Would you like to win this book? The author, Elizabeth-Irene Baitie, is giving away, not one, but TWO autographed copies of her YA novel, The Twelfth Heart. Did I say FREE? All you have to do is visit the FWoWA blog between 18th & 27th Nov., 2011, read her interview and leave a comment or question on the blog post before mid-night on 27th November, 2011! Two lucky commenters will be selected by Elizabeth and announced both here and on the blog.
BlurbWhen Mercy came to her new school near Accra, she knew exactly the sort of friends she wanted to make: certainly no-one who reminded her of the small town she had left behind—poor, ugly and dull. She did not realize that true friendship comes from the heart, and that the least likely of the twelve girls in the dormitory would come to mean the most to them all.
Ten minutes before the morning chapel bell rang, I slipped out of the house when Catherine wasn’t looking and went back to the spot where I had lost my shoe.With a stick, I rummaged through the dewy grass and weeds, then after a minute, I threw the stick away, and with bare hands, frantically pushed aside bushes, clinging creepers, stones and fallen branches. The tolling of the morning chapel bell began, and with a last desperate look around, I straightened up. My shoewas not here.
Duringthe chapel service I tried to look calm, to hide my agitation. Why was my pump missing? Had a scavenger taken it, and if so of what use was one shoe to him? Or her? I barely listened to the scripture lesson or the sermon.Just before the end of the service, the senior housemistress, Mrs Tanko,took the podium. She was a plump woman with frizzy grey hair and rimless glasses. Following chapel, she said, some professionals would be giving us a talk on swine flu. The whole school was to proceed to the assembly hall. A collective groan arose from the school.
“There is another announcement,” she continued, her voice steely. “Last night while the school security was on patrol, some students were seen sneaking back into school from outside.”
Hot, liquid fear seared through my veins.
“We suspect that the culprits were girls of Morton House.” she continued. She turned aside and spoke to a security man beside her. He stepped forward, reached into a bag, and raised something high above his head.
My gold pump.
Keep calm, Mercy, look straight ahead.
In front of me, Juliet sat with her arm stretched across the back of the bench and her head propped on her hand. Elinam whispered something to her and she smiled - a perfectly natural smile. Beside me Michaela craned her neck to see the exhibit. “Nice shoe,” she whispered to me.
The blood rushed to my head and I could feel the veins in my temple throbbing. My head felt like it was going to explode. My shoe was marked with my initial - I could see the black inscription from where I sat.
“This gold size 6 shoe was found in the bushes near Morton House last night,” Mrs Tanko announced.“We suspect one of the girls was wearing it. We would like whoever owns the other half to know that her initials are inscribed in the slipper and…”
The chapel was a silent as a tomb, as five hundred pairs of lungs held their breath -
“…and we will soon identify her.”
My stay in St Felice was over. I was going to be expelled. In a few minutes I would be in the dorm, gathering my belongings to return in disgrace to Aboagyekrom.
But Mrs Tanko had not finished. “There is a chance for the owner of this shoe to find mercy,” she said, and I froze hoping no-one had seen me flinch at the mention of the word ‘mercy.’
“If she will come forward, and own up we will give a reasonable punishment for what she… they…have done. If not …” she levelled a cold gaze at the whole school, running her eyes over the entire student body, “then the consequences will be severe.”
This was my chance. If I owned up now, if I begged for forgiveness then perhaps I would be suspended, not expelled. Get up now, Mercy. But the bones in my legs had softened to wet clay. I could not stand up.
“If she, or they, take the cowards option and decide to hide, we will uncoverthem. We are still investigating the situation, and when they are caught they will be brought to book. St Felice has a reputation to maintain and we will not have our name associated with wayward behaviour,” Mrs Tanko finished.
‘Still investigating’ she had just said. Investigating what? The number of Morton House girls with the initials M.T.G? There was only one I could think of: Me. Did they know the shoe was mine, and were they giving me a chance to own up?
‘Investigations…reasonable punishment…severe consequences.’ I began to feel nauseous. Breathe. Mercy breathe.