Friday, October 19, 2012

100TWC - Day 84: Echoes

Emma, Phoebe and Danielle exited the bus down the steep steps. At the last moment, Danielle missed her footing and collided heavily with the two girls in front.

"Sorry! These steps--"
"Use the handrail can't you? That's what it's there for."

Emma gave Phoebe a knowing look. They had been looking forward to this school trip for months. She didn't want to be stuck with the class dork. The other girls were already clustered around Miss James who stood on the kerb looking for them.

"Come on you three, hurry up!" she called. They joined the group. "Each of you will have enough time to visit two of the famous landmarks on your list," said their teacher loudly, fighting to be heard over the traffic noise.  "You'll need to be back at the restaurant by SIX at the very latest if we're all to get served before the show, then we will all proceed to the theatre together. That's very important. Six o'clock. Don't be late! If you have anything you can set a reminder on - like your mobile phones - I suggest you do it now. We won't wait for stragglers."

Several of the girls began fishing in their bags, purses and pockets for their phones.

"Now do all of you know where you're going," Miss James continued, "or do any of you need any help?"

Three or four hands went up, but Emma knew exactly what she wanted to see. Her plans had been firmed up the day they got their lists of tourist places. She linked arms with Phoebe.

"Come on," she said, "we don't need any help."

As they walked away from the group, Miss James called after them. "Phoebe! Emma! Where are you going?"
"It's alright miss," said Emma, "we know where we're going."
"Yes, but there are only two of you," Miss James said, walking quickly towards them. "I was quite clear that everyone should stay in groups of three or more."
"I'll come with you," said Danielle.

Emma rolled her eyes, but it was too late. Miss James had heard.

"Very good, Danielle, thank you. Well, get along with you, since you're so certain you don't need anything more from me."

She shooed them away and turned back to the group.

The girls didn't move. Danielle blushed. "I know you don't really want me tagging along," she said quietly, "but you need a third, and everyone else is already in a group."
Phoebe sighed. "Come on, Emma. Looks like we don't have a choice."

The coach had pulled up at the other side of the square from Emma's first port of call. They set off across the tarmac, attracting annoyed honks from a couple of drivers.

"God," said Emma, "it's true what they told us about drivers here."
"Bit different from home," agreed Danielle.
"Well it is the capital, dummy," Emma replied.
"Emma," Phoebe said, holding her friend's arm, "calm down. If we have to spend the entire day with her let's at least try to keep it civil."

Emma didn't say another word until they entered the enormous, ancient, distinctive building.

"I want to go right to the top," she proclaimed, her voice echoing from the smooth stone walls.

They climbed the stairs in silence, needing all their breath for the long ascent. At the top, Danielle turned left. Emma pulled Phoebe to the right.

"We're supposed to stick together," Danielle reminded her.
"We can't possibly come to any harm in here," Emma retorted. "We're not chained together. You go that way, we'll go this way. We can meet in the middle on the other side."

Danielle shrugged and walked off.

"Thank God," said Emma, "I thought we were going to have to babysit her all day."
"She's not that bad."
"Yes she is. She's a mardy cow at the best of times, and always sucking up to the teachers. Especially Miss James. Wouldn't surprise me if she didn't have a thing for her."
"What do you mean, a thing?"
"You know. A dyke thing."
"Well, she looks the type. All plain trousers and white shirts. And she's such a swot too. Always has her hand up."
"You a bit jealous, maybe?"
"Of her? You must be joking. Mousey little lezzer. She should think herself lucky to be around cool ladies like us. Let's hope our cool rubs off on her, and not the other way round."

By now they had walked almost half-way around the dome and Danielle appeared from the other direction. She was crying.

"What's up?" asked Phoebe. "What's happened."
"Thought you knew everything about this place," Danielle mumbled, sniffing back her tears and wiping her eyes.
"Only what I've read in the handout," said Emma defensively. "Why?"
"Doesn't it say that it's called the Whispering Gallery?" asked Danielle hotly.

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