September saw school start back for another academic year. I sat in the canteen on my first day back after the Summer holidays, excited to catch up with my friends whom I hadn’t seen for a while. The excitement soon wore off. All of my friends had stories about boys whom they were texting, and all I had was a story of rejection. I began to feel really out of place, as if I couldn’t join in on the conversations they were having. I even struggled to be happy for them. I was officially a Martian that day. An awkward Martian who was the only person not complaining about having to wear a school uniform. I knew if we could wear our own clothes into school every day the fashion parade it would turn into, coupled with my lack of confidence in my own style, would result in me having a mini meltdown every morning in front of the mirror. Yep, the uniform will do nicely.
There was a pause in the conversation (that I wasn’t participating in) and I looked towards the entrance of the canteen. That’s when I noticed….Jack. A new kid in town. He was the hot topic amongst all the girls that morning. I could almost hear the silent wishes being made that he would be placed into their classes. He had it all, it seemed. I…(dare I say it)…liked him. I found myself wishing he would be in my class. In my thoughts I was trying to bargain with whoever was on charge of granting this wish that I would do the household chores for, like, 3 months if it came true. It did. Jack was in my class!
It took me days to muster up the courage to speak to him. In hindsight, I wouldn’t classify the dialogue that unfolded as a conversation. More like a ‘Do you have a red pen, please?’. But still, it was communication and I was still at the ‘excited to have someone to fancy’ stage, I hadn’t really thought past that. Until Jack started to take an interest in my sister who was a year above me in school. What a nightmare.
I worked hard for the year, largely trying to ignore the blatant flirtation between them in the corridors and before I knew it, it was my junior prom, and I was 16. Sweet 16. NOT.
I brought a male friend who I knew I would get along with. Surprise, surprise all my friends brought either dates or boyfriends. I wasn’t even going to go to my junior prom only for my Mother giving me the ‘you’re wonderful, sweetheart – don’t let it get to you’ pep talk.
It’s a week before the event. Just as I had mentally psyched myself up for a night of being a 3rd wheel amongst a population of couples, I heard my sister screech with excitement in the next room. I felt the blood drain from my face. It can’t be. My sister burst into my room, and excitedly informed me that she had been invited to attend by someone in my class. This was hard enough to take. My thunder was well and truly stolen. However, the next couple of words equated to a kick in the teeth. ‘…with Jack’.
‘It’s a joke’ I assured myself. There is noway on Earth this is happening to me. None.
The day of my prom, Jack arrived first. With a present for my sister. I’m not going to lie, the thought of locking her into her closet and fooling Jack into taking me in her place did cross my mind. I was willing to take whatever punishment my parents threw my way. Instead however, I sat there and made small talk with him (as per usual) while we waited for my sister to gracefully descend the staircase into the arms of my secret crush.
The night itself was, what can only be described as torturous. I wasn’t used to wearing a dress like this. Or heels. I didn’t win prom princess (shock, horror) and at the end of the night I got to see my sister and Jack share a kiss.
‘He’s just not that into me’, I consoled myself as I kicked my heels off in my bedroom at the end of the night and got into my bed. ‘Plenty more fish in the sea’.
I never really spoke to Jack after that. I took the hint that he just wasn’t interested. Why did I like him for so long? I actually don’t know. Is it because he was sort of unobtainable? Is this a trend that I would begin, liking people who I knew didn’t like me back? Am I my own worst enemy when it comes to love? A glutton for punishment?
Jack now lives in Australia with his long term girlfriend, who isn’t my sister. A small consolation.
Little did I know however, that in the weeks following my prom, I was about to be faced with a blast from the past…..