This is Thursday, not Monday, Wednesday or Friday, the days I normally post on this blog. But since I haven’t posted anything in a while, I’m going to post. And I promised Melissa I would host her once again on my blog.
Melissa Wray is the author of Destiny Road, a coming-of-age YA novel, that I read and reviewed a few months ago. She is currently writing another YA novel, titled Late Bloomer. The excerpt that I’m sharing with you today has been received an Honorable Mention in the Gold Coast Writers’ Festival. I can totally see why because, after reading it, I want to read more.
Here is the excerpt from Late Bloomer.
It’s only Monday and I have already burnt the toast for breakfast, tripped over the cat on the way out the front door and managed to get the bus driver off side for forgetting my bus pass. Great start to the week Kit! I flush the toilet and hook my schoolbag over my shoulder. I wash my hands but avoid the reflection in the mirror. It’s the same that it’s always been, just zit free today. I still look like I’m ten not fourteen. Mum says we all develop at different rates and not to rush it. I don’t want to rush it, but it would be nice to at least get bumps on my chest in this lifetime.
The warning bell rings as I emerge into the corridor. I jostle past the other students to collect my books from the locker. I slam it shut and squeeze past the couple shoving their tongues down each other’s throat. You would think this is the last time they will see each other. Ever. It’s only two hours until the first break and they can drool all over one another again. I walk along the corridor and ignore the sniggers circulating around me. My paranoia must be joining me early today. I make it to the classroom and enter just before the final bell rings. All the seats are filled, with only the one on the far side remaining. I cross quickly and again a ripple of gasps and snorts follow. I look behind me and they immediately cease. I plonk onto the chair and get my books out.
‘All right everybody, settle down,’ Mr. Hampson says.
The noise quietens and he begins talking about the math work we were supposed to finish over the weekend. I peek sideways at the rest of the class. As I do, a flurry of eyes looks away from me. I try to ignore the unsettled feeling seeping into my nerves. Instead I focus on the textbook in front of me. I flip to the page Mr. Hampson is talking about. Before long I can feel eyes staring at me again. I want to look around and make sure I’m imaging things. But I can’t bring myself to turn my head, in case I’m wrong.
Whack! Something hits me in the back and I turn around. The entire class is looking at me. I notice a scrunched up ball of paper has dropped on to my seat.
‘Nice look,’ Shane sneers from behind me.
I scowl at him and pick up the ball of paper. Like that weirdo can talk with his oily black hair sticking up all over the place. I try to un-scrunch the wad of paper quietly. I flatten it against the table to read.
I look up to find Mr. Hampson standing right beside me. My heartbeat quickens and I know this is not good. Mr. Hampson does not take to disruptions kindly.
‘Care to read out your secret note?’
My lip twitches as I try to avoid his death gaze.
‘Make sure you use a loud voice,’ he encourages, sarcasm dripping off.
I haven’t read the note yet so I cross my fingers it’s something innocent.
‘Sh … short skirts are b … back,’ I whisper
‘Sorry I didn’t quite hear that.’
Mr Hampson has moved to the front of the room.
I clear my throat. ‘Short skirts are back.’
An eruption of laughter echoes around the room. Mr. Hampson’s cheeks blow out like a puffer fish. He stomps across to my desk and swipes up the note. His eyes scan across it. He glares at me because he knows I’ve spoken the truth. I don’t know why he’s mad at me. I didn’t write the stupid thing. I don’t even understand what it means.
‘Who wrote this?’ he asks, swirling on the class.
One by one the snickers stop. No-one owns up to the ridiculous note.
I shrug my shoulders. I’m just as confused as he is.
‘Well maybe an hour in the time out room will help.’
My jaw drops open. He can’t be serious. I didn’t do anything.
‘Now Miss. Mornington.’ He drops the note and points toward the door.
I look around the room but this time nobody meets my eyes. I push the chair out and shove my books and pencil case into my school bag. I stand up and as soon as I do a fresh chorus of laughter erupts. I take no notice and stomp out of the room. The trails of laughter follow me and I ignore the repeated calls back from Mr. Hampson.
I make it to the time out room and enter to find it empty, except for the teacher and one other. My best friend Burra is splayed back in the chair. He spends a lot of time in here. Surprise spreads across his face when he sees me. But quickly he ducks his head before the teacher catches him.
‘Mr. Hampson,’ I explain to the supervising teacher.
She nods and records it in the creased notebook. It’s full of all the other naughty boys and girls in the school. I don’t have as many offences as Burra but there are a few with my name attached. I’m not naughty as such, but things just seem to go against me sometimes. I pull my textbook out of the bag and start working. After about ten minutes the teacher stands.
‘Right you two. I am going to trust that you will behave whilst I go and get something from my desk.’
She gives us the stare that is supposed to frighten us into submission. We both nod and watch her leave. Once she’s gone Burra strolls over to my desk and sits on it.
‘Well this is a new sight.’
I roll my eyes. ‘Not from where I’m sitting.’
He doubles over in mock laughter.
‘Seriously Kit, how did you get in here?’
‘I didn’t even do anything. Some idiot threw this note at me and Mr. Hampson went off his tree.’
I retrieve the note from my bag and pass it to Burra. He reads over it and raises an eyebrow. I snatch if off him and stand up to throw it in the bin.
‘Oh Kit, short skirts are back,’ he says with a smirk.
I stare at him with a screwed up face. I pat my hand down my school dress and that’s when my blood runs cold. I rewind through the morning so far. Leaving the toilet, the sniggers along the corridor and the snorts in the classroom, the stupid note that got me sent here. It all makes sense.
‘ARGH!’ I pluck my dress out from my knickers.
I pat the material down repeatedly until I’m sure there is nothing stuck where it shouldn’t be.
‘Nice underwear by the way,’ says Burra.
‘Shut up!’ I punch him in the arm.
‘No seriously, polka dots are definitely your style.’
I shove him off the table. ‘Not helping Burra.’
I cover my face with my hands. I can feel the heat radiating from my cheeks. I drop into my chair.
‘This is so embarrassing. The whole school must have seen my backside hanging out my undies.’
‘You’re such a drama queen. I doubt the whole school …’
Burra’s voice trails off as he looks at me with a toothy grin.
‘What! You doubt the whole school what?’
‘I doubt the whole school saw you, unless someone got it on their phone. Then they sure will.’
The blood rushes from my face. ‘I think I’m going to be sick.’
I push the chair back and lay my head on the desk. I try to take in deep breaths but it’s not helping.
‘Kit I’m kidding! It’s not like your dress has been hooked up all day. It was just before school.’
I peek up at Burra. ‘Do you really think that?’
‘Sure, besides you’ve been sitting on your butt most of the time.’
‘Yeah, I only walked to my first class and then here.’ I nod, trying to reassure myself.
‘That’s right,’ Burra encourages. ‘It was only a few guys from your class.’
I nod and think about it. There’s not much difference between underwear and bather bottoms. I can live with a handful of classmates seeing my polka dot hipsters.
‘You’re right, there was only a few.’ I shrug my shoulders. ‘No biggie.’
‘That’s the girl,’ he pats my back. ‘Besides, what’s the chance of it ending up on YouTube?’
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You can also find out more about Melissa Wray and her work on the following sites:
Meslissa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.