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Authors: Carol Holden

Tags: #Fiction, #General

Splintered Lives

BOOK: Splintered Lives
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Splintered Lives

 

 

 

 

 

For my beloved Ken

 

Splinter
-
 
A
thin piece broken away from a larger one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

 

The morning was beginning to feel like autumn.
 
Sarah could smell the rich scents of full-blown fruits and flowers as she walked through the gardens on her way to her first lecture.
 
The sun shone on the trees and a light breeze gave them a wonderful aria of sound and colour through the fine mist.
 
The water lilies, now without flowers, floated quietly on the pond and the wildlife seemed calm and restful in the limpid air.
 
Sarah could hear the chatter of other students and the sound of feet on concrete but she knew no one.
 
She struggled with her books and bag, until she eventually found the room she was seeking.
    

 

There were twelve other students already sat at desks in the room.
 
They were all mature students with ages from early twenties to early forties and each had a background of business or one from the professions, accountants, solicitors and surveyors. There was a friendly hubbub of noise in the classroom and most of them were male but Sarah saw another woman across the room so she made her way to sit beside her. There was a faint essence of rose scented perfume that gave off a pleasant aroma as Sarah took a seat by her side.
 
Sarah had decided that she would like to teach law but hopefully instil a sense of benevolence into her students.
 

 

 
They were asked to introduce themselves with a short talk on their previous experience.
 
Sarah gave her name and said that if someone cannot do a job with competence then the best next thing is to teach it.
 
This brought laughter from the others and broke the ice a bit.
 
The woman on her right said her name was Ann and she came from
Southern Ireland
, where she had been an accountant.
 
Sarah loved her soft mellow accent, her calm manner and decided that she would most likely make a friend of her.
 
The man on Sarah’s left said his name was John, who had a strong
Edinburgh
accent and a witty turn of phrase.
 
The next man to give us his details was a man with a quiet gentle Welsh accent whose name was David; he had been a civil engineer.
 
All the other students gave their little speeches and she thought what a wonderful texture of sound and local accents made up the group and Sarah loved the North Eastern one especially, as like the Welsh and the Irish, there was a lilt in his voice.
 

 

Their first lesson was with their tutor who was a Lancastrian and he had been a scientist in his previous life. All his lectures were wonderful because he brought all the meticulous ways of a scientist to his lectures and his notes and handouts were particularly helpful.
 
They all went for lunch in the refectory where there was a piquant smell of garlic and herbs as Ann and Sarah queued to get their meal.
 
They then sat at a table where John and David joined them.
 
“How did you find that,” Ann asked the group.

 

 
“Not bad at all,” They answered almost in unison.
 
The table talk was witty and relaxed and there was plenty of laughter.
 
Sarah felt much better than she had done when she first arrived, when she was full of apprehension and lacking in confidence.
 

 

John who was tall and dark with a craggy looking face told us he had been a Sales Executive and he was fed up with the rat race.
 
He intended to teach market research and executive skills.
 
His hectic life had held on to him like a pair of golden handcuffs, where the money he earned was great but he had no time to spend with his family and he had eventually lost them.
 
He was hoping that if he was successful with this course, his wife would take him back and the children would benefit from the time he was hoping to spend with them.
 
John was thirty-five years old and his children were ten years and eight and the year he was going to spend acquiring his Teacher’s Diploma would be well worth the effort if he became a full time father again.
 

 

Ann was a country girl with dreamy brown eyes that were set far apart in a lovely oval face, who had taken her degree in accountancy in
Dublin
, where she had worked for ten years.
 
She was thirty-two years old and although she had had a few boy friends she had never been able to commit to any of them.
 
She was an attractive woman with thick blond hair that had a real sheen to it that justified her healthy good looks and gave her a warm and friendly aura.
 
Sarah was immediately attached to her and her quick response allowed them to become firm friends.
 
Ann and Sarah had rooms in the same hall and they met up in the morning and had breakfast together, in fact they ate all their meals together and began a social life that was light hearted and full of activities, keeping their lives balanced with the work they had to do.

 

David was a shy individual who seemed difficult to get to know at first but as time went on he joined our little group and had a lot to contribute.
 
He had thick auburn hair and a gentle, almost wistful, smile.
 
