“Ready for Year 9?” says a voice by my ear. When I turn around I see Ezme grinning wildly at me, her hoop earrings swinging like baubles. It’s late August and my gang (Emma, Shona and I) are doing some last-minute shopping, pining brass butterflies into our locks and giggling at our distorted reflections.
“Hi!” I say, “Are you ready for the Beginning-of-Year talent show?”
At this, Ezme’s face drops. “You know I can’t do that sort of thing, Jess,” she whispers, with a hint of annoyance in her voice. So she hasn’t planned anything? The little voice in my head tells me that’s not quite true; I give her a sceptical look.
“Okay,” she continues whispering, “I’ve been thinking about it. I wanted to sing ‘Chill Out’, one of my own songs, but Daniel and I haven’t got the track ready yet. I was also thinking about singing Pink’s ‘So What’-it’s a song about moving on, that I really like. Have you heard of it?”
“Yeah, I’ve heard it. I like it. Catchy.”
“It’s just all too much pressure, what with my Acting Assessment Exam coming up, and a possible role in the annual school play…”
A voice calls out from behind Ezme and up bounds a slightly overweight 11-year-old.
“Hey.” She says as a greeting.
“Jess, this is my sister Nickie. She’s joining school this September.”
I look up and down the girl. She has rough dyed reddish-brown hair, short and bob-length. She is dressed in a maroon T-shirt with a picture of the singer Pink on the front, and a list of tour dates on the back. On her legs is a ripped denim mini-skirt with dark blue leggings underneath. Her make-up is dark.
“What are you, Goth?”
“Punk, actually.” She says, a little venomously. I guess I’m not the first to make this kind of mistake.
Suddenly Shona bounces up to us, holding out a Jade coloured jumper.
“Look guys,” the girl does not bother to conceal her accent when alone with us in the shops, “It suits me?”
“Not quite for school!” She giggles.
The five of us burst out laughing. It’s great to see Ezme so happy…but I get the feeling it won’t last long into the new school term…