MONDAY JANUARY 7TH
First day of term and Mum woke me up at eight but I’d two free periods first thing so I mumbled, ‘Leavemealoneandgoaway’. Then I snuggled back under my duvet. Bliss. By the time she’d left for work I’d dropped back off to sleep but unfortunately didn’t wake up again until eleven so was late for maths and got a punishment exercise from Mr Simmons.
I mean, a punishment exercise at my age! Surely seventeen is too old for childish sanctions like that. It’s ridiculous. Decided to tell him so. ‘You can’t give me two hundred lines like I’m a first year, sir. I’m seventeen, way too mature for this now.’
‘You’re right, Kelly Ann,’ he said, taking the exercise from me. He scribbled something on it and handed it back to me with a self-satisfied smirk. ‘Now you’re older, you can do four hundred.’
Still, except for Mr Simmons, sixth form isn’t too bad. The best things about it are the free periods and our own common room where we can chat, make tea or coffee and hide alcohol. School is much more civilized now and, yeah, almost bearable. But, oh God, how I’ve missed my boyfriend Chris since he left for university last year. I can’t wait to go to uni too where there will be student bars and so much free time that some days I’ll have no classes at all. Or that is what I’ve heard anyway from people who are doing arts courses like me. Medical students, like Chris and his flatmate Jamie, have to work like galley slaves on amphetamine. Don’t know why anyone would want to do that, but I suppose if you’re dead set on being a doctor like Chris is, you just have to put up with it.
At lunch time I hurried to the common room. My friend Liz was already there and waved me over.
She offered me a Malteser from a large box. ‘Want one?’
I nodded and took a couple. Well, no one can eat just one Malteser.
‘Not on a new year diet then?’ I asked. ‘You usually start one round about now – not that you need to.’
‘Yeah, I am actually. A chopstick diet.’
‘A chopstick diet?’ I asked, puzzled.
Liz has been on some weird diets before, like the watercress-soup-and-boiled-egg-only diet which failed because she doesn’t like either food. Or the white-coloured-food-only diet which lasted a bit longer but ended with her scoffing my wine gums. This one sounded the most stupid yet.
‘Yeah,’ Liz said. ‘I can eat anything I want but only if I use chopsticks. Takes so long I hardly get to eat anything. Watch.’
She took a pair of chopsticks from her school bag and tried to snare a Malteser with them. Half the contents of the packet were rolling on the floor by the time she managed to get one to her mouth. Liz finished it and smiled contentedly. ‘See. No wonder Chinese people are all slim.’
‘Yeah, Liz. I think this diet might actually work.’
But then she tossed the chopsticks aside and popped a handful of Maltesers in her mouth. ‘Just until I get the hang of them,’ she said.
Don’t know why Liz bothers dieting anyway. I suppose she is slightly plump but she’s blonde and busty so has no problem attracting guys. In any case her boyfriend Julian adores her curves and doesn’t want her to lose an ounce. Not that there’s any danger of that as Liz always abandons diets shortly after starting them. Often by lunch time.
Have you seen the new boy, Matt Davies, yet?’ Liz asked. ‘Everyone’s talking about him.’
‘Not yet. What’s he like?’
‘Very interesting. It’s rumoured he’s been expelled from practically every school in Glasgow before coming here. And some people say his dad is serving life in prison for gangland murders.’
‘Oh my God, really?’
‘Yeah but other people say his dad is an accountant who lost his job so Matt had to leave his private fee-paying school to come here.’
‘Hmm, so what do you think?’ I asked.
‘I think he’s going to be popular – with girls anyway.’ She moved closer to me and whispered. ‘Look, here he is now.’
The new boy strolled into room. He was tall – easily over six feet – and slim, with dark hair and eyes. While our school wasn’t really strict about uniform, most people at least kind of vaguely complied with the navy blue and grey dress code. Not him. Wearing black jeans and T-shirt he’d ignored it completely. He’d a strange black tattoo on his arm – a dagger with a serpent curled around it – and one dull silver earring shaped like an eagle on his right ear. He looked different all right and well, kind of . . . dangerous. Like a panther in a pet shop.
He scanned the room lazily as he made his way to a chair by the window but didn’t attempt to talk to anyone, just sat there, seemingly quite comfortable with his own company. It was weird. Most new people would be anxious to make contact and feel awkward sitting by themselves. Not this guy.
‘So what do you think, Kelly Ann?’ Liz asked.
‘Looks . . . interesting,’ I said.
I noticed that a large group of females were casually migrating closer to him, some openly checking him out, others giving him surreptitious glances. Matt didn’t seem to be aware of the stir he was causing. Or if he was, he didn’t show it. Maybe he was used to this reaction. In fact, he just gazed out the window in the direction of the football pitch, probably watching the five-a-side I knew some fifth years had organized.