He was particularly good at Maths and when we had problems with statistics and the like he would talk us through them and make it seem very easy.
 
We were sure he would be the best at teaching than any of our group.
 
David had had a busy life travelling the world, being involved in many civil engineering projects.
 
He had enjoyed that type of life but after his mother had died, the year before, he felt that he would like to settle down and keep an eye on his grieving father.
 
He hoped to get a job in the same town where he had lived as a child and although he was not living with his father, he hoped that he would be able to live somewhere, not too far away.
 

 

Sarah had been a solicitor in her previous life but had become very sad at the way the law worked and the way the poor were disenfranchised. She was thirty years old and after her degree she had to serve her apprenticeship with a firm of solicitors.
 
She lived in a small northern town where everyone knew one another and there was a real community there.
 
When she visited the library the person who would serve her had been a friend since school.
  
Sarah’s sister worked in the local leisure centre and she would sometimes join her for a swim and a sauna.
 
Their parents were hard working people who had struggled to pay for Sarah’s time at University and who adored the children her sister and her husband had produced.
 
Sarah had envied her sister sometimes but she had not been able to find the right partner for herself.
            

 

When Sarah was 25 years old she fell in love with Andrew, a more senior member of the same firm. They had a lot of fun and decided to move in together. They enjoyed travelling together, entertaining their friends and building a home.
 
Andrew was very ambitious and he had a very different attitude to work than Sarah.
  
He would happily charge large amounts for his services without any reticence. Sarah hated to have to charge great amounts to little old ladies she knew could ill afford it.
 
Sometimes this upset their easy life but she cared enough for Andrew and understood that life is not always agreeable.

 

Andrew applied for a well-paid job in
America
but Sarah was not ready to make such a move.
 
It was an uneasy break for them but they decided that it was a break.
 
They had come to the end of their time together.
 
As she had moved into his flat, he had to sell it in order to free his capital to buy something in
America
; she decided to go home to her parents for the time before she started her college course.

 

She drove him to the airport and they parted as friends.
 
Although she was sad, she knew it was the best thing for both of them.

 

As they kissed and said ‘Goodbye,’ they both knew that they would lose touch eventually.

 

They had six weeks in the ivory tower of the college and then they were flung out in to the real world of teaching practice.
 
Their social life became stunted and they had to work hard each evening in order to prepare the lesson notes for the following day.
 
Sarah’s first class was one of mature students who were taking company law for their banking and business courses. They were a smartly dressed bunch with plenty to say to each other as they had been together as a group for some time. When Sarah wrote the notes on the board it looked as if a cat had walked across it because her fingers were so sweaty with fear and embarrassment.
 
Her students didn’t seem to notice and after the first morning she began to enjoy herself.
 
She loved it when someone in the class asked a relevant question, thus reinforcing her theory that they must have understood her as they were asking the right questions.

 

She had to now fit in with another set of people, lecturers and laboratory assistants and there was another student teacher who was attending the same college as herself but whom she had not seen before because she was studying in another faculty.
 
She was an English Language student teaching English as a second language.
 
Most of her students came from
Japan
and they needed their English language to be able to understand the content of their technology courses.
 
She had a wonderful sense of humour and had the whole staff room reeling with laughter at the tales she told us of the mistakes she and her students made when trying to understand each other.
 
“I lish to weave the crass,” one had said and then walked out of her class.
 
She had been perturbed until she had interpreted him to mean, “I wish to leave the class.”
 
Later a man arrived who seemed arrogant and miserable and he didn’t approve of their laughter.
 
He sat in a corner with his cronies and after a look of disdain in their direction he completely ignored them, the English language teacher and Sarah. If all the staff had had that attitude their lives in that college would have been a nightmare.
 

 

Now it was weekend and they were determined, Ann and Sarah, that they would have a pleasant time, and leave the work for the Monday lectures until Sunday to complete.
 
Ann had been taken aback by some of the students that she had had to contend with.
 
Some had little motivation as well as little aptitude and she was exhausted by the Friday night.
 
The Student’s
Union
had arranged for a band to entertain them in the student’s bar and they showered and dressed in their student gear that felt really comfortable after the week of wearing suits.
 

BOOK: Splintered Lives
2.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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