Read Not Quite Perfect Boyfriend Online

Authors: Lili Wilkinson

Tags: #JUV026000, #book

Not Quite Perfect Boyfriend (2 page)

BOOK: Not Quite Perfect Boyfriend
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Contents

1 com·mence·ment

2 thes·pi·an

3 scheme

4 er·satz

5 chi·me·ra

6 cock·a·ma·mie

7 al·i·ment

8 ex·ul·ta·tion

9 hul·la·ba·loo

10 re·sid·u·um

11 re·cal·ci·trant

12 as·suage

13 cat·a·clysm

14 scourge

15 venge·ance

16 di·vul·ge

17 e·piph·a·ny

18 par·rhe·si·a

19 con·quest

Au·thor

1
com·mence·ment
/k.'m.

–noun; an act or instance of commencing; beginning.

– A Wordsmith's Dictionary of Hard-to-spell Words

Sometimes I wish I could just grow down and go back to primary school. Everything was easy then. School was fun, I was the Grade 6 Spelling Champion, and my best friend and I thought boys were disgusting.

When I wake up on the first day of Year 10, I realise how much has changed. School is hard. My best friend is boy-crazy. I have never kissed a boy. And no one gives a rat's fundament about spelling.

I drag myself into the kitchen for breakfast. Mum and Dad are talking, but stop when I come in. Mum looks down into her cup of tea, and Dad leaves the room.

‘Is everything okay?' I ask as I eat last night's ravioli straight from the Tupperware container.

‘Fine,' says Mum, then makes a face. ‘Imogen, that's disgusting.'

Mum named me Imogen because it sounded like
imagine
, but everyone calls me Midge. Even Mum only calls me Imogen when I'm doing something wrong.

I pop another piece of ravioli into my mouth. ‘What?'

‘You could at least heat it up.'

‘I like it cold.'

Mum empties the dregs of her tea into the sink and then smoothes her shirt. She was a total hippie before I was born, but now she works for a classy law firm in the city. She still burns incense and talks about karma, and she gets all hot under her Country Road collar when I call her a sell-out.

I finish the ravioli, and rummage through the fridge to find something worthy of a sandwich for school.

‘Don't bother making your lunch,' says Mum, gathering up the official-looking papers that decorate the kitchen table. ‘I'll give you money to buy something.'

I freeze. ‘What have you done with my mother?' I ask suspiciously.

‘It's your first day back at school,' says Mum. ‘You should have a treat.'

I raise my eyebrows. ‘This from the woman who started a letter-writing campaign to our local council insisting they serve tofu in the school canteen.'

She just smiles and snaps her briefcase closed.

Tahni bounces up to me at my locker in the Year 10 corridor. She's been in Queensland with her family since after Christmas, so I haven't seen her in forever.

We squeal and hug and do the girl thing, then she launches into a lurid and, I suspect, highly exaggerated description of the boys she met on the beach, and the bikini she wore, and the expressions on the faces of the boys when they saw her in the bikini, and the photo she gave them of her in the bikini (airbrushed, of course – Tahni became a Photoshop expert last year with the sole purpose of being able to airbrush her own photos). I zone out after a couple of seconds. I notice a sign on the wall:

“Welcome” Year Ten's

I can forgive Tahni her tendency to turn even the most mundane events into a drama worthy of Ramsay Street, but there are only two things worse than poor spelling. One is misplaced quotation marks. The other is unnecessary apostrophes.

‘So?' asks Tahni. ‘Did you meet any hot boys over the summer?'

She says it in this annoying sing-song voice which makes me blush. Because she knows the truth. She knows I've never kissed a boy. She's the one who tells me at every available opportunity that I'm going to be a lonely old lady with eleven cats in a caravan.

I feel like the whole school is judging me. Me in all my pathetic loser-y glory.

This is an extra-special bonus level of Not Fair. It's not like I'm ugly. I've spent hours in front of the mirror, trying to figure out what is wrong. I have good skin. My eyebrows are nicely shaped. I don't have crooked teeth or a hideous squint. So. What. Is. The. Problem??

Tahni laughs and makes miaowing noises. I envisage a whole year of this. A whole year of every girl in the school who isn't me pashing anything with a Y chromosome. And I can't handle it. I would rather die.

So I say it. I don't think about it. I just say it.

‘I did meet a boy.'

Tahni giggles. ‘Cousins don't count, Midge,' she says. ‘Or pizza delivery boys. Or the boys who work at the video shop.'

I glare at her. ‘I met him at the library,' I say. ‘He has wavy brown hair, and he's English.'

I pause. What am I talking about? I didn't meet any boys.

‘So he's a nerd,' says Tahni, cautiously.

Does that mean she bought it?

I grin. ‘A hotty Mc-Hot nerd.'

Tahni nods appreciatively.

Who doesn't love a hot nerd?

‘Wow,' she says. ‘You really met a boy. When can I meet him?'

‘He's gone back to England,' I say. Where is this all coming from?

‘So you'll never see him again,' Tahni says dismissively, like it doesn't count.

‘He might be moving here.'

What am I doing? I'm crazy. There's no way Tahni will buy this.

But she is. She's leaning forward, her eyes intent.

‘Did you pash him?'

‘Of course.'

Tahni lets out a little squeak of excitement. ‘Are you off your V-plates?'

I give her a Look. ‘Don't be gross,' I say. ‘We only met a month ago.'