A couple of girls moved to the window nearest him and pretended to be interested in the game as well. That’s a laugh. Knew those two had as much interest in football as I had in learning to crochet tea cosies. Their ploy didn’t work anyway as Matt completely ignored them. I shook my head and smiled.
Suddenly he turned round and caught me looking at him. He stared right back; dark eyes focussed on me. Then he raised his eyebrows and smiled as though the two of us were somehow sharing a private joke. I flushed and looked away.
Yes, Liz was right. Matt was going to be popular with girls. But not with me. I had a gorgeous boyfriend; my, well . . . soul mate really, I suppose. We’ve known each other since we were kids and were best friends for ages before we realized we were in love and started going out together. Nothing will ever come between Chris and me. I could never be attracted to anyone else. Never.
TUESDAY JANUARY 8TH
Matt didn’t come into the common room until nearly the end of our lunch hour, this time accompanied by Felicity, a leggy blonde whose boobs are so big it’s rumoured she’s had implants. Well, I started the rumour she’d got implants actually, but honestly it’s not fair for any one person to have that many assets. I mean, what about short, skinny brunettes like me who still can’t get into a B-cup bra? Thank God for Chris who thinks I’m gorgeous anyway.
Matt and Felicity sat next to each other in the corner by the pool table. Felicity looked smug, basking in the envious glances of her friends. But to everyone’s surprise, after chatting with her for a few minutes, Matt deliberately wandered off by himself to a seat by the window again.
Don’t think anything like this had ever happened to Felicity before. Her mouth gaped half-open in surprise and stayed that way like a moray eel’s. Felt a bit sorry for her really. Can’t be easy getting rejected for the first time ever. But why had Matt knocked her back? OK everybody knows Felicity is incredibly boring and totally up herself but it’s never put off any other guy. This new boy was definitely different.
He was supposed to be in my drama class after lunch but he didn’t show. In fact he didn’t go to any classes in the afternoon. It’s rumoured he’s been expelled already for dealing drugs to first years although other people say he just had a dental appointment. I hope it’s the dental appointment. Matt Davies is the most interesting thing to happen at our school since, well, Mr Simmons’ affair with my English teacher Ms Conner. I actually caught them snogging in the maths cupboard last year which was interesting but also kind of gross. She’s been seconded to work for the exam board this term, thank God, but I always knock before going into any school store cupboard now. Just in case.
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 9TH
Saw the new boy roar out of the school car park riding a huge black and silver Harley-Davidson motorbike. Or donor-bike as Jamie and Chris call them since so many young people have fatal accidents on them they are a major source of healthy transplant organs. I know this should put me off, but watching Matt speeding away on his powerful, beautiful machine was definitely, well . . . sexy.
Oh yes, he was going to be popular all right but maybe not with everyone. Certainly not with Mr Smith, our deputy head, who he cut right across at the lights. Or Mr Simmons who was forced to brake and pull in when Matt overtook him from the inside. I wondered how long he’d last at our school before he was expelled. Found myself hoping it would be a quite a while. Not that I fancied him or anything. It’s just that he was unusual. Exciting.
FRIDAY JANUARY 11TH
Chris picked me up from school. Saw people eyeing me enviously. Yeah, it was so cool to have a gorgeous boyfriend who also had a car. And his own flat. Well, not his own flat – he shares the rent with three other pals who are also students – but still, at least he doesn’t live with his parents. And Chris has told me his flatmates are all going out tonight so we can be alone together, just the two of us.
We’re going to cook spaghetti bolognese and eat it with scented candles. Well, scented candles on the table anyway. So romantic. Then we’ll probably just hug up on the sofa and watch a chick flick, or maybe, OK, a thriller if Chris really can’t hack it. Then afterwards we’ll, well do whatever we like really . . . mmmm. Oh yes it was going to be so good. I hadn’t seen Chris all week because he’d been busy studying or working. And even though he texts me every morning and calls every night it’s not the same. I’ve missed him so much.
We stopped off at my house so I could change and collect my stuff then we went to the supermarket. Seemed really grown-up, shopping together for groceries like mince and garlic. Weird. But nice.
By the time we got to Chris’s place it was nearly six. I could hear the telly in the living room so I popped my head in on the way to the kitchen to see who was at home. Ian had already gone out but Jamie and Gary were still there watching football. They assured us they were leaving soon.
‘Hot date tonight,’ Gary boasted. ‘Blonde.’
‘Mustn’t waste good pub drinking time,’ said Jamie.
Good. Reassured that they were definitely going, Chris and I dumped our shopping in the kitchen then went back to the living room where we chatted for a bit and watched the football with Jamie and Gary. When we were sure Scotland had lost (4-0 down) we decided to make dinner.
