Authors: Rachael Wing
My jaw dropped.
How does this girl LIVE?!
“Bummer,” I said quite coolly for a girl who was having a heart attack inside. “That's a shame.” A shame? It's a catastrophe! “But the sorbets really are good, so at least you're not denied all frozen pleasures.” As she laughed, my internal green-eyed monster growled again. She even had a pretty laugh, all infectious and cute. Grrr. “I'm Holly, by the way, and I pretty much live in here, hence all the ice-cream-related knowledge.”
“I'm Emily,” she laughed, looking around the room again. “And obviously don't know anything about ice cream! But this place is totally amped!”
Emily looked back at me, and smiled. “Oh, amped â it's like â¦ cool?”
“Oh, right,” I grinned. Americans have weird words. “So you're from America, right? I haven't seen you around; are you here on holiday?”
“Well, actually, I've just moved here. My mom's just gotten a new job, so we moved over for that.”
“That sucks,” I said, frowning. I would hate to leave Cathen just because Mum or Dad got a new job. I'd have to leave Ozzie's, and school, and no way could I leave Wes behind; he's my right arm! I began to feel sorry for her, even though she was hotter than fire. “How old are you?”
“Fifteen. Sixteen in the fall!”
“You're my year then. Are you going to Cathen Comp?”
“Yeah, I'm â oh, thanks!” She gracefully took her sorbet from Nerin, paid, then turned back to me. “I'm actually starting tomorrow. My mom says it'll help me to settle in if I meet everyone now, and I might make some friends for the summer.”
I nodded, my mind thinking a mile a minute. “It's my school. So what form are you going to be in, do you know?”
Squinting, she tried to remember. “Uh, 10B, I thinkâ¦”
Our form. I had to stop myself from laughing; Wes was going to have a coronary.
“Cool, that's our form! Me and my friend Wes, that's him there, come and meet him.”
I motioned over my shoulder to where Wes was, shredding a napkin, and I rolled my eyes. Couldn't he be doing something to make him look cool, like texting or something? I made a mental reminder to teach him how to look good in front of people you're trying to impress. I know I'm not an expert, what with the carrot massacre and everything, but goodness knows I know more than he does, obviously.
We walked over to The Socially Awkward One and he looked up at Emily with a bit of a dazed expression on his face.
“This is Emily.”
You could see the name pass into his brain and just swirl around, taking up all the space that was before occupied with thoughts on how to talk to human beings. He just nodded.
I took a deep breath and soldiered on.
“She's just moved here from America,” I explained, trying not to sound too much like a primary-school teacher.
“Hey,” she said with her killer smile. “How're ya doing?”
Wes looked like he couldn't believe she was talking to him, then suddenly snapped into life.
“Yeah, I'm good, thanks, and yourself?”
She smiled straight into his eyes.
“I'm all the better for meeting you.”
I raised my internal eyebrows. Was that a
?! Or did it literally just mean that she was glad that she met him? Americans are friendly, so that might just have been her being nice, or it could have beenâ
But I didn't have time to analyze her body language or anything like that, because as quick as a flash she said:
“Oh my gosh, look at the time! I gotta get going! See ya at school, have a nice day!”
And with a wave, she turned on her flip-flops and ran (with more agility than I'll ever possess) out of the door, and the bell on top jingled as it shut behind her.
I turned back to Wes, who was still staring at the door.
“So?” I asked, smirking at his awestruck face.
He couldn't speak for a second, then managed to force out a word.
“Yes. That's her name, I'm glad you picked that up.”
“Meh, I suppose if you're into that whole plastic-looking thing, yeahâ¦”
“And she's moved here â¦ to Cathen â¦ to our school?”
“Our form, in fact.”
He paused for a second.
“God is rewarding me for all of my good deeds, he's sent her to me.”
I cracked a mocking smile. “You don't do good deeds! You don't even do your own washing up! Juanita your maid does it! And you're not religious!”
He came out of his saintly daydream and frowned at me.
“Oh yeah, Lameboy, name one!”
“I â¦ erm, I â¦ I â¦ brought you ice cream when you had that stomach bug and couldn't come to school, a few months ago!” he finished triumphantly.
