I was dreading the end of school holidays. As the last week of the break drew nearer I began to feel sick each morning. My stomach was churning so much that I couldn’t eat breakfast and I had to spend a long time in the bathroom.
Mum talked about taking me to see a doctor, but then she decided that a change of school would be good for me. A few days later she told me she had enrolled me in the same high school as Debbie and Rose. Once I found that we would be sharing a lot of the same classes I stopped being sick in the morning.
By the time the first day of school came around I was actually excited and looking forward to starting school again. I was a senior now and Debbie and Rose met me at the school gate. We walked towards the red brick building together. Debbie seemed to know everybody and she introduced me to all of her friends as we walked along. I didn’t feel like the outsider anymore and nobody laughed at my red hair or freckles. I even found myself smiling and laughing with the other girls.
In the half hour before the bell rang for the first class of the year, Debbie entertained everyone with stories about her holiday at the beach. Some of the stories were so funny that I wondered if we had even been at the same beach together.
As usual, Debbie didn’t stop talking as I followed her down the corridor to the classroom. We sat next to each other for the first lesson and the teacher assigned everyone their lockers and a list of textbooks that we would need for each subject. We were then given ten minutes to find our lockers, take the keys from the lock, and get back to the classroom.
‘Come on, Molly, our lockers are just around the corner so we can be quick,’ said Debbie. I followed her around the corner to find a group of kids from one of the other classes were already standing at the lockers.
I looked at the piece of paper I had been given with my name on it and saw that I had been assigned locker seventeen. That will be easy to remember, I thought, because that is how old I will be on my next birthday. I walked over to locker seventeen to get my key, but there was a guy standing in the way.
I took a deep breath and said, ‘Excuse me. I need to get to my locker.’ I waited for the nasty remark that would follow as the guy turned around, but instead he bowed and stepped to one side.
‘Pardon me, mademoiselle.’ His smile was infectious and I couldn’t help but smile back. Then Debbie was right beside me.
‘Hurry up, Molly. We need to get back.’
I suddenly felt flustered as I rushed to get my locker key with this guy watching me.
‘Hi Deb,’ said the guy. ‘Who’s your cute friend?’
‘Hey David, this is Molly. She’s new here, so be nice. Molly this is David.’
David reached out his hand, and I held mine out uncertainly. He took my fingertips gently and raised my hand to kiss the back of it softly.
‘Enchanted, mon cheri.’ My head was spinning and I felt like I was watching a movie scene from above rather than in my own body.
‘Leave her alone, David. She’s already spoken for.’ Debbie then grabbed my elbow and hurried me back to the classroom. I turned and looked back over my shoulder before we went around the corner. David was still looking at me and he smiled and waved. I waved too before Debbie jerked me into the classroom.
The morning went quickly and before I knew it we were back in the playground for our recess break. I was trying to find a way to ask Debbie about David but she beat me to it.
‘You don’t want to get swept away by David,’ she said. ‘He tries that act on all the girls.’
‘Is that why you said I was ‘taken’?’
‘Of course, I’m just looking out for you, Molly. Don’t give away your heart too easily.’
She squeezed my arm and smiled, ‘Are you okay?’
‘Yeah, of course.’ I gave her a little smile back but I couldn’t get the picture of David’s face out of my mind, or the way he kissed my hand.