Halo Chapter Three


Chapter Three – Venus Cove

The Bryce Hamilton School was located on the outskirts of town, set high on the peak of an undulating slope. (…) The school, a limestone mansion complete with arched windows, sweeping lawns, and a bell tower, was one of the town’s original buildings. It had once served as a convent before it was converted to a school in the sixties.

I would say that description supports my theory of this being a private school.

The angels stand outside the gates watching people and Bethany is nervous.

I didn’t have to be human to know that first impressions could make all the difference between acceptance and ostracism. I’d listened in on the prayers of teenage girls and most of them centered on being accepted by the ‘popular’ crowd and finding a boyfriend who played on the rugby team.

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Wow. Way to put down teenage girls. I’m pretty sure that even the shallow ones are occasionally capable of deeper ambitions than popularity and rugby-playing boyfriends, you know.

And the stereotypes keep on coming, as Bethany lists all the high-school-movie cliché cliques she can see. We’ve got the music posse:

…made up of boys with shoulder-length hair, untidy strands falling over their eyes. They carried instrument cases and had musical chords scrawled on their arms in black felt pen.

…the goths:

(A small minority who) had set themselves apart by the use of heavy eye makeup and spiky hairdos

…the arty kids:

(they) had accessorized the uniform with berets or hats and colorful scarves

the academic kids

…they wore pristine uniforms with no alterations and carried the official school backpack. They tended to walk with a missionary zeal, heads down, eager to reach the sanctity of the library.

All that’s missing is some cheerleaders and jocks.

Ivy waves them off at the gate and Gabriel and Bethany go inside. Everyone stares at them, of course, because they’re so amazingly flawless and beautiful. Even the school secretary ogles Gabriel while she welcomes them to the school and shows them to Bethany’s locker

On the way they pass the basketball court and the secretary, Mrs Jordan, mentions that she hopes it doesn’t rain, or the basketball match will be called off.

I saw Gabriel glance up at the sky. Discreetly, he turned his hand so that it was palm up towards the heavens and closed his eyes. The engraved silver rings he wore glinted in the sunlight. Immediately, as if in response to his silent command, beams of sunlight burst through the clouds, washing the courts in gold.

So I guess God loves basketball, then. Or else it seems like a kind of irresponsible use of angel powers. Never mind those Agents of Darkness – there’s a basketball game in peril!

Mrs Jordan whisks Gabriel away to the staff room, leaving Bethany to find her own way to class. She can’t, so asks a ‘girl with a tumble of titian curls’ what her timetable means. (also, try saying ‘tumble of titian’ three times fast) The girl, Molly, is in the same class as she is, so they go there together. The teacher tells them both off for being late

Molly and Bethany strike up a conversation. When asked where she’s from, Bethany says that she’s been living overseas with her diplomat parents, although she angsts about how hard lying is for an angel, and Molly tells her:

“You’d better be prepared for a change of lifestyle at Venus Cove. It’s usually pretty chill around here except things have been a bit weird lately.”

That is a terrible sentence. Anyway, this weirdness is a sign of the Agents of Darkness. There have been robberies, freak accidents and a flu epidemic. Also, six months ago, a boy died when he fell off the roof after climbing up to retrieve a basketball. OK,  so it’s not a warzone, but at least it sounds now like there is suffering to be alleviated in the town.

The teacher darkens the room to show a projector slide. Do people still use those? Bethany’s worried the light will show up her glowiness, so slips out of the room.

Hey, it’s Turquoise Eyes again! Remember him? Bethany is once more bowled over by his good looks. Literally, she looks into his eyes and almost faints, because he’s just so pretty. They shake hands and she’s all ‘what is this feeling in my chest?’

Warning bells sounded in my head as I frowned and pulled my hand away. It wouldn’t exactly be the best move befriending this boy with his ridiculous good looks and hundred-watt smile.

Aw, come on Bethany, there’s more to life than being really really ridiculously good-looking.

After she goes back to class, they have a gym class and Molly quizzes her in the changing rooms about which boys she fancies, because that’s all teenage girls think about, amiright? The conversation comes round to Turquoise Eyes, whose name is Xavier Woods. Molly warns her off him, saying that he’s ’emotionally unavailable’ We learn he had a girlfriend, Emily, who died in a fire two years ago, and that he was also a friend of the boy who fell off the roof.

Do I smell Tragic Backstory of Tragic Angst that only the heroine can help him overcome? Hmm.

They have the gym class, and we learn that angels have no belly-buttons, and that Bethany has feathery wings that fold paper-flat across her back. Did you know that the idea of angels having wings mostly comes from religious paintings, where the painters used wings as a visual shortcut to show that the angels were celestial beings?

Bethany isn’t tired out by the exercise. She doesn’t even sweat. So far the book has been inconsistent about the angel’s human forms. They need to eat and sleep like humans, and they feel pain, yet they have wings and don’t get tired. If they only look like humans, why have the weaknesses of human form? And yes, I will include Bethany’s insta-lust with Xavier as a consequence of her human form, as angels are generally considered asexual in every meaning of the word.

She spends the rest of the day looking out for Xavier, swooning over the memory of his eyes, before  deciding that she should try to keep away from him.

Feel free to place bets on how long you think that resolution will last.

Next chapter, marvel as the Archangel Gabriel… makes a risotto.

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