hard. Tamsin had to work harder. And Rozzy was continuously distracting her. "We'd better listen," she whispered. 

Rozzy shrugged. "If you must."

"Girls. Enough." Miss Tranus had gone red now.

There was a tap on the door.


"Here they are," said Mr Donelly, the school secretary. Three boys and two girls dressed in sparkling new House of Clementine uniforms followed him into the classroom.

Tamsin gasped when she saw the first of the girls. It was unmistakably Catty. She'd grown though, and filled out a bit. The orange uniform really suited her. She looked so confident, so different from the miserable little grey-clad girl they'd seen waiting for the bus two years ago.   

Rozzy nudged her. "She won't last. Just you see."

Tamsin wasn't so sure, though. She stared at Catty. Catty smirked back.  


Of course, the inevitable had happened. Rozzy finally got her into such trouble.

Tamsin had known what was coming the day her parents were called in. They hadn't. They'd been quite excited about being summoned to the school.

"It must be because you're doing well," her mother had said.

"Perhaps they want to recommend you for knight training," her father had suggested.             

But no. it was nothing like that. She knew. Her marks had been getting poorer all the time and then there had been the fight with Catty. 

She'd tried not to care. Why would she want to stay here anyway? For some reason she couldn't explain at all Rozzy had stopped talking to her and had chummed up with Catty. The two girls walked around the school arm in arm.

"Can you smell something funny?" Rozzy asked as they walked past her in the corridor.

Catty would giggle. "It must be something the cat's brought in."

"Well, I wish she wouldn't."

The two girls would then collapse in helpless laughter at their own pathetic little joke. Tears pricked at Tamsin's eyes. She tried to tell herself that this was for the best. Who would want to be around people like that? It didn't work, though. They'd both been her friend before and now she was on her own.  

Now here they were, sitting outside the head teacher's office. That was bad enough. But what was the Normal School going to be like? It had certainly toughened Catty up. Perhaps Catty had always been stronger than her, though. Oh, and that awful grey uniform. Why had she complained so much about the orange one?  

The door opened. Miss Frampton, who had always been so friendly and kind, looked very serious today.            

"Good morning, Mr and Mrs Bokart. Tamsin, you wait outside a while. I want to speak to your parents in private first."

There was a lump in Tamsin's throat as she watched her parents go into the head's office.

"I'm afraid I have some bad news," said Miss Frampton as she closed the door.


Then she'd got used to the Normal school and she'd made friends with Kelvin. It seemed ages now since she'd first got together with him. Really got together with him that is.

She had missed the school bus again that day. There was nothing for it but to start walking and get the other one from the bus station. If she was lucky someone might pass her and offer her a lift. Perhaps Dad would be out delivering local orders. On the other hand, hopefully he wouldn't be. She'd only get a lecture about getting another detention. Looking on the brighter side, she might bump into Kelvin.

She smiled to herself when she thought how scared she'd been of him at first. He was the school's hard boy. Oh, yes, and he'd been hard in another way as well. She's noticed that when he'd kissed her the other week and pressed up against her. She wouldn't mind a bit more of that. She was ready for him. Well, which girl wouldn't be? He was the main source of the illegal contraceptive pills.

"Better stop," he'd said, and pulled away from her. He'd fumbled in his bag and pulled out a packet of pills. "You'll need to start taking these. Just follow the instructions." Then he'd kissed her gently on the head. "They take two weeks to become effective so best keep out of my way until then. You're so beautiful I can't control myself when I'm around you."

She wasn't daft. She knew he'd have more than one girl on the go and that she wouldn't be all that special to him. But she was ready for him now. The two weeks were up. If he wanted her he could have her. She wanted to know what doing "it" was like. Anything to get away from the boredom and the dreariness of the Normal School.

A motor-bike stopped beside her. Her heart skipped a beat. The rider got off and took off his helmet. Unmistakably Kelvin.

"Missed your bus again or were you deliberately waiting for me?"

She nodded.

"Well, which?"

"I, er ..."

"You've been taking those pills like a good girl?"


He laughed. "Good, good. Listen. I can't stop now. I have some business to attend to. I won't be long. Will you wait for me? Are you ready? Do you want to do it?"


"Good girl."

She watched him amble away. He went down the steps that lead to the back of the bus station. It was a popular spot for students from her school to hang out smoking or buying and exchanging drugs. A bus drew into the station. It was her bus. She'd have to miss this one as well if she was going to see Kelvin. Two girls in House of Clementine uniforms got off. Unbelievable, Catty and Rozzy. They made their way up the ramp to where Kelvin was now standing.                                                                      

He took two packets out of his bag. They looked exactly like the one he'd given her. They were getting contraceptive pills as well? House of Clementine girls were doing something forbidden? Well, well.

She was even less special than she'd thought. She hurried down the steps and just managed to jump on the bus before it set off.  


Of course, it had all gone wrong for Catty and Rozzy. Kelvin hadn't let her down after all.

"I've heard some shocking news," her mum said one day when she got in from school. "That old friend of yours. Catty Pulson? She's going to have a baby. And her best friend. Rozzy Steeper. Mrs Pulson tells me there are quite a few girls at the school in that position. So you see, House of Clementine High School girls aren't all they're cracked up to be."

