Authors: Lili Wilkinson
Tags: #JUV026000, #book
I am kissing a Boy. I am being kissed by a Boy.
A real boy. A not-imaginary Boy.
It's a little more . . . moist . . . than I expected. And I know I'm meant to stick my tongue in, but then what do I do with it? Magazines should be more specific. Also, our teeth bump a couple of times, and that's Not Good.
My hands are on his shoulders â Ben's heavenly shoulders â they feel as strong as they look. His hands are on my waist. I am up on tiptoes to reach him, and I'm going to develop a serious crick in my neck if this continues for much longer. Not to mention running out of oxygen and asphyxiating.
But who cares about breathing and neck-cricks and tongues and teeth and moistness?
I. Am. Kissing. A. Real. Live. Boy.
A small part of me wonders what everyone else in the hallway is doing. In my head, it unfolds like this:
Ben and I are kissing. There is space all around us, because people
are so in awe of our love that they dare not approach us. But they
are watching from the sidelines. Tahni is open-mouthed with
astonishment and a hint of jealousy. Hundreds of students and
teachers stop what they are doing and watch. Their eyes mist over
with emotion, and silly smiles spread across their faces. The camera
pans around us and upwards in a spiral that reveals the enormity of
our love. Music swells.
Am I wearing the pair of school tights with the hole that Mum never fixed? I think I am. All of those people, staring at the hole in my tights. And I should have polished my shoes. And they can all see the ink stain on my school dress. Did I brush my hair this morning?
Did I brush my teeth!????
I break away from the Boy, who does this adorable little sardonic eyebrow raise at me. I look around. Nobody is paying any attention at all, apart from Tahni, who is openmouthed, exactly as I imagined.
And that's when it hits me.
I have magic superpowers. I invent a hot English imaginary boyfriend, and here he is, with his right hand still on my waist. Whatever I say comes true! I am King Midas, but with truth instead of gold. I speak and it happens. Mr Mehmet â get me another partner for the English project! It's time to buy a lottery ticket.
What else could it be? A coincidence? Pretty wild coincidence. And if it is, then why is Ben playing along? What's in it for him?
it's more than that. You don't kiss someone like that just because you're playing along. I have a micro-flashback to the kissing, and my knees feel weak.
The bell rings for form assembly. Ben takes his hand off my waist and turns to his locker. I feel like I've had a body part removed. Put that hand back, Mister. He pulls books out of his locker.
My lips are tingling as though they've been sprinkled with fairy dust or washing powder or something. I want more. I've become a kissing-obsessed maniac in all of five minutes. How long till recess?
I take another good look at Ben. He is gorgeous. He makes the school uniform stylish and debonair. He's just the right height. We'll look so good together. We'll parade the school grounds every recess and lunch, holding hands. People will sigh with jealousy. I wonder what he'll wear to our wedding. We'll have a holiday house by the sea and our beautiful children will play in the sand and we'll sit up on the deck wearing cable-knit jumpers and drinking wine. We'll be photographed for a home decorating magazine.
Tahni is leaning forward, staring Ben's books as if they're going to explain this unlikely turn of events.
Hah! Who's got the amazing boyfriend now, eh Tahni? No more teasing about V-plates, no more jokes about being old and crocheting little coats for my seven hundred cats.
There is clearly such a thing as karma, because while I'm thinking these uncharitable thoughts, Tahni frowns.
âI thought Midge said your surname was Hopkins?' she points at Ben's diary, which has
Benjamin L Wheeler
written on it in black Sharpie.
The game is up. The party is over. The fat lady has handed in her invoice and called a taxi. At least I got to kiss a boy once before I died of shame. Ben does the cute eyebrow thing again. And he
âMy parents just broke up,' he says, smooth as butter. âI'm using my mum's name now. That's why we moved here.'
âOh,' says Tahni. âI'm sorry.'
Ben shrugs. âIt's no big deal.'
Definitely superpowers. The corridor is almost empty now, everyone's gone to class.
âSo what does the
stand for?' asks Tahni. âMidge said your middle name was Oliver.'
Come on, Ben. Help me out here.
âUm,' he says, shrugging.
No. Not after we've come so far.
âHe has two middle names,' I say quickly. âOliver and . . .'
âLuke,' says Ben.
âLuke!' I repeat. âLuke and Oliver. His two middle names.'
Tahni glances from Ben to me suspiciously. I hold my breath for approximately seven squillion years. Then Tahni and I speak at the same time.
She says, âSo why don't youâ'
Just as I yell out, âBLOW!'
Tahni and Ben both look surprised.
âWhen he changed his surname, it meant that his initials were B. L. O. W.
. Which isn't good, is it?'
They both shake their heads. Thank you, Grade 6 spelling bee. Thank you.
âAnd,' I say, now on a spelling-roll. âIf he'd used Oliver, then it would have been B.O.W. Which would have been
, a dog. That's why he started using his other middle name.'
I blush. Ben raises his eyebrows.
âYou just remember everything, don't you, sugar?' he says.
Tahni is disappointed. It's like she doesn't want me to have a boyfriend.
âI'll see you at recess,' I say. It's a brush-off, and a mean one, but she needs to stop interrogating Ben.
âRight,' she says. She has a funny expression on her face. âNice to meet you, Ben.'
âLikewise,' he says as she walks off.
And then I am alone. Alone with my No Longer Imaginary Entirely Perfect Boyfriend. What do I do now?
âWe should talk,' he says.
