Who We Were by B.M Carroll was published by Viper on 7 May 2020.
Today I have an extract from the book.
‘Someone took that photograph from my fridge, Katy. And the other night my daughter said she heard noises
… I thought she was imagining things but now I’m not so sure … What if someone’s been in my house?’
Recess is a mere twenty minutes. Barely enough time to go to the bathroom, make a cup of tea, take stock before her next class. Katy regrets answering her phone. She should’ve waited until lunchtime. Now, despite the potential gravity of what Grace is saying, Katy has no choice but to cut her short.
‘Look, Grace, that all sounds extremely serious and disturbing. The problem is that I’m due in class in five minutes. I’ll call you back later, okay?’
‘Yes, of course. We’ll talk later.’
Grace’s practicality throws Katy a little bit. Being reasonable is not one of the things she remembers about her. Maybe because she was always in the vicinity of Annabel who could be so unreasonable (and caustic, her speciality). The truth is she doesn’t know Grace any more than Grace knows her, either today or back then. Katy gathers her notes for her next class and powers down the hallway, the walls of which are covered in colourful graffiti art. ‘Hey, Miss Buckley.’ ‘Hello, Georgia.’
Katy is relatively popular among the students, despite the fact that the subject she teaches – science – isn’t popular at all. Music, drama and visual arts are the favoured subjects at the school, followed by history and English. Bottom of the pile are science and maths. This doesn’t bother Katy too much. There are always enough enthusiastic students to make up for the ones who are bored out of their minds.
‘Hi, Miss Buckley.’ ‘Having a good day, Leo?’
‘Absolutely, Miss.’ She’s treated to a flirtatious smile. Katy is particularly popular with the boys. If only they knew that she’d been one of the most nondescript girls at school. This is precisely what she wants to get across to the current Year 12s. As soon as they walk out the door into the world, everything can – and should – change. They can reinvent themselves, if they want to.
They can leave behind the fact that they were the quiet one, or the socially awkward one, or the silly one.
Katy reaches her class just as the bell sounds. This class is a particularly eclectic group, with plentiful body piercings and hair colour ranging from hot pink to electric blue. The school’s policy is to foster the stu- dents’ individuality and sense of self, helping them to experiment and have fun in a safe environment.
‘Good morning, everyone. Today we are going to start a new unit – the chemical earth. The earth’s bio- sphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere are mixtures of thousands and thousands of substances …’ Katy pretends not to hear their groans.
She is on supervising duty at lunchtime – something that had completely slipped her mind – and there is no opportunity to call Grace. The grounds of the school are quite extensive, as are opportunities to get into mischief. Katy changes her shoes so she can walk the perimeter comfortably.
‘Hey, Miss Buckley.’ ‘Good afternoon, Dylan.’
Dylan is easy to imagine twenty years from now. He’ll work in sales or real estate, where his easy charm will make him lots of money. He’ll wear trendy suits, drive a flashy car, and will be one of those men who walk around with their hands in their pockets.
Katy comes across a group of Year 9s clustered together at the edge of the perimeter.
‘What are you doing there, girls?’
‘Charlotte lost her jumper,’ one of them replies, slightly out of breath.
‘Yeah, we thought she left it here before school,’ another adds, cheeks pink.
Charlotte herself looks bemused. The lost jumper is obviously news to her.
‘Better try lost property, then,’ Katy says chirpily. ‘Move along.’
She waits until they’ve headed in the right direction, although she very much doubts that lost property is where they’ll end up. Charlotte looks over her shoulder a few times. There’s something arrogant about those backward glances. Charlotte has always reminded her of Annabel Moore. Katy loves all her students. She loves Charlotte a little bit less than the others because of this similarity.
Katy’s thoughts turn to Grace. Has there really been an intruder in her house? No, there must be some other, less sinister explanation for the missing photograph. But someone is certainly up to mischief, sending those joke yearbook entries to both Grace and Annabel. Who would do such a thing? Someone who knows them well enough to guess at what might be bothering them? Should Katy expect a similar email? Good thing she has no major secrets or fears. The untold advantages of being a school teacher: a squeaky-clean private life and nerves of steel from day-to-day dealings with the most brutal of species: teenagers.
About the book
A KILLER TWENTY-YEAR REUNION.
AND YOU’RE INVITED…
Twenty years after they went their separate ways, friends and enemies are coming together for their school reunion. Katy, who is desperate to show that she’s no longer the shy wallflower. Annabel, who ruled the school until a spectacular fall from grace. Zach, popular and cruel, but who says he’s a changed man. And Robbie, always the victim, who never stood a chance.
As the reunion nears, a terrible event that binds the group together will resurface. Because someone is still holding a grudge, and will stop at nothing to reveal their darkest secrets…
About the author
B.M. Carroll was born in Ireland, and spent her early career working in finance. She is the author of eight novels, her most recent being The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy. She lives in Sydney.