Tamsin felt sick. Didn't those pills that Kelvin supplied work? What about if she became pregnant as well? She was meeting him now four or five times a week and they had sex every time, even when she had her period. He'd told her he was only seeing her but she didn't know whether she could believe him.

The next time she saw him she wanted to ask him first but before she could say a word his lips were on hers and his hand was up inside her bra. Oh, she wanted him now. She didn't care if this made her have a baby. Her hand found its way into his trousers. As she touched his hard penis she felt the first wave of an orgasm. Soon he was inside her and as he started moving faster and faster she found her excitement growing until, at the split second he cried out, something deep inside her own body exploded in ecstasy. Even better than before. This glorious sensation just got stronger and stronger each time.   

"God, Tamsie," he murmured. "You ain't half good at this. Never known anyone better." He handed her a tissue, then took one out of the packet himself and wiped his now limp penis.

Might she be now going to have his baby? "You're sure those pills work, aren't you?" she asked.

"Of course. They have so far, haven't they?"

"Yes. But the girls at the Clementine school?"

Kelvin threw back his head and laughed. "Course they're screwed. The pills I sold them were fake. Not going to waste the real stuff on them. Their money's good though." He zipped up his trousers. He tapped the end of her nose. "You just keep on taking those pills."

Then he walked away without even looking back. Something sank in her. Still, it looked as if she was safe.


"Are we all ready then?"

Kelvin's voice woke her from her daydreaming. This was it. 

She had never seen him looking so excited. Not even when she'd deliberately teased him and not let him get inside her straightaway. Now, his eyes were gleaming. His face was bright red and he was holding the fence post high above his head. His nose had never straightened properly after Catty's brother had broken it. It made him look evil. She liked that look. It suited him. 

"You really need to go to the hospital," she'd said.

"Naw! Can't afford it."

He'd probably been right. The Clementine Clinic was way beyond the means of Normalers like him, even with all the money he was getting from the illegal contraceptive pills. There was no Normal hospital.

The crowd was now chanting.

He winked at her. "You take this." He threw the fence post to her and pulled a large kitchen knife out of his bag. "Come on. Let's get to them."

They all moved forward.

The bell rang, signalling the end of the school day for the House of Clementine High School.                       

The kids started ambling out totally unaware of what was waiting for them.

"Go!" shouted Kelvin.

The Normalers rushed forward. The Clementiners froze where they stood. Tamsin found herself face to face with Catty. Her former friend stared at her. She opened her mouth as if she was about to say something. Her face crumpled and she looked as if she was going to cry.

Tamsin was distracted by a scream to her right. She glanced quickly and saw Kelvin pulling his knife out of a boy's chest. Catty's brother.

"Go on. Do it." Kelvin hissed.

Tamsin raised the fence post and crashed it down on Catty's head. The Clementiner fell to the ground, unconscious.

That would show them. It made the Clementiners' raid on the Normal School last week look like a childish game.

She looked down at Catty. Was she dead? She didn't really care. It was a shame about the baby, though.                 


You see, none of them really know how to behave. Oranges go bad. It makes it all so easy for me.   

About the Peace Child Series:

Book 1 The Prophecy
Kaleem Malkendy is different – and on Terrestra, different is no way to be.
Everything about Kaleem marks him out form the rest: the blond hair and dark skin, the uncomfortable cave where he lives and the fact that he doesn’t know his father. He’s used to unwelcome attention, but even so he’d feel better if some strange old man didn’t keep following him around.
That man introduces himself and begins to explain the Babel Prophecy – and everything in Kaleem’s life changes forever.    
Book 2 Babel
Babel is the second part of the Peace Child trilogy. Kaleem has found his father and soon finds the love of his life, Rozia Laurence, but he is still not comfortable with his role as Peace Child. He also has to face some of the less palatable truths about his home planet: it is blighted by the existence of the Z Zone, a place where poorer people live outside of society, and by switch-off, compulsory euthanasia for a healthy but aging population, including his mentor, Razjosh. The Babel Tower still haunts him, but it begins to make sense as he uncovers more of the truth about his past and how it is connected with the problems in the Z Zone. Kaleem knows he can and must make a difference, but at what personal cost?
Book 3 The Tower 

Kaleem has given up the love of his life in order to protect her. He now lives and works on Zandra. A sudden landquake, not known on the planet for many years, destroys many of the forests his father has planted to bring life back to the planet. The new relationship Kaleem has helped to establish between the Terrestrans and the Zandrians is also under threat. A third party gets involved and Kaleem has to use all of his diplomatic skills to keep everything on track. Mistakes cost him dearly and he looks set to lose Rozia for a second time. The Babel Tower mystery, others mysteries and sadness plague him. Can he find a way through to fulfil his role as the Peace Child?
Find out more here.  

Gill James is published by The Red Telephone, Butterfly and Chapeltown.  

She edits CafeLit.

She writes for the online community news magazine: Talking About My Generation

She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing and has an MA in Writing for Children and PhD in Creative and Critical Writing

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