“I couldn't eat it, I was being sick!” I laughed. “I had to sit and watch you eat it all, whilst I wasn't allowed to eat anything or else I'd throw up!”
That got him.
“It was still a good deedâ¦” he grumbled, backing down. He looked me straight in the eyes. “Well, if God didn't send her to me, she must just be a very lucky coincidence.” He put on the hopeful eyes and gently tugged my sleeve. “Will you help me? You know I'm useless at everything.”
I thought about it for a second.
Then I had a genius idea.
“Can Jonah stay in the tent?”
Wes's eyes narrowed, and he put on his best John Wayne impression. “So you want to play dirty, Hockers?” I nodded. He shrugged. “Fine. I'll think about it.”
I grinned and gave him a bear hug. “Yay! Love you, Wes!”
He smiled and shrugged me off. “Yeah, whatever, Hox, I said maybe!”
I wasn't too bothered about that though, because if I helped him get Barbie then he would be too happy to care what I say or do, and would definitely say yes to Jonah in our tent. A whole weekend of Jonah, his godly self just one compartment away. I was bouncing with excitement.
All I had to do was set up A Plan.
“Are you sure my hair looks OK?” Wes asked for the third time as we sat in our regular seats in registration, at the back of the class for blatantly obvious reasons, waiting for Mr Clumfield to start taking the register.
Mr Clumfield is a legend. We actually couldn't have a better form tutor. He's so funny â in his cracking Yorkshire accent he tells us a different joke every Monday morning that he learnt at the pub with his mates on the Friday before, to “make our start to the week that bit brighter”; and he has a proper dishy smile matched with deep, dark eyes, which makes me feel a little bit faint some days. He's also my English teacher, which is pretty cool, and just makes anyone feel welcome whenever. And he also shaved his (really hairy) legs for charity last year, and wore a skirt for the rest of the week. In the middle of November. Like I said, he's just a bit legendary in our school.
He was sat at his desk, with his own particular mug that says “CLUMMEISTER!” (God knows where he gets these things), scribbling away at some work or something. He furiously scratched something out with his pen and stood up suddenly with that full-of-fun grin and mischievous eyes.
“All right, guys, let's kick off your Monday. There are two muffins in an oven. One of the muffins says to the other muffin: âWhoa, mate, it's hot in here!' â the other muffin screams and cries, âAhhh, a talking muffin!'”
I laughed, at least, along with the girls from my Blodge class, where instead of discussing plant and animal cells, we just sit and plan what we're going to wear Friday night. Faye Nichols and Jessi Townsend â they're those kind of girls who are pretty, intelligent and quiet, but like a good giggle. Amongst those laughing there were obviously the Mortimer twins, Maddie Adams and their crew of jokers. Maddie has one of those infectious laughs, and laughs at anything and everything â she's a right ray of sunshine on a cloudy day â and paired with Remi and Arno, the Mortimer twins, they could possibly form the most side-splitting trio known to man. The twins have a band called The Mechanicals, and they play locally for the youth club; not the best band in the world, but the boys know how to charm a crowd, and they help out at The Venue in town as roadies for the visiting bands there. It's pretty cool.
Then on the far side of the room the geeky girls, led by Verity Carter, who eagerly sit at the front (and who I know for a fact write “I heart Mr Clum” in the backs of their homework diaries), went into fits of giggles too, but that was more to do with the fact that they fancy the pants off him than the hilariosity of his joke. Obviously, no giggles came from the tables nearest the doors â the kids like Henry Stags and Carly Lane who think they're hardcore because they listen to heavy-metal grunge and wear too much eyeliner â obviously they can't laugh because they're “making a statement” or whatever. I don't know exactly what the statement they are trying to make is, but if you can't crack a smile once in a while then I'm not sure if it's worth it.
Of course, Wes laughed too. Mr Clumfield is totally his idol. He stays behind some days to talk to him about Shakespeare, or novels, or obscure poetry that I've never actually heard of, ever. To be honest, English isn't really my forte â I'm more of a drawer than a describer â but Wes comes into his own there. He's a poet (but doesn't tell many people) and writes his own lyrics, and also does the tab to them on guitar. He's pretty good, actually; his lyrics are so fitting and his acoustic stuff is pretty much to die for. I wish I could write like that sometimes, but when I try to write everything gets a bit muddled up in my head, and doesn't go down on paper quite how I want it to; but Mr Clumfield helps a load, which is why he's probably my favourite teacher at Cathen.
