Samantha Dapple’s initial reaction to the announcement of her name was confusion. She hadn’t put her name down for this Mysterious Partner scheme. One look at the faces of the girls surrounding her cleared everything up.
She rolled her eyes. They were so silly - she wouldn’t get a boyfriend through something like this. And it annoyed her a little that they had done this without asking her. But, ever the good sport, she walked up to the gazebo on the grass bank and didn’t say a word to Mrs Finney as she walked towards Ray Carin.
“Hey, Sammy,” he said, grinning. Knowing him, he had signed up to this in the hope of being partnered to a hot girl. Either that or he was doing it for a laugh, to gain popularity amongst his friends by showing that he was ‘game’. “You looking forward to the next half hour?”
Sammy shrugged. “Depends on whether you’re going to be annoying.”
Ray chuckled. “Me? Annoying? You wound me. This’ll be a good chance for us both to get to know each other better. Joining school in sixth form is so annoying - you only really get acquainted with the people you see in class.”
“If you say so.”
Ray gave her a sideways glance. By now they had begun to walk back towards the rest of the students who were beginning to dance to the music the DJ was playing, though Sammy wasn’t really paying attention to where her feet were taking her.
“You don’t look... enthusiastic. Did you just sign up to donate money to charity?”
“No,” Sammy admitted. “My friends put my name down without my knowledge.”
Ray’s face fell. “So you’re not at all doing it for fun.”
Ray cursed under his breath.
“You must be really annoyed at your friends,” he said, sounding like he was annoyed at them himself.
“Yeah, but I’m not a bad sport. I won’t be unfairly mean to you during this half hour we’re meant to spend together. Do you have any idea of how you want to spend it?”
Ray sighed and looked into Sammy’s face.
“I did sign up for fun, so I’d planned on a bit of flirting, a bit of dancing, a bit of drinking together - you know, stuff like that. I don’t know what we’ll do now.”
Sammy suppressed a laugh.
“That’s funny - those are all the things I don’t want to do.”
“Oh, man,” Ray complained.
“What were you going to do tonight?” Ray asked, crossing his arms.
“Stand around and chat to people. Okay, so perhaps I’ll have a glass or two of wine when I’m thirsty but I’m not really the sort to get wild at parties.”
“You’re supposed to get wild at parties,” Ray said. “Don’t you want to let your hair down?”
“After what? I don’t find school stressful. After homework I always have time to sit down and read a book. I have a decent eight hours of sleep each night and at the weekend I go out for a bit of retail therapy.”
“You’ve really got it all sorted out, haven’t you?” Ray asked grudgingly.
“I guess so,” she replied, shrugging. “I just know what I want to be doing with my life.”
“How old are you?”
“You’re speaking like a thirty year old. Don’t you want to enjoy being a teen while it lasts?”
Sammy frowned. She hadn’t really ever considered it like that. She guessed she saw the fun of youth and the benefits of not thinking too seriously before facing the big wide world outside of school but at the same time she liked being mature and sensible.
“I like acting mature,” she told Ray. She thought about the way she was disappointing him by not being a fun-lover and said, “But if you want to teach me how to be a kid again in this half an hour, I guess I wouldn’t mind.”
A slow smile grew to a surprising size on Ray’s face. It was actually quite infectious at the end.
“Sure; I’m up for that. Let’s go get a drink.”