"LONG AGO AND OH SO FAR AWAY..."
PLACE: Boganville High School, the main quadrangle.
Picture it. A time when raging cases of TES were everywhere, (Tragic Eighties Syndrome). Bad perms, bubble skirts and Duran Duran....
Noise and activity flurried all around me. Shouts and laughter that didn't include me, pierced their way into my consciousness, as I sat all alone at the edge of the quad. I wasn't part of any of it, but a spectator, silently sitting there, alone, reflecting on my tragic life as a nerd-girl.
A group of girls appeared in front of me, all of them laughing, sharing jokes with the kind of effortless rapport that was alien to me. I felt them looking my way. I tried not to notice, tried not to care. Just then, one of them broke away from the group, approaching me.
Squirming uncomfortably on my seat, I looked towards her hopefully. "Hi, how are you?" she edged nearer, smiling. I mumbled something incoherent. Staring at me quite innocently she asked: "I was just wondering...do you shave your legs?"
It must be noted that, I did not, in fact, shave my legs. A situation that, at a mere 12 years of age, did not bother me in the slightest. (Come to think of it, doesn't bother me in the slightest at age 42 either. In fact, I might have to get Mick to run the lawn mower over them presently, as they are so hairy.) But I digress.
However, since it seemed to bother the other girls at school, I figured I'd ask my mum if I could begin.
"No," she replied "you're too young. Once you start doing all that, you never stop. You've still got plenty of time." At this point, I imagine any other girl would have decided to completely ignore their mum, sneak into the bathroom, pinch a razor and do the deed anyway. Not this tragic nerd-girl and Miss Goody Two Shoes.
I trudged back to school, legs still hairy, book in bag. Books were my major companion at recess and lunch. Another example of my tragic nerdiness. I'd chosen books over flesh and blood friends. Here's how it happened.
I used to have something resembling a friendship with another girl in primary school. I use the term friendship loosely. It consisted mainly of her bossing and patronising me, like the time she convinced me to go to Jazz Ballet with her just so that she could then condescendingly tell this uncoordinated klutz that if I tried really hard I might be as good as her next year. In all fairness to her, no amount of trying or practising would have ever made me good at any form of dancing!
I put up with Miss Patronising, or Pat as I shall call her, the type of person who might patronise God himself, because I simply didn't have any other friends - other than imaginary ones, and I figured being patronised and condescended to was preferable to spending every minute of school life achingly lonely and friendless.
Anyway, during 6th grade, she unceremoniously dumped me as a friend, steadfastly ignoring me and leaving me in the dust for a cooler group. Consequently, when she rang me during the Christmas holidays, shortly before starting high school, I possibly should have been on guard. Instead I scurried over like a timid mouse after any crumbs.
I suspect we might have had the Barbies out at one stage. As we were about to start high school, you might expect Barbies dolls to have been a bit lame at this point, but I continued playing with them unperturbed. Pat, on the other hand, was clearly worried, as she began to give me disdainful looks as her lecture began.
"You know, you have to act tough in high school," she began, importantly "otherwise you'll have no friends."
I carried on dressing Barbie, oblivious to the seriousness of her tone. "But don't worry," she added "I'll still hang around with you, as long as you stop reading books."
I gaped. Stop reading books? Wouldn't it be easier to just stop breathing? Did she mean all books, or just Enid Blyton books? I mean, I kind of knew that I was getting to old for my frequent trips up the magic faraway tree. A place where I seem to have permanently remained. Off with the pixies.
There was NO WAY I could stop reading books. The thing was impossible. Consequently the 'friendship' was over. Gloomily, I trudged home, wondering where all the 'kindred spirits' from my beloved 'Anne' books were.
It wasn't long before Pat was surrounded by friends at High School, while I sat there. Alone. Reading a book. So I guess she was right. Sigh. Books will always be my best friend.
To make matters worse, just as I was about to start high school, Karen Carpenter died. Right when I was in the throes of becoming a major fan. I was heartbroken. Of course nobody, least of all the other girls at school, understood my sorrow. Liking the Carpenters went hand in had with reading books and not having a boyfriend. At barely 12 years old. Imagine. Spinsterhood here I come.
I had been dreading starting high school. Boganville High School was considered to be the roughest school for "under privileged" kids in Sydney's western suburbs. For months I had been hearing horror stories about how the older kids grabbed the year seven kids and flushed their heads in the toilet by way of "initiating" them. Naturally, if you happened to be shy, quiet, liked reading and listening to the Carpenters it could make you a prime candidate for such treatment. I crept around the school playground with my head down, terrified that some sinister bunch of hoodlums would attack me at any moment and drag me into the toilets. Nobody even noticed me. After a week had passed I finally relaxed, realising that maybe some of these horror stories had been exaggerated somewhat.
One morning at recess, I proceeded to read my latest book in my usual position, not far from where the canteen was situated, when I happened to hear a conversation taking place only a few yards away. Pat was leading it, my ex so-called 'best friend' from primary school. They were discussing Karen Carpenters death which was news at the time. Pat was saying "Yes, its really sad because they were husband and wife (??!!) and they'd only just gotten married (??!!) and they'd just started out in their musical career.
