Forget Me Not — Excerpt, Chapter 17
The Head Student, Virginia Larson, sat behind a long brown table like she did every day after lunch, handing out mail like a drill sergeant. Virginia’s iron demeanor contrasted the rest of Teddi’s comforting days at Miss Carrington’s—or “Middletown,” to the girls who lived there. Virginia’s long dark hair hung straight down her back, pinned tightly at the sides, reminding Teddi of a nun’s habit. She wore her uniform skirts just longer than they needed to be as if to emphasize her position as the most proper and well-groomed young lady at the school.
“Bryant, Pamela,” Virginia’s voice rang out over the whispering girls who crowded together in the front hall.
“Oh, hold these, Teddi. I’m expecting a package today.” The tall blonde named Pamela stuffed her books into Teddi’s arms and pushed her way to the front of the crowd.
“She’s probably getting another gift from Randall,” said Laura Norwick. She stood beside Teddi in their usual spot near a pair of imposing white double doors that led into the main courtyard. Today, the doors were closed to keep the December chill out.
“Could be Christopher this time,” Teddi drawled tiredly.
Laura giggled, then slumped against the wall with a sigh. “I wish I had just one boy writing to me and sending me gifts.” Laura hadn’t received a scrap of mail for weeks. Her parents weren’t exactly the overprotective types, and boys… well, she was far too shy to talk to one.
“What about Stu Buchanan?” Teddi asked with a knowing smirk, causing Laura to blush.
“Oh, he’s too handsome for me. Besides, any boy I’m interested in will look right through me and ask about Jeanne.”
Laura’s sister Jeanne was an actress, to the chagrin of their parents, and engaged to a famous Broadway producer. Jeanne graduated from Miss Carrington’s the year before, and therefore, was the talk of the girls—and any boys who visited the school. They joked about Jeanne in ways that Teddi didn’t think the former debutante would have appreciated. Being an actress seemed glamorous to Teddi, but at the same time she knew a world like that would never be hers. She loved the movies and movie magazines, but she couldn’t imagine being in that life. Laura, she knew, felt the same way.
“Ask him to dance with you tonight,” Teddi suggested, referring to the winter formal that was taking place that evening.
“I don’t think so,” said Laura, shaking her head as if even the thought of such a thing would cause sudden death.
Teddi shrugged. She didn’t feel like talking about boys right now. She was done with them. Unfortunately, she was not going to get her wish as Pamela approached them holding a rectangular box in the palm of her hand.
“Well?” Teddi smirked with a raise of an eyebrow.
Laura was a bit more enthusiastic with her inquiry. “Is it from Christopher or Randall?”
“Paul,” Pamela said quickly. “But not as big as I was hoping. Well, you know what they say about small boxes.”
“Paul? Who’s Paul?” Laura asked, wide-eyed.
“Hotchkiss boy. He’s rather good looking, I suppose. He’ll be here tonight,” she said with a flippant wave of her hand. “Ted, you’ve got a couple of packages waiting for you up there. Do you want me to run back up to the room and put this away so I can help you?” The house they roomed in was just across the snow-speckled lawn.
“No, I think I can manage.”
“I’ll help her,” said Laura.
“Thank goodness,” she said. “That nearly put me in a spot. I still have to finish that history report.”
“It’s due in twenty-five minutes!” Teddi admonished her.
“Well, I guess time’s a wastin’,” Pamela said, waving at them as she turned then dashed out of the building.
Teddi shook her head. “Some roommate.”
“At least you don’t room with Bertha the Bull.” Laura glowered.
Teddi laughed as she thought of the field hockey captain and her brutish attitude. To say she was a contrast to the bookish, giggly Laura would be an understatement. Teddi found her nice enough, but Laura was scared to death of her and spent most her time in Teddi and Pamela’s room.
Pamela was also quite different from Laura, but as Laura pointed out, Pamela was like her sister Jeanne. Boy crazy and glamorous. She was used to those types of contrasts.
“Donovan, Theodora,” Virginia boomed. Teddi and Laura gathered their things and headed for the table.
There were three midsized parcels waiting for her. “Thanks,” she muttered, placing both on top of her books.
“My grandmother is crazy. We have one more week before the holidays. What is the point of all of this?”
Laura helped Teddi carry her last package and noticed a red envelope fall to the floor. “Hey, Teddi, don’t forget your letter.”
“This.” Laura held up the red envelope only to realize that Teddi couldn’t see in front of her for all she was carrying. “Oh, it looks like a Christmas card or something. I’ll keep it for you,” she said, navigating Teddi through the crowd so she wouldn’t drop anything.
When they reached Teddi’s room, they dumped everything onto her bed, books and all.
Pamela sat scribbling on a pad of paper at the edge of her own bed. Her desk was too cluttered with pictures of boys and decorations for practical use. “Wow, positively symphonic timing, ladies.” She smirked without looking up. “I’m just about done. And I’ll wager one of those packages contains goodies prepared by a certain housekeeper extraordinaire named Gertrude, Miss Theodora.”
“My grandmother exploits her. She works for another family, too, and doesn’t have time to waste baking stuff I’m never going to eat just because my grandmother feels guilty about judging everyone and destroying my life.”
“Be grateful she’s not sending you dried berries and nuts like my mother. What did she send this time?” Pamela asked, looking up with hopeful eyes.
Teddi opened a box and found several pairs of socks inside.
Pamela tossed her essay aside and went to sit next to her roommate. “Hmm, nothing. Okay, next box,” she said, putting the socks behind them and handing Teddi another parcel.
In it were pictures of the family, several of them. “Aw, is that you, Teddi?” asked Pamela, grabbing one of the framed photographs from the box. “You were too adorable.”
“Oh, you were. Who’s this?” asked Laura, squeezing in beside Pamela and pointing at the picture.
“My sister Liza.” Teddi’s brow furrowed. Why would her grandmother send her a picture with Liza in it? She hadn’t seen one in plain sight of their house since before she moved in.
“Okay, Ted,” Pamela sing-songed, holding the remaining box in her lap, “open this up before we have to go to class.”
Teddi put the pictures aside and ripped through the third and final package.
“Kippy! Oatmeal raisin! That woman is a goddess,” Pamela said, grabbing one of the voluminous cookies and sinking her teeth into it. “Mm, well, time for class.”
“Did you get it done?”
“Yep. It’s a little over a page.”
“It’s supposed to be three,” Teddi snorted.
Pamela shrugged. “I’ll say I had a stomachache.”
“I’m sure she’ll believe that.” Teddi sighed, watching Pamela stuffing the last bit of cookie into her mouth before grabbing another.
“What? I didn’t have much at lunch.”
Laura laughed and Teddi shook her head, eyes dropping to her watch. They had three minutes to make it across campus. She pushed her friends out of the door, and they high-tailed it to their lesson.
**Photograph courtesy of WikiCommons of Choate Rosemary Hall