A modern day retelling of Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol (with an educational twist!) from our Company Manager, Leticia.
Continued from Part Two.
When a deep red mist started to flutter into the room, it all became clear quite quickly that a repeat of what had just happened was about to ensue. Rouge tried to dash out of her room, but it was no use. The mist thickened like a viscous liquid around the door handle so she wasn’t able to grip it. It filled her mouth before she had a chance to call for help. Rouge was trapped.
“I am the ghost of eXams present!” wailed a ghoulish voice. Exams present? Rouge’s eyebrows furrowed. Why did this all sound so familiar? The ghost of eXams present still wasn’t anywhere to be found but she could hear its voice distinctly. She was surprised no one had come knocking in response to the commotion.
“Where are you?” Rouge squeaked. She caught a glimpse of something small and metal glinting in the corner of the room. It floated down a lot more slowly and gently than something its size should from that height. Rouge wondered if any of this was real until she felt a very tangible, very real smack on the nose. “Ouch!” she yelped, flinging her hands up to her face for protection. The piece of metal hovered in front of Rouge, and taking in her reflection, she realised it was a mirror. As she inspected her reddening nose in it, the mirror launched forward again, this time ploughing into Rouge’s forehead. Before she could yelp out, a figure began to fade into view and the horror took a firm hold of Rouge’s voice box, incapacitating it.
“I am the ghost of eXams present!”, the spectre repeated. She scowled as she tried to get a better look of the translucent being. The ghost of eXams past didn’t look this… ghostly. A chill ran down her spine, and it became clear to Rouge that he wasn’t actually intending to converse with her. The mirror floated to Rouge’s eye level and started to flicker. Like an old television, images flashed in black and white and were accompanied by the sound of faint static and nothing else. She recognised herself in the mirror, but it was her earlier-that-day-self, walking away from the school. She didn’t remember seeing anyone filming her, and wasn’t this against the new data protection laws? She made a mental note to see if she could make a claim for this.
The mirror continued to display a precise silent film version of her day that day, following her down the route to her house. Abruptly, the screen zipped back to the school and this time Rouge wasn’t there. The other students were there though — the ones who stayed behind for the revision class. Great! Nothing Rouge could do would help her to escape these sessions. An image of her classmates filled the mirror’s screen, and for the first time sound played from it.
“Where’s Eberley?” a tinny voice from inside the mirror spoke.
“She’s not coming! Didn’t you hear — there’s no hope for her grades.”
“Wow, she used to be so clever, goodness knows what happened.”
Rouge didn’t want to admit that hearing these words stung. She was so caught up in her own self-pity that she almost didn’t see when the ghost of eXams present started to expand. He grew and grew until he finally exploded, emitting a huge gust of wind that sent Rouge’s hair and any loose bits around the room flying. The mirror dropped onto the floor with a loud CRACK — it shattered. Where the ghost of eXams present once stood was a shadow. The shadow had a similar frame to Rouge, but she’d never seen her shadow standing upright, with no wall or floor to support it. It also looked more 3D than it ever had before.
What’s this one, the ghost of eXams future? Rouge thought to herself.
“Yes,” snarled the shadow. “The ghost of eXams future.” How on earth did it know what she was thinking?
“Eberley Rouge. You have become a shadow of yourself.” It slowly began to dawn on Rouge that this was her future self speaking. She shivered at the idea of becoming… well… nothing. “You’d like to know how to stop this wouldn’t you?” It hissed on, “Follow me.”
The ghost of eXams future took Rouge’s hand. Its hand felt strange to the touch. Cold and hard, yet barely there. The ghost carried Rouge’s weight through the skies. As she looked down, she saw her dangling feet whizzing past trees, buildings and people. The people looked odd — almost like they were aging before her eyes. Not only were they travelling through the air, but through time as well she realised.
“Exactly, I’m taking you to where we end up if we follow the route you’re paving now.” It read her mind again. They arrived back where they started. Rouge wondered why on earth all that flying needed to happen just for them to end up in her room again. But her room! It looked the same but a great deal more faded out.
“I know. We’re back here — and you’re 40.” Rouge held in the gasp that tried to escape.
“Where are my parents?” she quizzed. The ghost said nothing, and in the same fashion as before, it took Rouge’s hand and carried her weight with it as it floated down the stairs. Rouge’s face fell as she took in her parents’ aged faces. Life didn’t seem to have taken it easy on them. This really stung because Rouge had always wanted to give her parents an even better life when she became somebody in the future.
“Oh, you’re definitely not a somebody.” The ghost interrupted Rouge’s thoughts yet again. She didn’t want to see herself. She’d already seen enough, but the ghost of eXams future wasn’t letting her escape that easily. It carried her to the kitchen where a morbidly obese, greasy monster sat, stuffing its face with dry cereal. The monster didn’t notice them.
“What’s that?” Rouge whispered.
“It’s us.” The ghost responded. “This is what you’re doing to us.” It then whizzed Rouge back up the stairs into her future bedroom before she could succumb to the sobs building up in her chest.
“That can’t be me!” She cried. “I’m skinny!” The ghost of eXams future told Rouge that it was time to leave and disappeared without a trace before she could finish saying: “Wait!”
How would she get home to 2019?! Rouge panicked and looked everywhere in case she could find something that might help. The ghost couldn’t have been so cruel to leave her with nothing, but no. Everything the ghosts brought — the coloured mist, the atmosphere — was gone! Everything except the little glinting mirror that the ghost of eXams present had brought with it. It was still shattered, but Rouge picked it up and inspected it. Maybe it would give her a clue.
After some time, Rouge gave up and placed the mirror on the window sill, giving up. She could hear what sounded like her father outside still shovelling snow away. Wait! Her dad was still shovelling snow away! She stretched her neck to look out of the window and confirmed that her non-elderly father was still there.
Phew! It had all been a dream. She smiled sheepishly and kicked herself for almost believing that all that nonsense was real. As she reached out to grab the remote control, picking up where she left off, the small metal mirror glinted harshly from the window sill causing her to have to shield her eyes. “Oh no….” she said aloud. Dread took over. Rouge put the remote control down and grabbed her coat and bag. She ran down the stairs, skipping steps so quickly that she almost tripped over.
“Where are you off to so fast?” Her mother called with a knowing smile, and a raised brow.
“I think the after-school class is still on for another hour. I’ll see you after!”
On the day of the exam, Rouge felt slightly nervous as she queued up outside the exam hall. She held on to the mirror as tightly as she could without cutting herself, and took in a deep breath. She squeezed her eyes shut, and hoped with all her heart that it was possible to change fate. Or better still, that fate wasn’t real.
“Time to come in! No mobile phones, and clear water bottles only!” Madame Eduquer called into the hallway. She took one last look at the mirror, as she knew she wouldn’t be allowed to take it in, and she could have sworn that one of the cracks had healed itself! She wondered if maybe, just maybe, that was a sign.
Blog Post Crafted by Leticia
Leticia runs our Admin Team, supporting tutors, clients and applicants. She loves singing and will almost always be seen making a beeline for the microphone at any karaoke night!
Leticia manages the staff on our Admin Team, liaising with tutors, clients and applicants. She is also responsible for processing the ID, Qualifications, DBS Check and References for all our newly joining tutors.