Chapter 2: 30/04/1987
Tanya eagerly ran down the stairs towards the school’s dining hall. It was breakfast time and everyone else was slowly making their way down to the room, grumbling about how early it was. Tanya, however, had a special reason to get down quickly. It was the day before her 17th birthday and she expected that there would be a bit of premature mail waiting for her. Sure enough, there was over a half dozen letters in a variety of colours and all indicated that she wasn’t to open them until the following day. Tanya smiled to herself, noting the various post codes: aunts from Thailand, her parents in Hong Kong, her older cousins in other schools around the UK and one she knew that her youngest cousin, the only one younger than her, had personally made.
The mail at the school was sorted alphabetically into individual bunches and Tanya was surprised to see that Becky, whose surname Crawford put her right next to Tanya, had an even larger collection of envelopes. Sure, Becky’s parents each wrote almost everyday and she got fairly regular letters from a couple of guys she, like, sort of dated back home, so she said, but there was about ten letters there! ‘Weird,’ thought Tanya. She made her way to her table place, which was assigned for breakfast, and waited for the rest of the girls and teachers to arrive.
Predictable as ever, Becky entered the dining hall five minutes late and with an air of effortless superiority. The headmistress said grace and everybody sat down to tuck in. Sitting next to Tanya, Becky began to organise her mail. Neither girl acknowledged the presence of the other and conversation at the table was muted by the iciness between the two. After sorting out the envelopes into various groupings, Becky began opening them.
“Oh look,” she cried, “Daddy’s given me a cheque for fifty pounds to buy some new shoes! Oh he’s such a sweetie!” Tanya practically choked on her toast: £50 pounds was an absolute fortune. She’d be amazed if she got half as much in total for her entire birthday. Becky continued opening her cards, explaining her various good fortunes to all and sundry. She finally got to the last few cards and declared herself tired of receiving gifts for the moment, she’d open those ones later. Tanya couldn’t help herself.
“Why on earth are you getting presents?”
Instead of anger, Becky merely looked mildly affronted.
“Why Tanya,” she said in a cloyingly gracious voice, “These are from the people who love me. Why, how do you celebrate your birthday? Do you do some differential equations? Do you write a sonnet? Pray tell?” The jibes cut surprisingly close but Tanya was too surprised to feel angry. Rather, she felt bemused.
“What do you mean? Is it your birthday or something?”
“Not today, dear,” Becky replied, in the same, sickly sweet tones. “These are just the advance cards, I’m sure I’ll get a lot more tomorrow!”
“You mean it’s your birthday tomorrow?” asked Tanya, increasingly surprised.
“No, it’s not for another three hundred and sixty six days.” Becky thought her answer was hilarious and waited for everyone else to laugh. She was rather surprised when they didn’t but figured that these weren’t her usual friends and were much slower wits. However, someone further down the table did snigger a moment after Becky’s joke fell flat. Becky turned on the girl, a precociously intelligent fourteen year old called Jill.
“Tell me, Jillian,” a name Jill hated, “What’s so funny?”
Jill scowled at Becky and was about to speak when someone beat her to it:
“Well, they say that you only need about 20 people for it to happen,” said that someone, a younger girl sitting a few seats away from Tanya.
“For what happen?” asked Becky, who had abandoned her provocative voice and was rapidly becoming angry. “What the... hell are you all talking about?”
“They mean,” said Tanya, “That you and I share the same birthday.”
Becky’s subsequent, and somewhat irrational, outburst landed her a place in detention that weekend. The headmistress did not like the young ladies at her school shouting insults at other girls, especially if the insulted was one of the best students. Becky managed to get out of it when her father pleaded on her behalf but when she saw Tanya for their first class later on that morning she was in a very ugly mood.
Tanya wondered how Becky was going to play it and wasn’t too surprised when she simply stormed past as if she didn’t exist. Tanya smiled to the people around her as if to say ‘what a baby’ but inside she felt troubled. She’d never been truly disliked before. Sure, she and Becky hadn’t gotten on, but she’d never thought Becky actually hated her or anything, but some of the things Becky had said were really horrible.
Tanya was troubled and, for the first time, she realised something: she was terribly lonely. Being the smartest, all right- one of the smartest, girls in the school, who was captain of netball, hockey and president of ten school clubs meant she was so popular she didn’t truly have anyone who she could confide in. There was no one she trusted to talk to. In short, she didn’t have any friends. Sure, any number of girls would chat to her and such like, but she needed someone to really trust, to talk to about the strange feelings she felt: homesickness, sadness and a weird... warmth for one of Becky’s friends... Natalie. Becky’s outburst had made all these feelings boil to the surface.
The girls sat down in Miss Jenkins class. The teacher was waiting at the front and had a TV and VCR in the room. Tanya’s classmates looked pleased to be having an easy lesson, Tanya felt bored at the thought of another vacuous video instead of learning.
