and The Quest to See
Chapter 4 - Marsha and Johnboy
'I have had some thoughts about your problems overnight, Cilla.' Monique
said as they both headed up the stairwell for their new dorm room on the
third floor of Hopewell Hall's live-in quarters. It was twenty to eight
in the morning and they wanted to be sorted before assembly.
'I thought you might. You seem to like to run stuff around in your mind
for a while before you shoot your mouth off.'
'A little thing that perhaps you, my dear friend, should practice.'
'I know Moni, it's something I've been trying hard on. But anyway, now
that Louis and Henry are out of our faces, what gives?
Please tell me you've thought of something brilliant.' she added
'Well let's just get into our room first and I'll tell you while we put
away our clothes and books.'
At the top of the steps they turned the corner and almost collided with
the very unwelcome rear-end of a large and familiar student.
Instinctively, both took evasive action as they overheard her saying,
'... an Al's Annie's boy-friend. Yeah! Al's goin' places. He's gonna...
Roseanne Sole turned slowly, like an ocean-going liner, guided by the
tug-boat finger-pointing of both Marge Turnbull and Jenny Riley.
Monique, latching onto Priscilla's arm, attempted to ignore her as they
skirted around and headed down the corridor.
The vitriol that followed was like spittle to the back of the head.
'Pay-back! Pay-back youse two bitches! I know your little brother set me
up Blackie! I'n gonna get ya all fer that and it wont be just cream
pies! I'll do youse! I suffered a... a... injustice. Youse 'croached on
Priscilla's face was beginning to glow with fury after just a few
further steps. Monique glanced sideways at her and saw the anger growing.
'Do not let her get to you! Remember what we have talked about? Control!
Management! Do not lose it! You can do this! Keep walking. Walk away!'
'Gunna sort out yer big brother as well ya slag! Annie's got pals ta do
youse all and yer blackie girl-friend. Yer probably dikes anyway. Yeah.
No amount of arm wrenching by Monique could make her move as she lent
back, literally digging in her heels, whilst attempting to free
Monique's grip from her arm.
'Here will be an explosion, and you will regret it!' Monique cried in a
last attempt to stop her friend.
'No Monique. I won't regret it.' Priscilla extracted her wrist from her friend's grasp and extended her
own arm straight out at shoulder height, before swivelling about and
pointing directly back at Roseanne with her index and second finger.
'You are a bully! And you're also stupid! Maybe I'm not much better than
you but at least I have family and friends to show me the way.'
'Annie's got family!' Roseanne spat back petulantly, as a vague memory
of John Wynd bursting from the wardrobe in her dorm room, pointing what
appeared to be a bone at her, flashed into her mind. 'And she's got
mates too!' She added, and then as an afterthought she tacked on, 'An a
boyfriend! More than you got bitch! Aw Annie forgot, youse two got each
other. Why doncha do some pics on yer phones so we can all see what
happens after lights out?'
Monique grabbed Priscilla's free wrist again but felt no pull against
her grasp. Priscilla's right arm was still extended toward her enemy.
'Not this time you stupid cow! That's what you want isn't it? You want
me ta blow my cool and go for you so you can smash me in front of your
pals. Not gunna happen. Know why dopey? Because I have a real friend who
loves me and I love her, and that's something you and your silly
air-heads could never understand. Monique is my soul-friend, not just
like some idiots hanging around you because they think you'll take care
of them. They just don't get it. You're a bully with bad breath and B.O.
in your brain. You hate everybody and everything that doesn't fit into
your narrow mind! Can't stand other ideas or people with different skin
colours or religions. Bigot! Know that word? Look it up, loser!'
Priscilla turned about and practically dragged Monique along with her.
'Get me away from that big, dumb bitch before I lose it and go back and
smack her good,' she managed between tight lips.
'Cilla! You were... What is it in English? Oh what does it matter,
magnifique. You have the control! You kept your cool and you gave her
better than she could give. I am so very proud of you my friend.'
Priscilla hurried on but glanced sideways into the beaming Monique
smile. 'That's just it.' she said. 'I have a friend.'
'Alright my dear friend,' said Priscilla, closing the door before
getting on with general unpacking, 'we don't have too long. What?'
'You have a name. Your Mother's name. And, you also have where she was
born. Have you tried to locate her?'
'Not me, but Henry's done some searches on the Internet. Nothing. And
he's been careful enough to delete the History page entries at home.'