“Is everybody feeling a bit lighter now?” he asked us, and we responded with a resounding “yes” as he picked up the sheet of paper from his desk.
Then someone knocked to come into the room, and Wes shot bolt upright again, hand going straight to his hair as he stared at the door. I swatted his hand down, and gave him a look that said “Stop messing with it or I'll shave it off”. Wes chewed his lip nervously. I grinned and gave him a wink: show time.
Oh, what laughs!
“Good!” Mr Clumfield continued, glancing at the sheet in his hand and striding over to the door. “This must be our newcomer to Cathen,” he opened the door. “Hi â¦ Emily, is it?”
I swear I heard every guy in the room's jaw drop to the floor. There she was: killer smile, hair like a shampoo advert, body of a model and the cheekbones of a pixie.
What a cow.
Naturally, I wasn't bitter at all, but smiled and waved as her eyes scanned the room and fell on mine. She instantly smiled wider and gave me a little wave back.
“Yeah,” she said, turning back to Mr Clumfield and giving him a blast of her beauty. “That's me! Emily Drew, nice to meet you.”
Mr Clumfield grinned at us all. “Hey, lads and ladies, we have a poet!” He turned back to Emily. “I'm Mr Clumfield, and I'll be your form tutor until you leave Cathen Comp. This is 10B,” he said, gesturing to us lot. “They look a bit rough but they're all right really, and I'm sure they'll make you feel more than welcome! Take a seat.”
Several of the boys, including James, Matt and Chris (those kind of guys who reckon they're real lady-killers) looked like they were willing to do a little bit more than make her welcome, so before she could get stuck sitting with them and being hit on for the rest of her life, I motioned for her to come and sit in the empty seat next to me that Wes and I had strategically placed there beforehand.
Emily replied with a warm “Thanks!” and made her way across the classroom to come and sit with us, much to the Lady-Killer Squad's dismay.
“Hey, Wes â¦” she said, sitting down in the seat. I could practically hear Wes's mind screaming all kinds of elated, rudey words. Barbie smiled the Killer Smile. “â¦ and â¦ I'm sorry, I've forgotten your name!”
Smile, Holly; breathe in through the nose, out through the mouthâ¦
My own smile threatened to break, and it was my own mind's turn to scream expletives. This girl was not good news. She was smiling at Wes and biting her lip in a bit of a wince because she couldn't remember my name. Apart from I bet she could. Playing up, making Wes feel special. Hmm. That's good for him, though. But she was all long legs and an evil mind: not the kind of girl a girl wants to befriend, now I was sure. More deep breaths. Think of Jonah. The tent. Jonah, his face, those eyesâ¦
I was back on game.
“It's Holly, don't worry, and bless, it must be horrible trying to learn so many names so quickly!”
Oh, I'm so nice, you would almost think I was genuine.
She smiled and nodded. “Yeah, it's been really hard, my head's such a mess!”
“Yeah,” chipped in Wes, with his voice smothered in concern. “It's hard moving places, I'm not surprised.”
I internally raised my eyebrows. Wes has moved once in his life â from the smallest house on Millionaire's Row to the biggest. I'm sure the change was very painful for him, moving about thirty seconds down the street.
“It is,” she grinned, not noticing that the class had broken into a frenzied whisper to discuss her arrival. Mr Clumfield had gone back to his desk, and was looking around the room to see who was present â his own way of doing the register: he feels it's more “foolproof” â but everyone else was stealing glances at her golden hair and bronzed skin. And most probably asking themselves why she was sat with us.
Wes and I aren't disliked, don't get me wrong â most people like Wes because he's funny and modest, with a sharp(ish) wit and cheery smile; and I am the Comic Book Kid, quite talented and lover of ice cream. We have a lot of acquaintances, but not many great friends. Unfortunately, our “closest” friends happen to be Margo and Finn, a.k.a. Stoney and Crony, who made their entrance at exactly nine a.m. â only fifteen minutes late, an improvement on last week's twenty.
