Baby be the class clown
I’ll be the beauty queen in tears
It’s a new art form showing people how little we care (yeah)
We’re so happy, even when we’re smilin’ out of fear
Let’s go down to the tennis court, and talk it up like yeah (yeah)
1) the boy who reads too much news
2) the boy who never speaks
3) the girl who set fires
4) The angry boy who struggles in class
5) The mousy girl who reads too much fiction
6) The boy who writes poems in the back of his biology textbook
7) The girl who is an online sensation
8) The boy who is learning Oasis songs for his acoustic guitar
9) The girl who spends too much time on her phone
10) The boy who knows everyone, but knows nothing.
11) The girl with the attitude.
12) The girl who doesn’t have any friends that are girls.
13) The girl that boys make cross-city scavenger hunts for.
14) The boy whose sister died in year 8
15) The boy who listens to bands you’ve never heard of
16) The boy with the past
17) The boy you hope will get his own spin off
18) The girl with the past, but you don’t care about it because she’s not the protagonist of this story.
19) The girl with the mum with the non-descript mental illness.
20) The girl with the lilac eyes
21) The girl who kissed the girl with the lilac eyes in the shower rooms last week
22) The girl who has never been told she’s not enough
23) The class clown.
24) The boy with the unpronounceable name.
25) The best friend with no backstory because they don’t need one.
It was the last day of Year 11. Teenagers were milling around, ties untied, shirts with goodbyes and dicks scrawled on them. Some people were crying. Some people were hugging. Some people were making plans to see each other again. Some knew they’d never seen anyone again.
Someone sent a message on Whatsapp sent to everyone in Class D, all twenty-six of them. It was received, two blue ticks, at approximately 9.11am.
Everyone in the year was speaking about it. Even the people in Class B. And they never got involved.
1.30 at the tennis court. Be there.
No one knew who sent it. Or how they got everyone’s number. Everyone turned up.
All twenty-five of them.
“Has anyone ever played tennis here?” asked the boy who reads too much news. “I don’t think I’ve ever been actually inside these courts for the whole five years.”
“One of the clues when we did orienteering was inside here,” said the boy who never speaks.
“Apparently they’re getting rid of them,” said the girl who sets fires.
“What?” asked the angry boy who struggles in class.
“The tennis courts, they’re getting rid,” said the mousy girl who reads too much fiction.
“Oh yeah, they’re turning us into a sports academy,” said the boy who writes poems in the back of his biology textbook.
“A sports academy? Fuck that,” said the girl who is an online sensation. “I mean… sports? Do you remember when they made us do a step class?”
“The orienteering clue was in the corner. That one there. A triangle with a circle around it,” said the boy who never speaks.
“Why we all here anyway? This is bullshit. It’s fucking cold. And I think it’s going to piss it down,” said the boy who’s learning Oasis songs for his acoustic guitar.
“Did you not get the text?” asked the girl who spends too much time on her phone. “It said, meet here at 1.30pm.”
“But why all of us?” asked the boy who knows everyone but knows nothing.
“It probably has something to do with the art class in year 8,” said the boy who never speaks. “The class detention.”
“But why all of us?” asked the boy who knows everyone but knows nothing, again as no one answered him the first time.
“Isn’t it obvious? I mean look at us. We’re a fucking rainbow of every cliché everyone’s ever thought of when they think of ‘teen’,” said the girl with the attitude.
“I just don’t believe that people can be pigeon-holed so easily,” says the girl who doesn’t have any friends that are girls.
“Oh, please. We were all given our roles in year 7. As soon as we walked through those doors, we were given our place in this school,” said the girl that boys make cross-city scavenger hunts for.
“But what do you mean by roles?” asked the boy whose sister died in year eight.
“Ugh, this is like… a cheap spin off of that film,” says the boy who listens to bands that you’ve never heard of.
“Which film?” says the boy with the past.
“Do we need to narrow it down? Literally every film that features teenagers,” says the boy you hope will get a spin off. “The one with the fucking American school bullshit and the athlete and the basket case…”
“Oh yeah, I saw that film,” says the girl with the past, but no one cares what it is because she’s not the protagonist in this story. “The one with that song at the end?”
The boy with the past blows a smoke ring. It’s perfect. Almost as if he’s been practicing.
“Don’t you forget about me,” said the boy who never speaks.
“The Breakfast Club? My dad used to love that film,” said the girl with the mum with the nondescript mental illness.
“Who do you think we’d all be?” asked the girl with the lilac eyes.
“I’d be the slut,” said the girl who kissed the girl with lilac eyes in the shower last week.
“I think I’d be the princess,” said the girl who has never been told she’s not good enough.
“I’d be the one who isn’t even invited to detention,” said the class-clown. “I’d be the one who was suspended.”
“I’ll be the one who changes the world,” said the boy with the unpronounceable name.
“Who gets to decide?” asked the boy who never speaks.
“Who gets to decide which role we play?” asked the best friend who doesn’t have a backstory but doesn’t need one.
“And who the fuck stole my mobile number?” asked the angry boy who struggles in class.
“He has a point,” said the mousy girl who reads too much fiction.
“I did,” said the boy who never speaks. “Because of Year 8, the detention… when the new girl started and then she left afterwards because…”
“You know, this is stupid,” said the girl and she looks at the boy who doesn’t speak. “I’m going.”
The rain falls. The dark grey northern skies open and Class D scatter. Across the sodden playing fields: mud splattered across bare legs and grey trousers.
They scatter for one last time.
“It’s the ones who aren’t here. The ones who aren’t sitting in this shitty has-been tennis court in this shitty has-been school that’s only purpose was to house smoking teens,” said the boy who doesn’t speak. “It’s the ones who write the stories in the paper, who read the news, it’s our parents, our grandparents, adults who have never met us. The ones who pit us against each other. The ones who made us scream at the new person, the weird person, the one who was different. The ones who made us smash their art project that they’d worked on all afternoon. The ones that made us laugh when all we got was a detention on a rainy lunchtime. The ones that made them leave our school… the ones who made them…”
The one who was different was the wisest of the group but they didn’t know that then. They wouldn’t have known it for a while but they would’ve figured it out.
After a few more times someone had made them feel overlooked. After a few more times someone talked over them, ignored them, a few more times of desperation when they didn’t know the answer, a few more times when they didn’t know who they were supposed to be. A few more times when someone tried to make them into something they didn’t want to be, something they weren’t, something that they couldn’t ever be, even if they had tried.
Just a few more tough nights and impossible mornings.
They would’ve learnt all of this.
The boy who never speaks puts his phone away and lit a cigarette.
27) the one who was different.