Mary Lou's eyes grew wide as the girl across the table from her told her about the murder that had happened at her school. When Mary Lou's parents had suggested she try and be a little more forthcoming with making new friends, Mary Lou was quite sure this wasn't what they had expected.
"You found her body?", Mary Lou fumbled her cup of tea and felt her cheeks get warm as the drink slopped over the side of the cup. But Hazel Wong, her new companion, quickly mopped the tea up with a napkin and smiled at Mary Lou as if to say, 'All fixed'.
"I had left my pullover in the gym hall you see and ran down to get it, we get in a fearful row with the Head Girls and teachers if we're not tidy", Hazel sipped her own tea and nibbled on the bun she had bought, "though, we ended up getting a smack around the head from Matron anyway so perhaps I should have just left the pullover".
Mary Lou gasped, "Your Matron hits you?"
"Does yours not?", Hazel asked.
Mary Lou shook her head vigorously and was about to say she had never heard of such a thing when she realised that she had, and that perhaps Malory Towers was not of the norm. After all, Alicia had told them countless stories about her brothers getting clipped around the ear by teachers, although that was a boy's school. And hadn't Darrell off-handedly mentioned in First Form that she'd had her hand caned in her day school a few times over her temper? She had seemed quite surprised, or maybe it was relieved, to hear that caning wasn't used at Malory Towers. Mary Lou frowned and decided that regardless, she was rather glad she was at Malory Towers and not Deepdean. That was without even considering the whole murder aspect.
"I didn't much want to go to the gym hall alone anyway", Hazel was busying herself with spreading some jam on her bun, "not after one of the students killed herself in there last year".
Mary Lou nearly choked on her tea and decided that she would wait until after their extraordinary story to even try and finish her drink, "A girl killed herself? How many people have died at your school?".
"Oh, only four or so since the school opened", Hazel shrugged and Mary Lou wondered if there were ghosts of Malory Towers that she didn't know about. She shuddered, all the progress she had made of not being afraid of the dark was about to be undone in one visit with a most peculiar girl in a café.
"Anyway", Hazel's emphasis pulled Mary Lou back in, "she was lying there and so of course I touched her and her head just sort of lolled back and I saw immediately that she must be dead".
Well, Mary Lou thought, how did one follow up that reveal? She almost giggled at the idea of telling Hazel about the silliness (and that's what it seemed now next to all this seriousness) of the previous term.
"So, tell me about your school", Hazel said, sitting back in her chair and looking at Mary Lou over the top of her cup of tea.