“Well class we come to another Thursday.” Miss Jenkins voice was small, quiet and... well... mousey, which, unfortunately, rather described her. She was a small, thin woman with frizzy brown hair and a penchant for wool cardigans that made her look decades older. Her grey flannel dress was the most severe garment any of the girls had seen and someone had, perhaps unkindly, told her that she should wear gold rimmed glasses which, combined with the rest of her outfit, made her look like a hybrid between an owl and a mouse.
She was also blind beyond ten feet and didn’t trust the world without her glasses which meant she read over the top of them, giving her a slightly stooped appearance and made her seem... somewhat small and insignificant as well as twenty years older. Similarly, the glasses themselves were cheap and flimsy as well as too wide for her face. The effect was not flattering. No one would’ve thought she was only 28. However, she was a good teacher of A-level French literature and always ready with information and advice. She’d decided that the girls regularly needed a break from French and had decreed that, if they’d all studied hard enough, their last lesson of the week, which fell on Thursdays, would be a bit more fun.
“At the beginning of the month I showed you the beginning of a video from a hypnosis show.” The class all perked up and a few excited whispers broke out. Tanya was roused from her lethargy. She hadn’t seen the video and didn’t know what to expect but the rest of the class seemed very interested.
“We only had time for the induction of various audience members, as I recall, but I’ve decided to show you all the remainder of the video. I’ll play the last five minutes of what you watched last time to remind you where we were.” Ms Jenkins stood back and smiled, which seemed to reduce her age by decades. As Tanya looked she realised that beneath the horrible clothes and lack of care on her appearance, Miss Jenkins was actually quite pretty. It was only when she smiled or expressed herself strongly that you could really see it.
Tanya also saw that Becky was showing a great deal of interest in the class all of a sudden. She’d seen Becky in the library a couple of times recently, an unheard of event, and had even caught a glimpse of what she’d been reading- a book on hypnosis. Tanya had laughed to herself about it, what a silly idea hypnosis was, but the look on Becky’s face now was not amusing, it was predatory.
Ms Jenkins began the tape and the screen sprang to life. Apparently, according to her class mates, it was hysterical but Tanya wasn’t really paying any attention, she was surreptitiously looking at Becky. What was she so interested in? Becky was not laughing. Her eyes were fixed on one side of the screen, where some of the non-participating audience members were and it seemed like she was looking for something, or someone.
Tanya turned to look at the screen just as the camera panned over the audience. With a momentary thrill of shock she saw someone she recognised. Natalie was sitting between a man and a woman who were presumably her parents. No one else seemed to notice her as the picture wasn’t very good and it had only shown her for a few seconds, as part of a bigger picture of the audience, but there she was. She was sitting very straight, unlike her usual slouch, but her eyes looked like they were tight shut. The camera moved back to the stage and Tanya saw the various volunteers: all were sitting absolutely straight with their eyes shut.
The hypnotist instructed the people on stage to stand up. As he gave his instruction the camera cut to a new view, which partially showed the audience. To Tanya’s amazement, someone near the front seemed to try to stand up. She couldn’t be sure but it seemed to be Natalie. The hypnotist told the people on stage they could sit down again and they did, as did the person in the audience. He then turned the audience and explained that he was going to give various instructions to each of the volunteers. Tanya risked a glance at Becky. She was sitting back in her seat now with an extremely wicked smile on her face, as if she’d seen what she’d expected to see.
The rest of the film passed in a blur for Tanya. What explained Becky’s behaviour? Had it really been Natalie in the audience? Had she been hypnotised? Could she be hypnotised again? And, with a shiver of anticipation, Tanya wondered if she could be the one to do it.
The rest of the morning passed in something of a blur for Tanya. She didn’t understand what she’d seen, but she was sure that Becky thought that Natalie had been hypnotised at that show and hadn’t Natalie mentioned that her parents had taken her to a hypnosis show? That would explain why Becky was reading books on hypnosis, but what did she intend? Could Tanya ask Natalie whether it was her? No, as Nat hadn’t seen the tape and probably wouldn’t admit it was her!
As Tanya ate lunch, surrounded by people but not really talking to anyone, she wondered what to do. The first thing was to see the tape again. She was far from clear whether it really was Natalie and whether she had stood up, or even been hypnotised. Besides, seeing it wouldn’t prove anything... but it seemed that Becky had all the proof she needed, for whatever reason.
That afternoon, Tanya was meant to be playing hockey. She got dressed into her shorts and shirt and had just gone into the boot room, a building separate from the locker room, when the heavens opened. The rest of the team soon arrived. They were soaked through. The spring shower had caught them by surprise and all anyone was wearing was the standard kit. Tanya looked at the girls of her team.