As the garlicky aroma wafted through the flat, Jamie and Gary seemed less keen to shift and sloped into the kitchen. ‘My date just texted,’ Gary informed us. ‘Says she’s gonna be late. Needs to wash her hair again or something. Blonde, you know.’
‘May as well have a few more beers here first,’ Jamie said. ‘Cheaper. And, em, best to eat something too maybe. Shouldn’t drink on an empty stomach. There wouldn’t be any spare bolognese going would there?’
‘No way, I’m not your mum. Get your own dinner.’
‘C’mon, Kelly Ann,’ Gary begged. ‘All this week I’ve been living on Pot Noodles and beans. Have mercy.’
‘Honestly, you two are pathetic,’ I said. ‘You should never have left home if you can’t look after yourself.’
They looked sheepish but continued to beg, so in the end, to stop them moaning, I put some more pasta in and we shared our meal. Didn’t bother with the pink rose-scented candles though, as it wasn’t exactly the romantic occasion I’d been hoping for.
Jamie and Gary told us they were really grateful, but of course, as soon as they finished eating they left without helping to clear up. ‘Sorry, Kelly Ann no time to wash up. Late already,’ they chorused.
After putting their dirty dishes on their beds, Chris and I had just settled down to watch the chick flick in the living room when Ian and his girlfriend came back. ‘Oh, I love this film!’ Valerie said, squeezing in beside us. ‘Haven’t seen it in ages though. And it’s just started.’
After five minutes Ian and Chris decided to play the Xbox in Ian’s room while Valerie and I watched the movie.
At least it was a good movie. Might have been better if Valerie hadn’t kept saying stuff like, ‘Oh this is the bit where she catches her boyfriend cheating on her and pours pasta down his trousers.’ And, ‘Wait, this is so funny, ohmigod, just as she’s dancing with the hottest guy in the club and her ex is staring at her and he’s, like, sooo jealous, totally gutted, guess what? Her knickers fall down. No really. You’ll laugh.’
Not any more.
When it finished we went off to Ian’s room but they were in the middle of a game playing against some people in the US and didn’t pay any attention to us. Well, if you can’t beat ’em join ’em. I grabbed a spare control and got stuck in. We played well but were outclassed by our opponents, who humiliatingly enough turned out not to be nineteen-year-old students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology like they’d said but twelve-year-old boys from the Bronx who taunted us: ‘You guys really suck. We beat your asses.’
‘We should have known from their squeaky voices,’ moaned Ian. ‘I just thought we had a bad connection. Bloody little squealers.’
When Valerie was ready to leave, Ian offered to walk her home, even though she lives less than two minutes away, and put a protective arm round her shoulder. Not that Valerie really needed protecting. At just over six feet and built like a Valkerie I couldn’t see anyone hassling her. But Ian, who is nearly six-five and broad as a tank, treats her like a delicate china doll. I think it’s nice and though they’ve only being going out since Christmas I can’t see them ever breaking up. They get on really well and anyway neither of them has a hope of finding anyone else the right height.
When the door closed behind them I reached for Chris and he pulled me into his arms. It was midnight already and apart from a quick kiss when he picked me up we hadn’t had a chance to snog never mind anything else. But the outside door opened again almost immediately. It was Gary, grumping that he’d spent a fortune on his date but he hadn’t even got a goodnight kiss.
Two minutes later Jamie came back with a bunch of other medical students. ‘Sodding club bouncers wouldn’t let us in because some of us had trainers on,’ he grumbled. ‘Just wait till we’re all doctors and one of them turns up at Accident and Emergency having a heart attack, or with a potentially fatal wound. He’d better not be wearing trainers.’
Chris grinned. ‘You’d turn him away? A bit unethical.’
‘Fair’s fair. Serves him right,’ Jamie said. ‘Is there any beer left in the fridge? Let’s have some sodding music as well. Friday night after all.’
Oh God, this would go on for hours.
I put up with it for a while but soon, grossed out by disgusting medical jokes about cadavers and body parts plus the stink of beer, I wandered off to brush my teeth and get ready for bed.
Sleepy now, I pushed open the bathroom door and switched on the light. A large skeleton sitting on the loo grinned at me. Before I could stop myself, I screamed. Chris was with me in an instant. He pushed me from the door and stood protectively in front ready to deal with whatever threatened me. His adrenaline-fuelled rush relaxed when he spotted the skeleton.
Jamie was next on the scene, followed by the others. ‘It’s OK, Kelly Ann,’ Jamie said, striding into the bathroom. He lifted the skeleton’s wrist and made a show of taking its pulse. ‘Can’t say for sure until we’ve done further tests but I think the intruder is dead.’
Very funny. Bloody medical students.
