Next morning I got up, went downstairs and gobbled down some cereal, went back upstairs, showered, and did dress up. Khaki trousers, dress shoes, blue button down shirt. I looked sharp. And sexy. Then I took a deep breath, and went downstairs to meet my Dad.
"Happy Birthday, Mike, I love you. Wow, I can't believe you are fifteen." Dad said giving me huge hug. "How are you feeling? Sleep OK?"
"Thanks, Dad. I love you too. And I feel pretty good this morning. I did sleep OK but it was hard not knowing what's going on today. John and I spent ages trying to work out what's happening but we didn't come up with any good ideas."
"Sorry about this, but you will understand pretty soon."
When we got to his office building, we got in the lift but instead of going up to his offices on the fourth floor, we got out on the second floor. Flaherty & Griffiths, Lawyers. Very strange.
"Good morning, Mr. Edwards, it's nice to see you again. And this must be Michael.. Good Morning Michael. My, Mr. Edwards, you have such a handsome young man here. And beautifully dressed. Children these days never seem to know how to dress properly." (Oh God, will it never stop? It's enough to make you throw up.)
"Thank you Mrs. Jenkins, that's very kind of you."
"You're welcome. Mr. Edwards, the lady you requested just arrived. I put her in the Conference Room and gave her some coffee."
Thank you. Then I'll leave Mike with you. When he's finished, just send him upstairs."
"Of course, Mr. Edwards. Enjoy the rest of the day. Michael, please follow me.
We went down the corridor to the Conference Room where there was a youngish woman sitting down looking at some papers with a laptop next to her.
"Hello, you must be Michael. I'm Ms. Dawkins. I'm a junior partner in the law firm here. Please sit down."
"Good morning Ms. Dawkins. Can you tell me what is going on? Nobody has told me anything and I'm getting very nervous and confused."
"Well, obviously you know you are here to take an Entrance Exam, and I'm here as your invigilator. I'll certify at the end of the exam that it is all your own work."
"But this is crazy. I'm already in school, and I don't have to take another entrance exam to stay I the same place."
"But you must have applied somewhere else because otherwise you wouldn't have to sit this exam. It's specially for transfer between schools."
"No, I haven't."
"How very peculiar. Hmmm, I can see why you are a little puzzled. But I have my instructions, and we have to get started because I'm told it is absolutely essential to finish by 11:45 so you can get to lunch on time. Happy Birthday, by the way."
"Thanks. I think having a surprise exam on my birthday is the worst present ever. My Dad is going to pay for this."
"OK, let's get started. First, do you have your phone?"
"Please give it to me, and I'll keep it until the end of the exam. We can't let you cheat, can we?"
I handed over the phone.
"OK. The exam can be done directly on this laptop, or I can provide a paper copy for you instead."
She handed it over, opened to a page that said
Ms. Dawkins explained that it had three parts: General Knowledge, Maths, and an English essay, and was really just an update to the exams I took last year before going to Impington. Each part was timed for 30 minutes, and would automatically close when the 30 minutes were up. The essay had to have a summary of a longer piece, and then the first four or five paragraphs of the story. The theme was to be on 'something really nice that happened to me this summer.'
"OK, Michael. Is everything clear? Are you ready?"
"I guess, but I still wished I knew what this all about."
"So do I" said Ms. Dawkins. "Type your name, address and birthdate in the boxes provided, and then when you are ready, pick one of the three subject boxes, and good luck."
I did the General Knowledge first. It was pretty straightforward and seemed to cover a lot of the stuff we did last year in history, science, geography, comparative religion, and so on. I had just about finished when the 'Time Expired' massage came up.
Ms. Dawkins said I should take a five minute break, so I went and had a pee, and was able to find bottle of water from the lady at the front desk.
Then I chose to do the Maths section. I finished well ahead of time. I was sure I got all the answers correct, and it was a smart move because finishing early meant I had extra time to think about what I was going to write in the essay.
Then I took another short break, and at 11:10 started the essay. It was called "A Cloud with a Silver Lining" and it was based on our day trip to Calais and what happened afterwards. Well not all of it. I didn't think an essay describing my sex life with John would be such a good idea. So I focused on how two boys get to know each so well they will be close friends for the rest of their life, but how they had to try to cope with one boy being away in boarding school.
The computer warned me when I had five minutes left, so I made sure all the main story points were summarized, and was content enough with what I had written when time expired.
Ms. Dawkins took back the laptop and filled in some information that verified that it was indeed Michael Edwards who had completed and submitted the examination, and that nobody had provided any assistance or materials that might have given me an unfair advantage.
"Well, you are all finished, Michael. Do you think you did OK?"
"Yes, Ms. Dawkins, I did pretty well, I think, given that I had no advance warning of this."
"Well let's hope you find out what went on. Here's your phone. Let's go out and put you on the lift so you can meet your Dad upstairs. Good luck, have a great lunch, and I hope the rest of your birthday is better than this morning."
"Thanks, Ms. Dawkins."
When I got to my Dad's office the receptionist, Mrs. Jenkins, looked at me and said (Oh no, here we go again)
"Michael, how nice to see you! My, how you have grown since I last saw you! I can't believe it!" (Why are adults so stupid to think that kids don't grow? Don't ask me.)
"Thanks, Mrs. Jenkins, that's very kind of you."
"And Happy Birthday, I gather it's your special day."
"Thanks! Can you let my Dad know I'm here?"
"Yes, of course."
I sat down. Kids don't get to go into the inside offices. We might find out how little work lawyers do for all that money. So I sat in the waiting area.
Mrs. Jenkins got on the phone.
"Good morning, Mr. Edwards. Michael has arrived and is waiting for you. Oh, he is so handsome, you must be very proud! (Does it never stop?) …… OK, I'll tell him. Thank you sir."
"Your father will just be a few minutes. He has an urgent letter to finish and then he'll be with you."
So I sat and watched the clock. It started at 11:52, and at 11:58 my Dad came out.
"Let's go, Mike"
"Dad, what the hell is going on, you made me sit an exam all morning and it seems like you are sending me to another school and I don't know anything about it. So PLEASE, before I get really angry, TELL ME!"
Antoine's is a really fancy French restaurant next door to my Dad's office. So he didn't have time to say anything before we got to the front door.
"Mike, I'll you inside, be patient for two more minutes, please? But I guarantee that things are all going to be OK from now on. Here's Antoine's. Let's go in."
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