Hockey at the school was a somewhat amusing affair. The school was mostly interested in academic achievement and the majority of girls weren’t very good at any sports. All learnt judo for self defence, a sport Tanya excelled at because she’d been taught some basic martial arts while growing up. There were also some other sports available, but hockey and netball were the school games, at the insistence of the headmistress who believed a healthy mind required a healthy body. She did allow the girls leave off compulsory sports during the summer, as that was the most common exam season, but other than that you were expected to be part some sort of team. Even Becky, and her group, had to play the games, although they contrived to avoid them as much as possible.
Tanya’s year was not very good at hockey and the team was comprised of, mostly, young, athletic, attractive girls. As she looked around the crowd of her team mates, with their chests showing through soaked shirts and wearing their... cute shorts, all huddled together, bumping into each other and touching each other in the packed room, Tanya had a feeling deep inside her. For the first time, she suspected she might be a lesbian.
She found herself pushing out her ass as one of the girls tried to squeeze past. The girl didn’t notice anything untoward, but as she brushed by, pushing against Tanya’s ass, Tanya felt a shudder go through her own body. She moved forwards, ‘accidentally’ bumping into someone who was bent over doing up their shoe laces. The girl’s ass squirmed against Tanya’s pussy. The feeling sent exquisite shock waves through her. She was thinking of how to engineer more contacts when the boot room door opened.
“Sorry girls,” said the headmistress, “But that shower on top of the rain we’ve had recently has left the hockey pitch pretty much water logged. We need to let it have a few days to give it a chance to dry out before we play.” With that the headmistress left and there was a collective outpouring of darns, ah wells and thank gods.
Before she realised it, Tanya was alone. She felt very empty. She understood that, even if she wasn’t a lesbian, she still had lesbian... urges and they amounted to the same thing if any of her peers found out. The realisation left her even more alone than before: she’d read about lesbianism and homosexuality in general, anyone studying French literature hadn’t much choice, but she’d never applied it to herself. Now she understood what the feelings that engulfed her were and she realised that she didn’t dare ask anyone’s help with how to overcome them.
She considered trying to find Natalie and... what? Telling her? Kissing her? Touching her? Crikey, if she was lucky Natalie wouldn’t tell the entire world! No, she’d have to keep it to herself, unless... No, her parents and relatives couldn’t do anything. They’d probably be disgusted. Tanya felt the warmth in her eyes and realised she was crying. She felt so ashamed, so alone and was utterly despairing when someone knocked on the door of the boot shed.
“Tanya, is that you?” Ms Jenkins plaintive voice came through the thin door. “Are you all right dear?”
Tanya stood up, dried her tears as best she could and opened the door. Ms Jenkins stood before her, a vision in wool.
“Why Tanya dear, whatever is the matter?”
Tanya tried to smile but was overcome by tears again. In between sobs she said something about being upset about missing hockey. Ms Jenkins smiled knowingly and reached out and gently took the girl by her shoulders.
“Now Tanya, I don’t think you’ve got so upset over a missed practice in the rain. What’s really the matter?” Ms Jenkins waited a few moments, still holding Tanya’s arms. “I know that you’re far from home and it’s your birthday. I also know about the horrible things that Miss Crawford said to you. And about that business over the letters: I could see you in the classroom when we were watching the video, you weren’t paying any...” Ms Jenkins voice continued but Tanya had stopped listening. Her mind was racing: Becky, hypnosis, the video! If Becky was learning how to hypnotise Natalie then Tanya could do it too! She could find out if Natalie had any feelings for her without any risk at all: didn’t the guy in the film say he erased all the volunteers’ memories of being hypnotised? But was it really Natalie in the film and how could she hypnotise her?
Tanya dried her tears some more but they were already cut off at the source. She looked into Ms Jenkins kind, smiling face and smiled back. Ms Jenkins took that as a good sign, but wasn’t about to let her go.
“Now dear, why don’t you come to my room? I’m sure we can put that smile back on your face for good!” Tanya sucked in a sob as she laughed slightly.
“There there,” continued Ms Jenkins, “Just come with me and everything will be all right.”
Tanya looked around the teacher’s room. It was about the size of two of the bed sits girls got in their final year. There was a double bed, a desk with two chairs, a few cupboards and a wardrobe, as well as an en suite bathroom. The walls had a couple of film posters and other random pictures but they did little to make the room feel homely. On the desk and floor were various papers awaiting marking as well as a background mess of clothes and stained coffee mugs.
“Sorry about the mess, dear” apologised Ms Jenkins, “I always seem to be about to clean it up when something distracts me.” She cleared a space for the two chairs and they both sat down. “Now, tell me what the trouble is.”
“Well,” said Tanya, “I guess I was just feeling a little homesick, is all.” It wasn’t the truth but as she said it, Tanya felt that there was a part of her that was very sad to be away from all her family. Ms Jenkins nodded and put a hand on Tanya’s arm reassuringly.
