Horror washed over me in waves.
"It was Flash," I breathed, my voice sounding thin and weak.
"It was Flash." Andrea confirmed gravely. The world was swimming in front of me and I could hear the blood roaring in my ears.
"What are we going to do?" Andrea asked, although I barely heard her over my inner turmoil. For what seemed like years, but could only have been seconds I was adrift on an island of fear and confusion, unable even to feel the pain of his betrayal through my incomprehension.
"Kel," Andrea repeated, "What are we going to do?"
I took a deep breath and tried to get a grip on myself. Andrea's kohl-rimmed eyes peered down at me, and I knew that for the sake of the girls I couldn't fall apart. Not yet anyway.
"You've just remembered this?" I asked her suddenly, a bit more harshly than I had meant to. "You couldn't have told me this earlier?"
Andrea looked hurt. "I- I wasn't sure. Honestly. I remembered a, a man who had pushed me but… I didn't know who. The more I have thought about it the more I became sure."
"Tell me again." My voice sounded like a strangers.
"I was drunk. Really drunk." Andrea began, and I closed my eyes, picturing the scene. "I had gone outside to get some air, and I guess I must have wandered a bit further than I'd realised because before I knew it I'd reached the lake. It was really dark and it looked really nice so I sat down on the banks just to look at it, and then I heard someone come up behind me. I turned around and saw Flash. He asked me for my key, and I obviously said no. Then he wrestled it off me and in the scuffle I blacked out. When I woke up I- I was in hospital."
Swallowing down what felt like my lunch come back to haunt me, I stood up and fixed Andrea with a business-like look.
"We're going to have a meeting. I'm going to tell everyone what happened and then I'm going to go after that lying son of a bitch and show him what happens when you cross St. Trinian's. Call the girls to the common room, Andrea."
She trotted off obediently, and I sat back down on the bed in the empty dorm room and concentrated very hard on not crying.
"How could he?" I whispered disbelievingly, to myself. My stomach had turned into a twisting pit of dread, and I still felt like this was a horrible misunderstanding that was going to be cleared up any second.
Standing up shakily, I went to my bathroom and washed my face, reapplying my makeup more severely than normal to lend me some strength. Checking myself in the full length mirror, I tried to convince myself that Kelly Jones, head girl was looking back at me. I straightened my skirt, tucked my shirt in a bit more tightly and smoothed my hair down a bit. These days it never seemed to be as sleek and shiny as it used to be.
When I reached the common room, all the girls were assembled. As soon as I walked in, a hundred pairs of eyes fixed themselves on me. I could feel the weight of their stares on my like a ton of bricks. The first years were sat cross-legged on the floor before me, with the rest of the girls stood or sat on the sofas behind them. A hundred blank expressions, and four expressions that I could have done without. Taylor; furious. Belle, accusing. Polly; pitying, and Andrea so sad that I could have wept.
Taking my place at the front of the room, I took a deep breath before breaking the deathly silence that had fallen upon the assembled group.
"Girls, I have some bad news for you all." I began. The trick with things like this was to keep it simple, so that even the first years would understand. "I have heard you all discussing the events of the past few days. I have found the person responsible for taking our money and ruining our business prospects. This will upset a lot of you, but this person has played us falsely and been extremely dishonest with us. Flash was the person who hacked into our accounts and took the money."
The silence got deeper, I could almost believe time had frozen until one of the twins let out a sob.
"I am aware that a lot of you liked Flash, thought of him as a friend. Please remember that the Flash you thought you knew was not the person that scammed us. He has lied to us on a gross scale, by gaining our trust and friendship when he didn't mean it at all. He is not the person we thought he was."
"Flash did this to us?" One of the younger geeks said forlornly.
I stood tall, not focussing on any one member of the crowd in front of me. I could not let my confidence waver, not even for a second. I gave them a moment, pacing in front of them with one black patent heel in front of the other.
"What are we going to do, Kel?" another voice asked. I could tell from the accent it was a chav, but I didn't catch who.
"What are we going to do?" I repeated. "Why, we are going to do what we always do. Have we ever let anyone beat St. Trinian's before?"
"…No?" a lone first year ventured, and I rolled my eyes.
"Have we ever let one man, one measly little man, spoil our plans?" I asked, louder this time.
"No!" About half the assembled group this time.
"When we are knocked down, do we simply lie in the dirt and cry?"
"NO!" Everyone replied; even Taylor's lips moved, so I was willing to take that for an answer.
"We are St. Trinian's, and we are not going to let this get us down, but we are going to rise up and come back better than ever before!" They were all listening to me rapt, their distress of a few seconds ago forgotten. If only they knew I was making this up as I go along.
"Lessons are cancelled today." I announced. "I expect everyone to spend the day working on ways to regain some of the money. Let me worry about what's to be done about Flash. You guys concentrate on just making a bit of money each, and we will be able to get through this. This evening I will be looking at what you've done. Off you go, girls."
The first years stood and started to mill out, talking in a subdued manner amongst themselves. Others started to filter out, and I was on the verge of relaxing when Taylor's voice rang out above the chatter.
"'Aven't you got somethin' else to tell us, Kel?"
My heart stopped beating for a second. A flash of fury at Taylor ran through me, but I got it under control almost as soon as I felt it. Everyone was looking at me again. Thankfully some of the first years had left but the majority of the school was still stood in front of me and I knew I had to admit my mistake.
"Yes. There is more." I began, each word coming slowly and painfully. I felt a blush rise on my cheeks.
"Andrea didn't fall into the river on the night of the party. She was pushed. By Flash, in an attempt to steal her key to our safe."
Someone gasped and everyone whipped round to look at Andrea who was staring at the floor as though she was fascinated by it.
"After that, well, Flash came to me, and we spent the night together. I now believe he found me on purpose to distract me from the fact that Rea was missing."
I could feel the accusation in the looks I was getting from all the girls, and I looked at the floor.
"You have my deepest apologies, girls. I made an extremely bad judgement and if I could take it back I would."
I hated admitting this to the school. I hated being vulnerable in front of them. And I hated myself for allowing myself to really think that Flash and I were going to have a relationship.
Taylor growled an expletive into the silence that had fallen and stormed out. Most of the other chavs followed her.
I opened my mouth to speak again, unsure of what I was going to say, but another voice came from behind me.
"Run along now, girlies. We have much and more to be doing. We will reconvene again this evening. Come on, off you go!"
Miss Fritton shepherded everyone out of the room while I stood motionless, tears welling up in my eyes. I had failed as head girl. Finally everyone had gone and Miss Fritton rounded on me.
I couldn't reply. I looked at her and let out a single dry sob. I felt on the verge of collapsing, or being sick, or something.
"Not here girlie. There's cameras in these rooms, you remember."
I turned and ran away from her, tears completely blurring my vision now. I found myself in the basement heading for the garage. I felt as if I was choking on my sorrow. I was so suffocated and needed to get away from the school. Grabbing a set of car keys from the many hanging on the wall of the garage, I pressed the unlock button and a silver mini convertible answered my call. Perfect for how small I felt.