Normally I was the quietest person on earth, but I couldn''t let that pass.
"That's wrong," I said, surprising them. They hadn't even realised I was there. I went on to inform them that Karen and Richard were NOT husband and wife, but brother and sister and not only that, they had been around for some time and had a lot of hits. Of course, I expected them to be interested and grateful that I had volunteered the information but instead Pat just gave me a withering look along with the rest of them and said "Oh really?" just as if she might have said "Big deal".
|Year 10 formal, circa 1986. I was |
already stunningly gorgeous and
talented. So ner.
However, it was while at High School that I began the transformation from a mega nerd from Hell to the person I am today:
a mega nerd bogan from
Hell a talented writer and gorgeous, smokin' hawt fox. Observe. I became a
published author. Sort of. Kind of. Not really. Oh okay, it was only in the
school magazine, but that counts, right? This is the blinding piece of sheer
brilliance I wrote at only age 15. A fictional story that I wrote. Read it and
FACE TO FACE
Out here in the country, where everything is fresh and beautiful, it's difficult to believe that all the violence and crime you read about in the newspapers everyday really happens. The air is crisp and clean and the trees stand tall and majestic against the backdrop of a clear blue sky. Kookaburras laugh loudly from their perches and the smell of eucalyptus is heavy in the air.
We had chosen the perfect spot for our holiday, a quiet little cottage in the midst of the country. The mysterious guy my sister was heartbroken over was sure to be forgotten here. Mum was already looking cheerful - and me? Well, I was just trying to rid myself of this strange eerie feeling. A premonition of something awful about to happen. What could possibly happen out here where the people are greener than the grass?
I walked slowly, admiring the scenery. My mind was racing. What was this feeling? I tried to ignore it, but something told me I was living each day, waiting. For what, I didn't know. But I was soon to find out.
Jessica flew past me on horseback. Horse riding was her passion, but I stuck to bikes. Even though we were sisters and looked alike, our personalities were entirely different. Jessica was adventurous, daring and very naive. She had just been hurt recently by some guy my mother and I had never even met. I watched her slowly gallop into the distance and settled down under a tree to enjoy the sunshine.
Glancing around, I searched for someone, but there was nobody. I had the odd feeling that someone was watching me. It had been happening on and off all day and it was beginning to give me the creeps. There's no one here, I told myself, determined to shake off this feeling of gloom. But it was there.
And it was still there moments later when I looked up and saw Jessica's horse galloping towards me, but no sign of Jessica. Panic gripped me, my mind full of horrifying visions of Jessica lying wounded from where she had fallen off the horse. Not thinking of the stupidity of my actions, I hurried in the direction from where the horse had come.
It was only when I was lost in a maze of trees that I berated myself fiercely. "Jessica! Where are you?" I called loudly. No answer. And no wonder. I stopped short in utter disbelief. For there she lay at my feet. Not wounded, but dead! There were no words to describe my emotions at that moment. My common sense told me that she couldn't have been killed just by falling from a horse.
"Jessica! Oh my God!" Tears were streaming down my face as I dropped to my knees beside my sister's still body. There was the unmistakable sign that a knife had been used to slit her throat. Somebody had killed her and that somebody was still lurking around waiting to kill me too.
I heard the foot steps at that moment and turned rising to my feet. There he was. I was face to face with my sister's killer. He wasn't menacing at all. Just an ordinary looking guy. But he held a knife in his right hand.
"Hello, Anne." He knew my name. "Yes, I know you, your sister's told me all about you." He answered my unasked question.
"But she's dead now and I'm going to kill you, too." He stated it calmly, as if it were something he did everyday.
"No!" I fled past him before he could move. Just a moment ago I had found my sister dead. It was all a dream, it had to be a dream, I thought as I ran and ran. I knew he was right behind me.
It's amazing how fast you can run when you're afraid. I raced into the cottage, yelling to my mother, I rushed to slam the door, but he was stronger than me and pushed his way in, grabbing me.
My mother screamed, spotting the knife. He held me in a vice like grip, moving the knife towards my throat. He was bereft of reason, only wanting to kill, destruct. He didn't seem to realise that my mother was there, quickly phoning the police. But we had to do something fast before I was dead.
Using all my strength, I kicked him hard in the shins and ran from his arms. He dropped the knife in my escape and I grabbed it quickly. He looked around the room as if he didn't know where he was. Then suddenly he fell to his knees, crying.
He was still there crying when the police arrived. A crazy man, familiar with drugs and the guy my sister had been heartbroken over. He was taken away in the back of a police car. We never saw him again. Never wanted to either.
My mother coped well with the funeral, but we both went to pieces afterwards. My sister was only eighteen and she was dead. Dead through the insanity of a very sick man. I realised that I would never forget what happened, but life had to go on and somehow I would face it.
Needless to say, I'm still a
woeful highly skillful writer, as this boring as batshit bogan blog
proves. It's also comforting to know, that thirty years later, I haven't matured beyond the age of twelve. After all, being a grown up is totally over rated.
Linking up with Rachel at The Very Inappropriate Blog for The Lounge.
What do you remember about your teenage years?