Bourne Chronicles 1 – Arrival

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Heather Richards took a deep breath as she stepped onto the stage of The Bourne Academy’s Great Hall. She stood, hands clasped behind her back, with her stern gaze sweeping over the sea of students before her. She was greeted with gloomy faces from both students and tutors. It was no secret that the once prestigious academy had been failing academically and lacking discipline in recent years. But Heather had been appointed the new headmistress by the governors to change all that.

Heather, dressed in her signature navy blue skirt suit and a crisp white blouse with a bow at the neck, projected an austere and authoritarian demeanour. She was determined to turn the academy around, using methods that had been successful in previous institutions.

Not everyone had been on board with Miss Richards’ strict methods following her appointment, but she swiftly silenced all objections. Any tutors who had dissented were asked to resign and any parents who had disagreed were asked to withdraw their children from the academy. Heather now had the unequivocal support of the governors, tutors, and parents, to mould the students of The Bourne Academy into disciplined, well-behaved students with no time for vanity or distractions.

One student with very long hair – much longer than any of the other students – had caught Heather’s attention earlier that day. One of the tutors informed the headmistress she was called Emma Andrews. Emma, it seemed, was a well-behaved senior student with above average academic achievements. Her uniform was always smart, and her long black hair was in perfect condition. She wore it loose from a centre parting and it was so long that stretched beyond the hem of her skirt. As Emma stood amongst her peers, her immaculate appearance stood out and, unknown to her, Miss Richards had plans for Emma.

Heather Richards began her presentation by introducing herself and then she had gone on to explain her plans for the academy. However, looking down at her audience, she could see her words were falling on deaf ears. So, with a sly smile, she decided to change her approach. To break through gloom and doom that permeated the Great Hall that morning, the headmistress made a surprise announcement.

‘Please would Miss Emma Andrews join me on the stage,’ Heather Richards demanded.

Emma appeared confused and exchanged worried glances with her friends before obediently trotting up to the stage.

‘I believe, Miss Andrews,’ Heather stated, ‘you have the longest hair in the school.’

‘Thank you, ma’am.’ Emma beamed proudly, thinking that her hair care routine had been noticed and feeling pleased with the observation.

‘I see you choose to wear your hair loose,’ the headmistress observed.

Emma nodded, causing a curtain of hair to fall across her face.

‘Your hair is well below your knees,’ Heather pointed out.

Emma nodded enthusiastically, not understanding where this conversation was headed.

‘Caring for your hair and suffering its inconvenience must be impractical as well as impacting upon your studies,’ Heather declared.

‘No, not really, ma’am,’ Emma refuted.

‘I beg to differ, Miss Andrews,’ Heather smirked ominously. ‘So, you will be the first to receive the academy’s new regulation haircut.’

A sense of disbelief filled the hall as curtain was pulled back on the stage to reveal a traditional barber’s chair and a trolley full of related equipment. Beside it stood a smirking Brenda Shearer, the academy’s new barber, recently appointed by Heather Richards.

Ms Brenda Shearer was an attractive but intimidating woman, with short black hair slicked down from a side parting and clipped close to her scalp. She wore a short, tight-fitting white nylon tunic that accentuated her figure and her long legs. Though she had a stern appearance, her red lips always seemed to be smirking, especially when she had a long-haired female sitting in front of her. Ms Shearer embodied everything one might expect of a firm and efficient barber.

Emma’s eyes widened in shock. ‘What?’ Emma blurted, confused and lost for words. ‘I mean, I beg your pardon …’

‘Please take a seat, Miss Andrews,’ Heather Richard instructed curtly, pointing at the barber’s chair.

With no other choice and visibly shaking, Emma sat, her heart pounding. Ms Shearer covered her with a large white cape, secured tightly at the neck, and gathered Emma’s abundant locks into a thick ponytail. Without any consultation and with just a few quick snips of her scissors, she unceremoniously chopped off nearly all of Emma’s hair.

‘No!’ Emma bleated quietly, looking morosely down at the floor.

The barber handed the huge ponytail to the headmistress, who brandished it triumphantly aloft, like a trophy, before storing it safely away.

Wilding the trophy attracted no cheers from the audience. Instead, a groan of disbelief echoed throughout the hall as the barber, using heavy duty red hairclippers, proceeded to give Emma a short and severe bobbed style, cut high above her ears and with a fringe halfway up her forehead. Brenda then shaved Emma’s neck and temples down to the skin using an efficient foil shaver, giving her an even fresher and more disciplined appearance.

‘A severe and practical bowlcut,’ the headmistress announced with a delighted smile, unashamedly pleased with the outcome. ‘Just as I like it, and just as each of you will like it when you receive the same style shortly,’ Heather stated smugly, ‘and every week from now on, as your hair will be kept in trim by Ms Shearer.’

The students and tutors looked on in shock and disbelief following Heather Richards’ bold statement regarding her seriousness about reversing the institution’s academic and disciplinary failings. The once great Bourne Academy had fallen into the hands of a ruthless and authoritarian headmistress who was willing to sacrifice the students’ individuality for the sake of uniformity.

Heather Richards took a moment to allow all the mutterings to subside, satisfied with her decision to introduce a strict dress code and haircut policy in the academy. She believed that this would not only improve the academic performance and discipline of the students, but also mould them into respectable young ladies. She was determined to see The Bourne Academy return to its former glory and she would stop at nothing to achieve it.

The reign of Miss Heather Richards had only just begun, and it was being met with mixed reactions. While some were excited for change, others were concerned about the strict and authoritarian reputation of the new headmistress. A few were considering pushing back against her strict rules and there were even rumours of rebellion to take back the control of their own lives.

What would the future hold for The Bourne Academy and its students? Only time would tell.

TO BE CONTINUED

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