“It’s always difficult when you’re so far away from home for so long, especially when you’ve got a celebration arriving. It seems to remind you of what you’re missing.” She paused a moment. “I’ll tell you what,” she continued. “Why don’t you and I share a glass of wine? You’ve got no commitments till dinner and you deserve a little something considering the circumstances.”
Tanya was surprised. Ms Jenkins was known for inviting girls in to her room for a cup of coffee on occasion, but alcohol was banned at the school, like smoking, and this would be quite a breach of the school rules. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be that bad, really. Besides, Tanya felt she did deserve a little something.
“All right Miss Jenkins, I’d love a glass of wine.” The teacher smiled and stood up. She walked to one of the cupboards and took out a bottle of red wine. She opened it up and poured it into two glasses, took one and gave the other to Tanya.
“Cheers,” she said, “And many happy returns, Tanya.”
Tanya smiled and clinked her glass against the teacher’s.
“Thanks Miss Jenkins.” she said.
“Oh please Tanya,” interjected the teacher, “Call me Rachael. I hardly think we need to stand on ceremony given the situation.”
Tanya smiled again and sipped some of the wine. It was warm and rich, with quite a biting aftertaste, but Tanya was no expert on wine and didn’t really drink alcohol much, so she guessed the taste was all right and sipped appreciatively. Besides, it was illicit, which made it far better! They sat in silence for a moment before Tanya decided to ask about the tape she wanted to see.
“Miss Jenkins...” she began but stopped when Rachael gave her a look. “Sorry, err... Rachael... I was just wandering about the tape we had a look at today. I kind of missed the first half of it and was hoping I could borrow it to have a look at the beginning.” It was a fairly innocuous request and didn’t give away Tanya’s real reason for wanting the tape but Rachael looked at Tanya with a strangely inquisitive look, as if she suspected Tanya was withholding something.
“Well,” she finally said, “I suppose you could have a look at it if you wanted... but you’d have to watch it here, there’s no VCR in the common room as you know.” Tanya hadn’t considered how she was actually going to watch the tape! The reason she wanted it required privacy and she realised she didn’t have any idea how to get any time to herself with a VCR and television. Ms Jenkins looked at her with the same, probing look.
“Tell me, Tanya, why do you want to see the tape?”
“Well,” replied Tanya, desperately thinking of a legitimate reason, “I saw all the actions of the people who’d been hypnotised and I wanted to see how they’d been persuaded to do it.” That seemed good, but Rachael was still looking at her in the same questioning manner. ‘Perhaps she knows the real reason why I want it!’ she thought. Rachael spoke again:
“If you want to find out more about hypnosis,” she said, “The best thing is practical experience.” Tanya looked at Ms Jenkins strangely, what was she saying? “What I mean,” continued the teacher, “Is that for you to understand the techniques involved in hypnosis you should try it yourself.”
Tanya was very surprised. Was Miss Jenkins saying that she should hypnotise people? The teacher saw Tanya’s confusion. She stood up and retrieved the bottle of wine before pouring another helping into both glasses. As she did it she looked Tanya right in the eye and said:
“No, I didn’t mean you should go out and try to hypnotise random people. The best way to learn is for me to hypnotise you and explain how I do it. That way you’ll learn from your own experience.”
Tanya was amazed. She didn’t even believe in hypnosis! How difficult could it be to plant people in an audience who’d pretend they’d been hypnotised? Besides, if you were making a tape the entire audience could be false! Surely Miss Jenkins didn’t believe she could hypnotise Tanya? On the other hand, if there was more to it than Tanya believed then the best way to learn would be to see how it was done first hand. There was also the audience member who looked like Natalie: her behaviour was too similar to the other hypnotised people on the stage and, if it was Natalie, it suggested that the whole thing wasn’t faked. There was also one other thought troubling Tanya on the edge of her conscious: what did Rachael Jenkins stand to gain from teaching Tanya hypnosis? Perhaps the teacher had another, hidden agenda. What to do?
“All right,” she said, after a moment’s lightening fast deliberation. “You can teach me hypnosis by, err... hypnotising me, Miss... Rachael.”
“Excellent, my dear!” Miss Jenkins face had lit up! It was almost as if she really wanted to hypnotise Tanya. Tanya’s doubts returned but were dispelled when Rachael calmed down and smiled in a saner... kinder, more... ‘teacherly’ way.
“So when do you want to do it?” asked Tanya, expecting to have a few weeks at least to reconsider.
“Why not right now? You’ve got the rest of the afternoon free and I’m not busy.”
Tanya paused a moment, biting her lip. Things were moving far too quickly but she couldn’t pull out now and part of her was really... interested in what would happen.
“All right,” she said, “Let’s do it.”