‘So what did you do?' asks Tahni. She looks slightly defensive. Maybe she's worried that I have a better story than her never-ending Bikini on the Beach masterpiece. I'm enjoying this way more than I should.

‘We went on a picnic by the river,' I say. ‘We had a picnic rug and lemonade and dip and squishy cheese. He made me a garland out of daisies and willow branches and called me a princess.'

Tahni frowns, and I know I've gone too far. ‘Sounds kind of wet,' she says.

‘It wasn't,' I say. ‘It was romantic.'

The bell rings. ‘More on this later,' says Tahni over her shoulder as she hurries off to form assembly.

I am officially insane.

2
thes·pi·an

–adjective; pertaining to tragedy or to the dramatic arts in general.

– A Wordsmith's Dictionary of Hard-to-spell Words

When I found out Tahni and I were in different home groups, I was furious. How could they split us up? Tahni and I have been best friends since Grade 2, when we bonded over a shared love of pineapple jelly-snakes, and a shared hatred of Nina Kennan, the school's resident Little Miss Perfect.

Now, as I slip into form assembly alone, I'm just relieved to be away from the boy-interrogation.

What on earth was I thinking?

When I was a kid I had an imaginary friend called Susan, who had curly red hair and could tap-dance. Dad thought it was cute. Mum thought it was an expression of my inner creativity, or possibly a shadow of a past life. I think she was secretly hoping that my imaginary friend would be Aboriginal, or Cambodian, or someone Spiritual and Ethnic with feathers in their hair who could talk to animals and was called Runs With Bears. But no. The closest Susan ever got to being Spiritual or Ethnic was the all-singing, all-dancing concerts that she and I staged together. I blame my grandmother, who took me to see
Annie
when I was five.

Dad was right. Imaginary friends
are
cute. Redheaded, tap-dancing ones especially so. When you're
five
. When you're sixteen, it's not so cute. When you're sixteen, it's deranged. I should see a doctor.

At the front of the room, Ms Church clears her throat, and slowly, everyone sits at a desk and stops discussing the relative merits of spray-on-tan versus solarium tanning (is it better to be messy and orange, or to risk getting cancer and looking like a handbag by the time you're thirty-five?). I hadn't even noticed Ms Church entering the room. She's so tiny I seriously think she could apply for a disability pension. I had her for French last year, which would have been fine if the poor woman could actually speak French. All I had to do was make lots of French-sounding, throat-clearing noises, and I got As.

‘Imogen Arkles?'

I jump. Ms Church may be the size of a malnourished hobbit, but she sure can project. She's got a voice like a seagull. A seagull with a megaphone.

‘Here.'

I'm almost always first on the roll. It sucks because I can't slip into form assembly that precious extra twenty seconds late, like Joe Wilson or Shuchun Zhao.

It does have its benefits though, because once I've done my ‘here' duty, I can zone out and think about more important matters (like what to get for lunch with the ten dollars Mum gave me), while all those familiar names go washing past (or, in Ms Church's case, screeching past).

I'm wondering whether a meat pie or a sausage roll has more calories, when I notice Ms Church's constant nails-on-blackboard squeal has stopped. I pop back into reality, just in time to be blasted again.

‘George Papadopoulos?'

Everyone is looking around. A new name. We're getting a new kid? A
boy
?

The girls all sit up a little straighter, apply lip gloss and smooth or mess up their hair, depending on whether they are the smooth kind or the messy kind. I find myself sitting up a little straighter too.

A new boy.

I imagine him walking through the classroom door.

He's tall and gorgeous. His soft brown eyes zoom straight to me, and we
have a Moment. Ms Church has to clear her throat, and the New Boy
blushes and looks away. But that Moment is all we need to know that we
are Meant To Be Together.

I'd have to break up with my English boyfriend first, of course. But he's gone home anyway, and everybody knows that the long-distance thing doesn't work.

Okay. I am seriously insane. I am feeling guilty about breaking up with my PRETEND boyfriend in order to get it on with a new PRETEND boyfriend. Le sigh.

Ms Church shrugs and moves on down the roll to Cherry Pham.

But then we hear footsteps in the hallway, and the door opens, and he's there. The New Boy.

He isn't tall. He also isn't gorgeous. About the only thing I got right is the brown eyes.

He's sort of . . . lumpy. Not fat, but he could lose a few kilos. He has dark brown hair that is too long to be normal, and too short to be skater/surfie cool. It's curly in a kind of girly way, and is in desperate need of some Product.

And he's wearing the Official School Shorts, which no one wears. Seriously, no one. Not even the boys who spend their lunchtimes in the library playing chess. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. As the Grade 6 Spelling Champion, I understand the vilification that comes with being committed to a Cerebral Extra-Curricular Activity. I'm sure those chess-boys in the library are lovely, well-adjusted young men. But, you know, if anyone was going to be wearing the Official School Shorts, it would be them. And they don't.)

It actually looks like his mother may have dressed him. All the other boys wear their uniforms in a slouchy, grubby, who-gives-a-rats kind of way. Their shirts are rumpled, their ties half undone and all skewed. Their oversized grey pants hang so low that their boxer shorts show. (What is
with
that? And how do they do it without, you know,
hips
? Do they have some kind of complicated pulley-suspension thing to stop their pants from falling down? Maybe this is why I don't have a boyfriend. Because I can't appreciate the scientific and aesthetic skill that goes into wearing your pants around your knees.)

BOOK: Not Quite Perfect Boyfriend
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