Silence falls between us, broken only by the swish of the tennis rackets and the plopping of the ball outside and the distant laughter of a girl in a corridor somewhere.
‘Why did you come here today?’ she asks.
The question surprises me. Didn’t she know I’d track her down sooner or later?
‘I wanted to see you again. To tell you that I’m sorry, too, for what happened. To see if ….’
‘If I was all right? To see if I had survived?’ That bitter twist back in her voice again.
To see if maybe you could still be my girl. Which could maybe change my mind about the gun in the duffel bag.
‘Well, I’m all right.’ ‘Lifts her hands, palms upwards. ‘Don’t I look as if I am alright?’ A bright smile on her lips but not in her eyes.
For once in my life, I’m not timid with her.
‘I don’t think so, Nicole’.
‘Don’t think what?’
‘I don’t think you’re all right.’
She looks at me for a long moment, as still as the stopped clock on the wall.
‘Did you ever tell anyone about it, Nicole? Did you ever talk about it?’
Comment on how language is used to present Nicole’s feelings in the extract.
For a B grade:
i. What does the sound of the tennis match symbolise?
ii. And what does the sound of a girl laughing represent?
iii. How is the sound of her voice described?
For an A grade:
i. How does the preposition ‘between us’ help the reader understand how Nicole is feeling?
ii. ‘a bright smile on her lips but not in her eyes’ betrays what about her feeling?
iii. The dialogue exchanges are not just short, but curt – what effect does that have?
iv. How does the simile ‘as still as the stopped clock on the wall’ help us understand Nicole’s situation?