SUNDAY JANUARY 13TH
Chris drove me home. We stopped outside my house but both of us were reluctant to part right away so we hugged and chatted for a bit longer.
Chris brought up the skeleton incident again. ‘Jamie’s sorry he scared you, Kelly Ann.’
‘I wasn’t really scared. Knew it was fake. Obviously. Just, um, took me by surprise for a second. I’m more annoyed with Gary eating our cheesecake and never replacing the toilet paper when it’s used up. And tell him the fake plastic turd in the toilet bowl was not funny, just totally childish.’
Chris smiled ruefully. ‘Gary won’t change, but never mind, one day we’ll have our own place, just the two of us.’
I smiled. ‘Sounds good. Maybe once you’re a doctor earning loads of money and I’m a famous actress or something.’
Chris groaned. ‘Another five years? No way. I was thinking this summer. The lease is up then and you’ll have finished school and be starting uni.’
‘Six months! You’re joking.’
‘No,’ Chris said. ‘I’m serious. Why not?’
‘Well . . . I don’t know.’
He pulled me towards him and kissed me. ‘Sure you don’t know?’
Mmm. Chris and me together all the time. Sleeping together, waking up together, hugging, kissing and . . . well doing anything we wanted. All day if we felt like it. Hmm, not all day. I suppose we’d need to eat something occasionally.
So we could maybe cook together too. And wash up afterwards. Clean the flat. Do the laundry. Iron. But when would I shave my legs, put a facepack on? And who would clean the loo? Hmm. Not quite as romantic as I thought.
‘I . . . well, I’ll think about it,’ I said.
‘What’s wrong? Don’t you want us to be together? I thought you’d be pleased. Excited.’
His hurt expression got to me. ‘Course I do. One day. But not right now. I mean, well, it would be like being married or something. Old and sensible. We’re too young to give up having fun yet.’
‘You think living together wouldn’t be fun?’
‘Yeah but . . . look, Chris, it’s late. And I’ve got school tomorrow.’ I yawned to make the point.
‘Sorry. You’re right. We’ve got plenty of time to talk about this.’ He kissed me and I got out the car. As usual he waited until I opened my front door and turned to wave at him before driving off.
Mum and Dad were still up.
‘What kind of time do you call this?’ Dad said crossly. ‘And where have you been all weekend?’
‘Just gone ten, Dad. I’ve been staying over at Chris’s. You and Mum are fine about it, remember?’
‘Yes well that was more your mother’s idea. I’m not so sure I am fine about it. Young Chris is a nice enough lad, and I realize you’ve known each other since you were kids but still . . . he’s having his cake and eating it, if you ask me.’
I looked at Mum for support. ‘What’s all this about?’
She stubbed out her cigarette, took another swig of her Bacardi and Coke then rolled her eyes at Dad. ‘Well, Kelly Ann, it seems your father here has decided he’s no longer happy living in the twenty-first century so you’ll just have to away up and put your chastity belt on. And you’re not to take it off, mind, until he’s saved up enough for your dowry.’
Dad scowled at her. ‘All I’m saying is-‘
‘Night, Dad. Night, Mum,’ I said quickly and made my way upstairs to bed leaving them to argue it out without me. I wasn’t worried. Mum would win. She always did. I brushed my teeth and frowned at my dark curly hair reflected in mirror. I’d spent ages straightening it this morning but the rain had frizzed it again. Just as well Chris likes my hair curly even if I don’t. At least my skin looked OK – only two spots – maybe the pill was clearing them up. Hadn’t done anything about increasing my boobs though as I’d hoped. Don’t think I’ll ever fill a B cup properly now unless I go for implants. Chris says they’re fine and right for my slim shape but he would say that. I still long for curves like Liz, whose double-D boobs have most guys drooling over her.
In my bedroom I unpacked the rucksack I’d taken to Chris’s then undressed and threw my thong and push-up black Wonderbra into the laundry basket. I pulled on warm thick flannel pyjama bottoms, fluffy socks and an old greying T-shirt – which was at least three sizes too big for me – and sighed contentedly. It was nice to be comfy and cosy when I didn’t have to worry what I looked like.
I snuggled under the duvet and lay for a while listening to the familiar sound of my parents arguing and slinging insults at each other. Dad said Mum had her head in the sand and was asking for trouble. Mum said Dad was as much fun as the ruddy Taliban these days and to shut his face. Dad told Mum to go jump off a cliff, the impact might knock some sense into her. Mum invited Dad to away and boil his head.
I know it wasn’t really serious and they care about each other deep down but I wonder if they’ve always been like this. Maybe when they first started going out they were nice to each other. Like me and Chris.
Seems difficult to imagine now. In fact, I don’t know anyone whose parents talk really nicely to each other. Maybe because they live together. Hmm.
