You lead a fairytale existence
But into every life a little rain must fall.
- Rain Must Fall, Queen
Angie desperately clobbered every button and dial on the pristine washing machine that sat calmly on the tidy utility room floor. It was relatively new, and Angie had never used it before. Sarah usually did the washing. The only reason Angie was turning her hand to it now was because she'd spilt coke all over her new white jeans, and Sarah was sure to mention the fact to Angie's parents at an inconvenient moment.
That would all have been fine, except Angie had left a crisp £20 note in the pocket.
'Shit,' she said again, and with a final kick at the infernal machine, she left it to its own devices. It was only twenty quid, after all. No biggie.
Angie retreated to her room to complete her history essay on 'Women's Rights in the 20th Century'. Half of her didn't know why she bothered - most of the class just pissed around for the whole of the lesson. Angie wasn't a swot, but she liked to do things properly. For the most part, her homework was neat, well-done and on-time. Her grades rarely dropped below B-C.
She probably would have been treated like an outcast by the other students - the 'clever girl' or 'teacher's pet' - if she hadn't been so downright gorgeous. She had long wavy blonde hair with brownish streaks, and a heart-shaped face. She was slim and quite sporty, with tanned skin and blue-grey eyes. It was her looks that gained her the position of the most popular girl in the school. She had found that giggling stupidly behind layers of make up was usually a good way of 'fitting in', although it wasn't her at all.
Angie sighed, pulled out her pen and began to write.
As Angie had predicted, she was the only one with a half decent essay in history, but the teachers were as bad as their students - punishments were lenient and hardly ever enforced. Angie had had to put up with Bex giving her suggestive looks and grinning for the whole of the class. She couldn't stand it any more!
And now Bex had caught up with her in the corridor. There was no one else around. She was stuck.
'You doing anything tonight?' Bex asked, smoothing his hair down in a really stupid way.
'And why would you want to know?' Angie hadn't meant to snap quite so hard, but it just made Bex laugh.
'Hey, hot girl like you, hot guy like me, whad'ya expect? Well, you coming? Tonight?' He sidled up to her and reached out.
Angie snapped. 'Shut up. I'm not interested. Piss off.'
Bex seemed momentarily unable to speak. When he finally recovered his voice, it came out as a growl. 'No one says no to me, Angel baby. You should know that by now. I'll ask again. You coming tonight?'
'You heard the girl, Bex.'
Angie whirled round to see a boy she'd never met before sidling over to them, hands in pockets, cool-as-you-please. It took her a moment to recognise him as the foreign guy in her year who always wore a hoodie. Hoodie Guy. He was wearing only jeans and a black T-shirt now, so she could see his weathered skin, long dark hair and strong arms. Ouch. She'd never realised Hoodie Guy was hot.
'Mate, wherever you come from, a girl's 'no' means 'no'. Respect that.'
Bex snarled, scenting rivalry. 'Or what?'
Hoodie Guy stayed miraculously calm. Calm before a storm, Angie thought, He doesn't know what he's got coming.
'Or I'll make you respect that. Simple.' As he said this in his cool, casual voice, the muscles in his arms rippled menacingly, making both Bex and Angie perfectly sure that he both could and would carry out the threat if need be.
'You wouldn't dare,' sneered Bex, but he sounded unsure. 'You couldn't, anyway. Who do you think you are?' But he was backing away, and he turned quite suddenly, with a last snarl at Angie, and left at a slightly faster-than-normal walking pace.
'You okay?' Hoodie Guy asked Angie once Bex had disappeared.
'I'm fine,' snapped Angie, in almost exactly the same tone as she had used for Bex. 'I'm not some weak girl who needs your help just to walk down the corridor. I can take care of myself.'
'Yeah, I saw that.' He was laughing at her, she was sure. 'You really had it sussed.' Definitely laughing. Her cheeks began to burn, and she left with just as undignified an exit as Bex, leaving Hoodie Guy standing in the middle of the corridor, his black eyes full of laughter.
To her great dismay, Angie found that in her next lesson, English, the seating plan had been changed. She was now on a table with the two most uncool people in the year - a guy called Simon who barely ever spoke and could hardly read his dyslexia was so bad; and Hoodie Guy.
'Now, today,' said Mrs Peach, the English teacher. 'I was everyone to to exactly as I say. No more messing about. You will have noticed that I have changed the seating plan. This is so you are now on a table with two person you won't know, at least not very well. I want you to work as a team to get notes on each others personalities. Your homework will then be to combine these characteristics into a completely new character. At the end of the term you will then write an essay debating whether the fictional characters you have created are, or can ever be true representations of the real thing. So no caricatures, please. Now go!'
Angie sighed and resigned herself to two hours of interviewing people she didn't know, didn't care about and didn't like. The sad thing was, it was actually a really good project. Just not with Simon and Hoodie.
'Right,' she said, when neither of the other two looked like taking charge. She headed a piece of paper in her neat handwriting - English Characters Project, Interview.
'Ok, give me some of your characteristics,' she said to Simon.
He looked thrown. 'Er...'
Angie sighed. It was going to be a longer lesson than she thought. 'Fine.' She turned to Hoodie. 'Your turn.'
He snorted. 'I can't believe you actually care. This sucks. Just make up a character if you're so bothered.'
'I am so bothered, and we're going to do this properly. Come on, Hoodie Guy, or I'll just make up something nasty about you.'
To her dismay, he shrugged. 'Fine. Whatever. And the name's not Hoodie Guy, so you can quit calling me that.'
'What is it then?' Angie snapped, her patience running out.
Hoodie grinned. 'Asher.'