The plan had been set in motion. It wasn’t a very concrete plan but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that we could break free from this place and feel free. Away from the crudely alarmed doors that would ring a bell in the supervisor’s room each time the door opened after eleven at night. The relentless patrols from supervisors who were walking up and down the corridor, and of course, the bald-headed eagle, our Head Master, Mr White, who was always sat in his office with his cane by his side. Patiently waiting for a punishment to occur so he could swiftly apply his stick of justice. The plan so far was to sneak out the backdoor at about seven o clock, just after dinner-time, and then run to the edges of the field. From there we would escape into the trees and jump over the fence onto the public pathway. After that we were unsure what to do. But going to the shops to buy sweets seemed the best option.
At precisely seven o clock while Mr Woodhouse was at the other end of the corridor we opened the door and ran for our lives. This was the most freedom we had experienced since last weekend when we were at home with our parents. Quickly we jumped over the fence and then casually walked to the shops. Come to think of it. It didn’t seem that daring at all, and within five minutes we were in the shop choosing between Sherbet Dip Dabs and Liquorice Wheels. This was hardly ‘Scum’ or ‘Borstal’. ‘Let’s buy some cider,’ said Alan. We all flipped our heads towards Alan. He was usually the quiet one. The one we bullied when we were bored. Alcohol was a major departure from sweets even if we did all try Vermouth after the Vicar left us alone that one Sunday. ‘We’ll get expelled,’ said I. Not because I was any wiser but more as a precautionary measure that needed to be said. ‘Or worse still. The cane,’ said James. That made us all shudder but at the same time I was behind the other three in receiving the most strokes. I had only been caned once for swearing at a supervisor, while the others had received three for stealing stationery items from the shops. I grabbed the bottle of cider and went to the till.
I was like Arthur holding Excalibur aloft as I approached the man behind the till. The two- liter bottle of cider lay across my chest as heavy as a World War Two armament shell. I was a hero to the other two behind me, and we all knew that the shopkeeper was on best terms with the supervisors but still he sold the goods. It was a twisted relationship between us ‘the scaly brats’, the supervisors, and the shopkeeper. We all knew we were doomed, and the cane loomed in our minds, but that was our mark of honor. Whoever had the most stripes across their ass was the chief. The man. We ran back up the street, victorious. It had become dark very quickly. The bottle was heavy and I tried to pass it to the other two to carry but they were too wise. After a quick jump back over the fence we were back at the back entrance door peaking through the glass to see if the road was clear. It wasn’t. Three supervisors were talking in a circle in the middle of the corridor which meant we would have to sit outside waiting. ‘Why don’t I go up stairs myself and we can bring the bottle in through the window,’ said James. That sounded more like an excuse for James to escape than a well-thought out plan. ‘That’s great,’ said Alan. ‘I could lower some rope and a bag and we could hoist the bottle up and then you can casually walk back in. They both looked at me and I smiled and then they darted inside while I stood outside. The heavy cider bottle no longer a sword.