MONDAY JANUARY 14TH
My friend Stephanie is back from an extended winter skiing holiday. Must be nice to be like Stephanie and have parents who are loaded even if they are divorced. In fact, her parents being divorced is probably an advantage as she goes on separate holidays with both of them.
Of course Stephanie has missed the first week of term of her fashion-and-design course at college but she’s never let small matters like term times and schedules interfere with the much more important business of having fun. Having said that, she’s doing really well at college as there’s nothing she doesn’t know about fashion and she has a real talent for design. There’s nothing she doesn’t know about guys either and she has had hundreds of boyfriends before gobsmacking everyone by getting engaged last year to Dave – who also has rich parents.
Since she is the most experienced friend I have I decided to ask her advice about moving in with Chris after the summer.
Stephanie was horrified. ‘Share a pokey little flat with your boyfriend? Are you mad? Let him see you without concealer when you’ve got spots and PMT? Or when your legs need waxing? Next thing you know you’ll be laughing at fart jokes together and sharing razors.’
‘Well you’re getting married this year,’ I said, annoyed.
‘But Dave and I won’t be living together all the time. We’ll maintain separate apartments as well as a joint one. Go on different holidays most times. We won’t ever be sharing a bathroom. Gross.’
‘You think it will spoil the romance? The mystery?’
TUESDAY JANUARY 15TH
Asked Liz, but warned her I wanted a straightforward, sensible, normal opinion. No psychobabble rubbish.
Liz has wanted to be a psychologist practically since she could talk and can be a pain when she analyses everything to death, even stuff like your choice of lipstick colour. Scarlet, for example, means you’re signalling to guys that you have a healthy vagina and you’re practically gagging for sex but if, grossed out by that interpretation, you change it to pink then you are desperately seeking a father figure as you can’t cope with growing up, and your arrested development will probably attract paedophiles. And it’s useless to point out you chose your lipstick colour to go with your new top because your choice of top means . . .
Liz said Stephanie had intimacy issues and not to listen to her. She thought that Chris and I had both reached a stage of psychosocial development where it was necessary for us to move on to a greater degree of commitment. She asked if Chris and I got a flat could she come over and stay sometimes when she gets bored with being at home? Or when Julian comes back from New York to visit her?
We’d need two bedrooms, of course. A one-bedroom flat might impact negatively on a couple’s relationship. Liz would bring her own duvet and hot-water bottle. And we wouldn’t mind if she kept a few things there, would we; some posters, photos etc to personalize her, erm, the spare room? Impersonal rooms could be psychologically damaging.
Hmm. Get the impression that Liz is thinking more about herself and her boyfriend than me. Still, I do feel bad for her. Julian, who’s also Stephanie’s brother, has been working in New York for ages now so Liz hardly gets to see him at all. Although he’s just a couple of years older than Liz, he’s a total genius with computers, so they are paying him a fortune over there. He’s told Liz he’s just going to stick it out for another year or so then he’ll have enough to retire and do nothing for the rest of his life. Which has always been his dearest ambition.
He’s nice but totally nuts, of course, so he suits Liz perfectly. Hope he comes back soon so she can analyse him as much as she likes and give the rest of us a break.
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 16TH
Matt was in our drama class today. Last time he’d said practically nothing and didn’t take part in any of the exercises Mrs Kennedy set. Today though, when we were talking about stage lighting, he surprised everyone by contributing some helpful and knowledgeable suggestions. Afterwards we discussed West Side Story – a musical Mrs Kennedy plans to modernise and adapt to a Glasgow setting for us to perform at the end of school along with the music department. He didn’t seem too interested in this at first but when the teacher asked me to demonstrate some dance movements from it, and the group applauded me when I was done, he joined in enthusiastically.
At the end of the lesson he came up alongside me as I was leaving class. ‘You’re good,’ he said. ‘Where did you learn to dance like that?’
I flushed, pleased by his unexpected praise, but tried to shrug nonchalantly. ‘Oh, I just copy stuff. You know pop videos or musicals, that kind of thing.’
He raised a sceptical eyebrow. ‘You look as though you’ve trained.’
‘A long time ago my mum sent me to ballet lessons. I used to be a bit of a tomboy so this was her way of trying to stop me hanging around my dad’s garage learning about cars and swearing from the mechanics or playing football in the mud with the boys.’
He smiled. ‘And did it?’
‘Not really, and I hated the stupid tutus I was made to wear. I like dancing though but now I prefer modern stuff. What about you? How come you know so much about stage lighting? You ever done that before?’
‘A bit. But it’s really music I’m into. I play the guitar.’
‘Are you any good?’
Hmm. A lot of the boys say Matt is totally up himself. I thought they were probably just jealous but maybe they’re right. On the other hand maybe Matt is really good and is rightly confident about it.
