Amy: a sixteen-going-on-seventeen year old girl - a normal teenager, growing up as a person as she stumbles on, jumps on, falls on, and wobbles on, the stepping stones of life.
October - Open Evening
I stepped out of the car in my new black blazer and my heels, hoping that I would be as dignified as I could, walking across the uneven pavement. I leant inwards to say a rushed goodbye to my mum, and confirmed the time that she would pick me up again.
I walked briskly (but carefully) towards the school’s main block, keeping my posture straightened, but with my peripheral vision on the ground in front of me. Walking into school was fine - on a normal school day. However, walking into school in heels was not fine. The ground sloped from the entrance of the school right down to the 6th form common room, with stairs, mini hills, and stony paths.
I hated the wind - that was probably my most hated weather type. No, correction: wind and rain. Luckily I made it into the school with minimal damage to my hair, but obviously before heading to the science department, I checked my reflection in the girls’ loos. The mirrors were probably the worst kind of mirrors that a toilet could have. They were bent slightly at the sides like bendy plastic, as though someone had taken a sheet of shiny silver plastic and nailed it to the wall. Knowing our school and its tight fisted budget, someone most probably had. I looked in the scratched and blurry surface of the mirror and tried peering at myself. Hair - mostly fine apart from the wind ravaged fringe. Makeup - a touch up on the almost-there lippy and a reapplication of eyeliner. I liked open evenings. It was fun to answer prospective parents’ questions and just generally having a role of importance. It was also fun to stride around in smart clothes and makeup, perfecting the inner businesswoman.
After a final blazer readjustment, I decided that it would probably be a good idea to start walking towards S11, the science room I was meant to help out in. One of my friends, Jessica, would probably be expecting me to arrive anytime soon- along with me and several others, she had signed up for helping in science. A science teacher brushed past me with an armful of Bunsen burners, making his way to S04 or S05. I waited for him to pass, then stepped back again as a technician nearly collided into me with her trolley stacked full of chemicals. This was gonna be a busy night.
“Jessiicaaaaa!” I sung out, spotting her across the room. I clacked across the room and gave her a quick hug. “What you up to?”
“Mr Andrews asked me to connect this circuit up for the kids, then to make the onion slides for the microscope - do you wanna do that? It’s over there in the corner.”
“Yeah sure, do you need any help with the circuit? That bulb looks kinda dodgy…”
“No, don’t worry I’ve got it under control!” She laughed, and then came closer and whispered in my ear. “Check out the new teacher, he looks like a 6th former! The one next to Miss Prince. Isn’t he cute?! He‘s really tall, and his eyes are actually amazing!”
I casually observed him as he talked to the other chemistry teacher.
“Not bad…! I hope he’s in this room!”
We both giggled, and then immediately scowled in disappointment as he strolled nonchalantly out.
“His loss…” I muttered, and we burst into another fit of giggles.
I set up the onion slides for the microscope table, and set out the textbooks on the table. The teachers were especially relaxed on these open evenings, treating you more like one of them, rather than a lowly student. They breezed around, occasionally helping out a student with setting up the various experiments.
As the evening drew on, I had connected the circuit on average 11 times; demonstrated the onion experiment 7 times; did the popular chemical ‘colour change’ trick 14 times and talked about the school curriculum, my own subjects, and how much I enjoyed school life countless times. I stood exhausted against the cabinets, watching Jessica as she tirelessly demonstrated the ‘colour change’ trick again with Alyssa. My feet were killing me - I finally understood the meaning of ‘killing’. For nearly five hours, I had trudged back and forth between experiments, keeping the pain out of my voice as I chatted cheerily to 11 year olds and their anxious parents. My toes were squeezed into the small points of my shoes, and my entire body weight was forced onto them with the 3 inches of heel. I. Did. Not. Want. To. Be. Here. I empathised with the billions of women across the globe, gritting their teeth and smiling as they made their way back from workplaces; dancing across bar floors and strutting down red carpets. I was in my own little world of agony- until he walked in.
He was clever, confident, pretty good looking, popular, muscular, and very funny. And most importantly, he was single. I had never really paid much attention to him before. Ok, so there was that year 8 crush, but apart from that - nothing. He had been in my classes since I started secondary school, but he was never one of the guys that I had kept my eye on. He was now in my biology class, another prospective medic. I knew that much from the limited msn conversations we had had, and general chats in class. But from tonight…everything changed. He looked suave in his well fitted suit - it was pinstriped, but the stripes were in a different shade of black, subtle against the other black. His suit blazer hugged his triangular torso, and emphasized his broad shoulders. His name made my heart skip a little. Josh.
“Guys! Ok, over here is where Mr. Bryant keeps the burettes… All of these must have cost a fortune - they’re about £70 apiece, and there’s at least fifteen in each rooms, and god knows how many science rooms there are! Well…this is S11, and there‘s an S12 next door...wow.”
The parents laughed as Josh put them at ease with his jokes, and I grinned as I watched on. As the parents turned around to watch Jessica’s ongoing experiment, he came and stood next to me.
“I am so tired. I’ve been trekking through the school about a million times - the art stairs are a killer, and my throat is killing me. I’m dying!”
He sighed dramatically and leant his head on my shoulder. Oh my god. He leant his head on my shoulder. I giggled and we conversed as the parents watched their children watching Jessica and Alyssa. Josh had signed up to be a tour guide around the school - as expected he was a natural, him being a great conversation maker. As the experiment came to an end, he did a mock groan as he went over to gather up his people .
“Wish me luck!”
He spoke to me. My heart was beating fast as I composed myself. He spoke to me, and he leant his head on my shoulder. Wow. I glanced across the room at him, and caught his eye. He smiled, and I shyly smiled back. Oh my gosh, he smiled at me.
I believe I have a crush.
The open evening drew to a close, and I helped the teachers clear up the various spills, pack up the experiments, and gather up scrap paper that was scattered around the room. It was 9:30 before the room looked normal again.
“Thanks for helping ladies! See you at school tomorrow.”
I didn’t remember anything about the journey back home, apart from the rhythmic thumping of ‘Josh. Josh. Josh.’ running through my mind. His name tattooed itself all over my dreams that night, and created the start of a new chapter of my life.