Monique stopped pushing clothing into her bedside drawer and
straightened up. 'I am not talking History pages. I am talking about
'Harry? What can he d... Mon, you thinking... Back in time?'
'Yes, but two problems. First, will Harry agree to do this? Second, can
your Mother be found so that you could go back to see what has happened
to her? Did Henry search under her maiden name or her married name of
Black, or perhaps she has remarried and has another name altogether, or
maybe she changed her name for some other reason. That is if she is
still alive and has not left the country.'
'Ho-boy! Starting to sound really complicated.' said Priscilla, looking
'We will find a way through Cilla. Perhaps it would be simpler to just
ask Louis, and if he does not know about this, then your Father and your
Moth... that is... Rachael.'
'But that means I'd have to tell them about Henry's sticky-beaking into
their private papers and anyway I still don't understand why they would
want to keep this all a secret and let Henry and me believe a lie...'
Hopewell's electronic call to assembly sounded with a dull 'Don Don
Don,' and the two girls snatched up their satchels and joined many
others in the hallway hurrying down to the Quad.
'... and finally First-years and all our established pupils, I should
like to introduce another newcomer, at least a pair of newcomers, to
Hopewell Hall. Please welcome Marsha Hope and John-boy!'
Sonia Poe stepped aside, as did the other teachers, to allow a young
girl in dark glasses and her guide dog through. The dog, a Labrador
crossed with something else, led the girl to the edge of the Quad's
raised area and sat obediently at her side. Marsha held up her free hand
and gave a little wave.
The head Mistress of Hopewell Hall returned to the microphone. 'Marsha
and John-boy will be with us for all of this year. They have been chosen
as Ambassadors from Vision Australia. Marsha is here in a duel capacity:
to learn and to teach. She will attend classes during school hours and
go about her studies using the tools she has, such as the Braille
system, and of course John-boy to keep her safe. It is my wish, and the
wish of all the staff here in our school that she and her dog be given
every assistance, and that they both be treated with respect and a warm
and friendly attitude. Be assured, neither of them will bite.'
There was a light ripple of laughter at this quip.
'However,' continued the Head, 'They are also here on a further mission.
That is your education. We pride ourselves at Hopewell on various life
experience programmes amongst all the other activities provided. Your
interaction, your observances and cooperation with Marsha and John-boy
are what is expected of you, and it is hoped that you in return will
gain some appreciation of what it is to be blind in a world of sight.
My teaching staff and I trust that you will befriend Marsha and learn
about her and John-boy. They have been assigned to year nine and will
spend some time moving through several classes chosen at random over the
period of their Sabbatical at Hopewell. An accommodation has been set
aside for them both on the ground floor of the students area in a vacant
dorm so that John-boy can do... that is, get his exercise.'
The assembly reacted with laughter and a few good-natured cat-calls:
'Will he do odd jobs around the school?'
'I'll pick up. I love dogs!'
'Can we give him treats?'
'Does he sleep on your bed Marsha?'
'Does he go in the toilet with you?'
'How are you going to shower?'
'That gonna be with Johnny-boy?'
'How do you bath him?'
Marsha took a step backward and held up her arm as Sonia Poe set the
microphone in front of her. 'Wow! It's a storm! Please! Let me get my breath.
Doin' the best I can with all the input.
First off, hello to everybody at Hopewell. I've done
this at a couple of state schools before now, so I have a bit of
experience with what this is all about.
Answers? Sure. Johnny sleeps where he wants to. On the bed or in his bed.
I drag that around with us.
And no, he wants to, but that's kinda out of bounds. Like I mean I don't
want to go to the toilet with him when he goes.
How do I shower? How do you shower? I get in and turn the water on. I
know where I'm going, I can feel it, just can't see it. Same goes for
And no, he's trained not to take food from anyone or be distracted from
his duties. All guide dogs are very special animals. He's sure my best
'Alright Hopewell School that's enough for now,' said Miss Poe. 'You'll
all get the chance to talk with Marsha one on one through the coming
The words of 'O Canada' , that country's National Anthem, sounded around
the Quad as a signal that Assembly was over and the students began
filing away to their first-up classes.
'Ho boy! That Marsha's pretty cool. I'd really like to talk with her.
And what about her guide dog? Such a big, happy feller. What would he
think if he met Harry?' Priscilla wondered aloud as she and Monique
entered the building.
'Oh oui, I wonder also. And of course with this Marsha and her
blindness, it also makes me think of how some people can find a way of
dealing with the bad things that life presents them.' She cast a swift, sideways
glance at her best friend.
Chapter 5 next