Matt said, ‘I think you’ve just gone past your class. You’ve got maths next, haven’t you?’
‘Oh yeah, right. Thanks,’ I said, blushing at my stupidity.
‘See you around later.’
‘Yeah. See ya.’
What was it with this guy that he could distract me so much I walk past my class? And how come he knew already what my schedule was? He’d hardly had time to learn his own timetable. Was it possible he was interested in me? Found me attractive even? Must admit the idea of someone like Matt fancying me was exciting.
What am I thinking? This is all wrong. I have a gorgeous boyfriend I’m mad about. I am not interested in anyone else. Not in that way. Definitely not.
THURSDAY JANUARY 17TH
Gerry brought his guitar into school today. He’d been taking lessons since last summer and is getting quite good. I don’t think he’s that interested in music. Like a lot of guys, he’s taken up the guitar as he thinks it will help him pull girls. Not that he needs much help. Gerry is probably the nicest looking guy in sixth year so even though he’s a bit of a tosser and a serial cheat lots of girls fancy him.
He started strumming a few tunes in the common room at lunch time but was getting stuck on some difficult chords. Matt strolled up to him. ‘Nice guitar. Can I have a look?’
Gerry frowned but passed it to him anyway as it would have looked stupid not to.
Matt adjusted the tuning slightly first then started to play. Oh my God. When he said he was good he wasn’t exaggerating. The music just seemed to flow out of him like the instrument didn’t matter. And he could play anything; pop, rock, classical, jazz, indie. He played short pieces in each style. Casually and easily, like he was doodling. Everyone was quiet, spellbound, staring at him. Not wanting him to stop. Finally he paused, looked across the room and stared straight at me. ‘This is for Kelly Ann.’
I blushed scarlet as attention suddenly shifted to me. Everyone was looking at me curiously as though I’d been keeping some secret from them but it wasn’t true. I was as surprised as they were by Matt singling me out. I tried to give a nonchalant, I’ve-no-idea-either kind of shrug however my hot, tomato-red face probably meant nonchalant shrugs were pretty unconvincing. But when he started to play Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ I forgot about being embarrassed and just swayed along to the music totally enthralled.
When he finished the whole room applauded. Except for Gerry who, as the end-of-lunch bell rang, grabbed his guitar back and muttered, ‘Naff song.’ Had a feeling that Gerry wouldn’t be bringing his guitar to school any more.
Matt didn’t try to talk to me afterwards or pay me any particular attention later but it didn’t stop people gossiping about whether there was anything going on with us. Even Liz has asked me if I’ve been keeping something from her. I’ve told everyone Matt just thinks I’m a good dancer because of seeing me in drama and have tried to act cool about the whole thing.
But there is absolutely no doubt about it. A guy who plays that well and dedicates the number to you is flattering. Very. And attractive. Even if there is no chance of me ever doing anything about it.
FRIDAY JANUARY 18TH
Hadn’t seen Chris all week as he’s been busy with coursework so I was really looking forward to tonight.
Chris picked me up at my house straight from uni and we went to his flat so he could dump his books and get changed before we went out to the cinema.
The first person I saw was Gary. ‘Have you replaced the cheesecake you stole yet, Gary?’ I asked.
‘Borrowed not stole. Theft is a serious accusation you know.’
I sighed. ‘You can’t borrow a cake. Now, have you bought me another one, you thieving tosser.’
‘Sorry, I forgot. I’ll, um, get you one tomorrow. Anyway I’m glad you’re here because I wanted your opinion. I’ve got a hot date tonight. How do I look?’
I scowled. ‘You look like you need a black eye.’
‘Oh c’mon, Kelly Ann. Seriously. I really want your opinion.’
I looked him over. Nice, loosely fitted denims, black shirt with sleeves rolled up to the elbows and new, but not too new, trainers. Hair gelled a little and, yes, aftershave that actually smelled nice and not like pine disinfectant for a change – a Christmas present from Liz and me.
‘Hmm, I’ve seen you look worse. Who’s the girl? Still the blonde?’
‘Yeah, Samantha. Sexy name, right?’
‘So, she’s special?’
‘Well,’ Gary hesitated, ‘special date anyway.’
‘So?’ I asked, puzzled.
‘So I might get to sleep with her. Bloody hope so anyway. If you don’t get a shag on the third date there’s no telling when you’ll strike lucky. Could take months.’
‘You’re disgusting, Gary.’
‘Where is everyone?’ I asked, deciding a change of subject might be a good idea.
‘Jamie’s out getting pissed with some other medics then they’re planning to go clubbing if they can still stand up.’ Gary shrugged on his jacket. ‘Ian’s meeting Valerie. Going for a curry or something, I think.’