When Margo enters a room, you know about it. She is one of those people who just gets attention everywhere she goes; she's just like a magnet for, well, all eyes really. Her PSG (Private School Girl â she
) brunette flip of hair is always straight but voluminous; she always has perfect skin and teeth (due to the fact that she has every cosmetic available to man, because of “Mother”) and would also be very pretty, if she didn't always look like she was sniffing creosote. And the model pout that so many girls attempt in the pictures on their web homepages? Margo has it. Times four. Maybe even five. It's fabulous, but matched with her “Darling, do
talk to me, for if you utter one syllable one shall staple your mouth shut” scowl, it's dangerous. But exactly like Mary and her little lamb; everywhere that Margo goes, Finn is sure to follow.
Henry Finn is a bit of a mystery. According to Cathen gossip, he's supposed to be one of my closest friends, but I honestly know no more about him now than I knew when I met him a year ago. He is still hidden underneath a mop of dark blond hair, iPod earphones in, and you're lucky if you get more than a “Yah, safe” out of him. I think he must talk to Margo, because they can't have had a relationship for about a year and not have talked to each other at all. But then again, if I were Margo's boyfriend, I don't know if I would talk; I suppose it would just be easier to agree and do whatever she wanted me to do. She's quite the little dictator.
Bang went the door, and in she stalked â Britain's Next Top Model. It was year ten “mock study leave” â studying in school, but not in school uniform â and so as usual, she took the rule to the extreme. In an intricately sewn summer dress, with a tiny blue beret perched on top of her voluminous mane, and eyes flashing, Margo shot a tiny smile at Mr Clumfield and drawled, “Good morning.”
He is pretty much the only teacher she will smile at, if you can call the twitch of her mouth a smile. She just has a power that makes people do what she wants, without her batting a long, perfect eyelash. Finn floated into the room behind her like a shadow, all in black even though it was the height of summer, and shut the door silently.
“Yes, welcome, Margaret, Henry. Thank you for gracing us with your presence this morningâ¦”
Margo waved her hand lazily in Mr Clumfield's direction, as if in acknowledgement of his comment, and looked over into our corner of the classroom. As her eyes clocked Barbie, I saw them flicker. Margo would be the deciding vote on whether Emily could come into our group, therefore deciding if it would be acceptable for Wes to, in his words, “woo her”.
God, if you're listening? Help him.
What flickered in her eyes? Acceptance? No, couldn't be, not straight away. It took her a while to accept me, even though I am the Comic Book Kid and most people just accept that I'm an OK person, because my drawings are “well awesome, mate”. So even though Barbie was gorgeous and obviously rich, pretty much right up Margo's street, it takes a long time for her to accept people, so that couldn't have happened yet. Margo doesn't please easily, as you may have guessed.
Disapproval? No, Barbie was a bit too perfect to disapprove of.
Amusement? Of course.
Margo likes nothing more than to cause a bit of mischief. She moved like a cat trained upon a mouse, and stopped at our table and clicked her tongue neatly, once.
“Here we go,” muttered Wes under his breath to me.
“Darling, is this the girl you were nattering on about last night?”
She was talking to Wes, but her eyes were fixed firmly on the Plastic. If Barbie felt uncomfortable, she didn't show it. Or maybe it was just her all-American thick skin that protected her from Margo's unflinching gaze.
That's so like Margo, she doesn't do tact, and so poor Wes's face crashed into freefall for a millisecond, then pulled on the emergency cord and caught itself.
“Yeah, this is the girl we mentioned yesterday,” he said, smiling at The Girl. “This is Emily.” Margo's face was unreadable, but I knew something was going on in that head of hers. She may look like a doll, but I know that under that gorgeous mass of hair there is a brain that calculates quicker than, well, my calculator. Wes gestured to his twin almost apologetically. “This is my twin sister, Margo, and he's Henry Finn, mostly just known as Finn.”
Finn brought up two chairs from the front with ease â he's much stronger than he looks â and set one down in front of Margo facing the front, then sat down in his own chair. He flicked back his hair slightly so we saw a glimpse of an eye (which is more than most people get).
Margo slithered into her chair sideways, still not taking her eyes from Emily, and rested her skinny elbow on the back of the chair, with her head in her hand. She pouted, looking like she was waiting for something.
“Hi, both of you!” Emily beamed. “How's it going? I just moved here from the USâ”