Thursday, 21 February 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013 -

Two Terms at Burnside

by Jon Thorn
Published: Feb 20, 2013
Words: 33,026
Category: school
Orientation: M/F
Click HERE for further details and purchase options.

Natalie watched from the stands. This England side were good, very good, probably the best for a generation. They were beating Germany easily, already they were three goals up, and if this penalty corner came off, they would be in an unassailable position. It was a pleasure to watch a national side doing well at last. However, it wasn't the team she had come to watch; but rather one man, the man now taking the strike. He was a compact, slightly built man, his fair hair cut short to his scalp, an athletic man, an attractive man. But Natalie was not concerned with his looks, it was his skill she was after. She needed a hockey coach, and needed one urgently.

Her school was through to the semi-final of the national championships and just when they needed to be preparing hardest, her hockey coach had, with utmost bad-timing, chosen that week to suffer a debilitating heart attack. She could hardly blame the woman, it wasn't her fault, but it did leave the school with rather a problem. Natalie had staked her reputation as headmistress on winning success, in every area, and even on the sports field her ambition was relentless. And so she was here, watching Mark Thorne, seeing if he had what she wanted. She could have gone for a woman, but all of the national women's teams were hopeless right now, and she only wanted the best. For Natalie McInnes and for Burnside College, only the best was ever good enough. That was why she had taken the trouble to find out who on the England team was available at short notice - and Mark Thorne was the name that kept coming up. Natalie cheered with the rest of the crowd as the corner was converted into another goal for the home side.

Mark showered leisurely after the match, suffused with the happy glow of victory and making the most of the feeling while it lasted. Hockey was the only thing that made life worthwhile at the moment. Since leaving the army eighteen months ago, things had been a struggle. He had hoped he would walk into a management job but somehow his face didn't ever seem to fit. The skills of an infantry officer were not what firms were looking for. Sure, he could lead a company of men in a night attack on a well defended enemy position, and bring off victory with minimal casualties. Sure, he could handle a variety of weapon systems. Sure, he could live rough for days on end and still motivate his troops. But these were not the abilities that commercial organisations were looking for. And besides that, he didn't have the slickness and false charm of some of the other candidates. Mark said what he meant, and he said it directly. That's the way it was done in the army; in the civilian world he felt like a fish out of water. Except on the hockey field, there he felt like a god.