Turns out Lael was right. She often is. It’s one of her most annoying features.
As Grade 10 gets underway, I quickly realise that work is going to be a nightmare this year. Pretending I need help won’t stretch my acting abilities at all.
It’s not that I’m an airhead, exactly. I actually have a brilliant memory for certain things. It’s just that my brain has this strange reluctance to remember anything boring.
For instance, ask me about any celebrity’s children – biological or adopted. Go on, ask me. I’ll give you their names, ages, schools, sports, and favourite brand of trainers without having to look it up. My mind just grabs hold of information like that and hangs onto it. The same goes for fashion, music, movies, vampire novels and cellphone apps. I am literally the world expert on iPhone apps.
But somehow my brain goes a little fuzzy when it comes to schoolwork. Maths in particular. And Trigonometry in extra particular. I just seem to have a block about what the teacher is saying. I start off trying to concentrate, I really do, but after a while her voice just fades into this blah blah blah background noise, and I’m off wondering what’s going to happen on the next episode of Sixteen and Pregnant. Then she sets us some homework and I’m looking at words like sin and cos, and they might as well be Greek to me.
And yes, I know they are actually Greek. It was a joke, dummy.
The point is, I’m falling so far behind in Trigonometry that I’ll be in real trouble if I don’t catch up soon. And who better to help me than Postmatric Guy?
Lael is totally on board with this. I was worried that she might really like him too, and that we’d end up competing for the same guy. But she’s honestly not interested. She says that looking at him is like looking at the most gorgeous pair of shoes in the world. You drool over them, you stare at them, you imagine walking into a room with them, but you don’t actually want to date them.
“Okay, listen up!” she says at break as we grab some chicken wraps and fruit from the dining-hall before heading out to find a patch of shade. “Today’s the day.
He has cricket practice until half-past four this afternoon. What time does your last extramural end?”
“Um…” I have to think about this for a minute. The year is still so new I haven’t got the hang of my timetable yet. “Four o’clock, I think. I’ve got djembe drumming after drama.”
“That’s perfect then. You just need to hang around outside the Postmatric Annexe at about half-past four and jump on him when he comes in from cricket.”
The thought of jumping on Postmatric Guy makes me feel light-headed. Now that this is actually happening, I’m getting chilly in the foot department. The idea of marching up to him and demanding help with my homework makes me want to run and hide.
Lael is looking at me narrowly. “Trinity…” “Yes?”
“You’re not going to chicken out are you?” “No, of course not. Why would you say that?”
“Because you have a very chicken look on your face.” “I do not.”
“Yes, you do. You’re looking all scared like a big old Scaredy McChicken.”
“Because I didn’t go to all that trouble for nothing, you know. I had to find out his timetable and everything. They thought I’d gone nuts at the sports office – wanting to know the exact time the first team finished cricket practice. I didn’t go through all that embarrassment only to have you wimp out on me.”
“No, but I…”
“No buts. The only but I’m interested in is you getting your butt down to the Annexe this afternoon at half-past four.”
Lael can be quite strict at times. “Permission to ask a question, Ma’am?” “Granted.”
“What if Postmatric Guy answers my question really quickly and the whole thing is over in five minutes?
How am I supposed to keep him talking?”
Just then there’s a scuffling noise from inside the shed we’re leaning against. It’s where they keep sports equipment like orange cones and skipping ropes and volleyball nets.
We both jump away from the wall and look at each other.
“What the heck was that?”
Lael peers through a window into the gloom. “I can’t see a thing. It must have been a rat or something.”
We take a giant step backwards to continue our conversation.
“So what do I do if Postmatric Guy ditches me after five minutes?”
“We’ll work out a plan. Just don’t call him that to his face or your beautiful relationship will be over before it starts. His name is Zach, remember? Zach Morris.’
“How could I forget?”
Isn’t that just the scrummiest, sexiest name in the history of scrummy, sexy names? Zach Morris. So cool, so simple, so hip. I love it.
“The way I see it, you want to try a slow burn approach,” Lael explains. “If he ditches you after five minutes, you just smile sweetly and say thanks. Then you wait a week and try again with a different trig problem. If he ditches you again, you wait ten days and try again. And so on and so forth, until he’s got used to having you around. Don’t expect a major result today…” She stops as we hear another noise from inside the shed. Only this time, it doesn’t sound like a scuffle so
much as a giggle. A very familiar giggle.
I march up to the shed and wrench open the door, which is supposed to be locked. A blonde girl who was leaning against it from the inside almost falls out onto the grass. She bounces up and dusts herself off, grinning from pierced ear to pierced ear. You’d expect her to be mortified at being caught eavesdropping, but there’s not a trace of shame on her perfect, rosy face.
“Sophie!” I say angrily. “You’re sixteen years old, and you’re still creeping around listening to people’s private conversations. When are you ever going to grow up?”
“Hey, if I didn’t listen, I wouldn’t know what was going on,” she says. “Like how certain people have crushes on certain Hilton College old boys and are plotting stalking strategies.”
She goes off into a peal of irritating laughter. Lael and I exchange glances.
This is not good. This is not good at all.
Sophie Agincourt – apart from being my number-one nemesis, mortal enemy, evil twin and the all-round anti-Trinity – is also a boyfriend-stealer of note. It’s enough for her just to know that I like a guy to start taking aim at him. And the problem is, she’s gorgeous. Way more gorgeous than I am, as I have to admit in my more honest moments (although I do have better dress sense, most of the time).
Sophie’s one of those awful girls who can eat whatever she likes without putting on weight. Plus she’s got the whole blonde-haired, blue-eyed Taylor Swift thing going on. She looks all sweet and innocent, but when she wants to, she can turn on the sex appeal in a way that just mows the boys down.
Face it. If Sophie is interested in getting her claws into him, I can give up on Postmatric Guy right now.
“You didn’t take all that seriously, did you?” Lael says casually. “We were just kidding around, honestly. Trinity doesn’t really like him. She’s actually got a crush on … um … Mpume Thlogoane.”
“Yeah, right!” Sophie snorts. “No, seriously.”
“I’ve met him, you know,” Sophie says off-handedly. “Zach Morris. He was at school with my brother last year. When we went down to our place in Howick for the holidays, I saw him at a few socials. He’s hot, isn’t he?”
“I can give you some tips on breaking the ice with him if you like…”
“Sure you can.”
“No, really. Listen here. He’s crazy about cage-fighting and base-jumping. He’s totally into extreme sports. Just get him talking about that stuff, and you’ll have him eating out the palm of your hand.”
“Sophie,” I say wearily. “How long have I known you?”
“Ooh, I don’t know. About ten years. Why?”
“Don’t you think that’s long enough for me to know when you’re trying to trick me?”
“No, man. This time I’m really not. He does like those things. I’m giving you the inside scoop on this guy. You should be thanking me.”
I look at her closely. Over the years I’ve got pretty good at detecting whether or not Sophie is lying, but today I’m not getting any clear vibes either way.
“Why would you try and help me?” I ask suspiciously. “I don’t have any chemistry with him,” she says with a yawn. “I mean, I can see he’s hot and everything, but
he really doesn’t do it for me. And I’d rather you got him than some snooty matric cow.”