Merryl slowed, turned the corner and carefully navigated her car through the seething mass of children and parents. School pick-ups, she thought, what a marvellous way to ensure business for panel beaters! She took a deep breath, and tried to relax while she found somewhere to park. A space opened up and she grabbed it fast.
As she was getting out, a small boy cannoned into the side of the car and fell to the ground, sobbing piteously.
“OH, you poor thing!” Merryl soothed, picking him up off the ground. “Where’s your mummy?”
“BAD LADY!” the boy screamed in her face, “You runned me over! Lemme go! Lemme go!” He wrenched himself away and ran to an expensively-dressed woman wearing, Merryl noted with distaste, pearls and high heels. VERY sensible driving attire, she thought snidely.
“SHE RUNNED ME OVER!!!” the little boy wailed to his mother, the tears magically re-appearing for maximum sympathy value. His mother’s face turned red, and Merryl sighed. It was going to be one of those afternoons, she could tell.
“What the hell did you think you were doing, you stupid bitch? You ran over my little boy!” the woman demanded of Merryl. Merryl took a deep breath, and pondered her alternatives. Stuff it.
“IF,” she said through gritted teeth, “you’d been watching your little darling, you’d know that he ran into a PARKED VEHICLE! So improve your own mothering skills, you silly bint! Now get the HELL OUT OF MY WAY!” She glared, just to get the point across. Some of these mothers had less brain cells than their progeny had survival skills.
The woman opened her mouth, and nothing came out. She looked on helplessly as Merryl pushed past and headed for Monica’s classroom.
Merryl knocked on the door of the kindergarten classroom, opened it a crack and poked her head in. “Mr Parkinson?” She smiled, a little nervously.
Mr Parkinson sat at his desk, frowning. Merryl’s heart sank. This interview wasn’t going to go well. “Mrs Windsor! Come in,” he said, looking up and frowning more deeply.
Merryl sighed and sidled into the classroom. Schools made her nervous. She sat down on the other side of the desk.
“Mrs Windsor,” the teacher said, looking at her over his glasses, “Do you know why you’re here?”
“No idea,” Merryl said shakily. Had she really yelled at someone only 5 minutes ago? Her legs were jelly. She felt as though she was 10 again.
Mr Parkinson sighed. “Monica is a very intelligent girl,” he explained, “but she’s incredibly disruptive. She’s got a temper like a harpy and she’s – well, she’s too much of a handful!” he said, taking a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiping his forehead. “Today she was being teased by some of the other children in the class – I got there just as she lost her temper!”
Merryl winced. “What happened?” she asked, not really wanting to know.
He sighed. “She turned them into tulips. Tulips! They almost wilted from the heat before we could get them changed back! Their parents… well, they’re very upset.”
“What can we do?” Merryl asked. “I mean, she’s high-spirited at home, but she’s fairly well-behaved – I don’t know why she’s behaving so badly at school!”
Mr Parkinson put down his handkerchief and looked her in the eye. “Let’s be frank,” he said firmly, “I know you have royal blood… she’s part fairy, isn’t she? That’s what’s caused this ‘deformity’ of hers? She’s stifling here, Merryl. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to find her another school – for everyone’s well-being!”
“You mean,” Merryl faltered, “she’s being expelled?”
The teacher nodded.
Merryl sighed. “Oh, I understand… thank you for trying, Hugh.”
She looked around, remembering a pertinent detail.
“Umm… where IS Monica?” she asked.
Mr Parkinson bounced up out of his seat and led her over to a door next to his desk.
“She’s in the quiet room – I told her to sit in there and have a think about why what she did was wrong.”
Merryl sighed, vaguely relieved. She opened the door and called to Monica… but the room was empty of everything but furniture. She turned to the teacher – to see him looking distinctly horrified.
The newspaper headline read:
Princess Lost from School
Merryl showed it to Monica.
“See what a huge fuss you caused, love? If Mrs Finkle hadn’t found you, it could’ve been horrible, couldn’t it?”
Monica nodded, wide-eyed.
Merryl sighed. “Ah well, no point stressing over it all now, pet – you go outside with nanny, Mum and Dad need to talk about finding you a new school!”
Monica docilely followed her day-nanny out into the yard.
Merryl grabbed two coffees from the machine, dragged Kyle away from the Wii, and sat down with him at the dining room table.
“So, Monica got expelled, eh?” said Kyle, sitting back and sipping his coffee, “Our little girl’s growing up!”
Merryl growled at him. “SERIOUS face on please, darling!” she demanded, fighting away the smile, “This is a major problem – she can’t go around turning classmates into flowers!”
“Even if they do smell a whole lot better that way!” Kyle sniggered.
Merryl gave him a look.
“OK, OK, serious face…” Kyle surrendered. “Honey – I have no idea what to do. How the hell do you control a child who can turn you into a chocolate bilby?”
Merryl sighed. “There’s only one thing for it, I think – we’ll need to send her to Kingsley’s!”
“Huh?” Kyle grunted curiously, “Never heard of it!”
“It’s a boarding school…” Merryl winced, “in England.”
Kyle jumped up, enraged. “Send our little girl overseas? To England? To bloody boarding school? You know what those Poms are like, they’ll turn her into a snooty wench with a poker stuck up her… you know what!”
“You know, honey,” Merryl said, eyes narrowing, “that’s where I went to school!”
Kyle opened his mouth, and froze. “The only way to dig is down from here, isn’t it?” he enquired meekly.
Merryl nodded, still looking rather dangerous.
Kyle sighed. “You really think this is a good idea?”
Merryl nodded again. “They have experience with this sort of thing, love… there are even a couple of fairy-bloods on staff. She won’t be able to run riot, and she’ll learn how to hex responsibly. And – she won’t get teased for being a hunchback, either!”
“Can we afford it?” Kyle questioned doubtfully, “I mean, it sounds posh and expensive!”
“Nope!” Merryl answered cheerfully, “But that’s OK, royalty get scholarships… the school gets cachet galore from having real live princesses on the roll.”
“Aha!” Kyle said, cheering up, “Royalty’s finally good for something! Apart from bringing me you, of course!” he added carefully, and snogged his wife for good measure.
Monica was disturbingly unsurprised when she was told of the decision. And from the speed and care with which she packed – only 5 years old, remember! – you’d almost think she wanted to go. Or that she’d planned the whole thing. But a 5 year old couldn’t do that.