Unlike her friend, Tansey was an early riser. She always had two boiled eggs, a slice of toast and a protein shake for breakfast. She had read in a health magazine that it was good to start the day with protein. She didn’t know how true that was, but it certainly kept her going for the day. Just as Gloria armed herself with make-up every day, even though you weren’t supposed to wear make-up at school, so Tansey armed herself with protein for her brains. Jonathan wasn’t going to notice her for her beauty, but he might for her brains.

To impress him, she had to know as much as possible about English, especially about writing. She had heard Jonathan say to Benny that he wanted to be a famous author. The very next day, she had taken out a book from the library called How to Write a Novel and get Published. She had learnt about linear plots – stories which went in a straight line from beginning to end. And plots with a twists in the tail or stunning surprise endings. And slice-of-life stories which didn’t seem to have much plot at all. They went nowhere and weren’t very exciting, to Tansey’s mind.

She had read examples of all three kinds of plot. She decided the twist-in-the-tail ones were the best. Everyone likes to be blown away by the unexpected.

Often, Tansey had to knock loudly on Gloria’s door and call out to her if she wanted to walk to school with her friend. But some days, Gloria, in her own words, was “catching up on her beauty sleep” and didn’t want to be disturbed. She didn’t care about arriving late at school. In fact, she loved it. She could then make a grand entrance into the classroom. All heads would be turned towards her. The teacher’s sharp remarks meant nothing to her.

To her surprise, on this cold Tuesday morning, her friend was actually waiting for her at the door. She noticed that Gloria had, as usual, applied eye-shadow, mascara, blush and lip liner. The Grade 12 teachers had long ago given up the fight with her over make-up: there was no ways Gloria was leaving it off her face. She said it was like going to school naked. So they concentrated instead on her academics, trying desperately to get her to study enough to pass her exams. Tansey knew how difficult that was for the teachers – she hardly ever saw Gloria with a book in her hand.

“You’re keen today!” she remarked.

“You too. What’s up?”

“You know me,” replied Tansey shyly. “I don’t like to boast, but I really think I’m busy with the best essay I’ve ever written. And you? Why are you so keen to get to school all of a sudden?”

“Well, there are plenty of fish to catch there,” she replied.

“Haven’t you hooked enough of them already?” laughed Tansey. “Benny and Moses are crazy about you.”

“Naa, they’re small fish. Today, I’m after the big catch.”

“Who’s it going to be today? Please tell me.”

“Wouldn’t you like to know!”

“Come on. Spit it out. That’s what best friends are for.”

“Could be anybody I haven’t hooked before,” she said mysteriously.

“I thought your bait had hooked all the attractive guys by now,” teased Tansey.

“There are a few big fish I still need to catch. Like the brain-boxes.”

“You really think they’ll go for you?” Tansey’s hand flew to cover her mouth as soon as these words left it – she didn’t mean to be nasty. But she realised she might as well have shouted out: ‘You’re stupid Gloria! No clever guy is going to fall for you. Nobody with brains will ever look your way’.

Terrified that she had hurt her friend deeply, she read Gloria’s expression carefully. Instead of looking wounded, her friend looked triumphant.

“Oh, I can catch the brainy ones too. I can catch anybody.”


Tell us what you think: What is your opinion of Tansey’s comment about clever guys?