They’re sitting waiting for “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” to begin at the theatre. Mr Tarrant begins to count the heads of his students. One is missing.
He sighs, scouring the faces, many of whom are looking back at him, giggles hidden under smiles and sideward glances. His eyes glint in the golden light of the auditorium.
Then the lights dim to a shadowy grey indicating the show is about to start. Mr Tarrant sighs again, and shuffles sideways past the students practically glued to his side.
He whispers to Miss Mallymkun, the other teacher on this trip, that they are missing a student. She watches him regretfully as he leaves the room into a wash of yellow light.
After a moment his eyes adjust to the brightness of the bar beyond the auditorium door and he walks forwards a few paces to a plush chair. He sits, counting the students in his mind.
Of course, he already knows how is missing. Alice Kingsleigh. The sixth form retake. The ‘quiet’ blonde.
The girl who always sits at the back of his class and drifts through the window of reality into her imagination; he often catches her eyes on him with a burgundy blush on her cheek.
He remembers hearing the teachers bicker about her in the staff room once, her vocalised opinions and random questions disturbing their classes.
He has never experienced this; in fact, he has barely heard her talk at all in class. Instead of dwelling on this, Mr Tarrant’s cat eyes wander the room. No signs of the girl.
He stands and wanders to the bar, asking if they have seen a blonde girl with curly hair. Yes. She had gone into the toilet just after everyone had gone into the auditorium.
Ah! Thank you very much.
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