Penultimate section of Chapter 1-The Bet


“Ben, do you like the Kaiser Chiefs?” Henry asks as he plugs it into Jel’s enormous speakers. Jel and Zook look at each other.

“We have a song for you.” Then they seem to get it. I know one song by the Kaiser Chiefs which is I predict a riot and I have no idea what it is yet I can relate to all the words. It gets to chorus and I suddenly recognise it from St Trinians but sung by a girl. The other three know it really well and are singing along really loudly and badly and I join in too. Because I’ve never been this far away from home and I don’t plan on going back anytime soon.

A week later on the Saturday night, it is burns night then reels with the whole school and is a small turning point.

We have the first dance which is in groups of three, then the second dance which is in pairs and the third one which is also in pairs. It isn’t the best night of my life but I’ve had worse. A lot worse. The fourth dancer is strip the willow and that is when it all changes.

Everyone is gathering in two lines; girls on the right and boys on the left. I am ushers into place into the centre and before I have time to really get what is going on, I am being spun by a variety of pretty girls.  As it goes on, it gets more crazy and violent. I get to the top and take a look at my partner. She is slender, small with bluey black hair that has a streak of purple. I am looking at her and she looks up and looks at me. She smiles and gestures. I am working out what she says when I am suddenly pushed into the middle and I am being spun and thrown about so violently I don’t have time to catch my breath or see where I am going or what I am doing. There is one girl, who spun me really slowly so my partner is waiting for me and as she spun me, our eyes met.

  Just for that one moment it is just me and her. She goes off to get spun by another boy and it goes back to violent and crazy. As I am being spun; I saw the most beautiful girl ever. She has coffee colours skin, long dark hair that goes in thick chocolate colours waves with a single braid in it. She spins me and I can’t stop looking at her. The next bit happens very fast.  

  The stunning girl turns and makes eye contact with me and suddenly someone comes hurtling into me and I lose my footing and land on the floor; all the impact on my face and the next thing I know I am lying on my front on my face on the floor in a (small) pool of blood.   I just lie there, not particularly wanting to turn over. The music stops and lots of people rush over to me and try to help me turn over and sit me up but I refuse. I don’t like people touching me and I don’t want any help so I turn myself over and there is a loud gasp. I look up and saw everyone in our year standing and gawping. A number of voices swirl around in the air above me.

“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry! Are you alright?”

“Jay! You freakin retard!”

“I…I didn’t mean to…honestly!”

“You broke his fucking nose!”

So that’s what the searing pain spreading across my face and synapses is. A teacher comes rushing through the crowd and presses an ice pack onto my face and I take it and hold it in place. My breathing pattern suddenly becomes blocks and it all begins to hurt. Really hurt.

“What happened?” the teacher asks. The whole crowd turns to look my partner who is a shade of purple. I’m taking it that is Jay.

“Well…he threw me into him.” She retorts, pointing at someone in the crowd. I look up and everyone turns to look at someone I can’t see. There’s an argument brewing, I can feel it; almost as much as the pain in my nose.

“Umm…no I didn’t.” Says an uncaring boy’s voice who sounds like a total dick. “Are you sure you aren’t drinking again Jay?” The crowd of people ooh and someone mutters ‘burn.’

“Ooh I felt the burn there. Hey kid, can I borrow your ice pack?” Jay asks sarcastically.  “Hang on. What is your name?” I throw it at her.

“It’s Ben.”

“Yeah Ben, I’m Jay and this is India-Jane.”

“Jay likes sleeping with people’s boyfriends.” says the beautiful one in a bitchy voice who I’m guessing is India-Jane.

“You bitch. Are you calling me a slut?”

“Yes maybe I am.”

“She is.” The boy with the arrogant voice adds.

“Rome. Shut it.”  He doesn’t seem to get that though.

“Look bitch. Back off.”


“Back. Off.”

“Don’t you tell me to back off.”

“Oh I will.”

“Don’t you even dare.”

The guy with the arrogant voice decides this is his cue to enter.

“Oh look. It’s your ex. Who do you think he is sleeping with?”

“Rome. SHUT IT!” the two girls chorus. He is right though. Jel is hurrying in with Zook, Henry and Brad in tow. They look at each other. The teacher sitting with me turns and looks at them along with everyone else; taking the attention off Jay, India-Jane and me with my broken nose.

I never see Jay again after that. Not for a long time anyway. I get it drills into me that she is a freak, and not someone I should get myself involves with. I don’t approve of bullying, especially girls like Jay who have done absolutely nothing wrong. If theres one person I should try and be nice to, it’s her.

My mum gets informs by Mr H that I broke my nose so of course she rings in a panic on Sunday. I assure her I’m fine and that I not dying in a corner due to blood loss and yes the med centre are looking after me. Then she manages to slip in that I have the optician and the Orthodontist on Tuesday. Oh. Yay.

So at breakfast on Tuesday I say to Jel who seems to be the most reliable:

“Hey can you tell our English teacher that I’m not going to be there this afternoon because I have the orthodontist/optician?”

“Sure Ginger.”


“Wait you have braces too?” Zook asks. “High five bro. We can be braces buddies. Or should I call you Traintrack Jones? Because I was calls Retainer Zook when I first get my retainer and then…”

“Okay Zook we don’t need a full explanation.” Brad says over him, shutting him up.

“I think Traintrack Jones is quite long winds for a nickname. I’m gonna get some juice does anyone want some?” Jel asks the table.

“Yes please. Or you could be just TJ.” Henry points out and it’s sticks like chewing gum to my blazer.

The actual appointment is worse than I imagine. I leave after chapel and miss English which I like because it meant we muck around for an hour and I go for what feels like hours and hours of driving in this stupid taxi. I have the orthodontist first which meant lying back for ages in chair while some bald guy pokes around with my braces and  then the optician spends an hour telling me that these glasses are much stronger than the last pair and they should last me another two years at least.  I preferred these ones to the last pair which were very thick because my eyesight wasn’t that great and they were little square glasses and I used to spend an awful lot of time taping them up in the dead of night so my mum would never know and make me visit the opticians again to get new ones. I also didn’t want her to see because then she would kick up a big fuss about the bullying and that would have just made it worse.


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