‘Oh,’ I said.
‘Yeah, so you and Chris will definitely have the place to yourselves tonight. No shagging in my room though. I want it pristine when I bring Samantha back.’
‘Disgusting, I know.’
‘Anyway Chris and I are going to the cinema, like we said.’
‘Sure, right. So, wish me luck?’
‘Hope she slaps you.’
But, like Gary said, we had the place to ourselves tonight. So we could be together – hug, snog and maybe, mmm yeah, make love without worrying that anyone would overhear us. And the film hadn’t had great reviews. Anyway, maybe we could go to a later showing.
Chris didn’t need any persuading. He picked me up and carried me to his bedroom. I put out the light which I know disappoints Chris a little but he understands that I still feel shy about making love with the lights full on. However since our bedroom door was ajar some soft, muted light reached us from the hall. So romantic. And flattering. Oh God it felt so good to be alone with Chris at last.
Then I heard a key being inserted and turned along the hall. The front door opened. A gruff, deep voice said, ‘See, I told you no one was here. Only the hall lights on.’
A contented giggle. Valerie.
Chris wanted to get up and tell them we were here but I stopped him. ‘We can’t come out of a dark bedroom at eight o’clock,’ I whispered, blushing. ‘They’ll know what we’ve been doing.’
‘So,’ Chris said. ‘It’s not a crime.’
But I couldn’t face it so in the end we just lay quietly. Not moving or speaking and even trying to breathe as silently as possible.
Soon wished I’d taken Chris’s advice though. They started in the hall, for God sake. Noisily snogging and laughing before finally throwing open Ian’s bedroom door which is diagonally opposite ours and what sounded like jumping onto his bed and bouncing about on it. We had to lie there for what seemed like hours listening to Valerie giggling and calling Ian her ‘gorgeous big heffalump’ while Ian moaned stuff like, ‘Valerie, my hot wee carrot top.’
Oh God it was embarrassing.
Chris and I were trapped until they finally fell asleep and we could creep out.
The film was rubbish.
Maybe Chris is right. Perhaps we do need our own place.
MONDAY JANUARY 21ST
Spent the whole weekend with Chris. Bliss. Except for having to get up to brush my teeth early each morning.
Chris says there’s no need and that I smell and look gorgeous first thing but I think he’s lying so as not to hurt my feelings. And he’s pointed out that he doesn’t bother so why should I? But I know Chris doesn’t suffer from morning breath, probably because he sleeps with his mouth closed, a trait I don’t think I share. We tried making love without kissing so I wouldn’t have to get up but Chris didn’t like it. Said it was like having sex with a prostitute. Or what he imagined having sex with a prostitute was like anyway.
Still it was fantastic spending the whole time with Chris when he didn’t have to work or study. And it put all stupid thoughts of fancying anyone else totally out my head. I didn’t think about Matt even once all weekend.
OK, maybe once, when Chris was in the shower singing tunelessly to himself. Normally this just makes me smile indulgently but this time it kind of annoyed me somehow. I bet Matt has a nice voice. Someone that musically talented could never sing out of tune.
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 23RD
Matt brought his electric guitar into school and played a tune he’d composed himself. Wow, he really is so talented. And he’s told everyone he’s just joined a band called Rock Rampage. They’re new but all the guys in it are in their twenties and have played in other bands before. Have decided to avoid him as much as possible. Shouldn’t be difficult as he is now constantly surrounded by hordes of groupies from first year up.
SATURDAY JANUARY 26TH
Nearly everyone went off to the pub after school yesterday. Not the one nearest to the school as teachers go there and some of us, like me, are still legally underage but the one on the other side of the park which doesn’t look at fake IDs too closely. Matt went too but so what? There was a huge group of us. However it was only Liz and me that he offered to buy a drink for. I was going to refuse but Liz cut in with, ‘Great, thanks, and could you get us some crisps too?’ Fortunately I wouldn’t be tempted to stay long as Chris was picking me up at seven.
Chris texted. SORRY CAN’T MAKE TONIGHT. ASKED TO COVER FOR SICK STAFF AT WORK. C U TOMORROW. LUV U X X
Got drunk, danced on table and was barred by the pub manager. I said, ‘You can’t bar me. I’m underage.’
Manager had no answer to that one.
But other than that didn’t do anything too embarrassing like pole dancing upside down (a party last year – don’t ask) or coming out of the loo with my skirt tucked into my knickers (Liz).
And I didn’t tell Matt I fancied him and ask for a snog, thank God, although I suspect my restraint was helped by the fact that he left after just one drink.
Wish I’d left after just one drink too. Was sick all morning and still feeling awful by the time Chris picked me up at six.