I nod, suddenly feeling the wave of shame again. I can feel my face growing blotchy and red. He stares at me, waiting. The half-smile is still there. He's so gorgeous. I wonder what would happen if I just started kissing him again. Maybe I could just kiss him forever, and we'd never have to have this conversation.
âWell?' he says.
âUm,' I say, my voice hoarse. âMaybe we can talk at recess.'
If I can ever escape Tahni's clutches.
Ben looks at me like I've just suggested we join an acrobatic troupe.
âRecess?' he says.
âYeah,' I reply. âIt's at eleven, after third period.'
He raises his eyebrows. âWhy wait till recess?'
I laugh nervously. âBecause we have form assembly now? Then classes? The teachers get kinda antsy when there are no kids in the classes. It's part of the student/teacher symbiotic dynamic.'
âWhatever,' he says. âLet's go.'
I've never wagged school before. I know that sounds insane, but I just haven't. I
school. Even the boring classes. I figure it's all stuff I'll need to know one day. Except for those stupid âpractical' Maths problems that ask things like, âYou are travelling north at 25 kph in a blue car. You have a chicken. How many eggs will the chicken have laid by the time you reach the red car?' Practical in the sense of
not at all
While I'm doing this mental babble routine, Ben turns and walks down the corridor. It's a really nice walk. Smooth and graceful and strong. I weigh up my choices.
If I stay, he'll think I'm a square. And then he might not like me any more and he'll tell everyone my secret and I may as well just quit school and learn how to crochet.
If I go, I might get caught. I might miss out on some Important Learning. But I also might get to do some more kissing.
I follow him. I wonder where we'll go. The library? A broom cupboard? A boiler room? (Does this school have a broom cupboard or a boiler room? Or are they just rooms for TV schools so kids can go and have secret trysts and get attacked by vampires?) Hide down behind the bike sheds?
Where do all the other kids go to wag? Is there some secret bunker where they hang out, smoking rollie cigarettes and playing poker?
He's almost at the front door of the school.
âWait!' I say. âWhere are you going?'
Ben shrugs. âOut.'
I think I am having a heart attack. âThat's the front door,' I explain. âSomeone'll see. If you want to leave, you should at least sneak out the back way or something. There're some bushes that cover the back fence near the portables. If you give me a boost I can climb over. Unless Mrs Peck is doing fitness testing in P.E. â then there'll be kids on the oval and they'll be able to see us. Maybe we could change into P.E. uniforms and pretend to be running laps, but then swerve off when she's not looking, and duck behind the toilet block.'
Ben turns and saunters back to me. He stands very close. I thought boys were supposed to smell bad? Ben smells very, very good. âYou're funny,' he says, brushing a piece of hair away from my face. âI like that.'
He likes me. He touched me. I feel like jelly â wobbly and transparent. He takes my hand (
my hand! We're holding hands!)
and leads me out the front door.
The whole time, I'm expecting sirens to sound, and attack-dogs to spring from nowhere, and creepy black vans with no windows to screech to a halt outside Reception as bulletproof-vested commandos drop from the trees. We're going to get caught. I'll be expelled. I'll have to beg for a job in the chicken and chip shop on High Street and I'll have six kids all to different fathers by the time I'm nineteen and there'll be photos of me in all the trashy magazines, falling out of taxis with no knickers on.
, everyone'll say.
She had so much promise, what with the Spelling
Bee and all. What happened?
I don't say any of this to Ben, of course. There's a fine line between âYou're funny, I like that' and âGet away from me you crazed lunatic freak', and I'd like to stay on the side of that line that includes hand-holding and kissing.
We don't get caught. We waltz out the front door and down the steps, and right out the gate onto the street. Bold as brass. And nobody even notices.
If I'd known it was this easy, I might have done it before.
We go to a cafe (âLittle Coffee in the Big Wood's'), and I order hot chocolate and immediately feel like a child when Ben asks for a long black. He's so sophisticated. I pay, in the hope that caffeine-related-bribery will make me seem like a mature, confidant lady-pays kind of girl.
We sit at a black laminex table. I fiddle with the sugar sachets and wonder if I should tell the waitress about the errant apostrophe in âWood's'.
âSo,' he says.
âSo,' I reply. I suddenly feel sick. This is embarrassing. He's hot and sophisticated and I can't stop looking at his lips.
âHow did you know I was moving to your school?' he asks.
âI didn't,' I answer. âHow could I? We've never met. I justâ'
And then it all pours out. I tell him about how I've never had a boyfriend, and how Tahni teases me, and how I made up Ben from England, and then there he was. He listens, nodding and doing his gorgeous little eyebrow thing. I can't tell what he's thinking, but he's not laughing at me, which is a start. He also hasn't run away screaming, or called an ambulance to escort me to a mental hospital.
âSo this is all some kind of weird coincidence,' he says at last.
I nod. âThanks for covering for me.'
Our drinks arrive and he stirs sugar into his coffee. Maybe he really does like me. Maybe he understands. Maybe he's never had a girlfriend. Although I'm sure no one could be such a good kisser without putting in some serious practice hours. Maybe he'll find my eccentric imagination endearing. Maybe he'll fall in love with my mind.
âSo you made me a MySpace page?' he says with a grin.
âThis was a pretty elaborate scheme of yours,' he says.
âIf you're going to do something, may as well do it properly.'
âCan I have the address?' he asks. âI might have a few suggestions.'
I write the address on a napkin for him. He picks up the napkin, then puts it down and slides it back across the table.
âYou'd better put your phone number on there, too,' he says.
ânoun; 1. that which nourishes; nutriment; food.
Â Â 2. that which sustains; means of support.
â A Wordsmith's Dictionary of Hard-to-spell Words