Friday, 29 August 2008

The Storthes Hall Foxes

Freedom at last was Emily’s thoughts as she watched her parents slowly disappear behind the building to the small car park at the top of Storthes Hall. Giving Emily chance to walk into flat one alone, although not completely, as at least two other flat mates and their parents were busy shuffling cases, boxes, computers and TV sets into their own rooms.
Emily’s allocated room for the current academic year was right at the top end of the corridor conveniently near the flat exit and the kitchen. After giving a few weak friendly smiles to the strangers and their families in she went into her room and shut the door behind her.
Her room was surprisingly spacious. Her bed was on the right had side of the room which made more logical sense to her and gave her a good sense of familiarity to her old rooms layout back at her family home.
She sighed as images of the house she had lived in for most of her life tried to mirror themselves onto the place which would become home for the next forty two weeks. Of course neither matched the other but she knew that once all her little trinkets, photographs in nice new picture frames, posters and even her favourite cuddly toys were set in their rightful place it would at least feel like home. So that’s what she did for the next two hours or so, making her room as comfortable as possible to settle in for her first night as a university student.
Sleep came rather slowly that night as she lay in bed, after chatting away the hours with her two flat mates, two lads called Mike and Paul in the kitchen over tea, as her bedroom was on the ground floor, no steep stairs to climb, but it was turning out to be a rather noisy spot. Her room faced out into the rear car park so she was able to hear every engine that went past and the voice emanating from the speaker at the gate each time a car tried to go deeper into the flat complex. Not only that but the ceiling, she thought, must be quite thin too as she could hear every footstep coming from the flat above. But the most irritating thing of all was that the wall her bed was set against was in fact part of the stair well and each time someone went up and down the stairs causing the metal to rattle and creak she could hear it. The noises of her new room made sure thoughts of home kept tugging on her heart well into the night.

The following day the trio were joined by another three flat mates, two girls called Amy and Charlotte and another lad named Jack. All six were doing a range of courses from History which was Emily’s chosen subject to Accountancy and Fashion which was Paul’s and Charlotte’s.
Once the others had more or less settled in all agreed to go up to the D-bar for a first drink together but Amy had the unusual idea of going on a group walk around the grounds, ‘a mini adventure’ she had called it and gave them chance of some space away from the other students still moving into the flats above and around them.
At first they casually made their way towards the entrance of the park where the shop and reception were based and found themselves on the ring road and the bus stop. It was still quite light for September having only just turned six o clock and Amy got curious by the woodlands and so led them encouragingly down the track before spotting a smaller earthier track leading off to their left.
“Why don’t we go down there?”
“It looks a bit muddy to me and I’ve only got my sandals on.” Charlotte complained.
“It’s dry, you’ll be fine and if necessary I’m sure one of the boys will carry you on his back.” Amy replied with a grin leading them off once more into the unknown.
About ten minutes down the small ravine pathway between two slopes of trees, hawthorn and autumn leaves they met a broken building in a man made recess that was flooded with dark brown water and they could hear water still running into it from somewhere hidden from sight.
“Must be an old pumping house or something. I heard this place used to be a mental hospital.” Mike commented ominously.
“Hey what’s that?”
“What’s what?”
“That there, can you see it? Oh there are more of them.”
“What?” Jack moaned not making out what Emily was pointing at through the fence.
“Look at the mound near the tree just across from us. Can you see them?”
“Awww they look like puppies.” Charlotte shrieked but quickly got a hush signal from Amy to be quiet.
Indeed they did look like a few months old puppies but their big ears with dark brown tips and the same colouring on their paws gave away their true identity. There were about ten of them in all, sniffing, scratching, digging and tumbling over one another on the soil mound beneath a tree on the opposite side of the pumping station.
“They’re fox cubs. Actual fox cubs. They’re adorable. Look at them playing.” Emily whispered proudly, a big smile across her face and a strong feeling of excitement welling deep within her not just for this special moment they all shared but a new found optimism for this new place.
Whilst they all watched with baited breath and quiet laughter at the wildlife circus before them Emily felt happy to be there. Her mind had already started to wander what other surprises Storthes and Uni have to offer. Her first year seemed to be turning into a truly memorable part of her life. For her and the fox cubs life in the big wide world was starting off very well indeed.

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