Tried to tell him that I just had an upset stomach from something I ate earlier but I needn’t have bothered. ‘Something you drank more like,’ Chris said. He handed me his phone. ‘Have a look at the texts you sent me last night.’
LUV U SOOOOOOOOO MUCH. LUV EVERY PEOPLE IN THE WOOOORLD SOOOOOOOO MUCK. KA
THE PUBIC MINGER HAS BARED ME. FOR BING DRUNK. IN A PUBIC! WANT KILL THE MINGER.
‘My predictive text’s been playing up?’ I said.
Even without the stupid texts my condition must have been pretty obvious. As soon as we arrived at Chris’s, Jamie took one look at me and said, ‘Ah, a serious case of alcohol poisoning I see. For which there is only one known cure.’ He disappeared off to the kitchen and returned with a glass of what looked like fresh orange which he handed to me with a flourish. ‘Your medicine. Vodka and orange. Best followed by a fry-up or chicken-tikka curry.’
Chris took the glass from me and scowled at Jamie. ‘You idiot.’
But it was too late. Just the thought of Jamie’s ‘cure’ had me running for the bathroom to throw up again.
Of course we couldn’t go out then.
Most medics are pretty callous with ill people unless you’ve got cancer, or something equally serious, but Chris has always been kind and caring when anyone is sick. Even if it’s self-inflicted. So he held my hair back from my face when I was on my knees hurling into the toilet and put a cold cloth on my forehead afterwards. Later, when I’d recovered a bit, he made me tea and toast then we went to bed and he just hugged me until I fell asleep. It wasn’t exactly the most fun night I’d ever had but it did remind me of how much I loved Chris and how lucky I was to have him.
SUNDAY JANUARY 27TH
Oh God, the sheer joy of feeling well again was almost worth getting ill for. Almost. Jamie apologized for his ‘hair of the dog’ hangover cure but said it worked for some people.
It was a lovely crisp frosty day so Chris drove us to Loch Lomond. We parked the car then walked hand in hand by the calm blue water and gazed at the snow-capped surrounding mountains. So romantic. Later we went for lunch at one of cafes by the shore. Starving now, I wolfed down my chicken and chips but kept some bread to feed to the ducks and a pair of swans afterwards. A perfect day. And Matt never entered my head at all. Until the evening.
Back in Glasgow Gary suggested we all go to this pub in the city centre where a new rock group was playing. The Rock Rampage. He’d heard they were good. We didn’t go. Everyone was too broke. But still, after that, I couldn’t get Matt out of my mind. Not entirely.
MONDAY JANUARY 28TH
This stupid thing with Matt was getting seriously annoying. Decided to talk to Liz. Wish I hadn’t bothered.
‘It’s his guitar, Kelly Ann,’ Liz said.
‘His guitar? That’s it?’
‘I’m attracted to Matt just because of his musical talent? Don’t think so. I mean, sad Nigel McDuff is good on the violin but I don’t fancy him. And his pal Kevin isn’t bad on piano but-‘
‘Violins and pianos aren’t phallic symbols. Guitars are.’
‘Don’t talk rubbish,’ I said, exasperated now. ‘Guitars aren’t anything like penises.’
‘No? Think about where they’re placed. Right at the groin. And how they’re played. All that sexy hip grinding. Oh yes. Unconsciously you’re thinking all the time: Matt’s got a massive one and knows how to use it.’
‘This is bollocks, Liz. But OK let’s say you’re right. How come you’re not affected then?’
‘Once you’ve studied how the unconscious mind works as I have then these things don’t affect you the same. My super ego can rise above it.’
Decided I’d get more sense out of Stephanie so went round to her place after school.
‘Of course you still love Chris, Kelly Ann. You just fancy this Matt. A lot, it has to be said.’
‘So what should I do?’
Stephanie shrugged. ‘You could try shagging him.’
‘What! I couldn’t do that!’
‘Why not? At least it would get it out of the way. After a few times you’d probably be bored with him.’
‘Cheat on Chris? How could I possibly explain that to him?’
‘You don’t explain anything, you idiot. Just keep your mouth shut. Honestly, I despair of you, I really do. You don’t need to share every tiny little detail of your life with your boyfriend you know.’
Hmm. So either I spend my entire life trying to understand the complete works of Freud or live with the guilt of cheating on Chris for the rest of eternity. Brilliant. No, there has to be a better way of dealing with this.
But then again maybe I wouldn’t have to do anything. Most likely Matt didn’t fancy me anyway and he was just being friendly. Probably he had a girlfriend already – a guy like him was almost bound to.
I should have felt relieved by this but I didn’t. More depressed really. Oh God, why did this have to happen now? Just when I’d finally got my life sorted out. Of all the schools in Glasgow he could have gone to why, oh why, did he have to come to mine?